The effectiveness of cognitive behaviour psychotherapy for male perpetrators of domestic violence who voluntarily seek help
Research suggests that domestic abuse is a hidden crime in society which leaves victims
living in fear and isolation. Many healthcare and community prevention strategies have been
implemented to support women and children yet there is a lack of evaluated research on the
effectiveness of intervention programmes for perpetrators who voluntarily seek help.
This study aims to develop and evaluate a schema focused model of aggression and
therapeutic approach specifically for perpetrators of domestic abuse who voluntarily seek
help. A comparison is drawn between Completers and Non-Completers of the therapy
programme to determine developmental and maintenance interference factors to
The Aggression Schema Model (ASM) proposes that bio-evolutionary functions, attachment
needs, learning and repetition in conjunction with formative childhood and adulthood
experiences influence the development of hostile cognitions and interacting cognitive
subsystems. Implicational meanings further influence affect and behaviour regulation.
Abuser Schema Therapy (AST) is designed to transform hostile implicational meanings
which are relevant to aggressive behaviour. AST is based on a gender-neutral, non
confrontational approach to therapeutic intervention and process.
A realist methodological approach was adopted and a quasi-experimental design applied. Self
report measures of aggression, reaction, assertiveness and dysfunctional attitude were
administered pre and post therapy. Qualitative data was attained from case studies, semistructured
assessments and questionnaires.
The ASM and AST are critically discussed. The quantitative findings indicated a significant
reduction in physical aggression, hostility and anger, whereas verbal aggression did not
significantly change over time. Further reactions to anger provoking situations and
assertiveness were significantly reduced and dysfunctional attitudes indicated factors
improving to psychological strengths and increase in self-esteem. The results were
maintained after a 3-month follow-upInterference factors to completion of AST are identified and discussed and case studies are
reported which illustrate bio-evolutionary functions, attachment relationships and formative
experiencesp ertinent to the developmento f abusives chemasin childhood and adulthood.
In conclusion, the results of this study add to knowledge and understanding of therapeutic
practices for perpetrators who voluntarily seek help. AST and ASM provides a schema model
and therapeutic approach which can inform community based and healthcare agencies to
work towards reducing aggression in the home to ultimately help victims of domestic abuse