A psychotherapeutic exploration of males presenting with intimate partner violence (IPV)
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this research was to explore the effects on males presenting with Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and to provide an understanding of therapists’ experiences of working psychotherapeutically with these males. This topic has been practically unexplored within counselling and psychotherapy research. A qualitative design was adopted to address this topic. The sample of suitable participants was selected from the Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (IACP) website. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three male and two female psychotherapists. They were all accredited and had experience of working with male victims of IPV. Results from the transcripts were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis. Four main themes emerged from this analysis: 1) Macho male image 2) Reasons for not seeking help 3) Societal recognition and funding for organisations 4) Implications for psychotherapy. A central theme that emerged was the adverse physical, psychological and emotional effects of female perpetration of violence on male victims. Stigma and the general lack of recognition by society that males can be victims of IPV as well as females were addressed by the participants. They also highlighted the lack of awareness or acceptance by male victims themselves to recognise the abuse. This was reported as one of the reasons for not seeking help while other reasons included shame, embarrassment and fear of not being believed by the support services. The therapists’ accounts of their own experiences of working with male victims highlighted their awareness around the importance of empathy and acceptance in the therapeutic relationship. A further challenge for the therapists was the recognition that IPV affects all members of society and not least the children. The findings of this research may be helpful in leading to increased awareness of male victimisation, the enhancement of training for service providers and the provision of appropriate services and resources for male victims of IPV.