Relationship Violence Among Couples Seeking Therapy: Common Couple Violence or Battering?

Authors


  • Lorelei E. Simpson, PhD, Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University; Brian D. Doss, PhD, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University; Jennifer Wheeler, PhD, Sex Offender Treatment Program, Washington State Department of Corrections; Andrew Christensen, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles.

  • At the time the data were collected, Lorelei E. Simpson and Brian D. Doss were at the Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, and Jennifer Wheeler was at the Department of Psychology, University of Washington. This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health awarded to Lorelei E. Simpson at UCLA for a National Research Service Award (MH63616) and to Andrew Christensen at UCLA (MH56223) and Neil S. Jacobson at the University of Washington (MH56165) for a two-site clinical trial of couple therapy. After Jacobson’s death, William George served as PI at the University of Washington.

  • The authors would like to thank Michael Mitchell and Xiao Chen at the Statistical Computing area of the UCLA Academic Technology Services for their assistance in planning and completing the statistical analyses used in this article.

Address correspondence to Lorelei E. Simpson, PhD, Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, Dedman College, PO Box 750442, Dallas, Texas 75275-0442; E-mail: lsimpson@smu.edu

Abstract

Relationship violence is highly prevalent among couples seeking therapy (Ehrensaft & Vivian, 1996; Jouriles & O’Leary, 1985), yet few couple therapists regularly assess for violence (Dimidjian, Berns, & Jacobson, 1999), and there is limited research on the type of violence most characteristic of couples in this population. The current study uses latent class analysis to examine types of violence in a sample of 273 therapy-seeking couples. The results support a three-class typology, with the groups labeled no violence, low-level violence, and moderate-to-severe violence. Comparisons between the classes support hypothesized differences between groups in degree of marital satisfaction and difficulties in communication, providing further validation of the typology among couples seeking treatment. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

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