Domestic Violence Help: Mental Healthcare
Versus Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

It is common knowledge in mental and behavioral health that one must suspend judgment to best serve patients in psychotherapy. Otherwise, the therapy is clouded by therapist agenda, expectations and bias. And in that, patients cannot discover their own truth.

So why is it that when it comes to domestic violence, survivors are met with therapists purporting to know what’s best for them? That is, when to leave and when to stay; and how to be in the event one remains in an abusive relationship?

Mental Healthcare Provider May Not Be an Abuse SurvivorAdvocate

If you are a domestic violence survivor and are in psychotherapy or counseling for abuse, you are probably familiar with mental healthcare provider bias (also known as counter- transference).

What you may not know is that these therapists, who are judgmental during your abuse counseling, may be completely nonjudgmental in therapy with you on other issues. Thus, it is important for you to realize the judgmental attitude you may have experienced in therapy has more to do with the caregiver than it has to do with you.

Psychologists and psychiatrists typically are not trained in domestic violence and are often unfamiliar with the dynamics of domestic abuse. Consequently, they may overlook essentials to safety planning. Furthermore, many of these professionals have their own unresolved issues with respect to domestic abuse.

Abuse Survivor Advocate May Not Be a Mental Healthcare Provider

Given this, one might believe that securing the assistance of an advocate would serve them best for issues pertaining to domestic abuse. While this is true, it cannot be assumed that the domestic abuse advocate will be skilled in therapeutic process.

So, the growth steps involved in dealing with an abusive relationship may not be facilitated, nor supported, by your domestic abuse advocate. They are not trained therapists.

Your best remedy will come from finding one individual with expertise in both psychotherapeutic process and domestic abuse victim advocacy. Or, you could find two individuals with expertise in each discipline and request that they collaborate in your care.

For domestic violence survivor resources, visit Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and domestic violence consulting expert. Copyright 2009 Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. – Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.