Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Our domestic violence attorneys in Colorado know that couples and family counseling can be an excellent tool to address specific problems that affect the psychological health of the family. Counseling can be particularly helpful when a family experiences a stressful event together, such as the death of a loved one or financial strain. A professional counselor can effectively help a family that is being impacted by issues such as substance abuse, chronic illness, depression, or even everyday stress and communication problems. Counseling can be a healthy solution for families looking to overcome issues and learn to effectively communicate with one another. Fortunately for those in Denver, Colorado, the area is home to qualified counseling professionals.

On the surface, it seems that family counseling would be an optimal solution for a family suffering from domestic violence issues. However, this may not be the case, according to our domestic violence lawyers. In some instances, couples counselors will even refuse to hold counseling sessions with both parties of a domestic violence situation present.

Family or Couples Counseling

Though there are exceptions to the rule, family or couples counseling is not always the best option for couples where domestic violence is involved. The primary reason is a safety concern. In order for counseling to be effective, both parties need to be open with each other. Couples and family counseling encourages all participants to practice open communication. However, in a domestic violence, or abusive, relationship such open communication can be dangerous. The victim could feel a false sense of security in the counseling session and reveal information that usually wouldn’t be shared with the abusive partner. A violent person may easily be triggered to hurt their partner should the victim speak openly and honestly about the abuse. This would not only create an unsafe environment during the counseling session, but after the couple or family has returned home as well. In situations where children are present, this risk can be particularly troubling.

Family and couples counseling is based on a shared respect for each other and mutual responsibility for the outcome of the relationships. This type of respect typically is not present where violence is involved. Until the violent offender is court ordered or willingly gets help to end the abusive behavior, the victim or victims are at risk in a family or couples counseling setting.

Individual Counseling

However, individual counseling can be particularly helpful in domestic violence situations. Counseling for the victim may help the person recognize a pattern of abuse and develop a safety plan to get themselves and any children involved away from the violence. Counseling can help the abused party cope with the anxiety, fear, stress, and self-esteem issues that arise from such a relationship. Individual counseling for the person committing the offense can also be beneficial. Without the other person or children present to lash out at, the violent offender can potentially get to the root cause of their behavior. Anger management sessions, either in a group or individual setting, is also a useful tool in correcting abusive behavior.

The best course of action for addressing abusive tendencies is for the abuser to work on those issues in a program or counseling session without the victim present. Abuse is not a relationship problem that can simply be worked on in an open, family counseling setting.

For more information, speak to our criminal defense lawyers today.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.