Faculty Articles

Trauma Treatment for Intimate Partner Violence in Incarcerated Populations

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Practice Innovations





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The Survivor Therapy Empowerment Program (STEP) is a 12 unit, manualized, tri-partite psychoeducational program focused on trauma and its effects. More specifically, STEP allows participants to process their lived experiences, while working on skill-building exercises that help rebuild resilience and foster well-being. Each unit covers an area associated with people who survived interpersonal trauma, such as domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation, sex trafficking, and child abuse. Although originally designed for women who experienced intimate partner violence, its use has been expanded to both men and women experiencing different forms of gender violence. Units cover issues such as the cycle of violence, lasting impact from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, substance abuse, empowerment, dealing with children, reducing stress in one’s life, relaxation training, and legal issues. The efficacy of STEP was assessed using a population of men and women participants in a short-term jail facility similar to those treated by independent practitioners after they are released. They were located in both the general population and in the mental health unit of the jail. Analyses of data from the study participants were performed using the linear mixed modeling (LMM) procedure. Of note, when parameterized appropriately, LMMs increase statistical power and precision in fixed effects estimates (Singer & Willett, 2003). Post hoc analyses indicated significant reduction in anxiety and increase in feelings of well-being as a function of the number of sessions attended. The more units completed, the better the outcome as measured by several different assessment instruments. Although the program was delivered in group format, the results indicated it may easily be adapted by practitioners in the course of individual therapy. STEP was beneficial for both male and female survivors of various interpersonal traumas in addition to intimate partner violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)



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