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Working With Community-Based Mental Health Professionals In Family Court Cases When Domestic Violence Is Present Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Training Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Working With Community-Based Mental Health Professionals In Family Court Cases When Domestic Violence Is Present Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Training Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working With Community-Based Mental Health Professionals In Family Court Cases When Domestic Violence Is Present Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Training Institute Dave Mathews, Psyd, LICSW One T Consulting Andrew John, Psyd, LP Domestic Abuse Project Rebekah Moses MN Coalition for Battered Women 7 December 2012

2 A ROADMAP OF TODAY’S CONVERSATION Introductions and Getting to Know One Another Take Away Points Definitional Issues: Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Battering, Coercive Control? Does the presence of domestic violence/coercive control matter? Collaborating with MH professionals 2

3 GETTING TO KNOW ONE ANOTHER What brings you to GAL work and how long have you been a GAL? What brings you to this training today and what do you hope to get out of this training? What experiences, successes and challenges do you face in working with family law cases where domestic violence is present? What successes and challenges do you face in referring to and collaborating with MH professionals? 3

4 TAKE AWAY POINTS As a result of this training, participants will be able to Distinguish the legal definition of Domestic Abuse from the broader definition of Domestic Violence(DV) /Battering and Coercive Control (CC) Articulate cases in which when DV/CC matter and why Increase capacity to assess for DV and CC Identify Best practices for MH collaboration in all cases Best practices in DV cases Cases where therapy is not appropriate 4

5 WHAT’S IN A WORD: DEFINITIONAL ISSUES How do you define domestic violence? MN statute has definition: Domestic Abuse” Minn Stat 518B.01 Effective interventions need broader definition: “Domestic Violence” “Battering” “Coercive Control” 5

6 DOMESTIC ABUSE & MN STATUTE: A 2-PART DEFINITION The following if committed against and by family or household member (1) physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; (2) the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; or (3) terroristic threats, within the meaning of section 609.713, subdivision 1; criminal sexual conduct, within the meaning of section 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, 609.345, or 609.3451; or interference with an emergency call within the meaning of section 609.78, subdivision 2. “Family or household members“ defined; Minn. Stat. § 518B.01 Subd. 2 6

7 BROADER DEFINITIONS: DV, BATTERING & COERCIVE CONTROL Domestic Violence (DV)/ Battering: A pattern of tactics used by one intimate partner against another to establish power and control over that intimate partner. ”Tactics can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.” (Office of Violence Against Women) While definition focuses on a variety of tactics, has become synonymous with physical/sexual violence and assaults. (i.e., the black eye). 7

8 BROADER DEFINITIONS: DV, BATTERING & COERCIVE CONTROL Coercive Control (CC) Rejects “violence model that equates partner abuse with discrete assaults or threats; […] and questions “calculus of harm of physical and psychological harms to particular assaults” (Stark 2012) Offers that the “form of subjugation that drives most abused women to seek outside assistance is not violence model and interventions based on violence model are ineffective at protecting women and children from abuse;” (Id.) CC is “a pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control them as well as to frighten them or hurt them physically. This pattern, which may include but is not limited to physical violence, has been variously termed ‘psychological or emotional abuse.” (Id.) Stark, Evan. Re-presenting Battered Women: Coercive Control and the Defense of Liberty * Violence Against Women : Complex Realities and New Issues in a Changing World, Les Presses de l’Université du Québec (2012) 8

9 BROADER DEFINITIONS: DV, BATTERING & COERCIVE CONTROL Coercive Control (CC) - continued Some tactics are illegal, but most “… have no legal standing, are rarely identified with abuse, almost never targeted by intervention. (Stark, 2012) “Include forms of constraint and the monitoring and/or regulation of commonplace activities of daily living, particularly those associated with women’s default roles as mothers, homemakers and sexual partners and run the gamut from their access to money, food and transport to how they dress, clean, cook or perform sexually.” (Id.) “By ignoring or minimizing the tactics used in coercive control, current domestic violence laws also miss many of its most devastating effects. There is mounting evidence that the level of “control” in abusive relationships is a better predictor than prior assaults of future sexual assault and of severe and fatal violence.” (Id.) Stark, Evan. Re-presenting Battered Women: Coercive Control and the Defense of Liberty * Violence Against Women : Complex Realities and New Issues in a Changing World, Les Presses de l’Université du Québec (2012) 9

10 BROADER DEFINITIONS: DV, BATTERING & COERCIVE CONTROL Another working definition of domestic violence: Any action or word that hurts another person within the context of the family and there is a misuse of power. It is less important to know if an action is coercive, DV or battering. You do not need to make these distinctions. No one needs to make a court order or finding about IPV/DV in order for the work to be done on helping the children in these cases. The focus of the work in this arena should be on the perspective of the child and less on what the parents want to have happen in the court setting. In the context of therapy with these situations, the focus of the work is on relationship strengthening and finding ways to increase the sense of safety, security and stability of the child. In fact it is less important to know or establish what exactly happened as far as abuse or DV than understanding the perspective of the child and how the child has been affected by what they believe has happened. 10


12 IS DV OR CC HAPPENING HERE? 10 year old girl tells you about instances where her dad yelled at her and ripped up a paperback book she was reading. She says that her dad told her the book was poorly constructed. Parents are separated. Dad has children alternating weekends Friday after school until Monday at the start of school. Last weekend Dad took the children (ages 10 & 12 years) on a surprise trip to San Francisco. Children call mom from California and ask if they can stay longer. Dad has said that they can stay if mom Oks this. During the marriage there was one documented instance of physical violence by dad against mom. Police were called. Dad charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse, pled to a disorderly conduct. That incident was 2 years ago. Parties have been separated for a year. Mom reports that at the child exchange last weekend, dad tried to run her over with the car. Mom is arrested for domestic abuse and convicted. Child returns from weekend with Dad and asks mom if he can stay up late to watch his favorite show. Mom says no because it is a school night. Child says that Mom is mean and that he wants to live with his Dad. Child reports that dad is upset. Cries and tells child that he feels bad that they are getting a divorce. Child reports that mom is upset. Mom wants child to call her constantly. 12

13 HOW CAN YOU TELL IF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS PRESENT? Context, intent and impact of abuse Framework for understanding (5 Ps): Pattern Potency Primary perpetrator Parenting problems Perspective of child See handout BWJP Parenting by Coercive Control Abuser for certain tactics 13

14 DOES DV/CC MATTER? Small Group Work Scenario: Mother has alleged that during the marriage there were instances where father was physically violent (slapping, driving recklessly) and was controlling (monitoring where she went, how she spent money). Parents have been separated for about 6 months. Children, age 8 years and 10 years, live with mom and are with dad on alternating weekends from Friday after school until Monday morning. Questions to consider: Do you think the children are at risk? Why or why not? What intervention might be necessary? If you can’t determine the risk based on the information presented, what additional information would be needed and how would you obtain that information? 14

15 DOES DV/CC MATTER? 15 BWJP ‘s Parenting By Coercive Control Abusers (working draft)

16 DOES DV/CC MATTER? Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Resiliency factors Alienation concepts Restorative Developmental needs of children and needs in general 16

17 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS When do you generally make MH referrals in family cases (behaviors in individuals or families)? What behaviors do you see that make you want to ask for an assessment of MH professionals opinion. If you have a DV case and feel a need to refer to a MH professional, what type of services do you ask for and what places do you turn to? What has been problematic and helpful in working with MH professionals 17

18 Things to consider: Role clarification Understanding who the mental health professional is working for Information sharing parameters (what do you share and not share (legally and best practice)? Assessments: What kind, for what purpose? What they can and can’t do Difference between consultation and referral The appropriate intervention and the value of different MH supports and alternatives to MH Diagnosis, what does it mean and services available w/o diagnosis? Who should you refer to? Money, money, money 18 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

19 Cases When Therapy Should Not Be Ordered: When child is ordered into therapy to control or monitor the parent’s behavior or to change behavior when the person does now acknowledge the behavior. Don’t use therapy as a way to improve the relationship with someone who is not in therapy When the child is refusing to participate When the child is put at risk for talking/participating (Need to protect the child and the child-therapist relationship.) When therapy is being used to gain or document information for use in court. e.g. ask therapist to find out whether sexual assault or domestic violence happened. 19

20 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Some Best Practices: The focus of all considerations regarding the family should include the perspective of the children involved Developmental factors Traumatic effect factors of negative change in the family Children’s experience of feeling caught in the middle Normal children’s reactions to this experience in the family Be clear as to what the professional is being asked to do and clearly define the role of each professional. Allow the mental health professional to determine appropriateness and parameters for therapeutic services. Limit the number of professionals working with a family. Provide avenues for sharing of information among professionals (releases between all involved professionals) Safeguard privacy. Provide children highest degree of confidentiality as possible with the professionals they are working with. Communicate directly with the professionals. 20


22 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Some Best Practices (cont.): Provide professionals copies of any court related orders, particularly those in which they are named to provide services. Make sure services of the mental health professional match what is being ordered Monitoring of parent or parent/child interaction or parenting time is not done by mental health professionals and should be done by supervised parenting time centers or similar professionals and agencies. Final decisions on parenting time and custody issues should not be made by the mental health professional. Rather the mental health professional’s information and opinions should be considered by the court person making the final decision. Provide clarity on billing responsibility. Understand insurance billing limitations. “Reunification therapy” is inappropriate when IPV/DV has been present The mental health professional may act as an advocate for the child’s perspective to be considered in making decisions about the parenting time or interactions. 22

23 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Best Practices in DV Cases: Identify and understand the child’s perspective and assist in this voice being considered when making decisions about family interactions and focus of the work. Understand the level of experience and training professionals have relative to IPV and domestic violence in cases of custody concerns or child custody evaluations. Understand and identify victim’s survivor’s protective actions and important factors Assist in the process of holding batterers accountable. Anger management for batterers and couples therapy are not appropriate interventions alone Batterer intervention programming (in addition to therapy) is often appropriate for the parent who has engaged in battering behaviors. Batterer intervention in a group setting versus individual is most effective. 23

24 WORKING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Best Practices in DV Cases: Interaction with others in family (i.e. partner and/or children) not appropriate unless the perpetrator has completed a program and been non-abusive for a significant period of time. Draft specific protections/prohibitions into order as needed to allow professional to work effectively. E.g. require signing of releases, limit phone calls/contact with professional, protect child records from parent inquiry, etc. “Reunification therapy” is not appropriate in cases of IPV/DV. It is important for the parent who has engaged in abuse does extensive work on their behaviors and better understanding their child’s perspective The child’s perspective and pacing for improving or strengthening the relationship with the parent who has been abusive in the family is highly regarded. 24

25 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Parenting by Coercive Controlling Abusers -Battered Women’s Justice Project 2012 working draft (handout) Children’s Bill of Rights (handout) Power and Control & Equality Wheels (handout) Mental Health Professionals in Family Court Cases (handout) Restorative Parenting: Beck & Raghavan, Intimate Partner Abuse Screening in Custody Mediation: The Importance of Assessing Coercive Control, 48 Fam. Ct. Rev. 555 (2010) Peter G. Jaffe et al., Custody Disputes Involving Allegations of Domestic Violence: Toward a Differentiated Approach to Parenting Plans, 46 Fam. Ct. Rev. 500 (2008). Ellis & Stuckless, Domestic Violence, DOVE, and Divorce Mediation, 44 Fam. Ct. Rev. 658 (2006). ABA Commission on Domestic Violence – (free resources) 25

26 CONTACT INFORMATION Dave Mathews One T Consulting 651.528.9410 Andrew John Domestic Abuse Project 612.874.7063 x262 Rebekah Moses Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women 651.646.6177 x17 26

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