Gender-Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse, Second Edition, by John Hamel, 2014, New York: Springer Publishing Company, $56.
John Hamel, LCSW, has written a well-designed and possibly controversial 376-page book in regard to evidence-based approaches for gender-inclusive treatment of intimate partner abuse.
The book consists of three main components, including research, assessment, and treatment. The research component focuses specifically on partner abuse today and details the prevalence of partner abuse, its impact on partners and families, and an in-depth summary of research regarding prevalence/context/risk factors/impact on victims and families.
The assessment component focuses explicitly on diagnostic issues and conducting partner abuse assessments. Specifically, the diagnostic issues focus on categorizing partner abuse, partner abuse in the DSM-5, dominant aggressor assessment, anger and coercion, assessing victims, and why partner abuse is under-detected by therapists. The conducting of assessments focuses on general guidelines/protocol, considerations for LGBT and ethnic minorities, and substance and partner abuse.
The treatment aspect is especially detailed in regard to developing the treatment plan, group work, family systems, couple interventions, working with families, and partner abuse in disputed child custody cases.
Gender-Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse is essential to a social worker’s literary collection. Often, social workers overlook the macro level of social work practice. “Do we want to be politically correct or do we want to reduce domestic violence in our communities?” (Hamel, p. xxiii) Sadly, most funding for domestic violence is appropriated to the majority of domestic violence victims (e.g., women). However, Hamel provides thorough evidence to suggest that we are forgetting a population: men. His research reveals a disturbing report of 302 male victims who contacted the domestic abuse helpline, in which half of them were not taken seriously.
Hamel is clearly drawing a line to stand up for all genders and emphasizing taking male victims more seriously, especially in regard to emotional abuse and control (coercive behavior) in which he says men and women have nearly identical rates. The traditional domestic violence treatment, which typically focuses on a feminine perspective, is colliding with a more evidence-based approach of gender equality through a psychotherapeutic type of treatment.
Whether you are a traditionalist or progressive in regard to domestic violence, there is no denying Hamel addresses the concept of “bridging the gap” between social workers and domestic violence counselors with evidence-based concepts found within the text.
The NASW Code of Ethics demands that we adhere to ethical principles such as service, social justice, dignity and worth of a person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. Hamel is clearly demonstrating a knowledge and application of all of these principles, which can be evidenced through his text. This is a must-have text for social workers who strive for excellence within our field and want to see progress within the domestic violence treatment field.
Reviewed by Craig Carpenter, LCSW, Associate Licensee,Clinical Social Worker, U.S. Military.