The Efficacy of Psychosocial Interventions for Partner Violent Individuals

  • Christopher M. MurphyEmail author
  • Tara N. Richards
Living reference work entry


Relationship Violence Intervention Programs (RVIPs), also commonly known as Batterer Intervention Programs, are a key element of the coordinated community response to intimate partner violence (IPV). The efficacy of these programs is crucially important in light of their widespread availability, the immense social and public health consequences of IPV, the large number of court-involved IPV offenders, and the limitations of other intervention options (e.g., incarceration). Quantitative research reviews reveal a small positive impact of RVIPs on partner violence recidivism – statistically significant in some, but not all, analyses. Problems in research design and implementation limit these conclusions, and many additional factors may influence recidivism risk, including arrest, prosecution, protection orders, probation monitoring, treatment for co-occurring substance use or mental health problems, services for victims, and relationship dissolution. Most comparative studies have found no significant differences in efficacy among distinct RVIP approaches, but some encouraging results have emerged for motivational enhancement therapies, adjunctive treatment for substance use problems, and new cognitive behavioral interventions, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and trauma-informed treatment for military veterans. Available evidence suggests that the efficacy of RVIPs may be improved through strategies that enhance motivation to change, facilitate prosocial group interactions, and improve emotion regulation and relationship skills. In addition, greater application of the principles of effective intervention derived from research on criminal and forensic rehabilitation, including efforts to assess and reduce individual offenders’ specific risk factors and needs, may reduce both IPV recidivism and other criminal offenses.


Intimate partner violence Perpetrators Offenders Intervention Efficacy 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of Nebraska OmahaOmahaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Glenna Tinney
    • 1
  • Shelly M. Wagers
    • 2
  • Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling
    • 3
  1. 1.ConsultantAlexandriaUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and Sciences - Society, Culture, and LanguageUniversity of South Florida - St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.University of North Carolina- CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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