Counseling

Support groups

  • Many survivors find a support group very helpful. Most DV programs in the community, hospitals, and in mental health clinics will offer groups for survivors. Often these groups are free. There are some programs that will offer support groups in languages other than English. To locate groups, call Safelink at 1-877-785-2020 or one of the other Massachusetts hotlines.

Individual Counseling

  • Survivors of domestic violence benefit from talking with a safe, supportive person. There are many potential sources of counseling available. These include domestic violence counselors in domestic violence programs and licensed professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and mental health workers.
  • The Massachusetts National Association of Social Workers offers a free therapist referral service, which includes a listing of the clinical social workers' areas of expertise. With any referral, it is hard to know whether the counselor and client will be a good match. A pamphlet to assist survivors with finding a counselor can be accessed through "Resources" on the homepage of this training web site.

Couple Counseling

  • Survivors often wonder if couple counseling would be helpful in ending the violence. Sometimes this is the only form of help to which the abusive partner will agree.
  • Therapists should routinely interview each member of a couple separately before agreeing that couples counseling or therapy is the appropriate form of help. It is important to recognize both the limits of your influence and control and the real danger survivors face in their daily lives. Couple counseling requires that both people be honest and open. In the case of domestic violence, survivors may face serious consequences for sharing information about the relationship. Alternatively, survivors may self-protectively choose not to share vital information.
  • If there is on-going violence in the relationship, couple counseling is not a safe option. Even if the abuse is not physical, there are risks to participating in couple counseling for the survivor.

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