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Assessing Relationship Violence

EDST Assistant Professor Ryan G. Carlson, PhD, LMHC (FL), NCC in Counselor Education has been awarded a $14,994 ASPIRE-I: Innovation (Advanced Support for Innovative Research Excellence-I) grant from the USC Office of Research for Assessing Relationship Violence Across a Continuum: A Scale Development Project. This funding is for tenure-track Assistant Professors to encourage the development of research projects that further extramural funding or other scholarly pursuits.

Carlson’s research project will begin on May 16, 2014 and conclude on September 15, 2015. There will be two partner sites for this research project – University of Central Florida and South Carolina’s Richland County Two's Intervention Services (pending their IRB approval). One graduate research assistant will be hired to aide in data collection and help with the ensuing manuscript.

The purpose of this project is to develop and examine the psychometric properties of an assessment designed to identify, or distinguish, between types of intimate partner violence. “The assessment builds on years of research from sociologists and psychologists who identified typologies of partner violence” says Carlson. In 2010, Carlson created a model called the Continuum of Conflict and Control designed to synthesize the typologies so that practitioners could begin to understand how this research influences their practice.

Carlson’s new research builds on Continuum of Conflict and Control findings that he conducted with his longtime colleague Professor & Associate Dean for Research Andrew P. Daire at University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Education: “Typologies of intimate partner violence were developed to describe the heterogeneity of abusive men. They contrast with the traditional feminist ideology of abuser etiology that holds all violence is the result of power and control. It provides a conceptual training model to help couples counselors understand the differences among violence within relationships...”

After screening over 1,000 couples for partner violence at UCF during two federally-funded projects, Carlson realized that not all relationship violence is the same; yet treatment protocol initiates therapy as if it were the same. Carlson explains that it is critical to acknowledge the differentiation for treatment implications – “Some couples may be appropriate for and benefit from couples counseling; whereas, others may need referrals to community resources.” Carlson is hoping his data will distinguish between typologies of intimate partner violence so that a more accurate assessment can be made.

Currently, there is no formal method of assessing which type of partner violence a couple may be exhibiting. South Carolina consistently rates as one of the highest (the highest in 2011) in reports of partner violence, as well as related homicides. With more accurate identification and treatment of partner violence by couples’ counselors, Carlson hopes that his project will help to lower those stats.

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