Violent women: treatment approaches and psychodynamic considerations

Annette McKeown (Primrose Service, Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham, UK)
Ellen Harvey (Primrose Service, Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham, UK)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Publication date: 11 June 2018

Abstract

Purpose

Some psychodynamic approaches conceptualise female violence as a communication of experiences too difficult to think about. As practitioners, understanding what may be too painful to be thought about is incredibly important in assessment and treatment of forensic populations. Incorporating psychodynamic concepts such as splitting, transference, projection and counter-transference into formulation can be extremely helpful in understanding and formulating women’s risk of violence. The purpose of this paper is to introduce how psychodynamic concepts can be incorporated into understanding, assessment, formulation and treatment with this complex client group. This paper will also outline treatment approaches with this population.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper will review existing psychodynamic literature and apply this knowledge to working with violent female offenders. Translating theory into reflective practice will be presented.

Findings

This paper presents the value of incorporating psychodynamic considerations into existing strategies of understanding and working with violent female offenders. Ways forwards and research directions are proposed.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is focussed primarily on psychodynamic approaches to understanding this population

Practical implications

Psychodynamic concepts can add an additional dimension to formulation, supervision and treatment approaches with this population. Examining the meaning of violence perpetrated by women as well as enactments can improve practitioner’s depth of understanding. Empirical research examining the benefits of psychoanalytic supervision would be extremely useful to explore the impact on formulation, treatment approaches, treatment effectiveness, staff well-being and staff retention.

Originality/value

There is a lack of literature considering the application of psychodynamic constructs to help formulation of complex female offenders in the Offender Personality Disorder Pathway for women.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Dr McKeown is currently based at the Kolvin Service, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Durham, UK.

Citation

McKeown, A. and Harvey, E. (2018), "Violent women: treatment approaches and psychodynamic considerations", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 124-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRPP-08-2017-0025

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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