"Helpless Helpers": Primary care therapist self-efficacy working with intimate partner violence and aging women

Watson, C., Carthy, N. and Becker, S. (2017) "Helpless Helpers": Primary care therapist self-efficacy working with intimate partner violence and aging women. Quality in Aging and Older Adults, 18 (4). pp. 222-234. ISSN 1471-7794

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Purpose: To explore primary care psychological therapists’ experiences of working with midlife and older women presenting with intimate partner violence and develop a theoretical framework using a grounded theory approach to identify the experiences of those practitioners working with this phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach: Interviews with 17 practitioners were conducted. The data analysis was informed by a grounded theory approach, which requires three states of data coding: open, axial and selective. Data codes were thematically sorted into causal, contextual, strategic, intervening, interactional and consequential conditions. Findings: A core state of therapist helplessness was uncovered. The framework demonstrates that psychological therapists doubt their ability to work meaningfully with women over 45 experiencing IPV. To avoid the core state of helplessness therapists use strategies such as avoiding asking questions about partner violence, making assumptions of how patients interpret their own experiences, addressing symptoms rather than the root cause, and going above and beyond in attempts to rescue patients. The consequence of therapists’ helplessness often results in burnout. Research limitations/implications: The framework identifies barriers in working effectively with intimate partner violence and women in the mid to older aged populations. Practical implications: Originality/value: This study is the first to suggest a framework that is grounded in practitioner experience with the capability to transfer to a range of professionals working with mid to older aged women such as forensic, medical and specialist psychologists.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Emerald Publishing Limited 2017. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Quality in Aging and Older Adults. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Divisions: School of Social Science
Depositing User: Sue Becker
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2017 14:14
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2019 14:20
URI: https://bgro.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/219

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