Posted on: 30 November 2023

On the sixth day of the White Ribbon Campaign, our Talking Therapies services pledged their commitment to the prevention of domestic abuse in their service provision.

These services are often the first to hear about individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse, but often receive limited information and may be hearing these disclosures for the first time over the phone in an initial assessment. 

This may be the client’s first and only chance to speak with a professional who can then support and act.

Clinicians therefore need to remain aware that it can save lives to ask about experiences of abuse throughout the client journey.

Referrals into Talking Therapies will often include phrases such as ‘don’t feel safe at home’ and ‘worried about my partner’. 

Self-referrals and referrals from other professionals may also indicate perpetrators and those posing a risk of harm to others. All Talking Therapy clinicians have a responsibility to explore these further and to recognise and respond safely.

Often individuals will enter services with different problems such as depression, generalised anxiety, or stress. It will emerge later that these symptoms are the impact of the trauma from the domestic abuse.

Clinicians are faced with challenges such as

  • Clients not wanting to engage with specialist domestic abuse services, even where clients do agree there is often a lack of specialist support available such as interpreters
  • Many clients don’t recognise that their experiences are a result of domestic abuse

The quotes below come from colleague talking about their experiences with domestic abuse and psychological therapy.

And check out this video of staff talking about domestic abuse. 

“Often, clients will narrate difficult stories enveloping the DV, whereby family/friends feed into their guilt or shame; but with what we consider for treatment, we contextualise decisions they’ve made and understand the need for certain paths taken. This can be done through compassion-focused therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.”

"Working with victims of domestic violence can feel daunting sometimes due to the complex nature of the presentations, safeguarding needs, and involvement of different services in their care. It can feel especially difficult when we are unable to support a client but alternative specialist services are not open to referrals – a common scenario we face within Talking Therapies."

“I am seeing a rise in clients coming to therapy wondering if they are in a narcissistic relationship based on terms that have been seen on social media.”