An exploration of the working alliance in group programmes for domestic abuse perpetrators

Project Details


The working alliance, the relationship between a therapist or other professional and a client, has been shown to be predictive of outcomes with a wide range of interventions. This sub-study explored the extent to which that may also be true for men who are voluntarily attending DAPP group interventions in the UK. Additionally, the factors that support and hinder the building of the alliance were investigated.
Four research methods were used: a systematic review of international literature; quantitative data collection with measures of the working alliance and of a range of client and facilitator characteristics; observation of group sessions; and focus groups with group facilitators.
Emerging evidence of the link to outcomes are found in the reviewed literature. In addition, a synthesis of results highlights some evidence for the importance of client readiness to change, fatherhood and hypo-mentalization, amongst other factors, as being client characteristics that influence the alliance. Hypo-mentalization is a lowered awareness of one’s own mental states or the mental states of others. Key facilitator characteristics included experience, and the use of motivational interviewing methods.
Limitations of the research included the small-scale data collection and the very different context of the international research (from the US, Canada, and Spain), which is focussed predominantly on court-mandated men.

Key findings

While further research is needed, this study indicated that the working alliance, and consequently DAPP outcomes, may be strengthened by experienced facilitators who are well-trained in motivational interviewing methods. Providing different or additional support for some clients, for example fathers and clients with severe hypo-mentalization may also be of value.
Effective start/end date1/03/2131/05/21


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