Identity constructions, discursive processes and therapeutic strategies in the treatment group for male perpetrators
The Jyväskylä model of working with intimate partner violence (IPV) started twenty years ago as a multi-professional collaborative project in Jyväskylä, Finland. The two main collaborating agencies, the local Crisis Centre Mobile and Jyväskylä University Psychotherapy Training and Research Centre, serve both victims and perpetrators of IPV, and co-operate with various social and welfare agencies and the police. Perpetrators are offered group treatment preceded by individual treatment. The treatment program combines a feminist perspective and psychotherapeutic approaches to violence-specific interventions. These aspects have also been a focus of research. Dialogical and discursive approaches have been applied in analyzing interaction at both the group and individual levels.
Recently, language-based analyses have focused on the identity construction of male perpetrators as well as on the discursive processes and therapeutic strategies used in the treatment group. Since traditional masculine identity might be linked to violent behaviour, addressing masculinity, its deconstruction and reconstruction, has to be actively carried out by the therapist. Constructing new non-violent masculine identity becomes one goal of the treatment. In relation to masculinity, fatherhood is another crucial issue in IPV treatment, since identity as father and identity as perpetrators of domestic violence might intersect.
Overall, the results demonstrate the diversity that exists among perpetrators and point to the importance of adapting the therapeutic strategies deployed in group interventions for IPV to serve clients’ individual needs.
Juha Holma is a professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä. He has a two decades experience on working with perpetrators. He is the responsible researcher in research projects on group treatment for batterers.