By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD
In a recent blog, we highlighted a study conducted by Dr. Taft and colleagues establishing the link between PTSD and relationship problems . But, are there effective treatment solutions for perpetrators of violence? In an article published by Dr. Taft and colleagues , the researchers reported on preliminary findings from an intervention that shows promise.
The authors report that intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant problem in military couples – the frequency of violence for military couples may be as much as 3 times the frequency of violence in civilian intimate relationships. There is limited information on the effectiveness of interventions for IPV. When the preliminary study of the Strength at Home intervention was published, the authors indicated that there were no empirically validated studies of IPV interventions in military couples.
The Strength at Home model uses a cognitive-behavioral intervention in a group setting. The 12-week program uses a closed group format, meeting weekly in 2 hour sessions. Initial sessions focus on education on IPV and common reactions to trauma. Weeks 3 and 4 provide conflict management and assertiveness skills. The third phase focuses on identifying negative thought patterns contributing to anger and IPV, relating thoughts to core trauma issues, and coping with stress. The final sessions include instruction on a range of effective communication skills, capped by a session focusing on the gains witnessed over the past 11 weeks.
Participants in the intervention were included if they had been in a recent relationship, met DSM criteria for PTSD, had a self or collateral report of physical IPV, and provided consent to contact their female partner. The study included 6 male participants after screening and excluding participants that did not complete the assessment, intervention, and/or follow-up. Male physical and psychological IPV was assessed prior to initiating treatment and 6 months after treatment completion. Their female counterparts were assessed prior to the military member’s treatment and 6 months after treatment. Preliminary study results indicated that intervention participants:
- Perpetrated significantly lower physical IPV,
- Showed significantly lower psychological IPV, and
- Displayed a significant decrease in the frequency of psychological aggression,
While this study is only preliminary, the results show promise of developing a practice for treating perpetrators of IPV. It is notable that the sample size was very small, and there was a very high drop-out rate. A randomized controlled trial of the Strength at Home intervention is currently being conducted to more systematically assess the program outcomes on a larger sample.
For more information on the Strength at Home intervention, visit our website for information on Dr. Taft’s upcoming webinar.
 Taft, C.T., Macdonald, A., Monson, C.M., Walling, S.M., Resick, P.A., Murphy, C.M. (2013). “Strength at home” Group intervention for military population engaging in intimate partner violence: Pilot findings. Journal of Family Violence, 28(3), 225-231. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-013-9496
This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.