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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book discusses research, theory, assessment, and interventions regarding domestic violence, focusing on gender-inclusive issues, i.e., both men and women perpetrate abuse and that a more individualized treatment style should be considered for the perpetrator and family.
Purpose: The editors state, "The voices in this book join together in a swelling chorus, advocating for a widening scope of research and the implementation of alternative intervention policies. Clearly and unequivocally, these scholars and practitioners assert that finding effective ways to reduce domestic violence in our communities is more important than adhering to what is politically correct."
Audience: The book is intended "for anyone who works with victims or perpetrators of intimate partner abuse, whether primarily court-referred cases or self-referred clients in private practice or agency settings," according to the editors. "It also will be relevant to researchers and policymakers interested in evidence-based practice. Its gender-inclusive approach to assessment and intervention represents a significant departure from traditional paradigms, and the combination of theory, research, and policy and practice should serve to cross these essential pillars." Graduate students in clinical and counseling psychology programs would gain much from this book. John Hamel is a court-certified batterer intervention provider (since 1992) in San Francisco and has written about partner violence, including a recent book, Gender-Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse: A Comprehensive Approach (Springer Publishing Company, 2005). Dr. Nicholls is Senior Research Fellow at the BC Mental Health and Addictions Service in Canada and has published in this field.
Features: The book is divided into two main parts, one covering research and theory and the other on assessment and treatment. This is a substantial work dealing with a well-known clinical area, but using a gender-inclusive approach. The editors believe this new approach is needed because offenders appear to have less psychopathology and less extensive histories of abuse, and batterer intervention programs, especially those built upon feminist theory, have not been successful in reducing recidivism. This book is easy to read and extremely useful and enlightening. Chapter 2, "Thinking Outside the Box: Gender and Court-Mandated Therapy" made me think about what I thought I knew about partner abuse. The author points out the problems of the "Duluth" model, citing treatment outcome data and other research. Figures and tables are helpful in elucidating the concepts and many of the chapters in part 2 have instructive case examples.
Assessment: This is fairly exhaustive, with 28 chapters and 642 pages of informative research, assessment, and intervention strategies. The gender-inclusive approach makes it fairly unique and the editors and authors are willing to go against traditional and widely accepted ideas in the domestic violence field because research findings show that they are not effective in reducing recidivism. A new approach is needed and this book provides the reader with alternative possibilities to deal with a difficult problem that affects many families. If you work in this field (or hope some day to do so), this should be on your library shelf.