Helpless helpers: primary care therapist self-efficacy working with intimate partner violence and ageing women

Bowman, Carlie, Carthy, Nikki and Becker, Sue (2017) Helpless helpers: primary care therapist self-efficacy working with intimate partner violence and ageing women. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 18 (4). pp. 222-234. ISSN 1471-7794

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The purpose of this paper is to explore primary care psychological therapists’ experiences of working with mid-life and older women presenting with intimate partner violence (IPV) and develop a theoretical framework using a grounded theory approach to identify the experiences of those practitioners working with this phenomenon.

Interviews with 17 practitioners were conducted. The data analysis was informed by a grounded theory approach, which requires three states of data coding: open, axial and selective. Data codes were thematically sorted into causal, contextual, strategic, intervening, interactional and consequential conditions.

A core state of therapist helplessness was uncovered. The framework demonstrates that psychological therapists can doubt their ability to work meaningfully with women over 45 years of age experiencing IPV. To avoid the core state of helplessness, therapists use strategies such as avoiding asking questions about partner violence, making assumptions of how patients interpret their own experiences, addressing symptoms rather than the root cause and going above and beyond in attempts to rescue patients. The consequence of therapists’ helplessness often results in burnout.

Research limitations/implications
The framework identifies barriers in working effectively with IPV and women in the mid-to older-aged populations.

This study is the first to suggest a framework that is grounded in practitioner experience with capability to transfer to a range of professionals working with mid-to older-aged women such as forensic, medical and specialist psychologists.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-efficacy, Psychological therapies, confidence, older adults, domestic violence, Intimate Partner Violence, IAPT
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L500 Social Work
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2021 10:50
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 15:00

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