Goal Consensus is More than Just Agreement: Improving Therapeutic Relationships with Women who Experience Intimate Partner Violence



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


The working relationship between social workers and women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) needs to be positive and supportive if we want to create real opportunities to help women be safe. Developing and implementing safety plans with women can be challenging for social workers when there is not shared agreement of what it means to be safe from IPV. The aim of this paper is to explore goal consensus, a common factor recognized as an essential element of the working alliance and therapeutic contract, as a mechanism for optimizing the working relationship between social work practitioners and women who experience IPV. Using Mackrill’s framework the construct of goal consensus will be examined with particular focus on its contribution to better understanding women’s 1) self-worth, 2) isolation and fear, and 3) agency within the context of help-seeking. The author suggests a shift in the current definition of goal consensus may go a long way in creating positive working relationships between social workers and women who experience IPV.



Perspectives on Social Work, Jennifer L. Root, Intimate Partner Violence, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Intimate partner violence