Reclaiming lives: working with survivors of intimate partner violence

Live webinars on Zoom

Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January 2023

From 9AM to 1PM, Italian time (CET)

Simultaneous translation (ENG><ITA) available

CPD credits



Event Partner (Turkey):

Event Partner (Malta):


Main contents of the live webinars:

The impacts of intimate partner violence on psychological as well as physical well-being have gained increasing recognition in recent years.  It is important that mental health professionals have a thorough and nuanced understanding of the dynamics of intimate partner violence and know how to respond with respect and efficacy. Therapists are likely to encounter survivors of this and other forms of family violence in their caseloads. While some survivors make a direct approach for support for their experience of family violence, many referrals for counselling or therapy in relation to anxiety, depression, children’s behaviour difficulties and relationship issues have their origin in or are related to living with violence at home. 

Therapists thus need to understand the psychological impact, short and long term, of living with intimate partner violence and to respond well to both direct disclosures and indirect indications.  Over the past few decades, therapeutic interventions that respond to such interpersonal violence have moved to those that are less pathologizing of survivors and more prepared to hold perpetrators responsible for their behaviour. Carmel O’Brien has developed a flexible model that assists survivors to regain their mental health or recover from violence and abuse with improved mental health and functioning. This model also allows therapy to be effective even when there is ongoing harassment and abuse. The model is grounded in a belief in survivor efficacy based on trusting the survivor to make good decisions for themselves with appropriate support. Elements of risk are often part of supporting survivors and therapists must be skilled both in dealing with risk and with their own concerns about survivors they are working with, as well as engage in appropriate self-care.

Learning objectives of the live webinars:

This webinar series will provide participants with information and tools relating to

  • an understanding of the nature and dynamics of intimate partner violence and abuse;
  • an understanding of the psychological impact of intimate partner abuse;
  • a framework for assessing risk when working with intimate partner violence, that is evidence based and simple to use;
  • respectfully responding to disclosures of risk and situation where risk is thought to be present;
  • working collaboratively with clients on their path to safety;
  • a flexible therapeutic model to aid recovery;
  • identifying common attempts by those who use violence, to minimise the violence or to invite collusion with professionals;
  • the fundamentals to consider if working with children affected by family violence;
  • making decisions about working with couples where intimate partner abuse may have occurred;
  • principles of respectful report writing for courts and other third parties;
  • making effective referrals where third parties are involved, or need to be involved with the clients, and working with other professionals in the service system.

These two webinars will also include some practical techniques and tools for assisting therapists to set goals with clients and to track progress in therapy.

Note: while the information contained in these webinars is applicable to a diverse range of situations of family violence, and a diverse range of client presentations, it’s primary focus is on providing clinical support to survivors of intimate partner violence.

About the Presenter:


Carmel O’Brien

Carmel O’Brien (B.A., Grad Dip App Psych., M Couns H.S.) is an Australian counselling psychologist whose special interest is the recovery of women and children from family violence. She has worked in child protection and women’s correctional services, in relationship and general counselling services, in the community sector and in private practice.

Carmel worked for many years as Director of Clinical Services for a large community agency, managing counselling and family violence support programs, and developing a suite of services for women and children who have experienced abuse. She initiated some unique models of service provision including utilizing trained mentors to aid recovery, commencing a domestic violence prevention program for girls in schools, and starting a successful choir for survivors.  In this role she also launched two iPhone Apps to deliver information about domestic violence issues and healthy relationships. Carmel was instrumental in developing the Australian Psychological Society guidelines for working with intimate partner violence.  Her first book “Blame Changer: Understanding Domestic Violence” was released in October 2016.  She also has a particular interest in survivors’ experiences in the justice system. 

Carmel received the Australian Psychological Society Elaine Dignan Award for her contribution to women through her profession and is also a Fellow of both the Australian Psychological Society and the Cairnmillar Institute. In January 2017, Carmel was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her contribution to mental health and social welfare organisations. 


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Attaccamento e Trauma: Le nuove frontiere della ricerca e della pratica clinica
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