New domestic abuse therapy interventions to pilot in Northamptonshire.

Dr Jane Callaghan gives a conference on research into the effect of domestic abuse on young people.
Dr Jane Callaghan gives a conference on research into the effect of domestic abuse on young people.

A new therapy technique for children who have been affected by domestic abuse is expected to begin in Northamptonshire at the end of the summer.

In a conference at the University of Northampton today, Dr Jane Callaghan associate professor in psychology, presented the plan as part of a project to emphasise the voice of children in European policy on domestic violence.

The conference came after a year of research involving interviewing young people aged between eight-18 in four different countries about their experiences with violence in their homes.

Dr Callaghan said: “Most related policy around the world focuses on adults involved, especially women, but children are also victims, even if they are not suffering the abuse directly.

“Young people are not passive and they are capable of voicing their experiences very articulately. Some of the stories we have come across are amazing, about how these people have coped with their experiences and how they have creatively managed them to help themselves be resilient.

“We want to see these young people more carefully considered when it comes to policy making.”

The research, conducted by the University’s Centre for Children and Youth, Understanding Agency and Resistant Strategies (UNARS) alongside Northampton Women’s Aid and funded by the European Commission, included interviews with 100 young volunteers in the UK, Italy, Spain and Greece as well as analysis of drawings and writing that they had been asked to create.

As well as being used to contribute towards EU policy change, the research will be used to work with healthcare organisations and develop new methods of group ‘intervention’ therapy programmes aimed at “bringing about positive change and enhancing the capacity for resistance.”

Once finalised, the programme will be piloted in the UK and in Greece before being adopted in other countries around the world if it is successful.

Dr Callaghan said: “It’s a subject that I am very passionate about as, growing up in South Africa, I saw a lot of the impact that a culture of violence can have on young people and, while we don’t have that same background here, domestic violence still has just as much effect.”

“This is a wonderful project and the turnout at today’s conference has been very successful today, with a lot of healthcare professionals and policy influencers present.”