Domestic and Family Violence, Attachment and Complexity - Social Work

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Practice-Focused Concepts and Tools to Address Risk, Perpetration and Prevention.

Domestic violence is often complex: the intersection of multiple lives, histories and contexts. When it comes to prevention/intervention, this heterogeneity presents formidable challenges. When viewed from a few selected perspectives the evident complexity offers new opportunities. One promising approach to such complexity has been research into the identification of developmental pathways and risks associated with domestic violence (DV) and family violence (FV). Such an approach provides at least two benefits: (1) an understanding of antecedents and possible risk (sometimes causal ones via longitudinal studies) and (2) a model to comprehend complexity in current experience.

Attachment Theory has been increasingly employed in mental health and forensic research contexts to better understand risk and resilience. This is also increasingly the case with domestic violence. Attachment Theory has demonstrated evidence for differences in how people experience close relationships and engage emotions more generally. The seminar will therefore look at attachment and DV from multiple perspectives: childhood exposure to family trauma (including DV), intergenerational risks for violence in romantic relationships, considerations of gender and sexual orientation, within couple dynamics, as well as perpetrator and victim individually.

The seminar will present a survey of the latest research on risks for DV including both the attachment relationship level as well as the more general attachment styles of emotion regulation. Indeed, attachment anxiety would appear to be the most cited risk factor for DV. Why might this be the case will be elaborated. Equally, particular focus will be given to new insights into maladaptive ‘disorganization’ in romantic relationships, which may encompass the less secure responses including attachment anxiety but in a more chaotic volatile, disorganized manner. Participants will also be introduced to or provided a brief refresher on the expanding range of assessments and measurements—some now available on-line.

With concepts and tools in hand, the workshop will turn to a review of attachment informed preventions and interventions. First, light will be shown on how prevention work has been applied with children at intergenerational risk for violence—i.e., where violence between parents is present. Children’s attachments to parents have been shown to be correlated with their own disposition to violence. Hence intervention options as future prevention research will be highlighted. The workshop next turns to work with adults in the context of romantic relationships. Participants will gain an understanding of how attachment differences may play out in terms of risk and perpetration. Clarification of contraindications for couple treatment and differentiation of mutual violence will be addressed. Additionally, practical insights will be offered from attachment work with individuals as well as insights from attachment-informed couple therapy. [N.B. This seminar is not formal forensic training but rather is focused on expanding knowledge of the typical mental health to provide support and therapy for individuals and where appropriate for expanding couple interventions.

Learning Objectives of This Training:

  • Understand possible impacts of attachment development for perpetrators and victims.
  • Grasp key relationship variables considered in the research.
  • Identify risks children may face who are exposed to DV and FV.
  • Differentiate attachment features in DV from more adaptive relationships.
  • Understand crucial safety requirements when working with DV.
  • Gain insights from EFT work with couples and individuals.
  • Support victims and their children via increased assessment capabilities, new avenues for clinical psychoeducation and skills for responding to trauma.

How Will You Benefit from Attending This Training?

  • Gain an updated view on Attachment Theory including research evidence relevant for working with Domestic Violence, and enhance ability to support people impacted by DV.
  • Be able to identifying diverse developmental pathways that may lead to risks for perpetration, victimization and as well the impacts of childhood exposure to domestic violence.
  • Understand newer approaches to treatment based in part on insights provided Attachment Theory research into Domestic Violence


Morning Session (includes a short morning tea break)

  • Two overlapping strands of research: Domestic / Family Violence and Attachment Theory (including discussions of ‘traumatic bonding’).
  • Application of a Developmental Pathways Approach for Understanding Risk: Implications for Abused, Abuser, Romantic Relationships, Children and Family Systems

Afternoon Session (includes a short afternoon tea break)

  • Attachment based family and couple interventions along with safety recommendations.
  • Working with individuals as alternative or compliment to couple work.

Evaluation and post-test - your payment includes a free post-test which when completed with a minimum of 80% correct answers, will enable you to download your Attendance Certificate.

To complete the test, please log into your account at and click the orange "Certificate" button under the program's title. 

For live webcasts, post-tests must be completed within one week of viewing the program. (There is no deadline to complete the post-test for digital downloads)

Target Audience

This seminar has been designed to extend the clinical knowledge and applied skill of Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Coaches, Psychologists, Hypnotherapists, Social Workers, Community Workers, Mental Health Nurses and Psychiatrists.

Note this e-course is not hosted on Nexlec and users can click the "Select" button to be directed to the course page.

Providers Terms

Cancellation Policy and Disclaimer

Refunds less a $50.00 administration fee are given for cancellations received in writing via email or post. Cancellations must be received no later than 10 days prior to your event date. Refunds and transfers are not possible inside 10 days from the event. Cancellation policy is final and not negotiable.

PDP regrets the difficult personal circumstances that prevent people attending including medical conditions, emergencies, severe weather or transport difficulties and we do not issue refunds in any circumstance other than those outlined in this cancellation policy. PDP is unable to accept responsibility for the failure of the presenter to arrive due to unforeseen circumstances.

Transfer of Registration to Another Person

Registrations are transferable IN FULL to another person on notification in writing to PDP and no admin fees are charged for this service. Where a delegate can only attend for part of a training, transfer of the remainder of the registration to another person is NOT possible.

Cancellation/Reschedule of an Event by PDP

PDP will contact you within 10 days of the event date on the rare occasion that we need to cancel/reschedule an event. You will be offered the following options:

  • A full refund of your paid registration fee.
  • Transfer of your registration into another equivalent event on our calendar.

Please contact the Provider directly or follow the ticket selection button to the Course Provider Website for full terms and conditions.

Standard $133Closed


Standard Closed
Contact Hours:

7.0 hrs


Lecture and Assessment


1 Day

Lecture Videos

All Devices





PDP Seminars
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Kevin Keith

PhD BBA (Hons) (University of North Texas 1977); MA and STL (University of Louvain, Belgium, 1986 & 88); MPhil (Oxford University, 1991); Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy (Jansen Newman Institute, 2005); PhD Candidate (University of Sydney, Faculty of Science, Research interest Attachment Theory, projected completion 2015)

Kevin is a counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor. He splits time between private practice and education/academic activities. He is a lecturer in the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) and Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP). In 2017, he completed his PhD at the University of Sydney (History and Philosophy of Science Unit) with primary research interests in Attachment Theory. His thesis—The Goal-Corrected Partnership: A Critical Assessment of the Research Programme—brings a focus on attachment development post-infancy. This work also rearticulates Attachment Theory in light of advances in the lifespan developmental sciences, especially approaches to biological complexity. Kevin presents regularly on Attachment Theory to a wide range of audiences, including a May 2016 paper at the International Society for Philosophy of Psychiatry in Atlanta GA USA [on attachment within the NIMH Research Domain Criteria, an alternative model to the DSM-5]. He is acclaimed as an engaging and inspiring presenter whose seminars change the way therapists perceive and work with their clients in ways that surprise and delight.

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