The role of male-male relationships in partner violence treatment groups: the effects of improving same sex relationships on attachment



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The current study focused on the challenging task of providing treatment to male batterers and the various factors that may positively affect the outcome of treatment. Group treatment has been shown to be a successful modality to working with partner abusers, due to the unique environment that is created where males interact with and establish relationships with other males. This male-male socialization may have potential positive effects on the course and outcome of therapy. This study sought to provide support for Jennings and Murphy?s theory of domestic violence that malefemale disrupted relationships have roots in disrupted male-male relationships and male identity issues and rigid gender role ideals. This study predicted that over the course of a 15-week court mandated domestic violence group, improving male-male relationships would be correlated with improvements in male identity issues and rigid sex role attitudes and improvements in male-female relationship issues. These expectations were supported by the research data. Additionally, it was expected that an improvement in same sex relationships would be related to an overall dimensional change in their attachment system. This hypothesis was not supported by the data. Moreover, process variables such as group climate and working alliance were also examined throughout the course of the group to shed light on any changes that were found. The results showed steadily increasing reports of positive working alliance ratings by counselors and clients, and increasing levels of group cohesion among the group members. The discussion and conclusions focus on the clinical significance of the study?s findings and include specific examples from the groups in this study. Implications for treatment with this population, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research are also addressed.