Faculty Awarded 2015 AAMFT Dissertation Award

Written by Kristina Alvarado
April 29, 2015

This month, Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Cobb, Clinical Coordinator and Core Faculty in the school?s Master of Arts in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy?a couples and family therapy program, was selected as a 2015 recipient of the prestigious ?Dissertation Award? from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Her project, ?Marriage and Family Therapists? Endorsement of Couples Treatment for Intimate Partner Violence,? was recognized as having importance and pragmatic relevance of research for the process and outcome of marriage and family therapy and the training of its practitioners.

As the recipient of this award, Dr. Cobb has been invited to receive the award prior to the keynote address at the annual AAMFT conference in Austin, Texas this upcoming September.

Read the dissertation?s abstract below for more information on the project awarded. Congratulations to Dr. Cobb on behalf of the school?s faculty, staff, and student community for this great honor!

Dr. Cobb will be talking about her research and the treatment of couples and families who have experienced intimate partner violence in Fall Quarter 2015?s course ?STMC 5750 Systems of Trauma Treatment.? With approval from the Relationship & Pastoral Therapy program director, auditors are welcome to inquire on the course.
Email casavant@seattleu.edu if you're interested.

Abstract: ?Marriage and Family Therapists? Endorsement of Couples Treatment for Intimate Partner Violence?
A six-group randomized experimental study was used to investigate the factors that are associated with a marriage and family therapist?s decision to work with clients individually or as a couple when they present with intimate partner violence (IPV). Investigated factors included the type of IPV experienced by the clients, the therapist?s accuracy in identifying the type of violence experienced by clients, and the therapist?s experience with IPV in their own romantic relationships, as moderated by levels of differentiation. Participants included 275 members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. A chi square test revealed that participants who received vignettes portraying situational couple violence were more likely to endorse couples treatment as the preferred treatment modality than participants who received vignettes portraying intimate terrorism. Additional chi square tests revealed that among participants who received vignettes portraying situational couple violence, those who were accurately able to identify the type of violence portrayed in the vignette were more likely to endorse couples treatment as the preferred treatment modality than those who did not accurately identify the type of violence. Additional analyses, however, suggest that accurate identification and appropriate treatment choice may be more difficult in situations in which intimate terrorism is taking place, especially when women are the perpetrators of this abuse. Logistic regression indicated that there was not a significant relationship between therapists? personal experience with IPV and endorsement of treatment type. In addition, differentiation did not moderate the relationship between IPV experienced in participants? own romantic relationships and their endorsement of couples treatment. The current study indicates that marriage and family therapists are likely to make IPV treatment choices primarily based on the type of violence experienced by the couple. It appears that IPV treatment choice is not influenced by personal experience with IPV, but rather by the therapist?s accurate identification of IPV type and the gender of the perpetrator of abuse. These findings ultimately highlight the need continued education on IPV, IPV types, gender biases with regards to IPV, and the importance of taking safety into consideration when making treatment decisions.