An evaluation of short-term group therapy for battered women

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Rycroft, Pat
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The goal of this study was to provide data which could evaluate the effectiveness as well as explore how women use group therapy to recover from the traumatic impact of abuse by men partners. Clients (twenty women) were recruited from existing social services in Winnipeg MB and through newspaper advertisements to attend a twelve week group therapy program. Self-report questionnaires completed by clients indicated that half of the presenting problem variables measured changed significantly following group therapy, while half remained unchanged. Loneliness, psychological distress, disclosure shame, and self-blame significantly ('p' < .005) decreased from pre- to post-therapy while safety fears, assault fears, beliefs about battering and self-worth did not change. Post-therapy interviews provided descriptions of the process of change experienced by clients in group therapy. Sharing with others who had been through similar experiences created a strong sense of acceptance, empowerment, readiness to face the realities of the abuse, problem solving and decision making. As powerful as the group experience was for many clients, some limitations of group therapy were noted. The combined strengths of group therapy and individual therapy were recommended by clients for optimal recovery by battered women. The results demonstrated support for the model of Post Traumatic Stress Reaction (PTSR; Horowitz 1976, 1980) to describe the impact of battering on women as well as clients' change from earlier to later phases of PTSR through short-term group therapy.