State Standards for Domestic Violence Perpetrator Treatment: Current Status, Trends, and Recommendations

By Maiuro, Roland D.; Eberle, Jane A. | Violence and Victims, March 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

State Standards for Domestic Violence Perpetrator Treatment: Current Status, Trends, and Recommendations


Maiuro, Roland D., Eberle, Jane A., Violence and Victims


We empirically surveyed and analyzed existing standards for the treatment of perpetrators of domestic violence across the United States. Specific areas examined included: presence and scope; administrative entity for certifying; screening and risk assessment protocols; minimum length of treatment; theoretical or conceptual orientation; treatment content; preferred or allowable modalities of treatment; whether research findings are mentioned; methods for revising standards; and minimum education and training required for providers. We examined trends using several methods including comparisons between present and previous survey data (Maiuro et al., 2001). Positive trends were evident including increased use of multivariate models of treatment content, use of an intake assessment prior to treatment, use of a danger/lethality assessment to manage risk, recognition of the need for program evaluation and supportive research, and the requirement of a minimum level of formal education as a prerequisite for providers. We identify specific areas for further research and development and make recommendations for improving existing practice and standards of care.

Keywords: perpetrator treatment standards; state standards for domestic violence; batterer intervention; trends in domestic violence perpetrator treatment

Available research suggests that treatment of perpetrators of domestic violence is an important component of a coordinated community response to domestic violence and abuse (Jackson et al., 2003; Shepard, Falk, & Elliott, 2002). Although there has been considerable debate about the advantages and disadvantages of setting standards for an evolving intervention technology, the overriding need for some form of quality control and monitoring for public health purposes and the need to prioritize the safety of victims has continued to spur such efforts (Campbell et al., 2002; Cattaneo & Goodman, 2005; Coker et al., 2002).

According to previous surveys conducted by Austin and Dankwort (1999) and Maiuro, Hagar, Lin, and Olson (2001), standards development has, in and of itself, been an evolving enterprise. Despite the good intentions of such standards, the results of previous surveys have identified nearly as many problems as potential benefits for them (Bennett & Vincent, 2001; Geffner & Rosenbaum, 2001; Gelles, 2001; Hamberger, 2001; Holtzworth-Munroe, 2001; Saunders, 2001; Tolman, 2001). As nearly 7 years have passed since the most recent survey, an updated review and critique appeared timely. The overriding questions were whether and how the field had progressed given the continued upswing of research on domestic violence and the additional years of experience in implementation and management of treatment standards.

METHODS

Existing standards for treatment of perpetrators of domestic violence across the United States were compiled and then empirically analyzed. Several categories of interest were examined including: the presence and scope of the standards across the states; the governing or administrative entity for certifying the standards; required screening and risk assessment protocols; the minimum length of treatment specified; specification of theoretical or conceptual orientation; treatment methods and content; preferred or allowable modalities of treatment; whether research findings were mentioned or endorsed as a basis for development of treatment standards; and methods for revising standards. The minimum education and training required for providers was also included as an area of interest to describe the pool of practitioners targeted for regulation. Given the presumed advantages and benefits of treatment standards, available program evaluation studies examining the actual impact of standards were also summarized.

Survey results were compiled and descriptive statistics computed in terms of response categories. Excerpts were drawn from various state standards for illustration, critique, and discussion purposes. …

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