Fathers and Violence

This new book by Carla Smith Stover is about the Fathers For Change programme (F4C) which aims at changing behaviour, improving parenting and healing relationships. This emphasis on treatment that will repair father-child relationships provides a welcome contrast to programmes which focus only on changing behaviour with little or no consideration of the importance of fathers in the lives of their children.

In the Epilogue to the book, Carla poses the question: “Why was this programme designed for fathers and could it be provided to mothers as well?” She notes that F4C has been offered with some modifications to mothers and to lesbian and gay co-parents who have used violence an the combined trauma and parenting focus seem effective regardless of gender.

She adds: “I started the development of this intervention with a focus on fathers because of the systemic approach to men who use family violence as criminals and “monsters”. Given how father’s importance is often minimised, especially if they have caused harm, I felt a strong need to put the word Fathers in the title of the intervention and to keep that focus as I wrote this book. That said, many of the same principles can be used with mothers who are using violence.”

This enlightened approach is further described in the Preface, which states: “If the consequence for family violence is limited to criminal sanctions or threatened loss of their children and family, fathers who have used violence are put in a position to deny accountability.”

The guide is aimed at clinicians and therapists who want to provide the F4C therapy with fathers and sometimes with their co-parent and children as well. Once selected as eligible for the treatment they work through stages of engagement and motivational enhancement, reflective functioning and skills building, co-parenting communication and father-child restorative parenting.

The book also includes F4C forms, worksheets and handouts which can be photocopied or downloaded by purchasers of the book for use with clients.

Domestic violence needs to be treated seriously. We hope that this F4C approach, whether applied to fathers or mothers, could be used in Scotland in order to produce safe and positive outcomes rather than just removing abusers from the family or sending them on anger management courses.

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