Mental Health Care in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: Survivor Perspectives

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Psychological Services


Experience of violence or abuse from an intimate partner (intimate partner violence, IPV) can result in a variety of psychological and mental health impacts for which survivors may seek psychotherapy or other mental health services. Individuals experiencing IPV may have specific needs and preferences related to mental health care, yet the question of how to best provide client-centered mental health care in the context of IPV has received little attention in the literature. In this article, we report on findings from qualitative interviews with 50 women reporting past-year IPV who received care through the Veterans Health Administration regarding experiences with and recommendations for mental health services. Participants described client-centered mental health care in the context of recent or ongoing IPV as being characterized by flexibility and responsiveness around discussion of IPV; respect for the complexity of clients’ lives and support for self-determination; and promoting safety and access to internal and external resources for healthy coping. We discuss findings in terms of their implications for the mental health field, highlighting the need for flexibility in application of evidence-based treatments, improved coordination between therapeutic and advocacy services, and training to enhance competencies around understanding and responding to IPV

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American Psychological Association [Society Publisher]