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Therapeutically Supporting Children to Recover from the Impact of Family Violence

  • Olivia Powell (a1) and Kathy Morrison (a2)


Family violence (also referred to as Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence) describes violence that occurs within an intimate relationship, whether a current or former partner. Children can experience a range of abuses (emotional, physical, sexual and neglect) within the context of family violence, and harm is cumulative and may present as complex trauma. This paper is based on a practice presentation delivered at the International Childhood Trauma Conference in Melbourne (Australia) in June 2016. The purpose of this paper is to increase awareness of the impacts for children who have experienced family violence, to enhance understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to their trauma presentation, and to highlight the specific practice issues and considerations in providing therapeutic support to this client population, with the ultimate aim of improving diagnostic and treatment outcomes for children impacted by family violence. Sufficient safety and stability are required for children to experience therapeutic change, and if family violence is current, the initial response needs to be protective. Identification of family violence should prompt practitioners to use trauma-informed assessment and trauma-focused evidence-based treatments within a family therapy and systems framework. Family violence is complex and there are many barriers to treatment and practice considerations. Expansion of practitioner knowledge and skills in family violence trauma will enhance outcomes for children who have experienced family violence.


Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Olivia Powell, Clinical Psychologist MAPS MCCLP, Family Violence Counselling and Support Service, Tasmania, Australia. E-mail:


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Therapeutically Supporting Children to Recover from the Impact of Family Violence

  • Olivia Powell (a1) and Kathy Morrison (a2)


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