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An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Approach for Partner Aggression

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Partner aggression is a major public health concern. Batterers' intervention programs (BIPs) are commonly used as an alternative to incarceration for offenders who have been arrested for domestic assault. Historically, BIPs have shown little effectiveness in reducing partner aggression. This article presents a new BIP based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). ACT is a third-wave therapy that builds on the cognitive-behavioral tradition, focusing on increasing psychological flexibility by promoting acceptance and mindfulness processes. Several lines of evidence support the use of ACT in the treatment of partner aggression. Achieving Change Through Values-Based Behavior (ACTV; Lawrence, Langer Zarling, & Orengo-Aguayo, 2014) was developed based on ACT principles with a specific focus on feasibility and transferability to the community correctional setting and courtadjudicated treatment. ACTV incorporates experiential skills training and uses innovative methods to engage participants and teach the ACT processes. This article details the components of ACTV, including a case study to illustrate one participant's journey through the program. We also present preliminary pilot data, which look promising with respect to reductions in domestic assault and violent recidivism.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2017

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