I’m sure that it comes as no surprise to most of us who spend our days in agencies making referrals to the various Centers for Women and Families, that domestic violence is rising at an alarming rate. At a recent presentation for Bishop Lori of the Arch Diocese of Bridgeport, the director of Catholic Charities mental health agency in Bridgeport reported that referrals to his agency for DV related issues have increased by 400% in the last year. The DV department at FSW Inc. also in Bridgeport, has a waiting list for referrals needing a Spanish speaking clinician, and can barely meet the demand of the English speaking referrals. Undoubtedly agencies all over the state and likely all over the country are struggling to meet the needs of this increasing population.
A September 2004 study released by the National Institute of Justice, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, revealed that:
- Women whose male partners experienced two or more periods of unemployment over the five-year course of the study were three times more likely to be abused.
- Couples under “extensive financial strain” had triple the domestic violence rate of others.
- Women in low-income neighborhoods are “substantially more likely” to be repeatedly injured by male partners.
The study “found a strong link between intimate violence and the economic well-being of couples and the communities in which they live.”
Financial difficulties do not cause the violence but they definitely make the stress in the family worse and give abusers another reason to harm their victims. Even in the middle class and affluent communities of Connecticut, where families that once rode the wave of financial security through employment at investment banks and other financial institutions and are for the first time finding themselves unable to pay their high mortgages and are watching their standard of living sharply decline; are reporting higher incidences and severity of domestic violence. Whether working with poor women in urban communities or with middle or upper class women in suburban communities, domestic violence stretches across all racial and socio-economic lines. More services for victims and families are needed as is better advocacy and resources so that victims don’t feel compelled to stay with their abusers becuase of employment or housing. As MFT’s we are also aware of the effects of DV on the larger family system especially the children, who suffer severe and often long-term symptoms of anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, etc. as a result of witnessing domestic violence in the home.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get information about receiving help in your area 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or click the following link http://www.ndvh.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/
Dan Hughes, PhD, spoke at the Southwest CT Regional Consortium conference on May 8. His topic, attachment-focused family therapy, uses attachment research theory to build parent-child bonds to “co-regulate” affect, integrating traumatic history and building an ongoing template of safety and exploration. Therapist stance with both children and parents is “playful, accepting, curious and empathic.” He ended his talk with a quote from the Inuit storytelling tradition ” To love a child is to learn the song within their heart and sing it back to them when they forget it.” Hughes is based in Pennsylvania and has written several books that bridge psychodynamic and relational principles.
For more information about Dan Hughes you can visit his website at http://www.danielhughes.org/
Fairfield University is pleased to offer the latest in a series of workshops for Human Service Professionals:”Cutting Edge Approaches: Mindfulness in Family Therapy” on May 29, 2009 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00p.m. Dr. Eric McCollum of Virginia Tech will conduct the workshop which will introduce therapists and educators to the concept and history of mindfulness, aspects of its Buddhist roots that are being integrated inclinical and educational models, its research base, and specific implications for utilization. Particular attention will be paid to the benefits of therapists’ and educators’ own practice of mindfulness to ground their professional work. Participants will have ample opportunities to learn and practice a variety of mindfulness techniques. Friday, May 29, 2009 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Kelley Center Presentation Room Cost: $100 (professional) $65 (student) 6 CEU’s – MFT
Hope you can join us!
The 2009 annual CTAMFT conference was held on Friday May 8th at Anthony’s Ocean View in East Haven Connecticut and was by all accounts a huge success! 270 people participated in the day that included fantastic speakers, fabulous food, (including gelato during a late afternoon break!) and an incredible view!!! A diverse group of MFT’s, and MFT students from all over the state had an opportunity to network, fellowship and learn about how to become more involved with CTAMFT by signing up for various committees and learning about upcoming workshops and continuing education opportunities.
For those of you that missed the conference and would like to learn how you can join or become more involved with CTAMFT, please go to their website at www.ctamft.org.
As we usher in Spring, so too do we usher in a renewed focus on issues of mental health. With the fear of a Swine Flu pandemic everywhere you look, it seems especially timely to discuss what many consider to be an epidemic of anxiety in our society.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders and women are two to three times more likely to develop them than men. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America http://www.adaa.org, anxiety disorders “negatively influence the quality of a person’s life and can cause general deterioration in overall health and well-being.”
In this current climate amid fears about our economy, war, the safety of our planet, safeguarding our children and now swine flu; our society is more anxious than ever. Feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and fear can be crippling for many of our clients and often the most vulnerable of them have the the least amount of support or coping skills to work through them. Helping clients learn to identify their individual signs and symptoms when they become anxious and to assist them in developing self soothing techniques through the use of deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or cognitive behavioral techniques that help clients discern the difference between anxiety provoking thoughts and actual behavior; is important so they can use these skills on their own when new challenges arise. These practices are not just important for adults. Teaching children to soothe themselves is also vitally important and will greatly improve their ability to cope in the lightening fast paced world that they’re growing up in by teaching them to have an internal locus of control which will allow them to manage their affective state even when things feel out of control around them.
So as we bring awareness to mental health concerns this month let us help our clients and ourselves to remember to stop and notice the beauty of spring, and the fragile new life that is blooming all around us this time of year. Sometimes appreciating the majesty of nature and the miracle of life in all its forms can put our day to day challenges into perspective and be all the therapy we need in those moments.