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Interventions for Intimate Partner Violence

Our lab's research projects comprise basic and applied research targeting offenders, victims and children affected by IPV.

Our primary project is the development and testing of a group intervention for men court-mandated to treatment for domestic violence. More specifically, informed by the literature on risk factors for intimate partner violence (IPV) maintenance, drawing from the broader psychopathology and psychotherapy literatures, and guided by third wave behavior therapy models, my students and I developed a new conceptual model identifying novel processes that underlie the propensity for violent perpetrators to continue engaging in IPV, applied that model to a novel intervention, and then tested the efficacy and effectiveness of that new intervention. Our new intervention worked significantly and dramatically better at reducing future violence compared to the gold standard programs offered in most states. Several states have already adopted our new intervention.

Our goal is for The Family Institute to be at the forefront of this national empirically supported effort to significantly and dramatically reduce intimate partner violence and sexual misconduct.

At The Family Institute we are continuing evaluating the effectiveness of our new intervention in several ways, including:

  • attempting to replicate the results from our last randomized controlled trial (RCT);
  • testing the active mechanisms of change in our intervention;
  • examining whether there are indirect benefits for victims and children still living with the treated offender; and
  • implementing this program in several other states in the U.S. and in Bogota, Colombia.

We have also adapted this intervention and treatment manual for (a) adolescent boys residing in juvenile detention as well as (b) for college students found responsible for sexual misconduct. Both adapted interventions are being tested for their effectiveness in multiple states.

Principal Investigator: Erika Lawrence, Ph.D., LCP
Director of Translational Science
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Erika Lawrence, Ph.D.
The Developmental Course of Romantic Relationships

Dr. Lawrence developed a new model conceptualizing specific couple processes as unique multi-faceted, dyadic and dynamic phenomena, and examined the developmental courses of each relational process over the early years of romantic relationships. She identified five distinct albeit related domains of couple functioning: conflict management and recovery, partner support transactions, sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy and balance of power/control. She has also determined which domains predict relationship distress and dissolution and which predict depression and anxiety over time.  

In response, Dr. Lawrence had developed mini-workshops that are offered to couples who are struggling in a given domain. This approach allows couples to learn the skills they truly need, in a timely manner, rather than receiving a one-size-fits-all intervention.

Principal Investigator: Erika Lawrence, Ph.D., LCP
Director of Translational Science
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Publications & Presentations

Representative Publications

Zarling, A., et al. (2017). Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for domestic violence offenders. Psychology of Violencehttp://dx.doi.org/10.1037/vio0000097

Zarling, A., Lawrence, E., & Marchman, J. (2015). A randomized controlled trial of acceptance and commitment therapy for aggressive behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83, 199-212. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0037946

Langer, A., & Lawrence, E. (2010). Toward an integrated, empirically supported theory of intimate partner violence. In K. Osterman (Ed.), Indirect and direct aggression (pp. 357-374). Peter Lang Printing House.

Langer, A., & Lawrence, E. (2010). Emotion regulation and experiential avoidance in intimate partner violence. In F. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in psychology research, Volume 70. NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Representative Professional Presentations

Lawrence, E. (May, 2017). IF it IS broke, why not fix it? Invited talk at the Departamento de Psicologia, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia.

Lawrence, E. (August, 2016). Using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach to treat domestic violence. In G. Kline (Chair), Applying couple and family psychology interventions to novel settings and populations. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association Convention, Denver, CO.

Lawrence, E. (August, 2014). Conducting effectiveness research: The good, the bad and the ugly. Presented in G.A. Benjamin (Chair), Fellows Address: Celebration of their knowledge. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association Convention, Honolulu, HI.

Lawrence, E. (Chair). (May, 2014). A randomized controlled trial comparing group interventions for intimate partner violence. Symposium to be presented at Association for Psychological Science Convention, San Francisco, CA.

Lawrence, E., Langer Zarling, A., & Orengo-Aguayo, R. (May, 2014). A Contextual Behavioral Science approach to treating intimate partner violence. In E. Lawrence (Chair), A randomized controlled trial comparing group interventions for intimate partner violence. Symposium accepted for presentation at the APS Convention, San Francisco, CA.

Lawrence, E. (Chair). (August, 2013). ACTV: A novel, ACT-based group intervention to reduce intimate partner violence. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention, Honolulu, HI.

Lawrence, E. (March, 2013). If it IS broke, why NOT fix it? Development and quasi-randomized clinical trial of a statewide, evidence-based intervention for intimate partner violence. Invited colloquium presented at the Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

Lawrence, E. (Invited Chair). (July, 2008). Intimate violence. Symposium presented at the XVIII World Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression, Budapest, Hungary.

Lawrence, E., Langer, A., Brock, R.L., & Barry, R.A. (July, 2008). Explaining how intimate partner violence against women leads to clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In E. Lawrence (Chair), Intimate violence. Symposium presented at the XVIII World Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA), Budapest, Hungary.

Lawrence, E. (September, 2004). A contextual analysis of physical aggression in intimate relationships: Findings from the Relationship Domains Interview. Presented at the World Meeting of ISRA, Santorini, Greece.

Lawrence, E. (July, 2004). Physical aggression in intimate relationships: Using a molecular approach to inform intervention efforts. Presented at World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Kobe, Japan.

Funders

This work has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The Department of Justice's Office of Violence against Woman (DOJ-OVW), the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), as well as several universities and states.