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A Qualitative Study of Intimate Partner Violence Universal Screening by Family Therapy Interns: Implications for Practice, Research, Training, and Supervision


  • Jeffrey L. Todahl, PhD, College of Education, University of Oregon; Deanna Linville, PhD, College of Education, University of Oregon; Liang-Ying Chou, MEd, is a doctoral student in Family Therapy, Syracuse University; Patricia Maher-Cosenza, BA, Cronin House, Hayward, California.

Address correspondence to Jeffrey L. Todahl, PhD, College of Education, Couples and Family Therapy, 5251 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-5251; E-mail:


Although a few family therapy researchers and clinicians have urged universal screening for intimate partner violence (IPV), how screening is implemented—and, in particular, client and therapist response to screening—is vaguely defined and largely untested. This qualitative study examined the dilemmas experienced by couples and family therapy interns when implementing universal screening for IPV in an outpatient clinic setting. Twenty-two graduate students in a COAMFTE-accredited program were interviewed using qualitative research methods grounded in phenomenology. Three domains, 7 main themes, and 26 subthemes were identified. The three domains that emerged in this study include (a) therapist practice of universal screening, (b) client response to universal screening, and (c) therapist response to universal screening. Implications for practice, research, training, and supervision are discussed.