Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 323–332 | Cite as

Beyond Power and Control: Clinical Interventions with Men Engaged in Partner Abuse

  • Samuel R. AymerEmail author
Original Paper


Within the context of agency practice, most programs for abusive men are informed by the Duluth Model, suggesting that male violence against women is influenced by the dictates of patriarchy and sexism. Accordingly, this model promotes the importance of educational groups, which aim to debunk men’s stereotypical beliefs about women. Thus, men’s early abuse history, which also contributes to the use of violence, is omitted from service delivery. In contrast, this article explores the use of clinical interventions with men engaged in partner abuse with particular emphasis on a psychodynamic approach. The premise is that exposure to partner abuse during childhood as well as being the target of child abuse both shape the histories of these men in varying degrees, often manifesting in shame, depression, anxiety, and fear of abandonment, resulting in a poor self-image. Since environmental and socio-cultural influences inhibit them from expressing feelings associated with their experiences, clinical work, in contrast, encourages the development of insight and helps build skills that facilitate adaptive psychosocial functioning. This process unlocks suppression of affect by giving them ways to examine how certain events that occurred earlier in their lives contribute to the ways in which they treat their partners. Attachment, social learning and object relations theories all provide the theoretical frameworks. The case of Tom addresses partner abuse in the context of heterosexual relationships, demonstrating how psychodynamically informed psychotherapy can benefit abusive men.


Child abuse Domestic violence Partner abuse Batterers Psychodynamic therapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hunter School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA

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