DAP’s Men’s Team serves adult male perpetrators of domestic violence with group and individual therapy. Our program is one of few in the area that meets the state requirements for perpetrator intervention, and it is the only program to incorporate trauma theory and treatment techniques in its work with men who have used abusive behavior in intimate relationships. The program combines education with cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches, all in a trauma-informed setting. While the role of anger in relationships and abuse is discussed, DAP’s program is not an “anger management program.” It is much more.
And it works. Since the program’s inception, DAP has conducted follow-up research on client recidivism, and consistently we find that over 90% of men’s program clients had zero domestic abuse arrests within one year of successfully completing the program.
The majority of male participants attend a 24-week program that includes both large-group educational sessions and small-group process sessions. Therapists in education groups work to frame the issues of domestic violence relative to the larger and more systemic context. Process groups include a facilitator and encourage peer-to-peer education and accountability, which can’t be found through individual treatment. In the course of the program, men work to accept responsibility for their violent actions and give presentations on their plan for building and maintaining equal and interdependent relationships.
DAP’s Women’s Team works with adult female survivors of domestic violence to help them understand abuse as part of a larger systemic issue and to heal. Our therapists address mental health issues that result from experiencing domestic abuse, which often include anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbances, and emotional detachment.
Individual therapy is available for survivors, but our Women’s Group is the cornerstone of DAP’s program. The typical group is small—about 10 participants—and 16 weeks long, with childcare included. Each session is led by trained professionals, is organized topically, and is psycho-educational, incorporating both traditional educational styles and processing opportunities. This is in contrast to other programs for survivors, which can offer the support of a community of survivors but not the healing that comes from therapeutic intervention.
Three years ago, DAP began a research project to test an exciting new method of therapy for survivors of domestic violence called “mind-body healing.” DAP began to work collaboratively with researchers to develop a trauma-sensitive yoga curriculum to incorporate into the women’s therapy and aftercare groups.
The research project is an improvement upon—and natural extension of—the breathing exercises and meditation already used in DAP’s therapy programs, but with more intentionality, better space and props, and the expertise of a professional yoga instructor. Several studies have shown that yoga-like movement reduces mental health symptoms associated with perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and women who have participated in the yoga research project have reported an improved image of themselves and improved feelings of wellness.
In 1981, DAP began offering therapy programs for youth who have witnessed domestic violence because we know that they face lifelong challenges to their physical, psychological, and social development. Children—from infants to adolescents—experience so much emotional stress when they witness domestic violence that it can affect the development of their brains. This can lead to behavioral changes, including intense anxiety and irritability, depression, problems with sleeping and incontinence, and trouble in school.
We also know that children who witness or experience domestic violence are much more likely to use violence later in life, in their own intimate relationships. And they face an increased likelihood of substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy, and social isolation.
DAP offers both individual and group therapy services for youth who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence in their homes. The Children’s Group is the cornerstone of the program. A parallel parent group with dinner and childcare is also provided to make the program as accessible as possible. The group is for children ages 5 – 12 and free of charge. For ages 5 – 18, there are three paths available for individual therapy, with focuses on relationship building and healing; learning skills to cope and feel safe; and crisis intervention.
DAP also works with adolescents who have witnessed abuse in their homes and have begun to use violence to family members or in their dating relationships. Currently all adolescent programming is being handled in individual sessions, which are free of charge.
In 2012, DAP launched its newest program, CHANGE STEP. CHANGE STEP is for men who currently serve or have served in the military and have used abuse in an intimate relationship. This program is built on the proven curriculum of the traditional men’s group, but it incorporates the language and tenor of military culture to better respond to the needs of veterans. The program addresses the specific issues that are faced by the veteran community–military culture, deployments, and PTSD– and is built on a thorough understanding of the effects of trauma and violence on a person’s health and well-being. The group meets weekly for 24 weeks, and includes both educational topics and group process.
Interested in helping DAP provide healing for every member of the family by making a donation? Click here for more information about giving, or contact Anna Zaros, Director of Development & Communications, at 612.874.7063 x. 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.