Achieving Change through Value-Based Behavior (ACTV)
Achieving Change through Value-Based Behavior (ACTV) seeks to reduce offender recidivism and domestic violence re-offenses while helping participants use respectful, adaptive and healthy behaviors in their relationships. ACTV is a 24 week program for men or women who have been court mandated to complete a Batterers Education Program following a domestic violence conviction. Each group session takes 90 minutes.
Begun in 2010, this program was adapted from an evidence-based behavior therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). My dissertation served as pilot data (see Zarling, Lawrence, and Marchman, 2015). The curriculum was designed in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Corrections and District Departments of Correctional Services. The program guides participants in behavior change using the principles of ACT, and includes learning skills such as defining their own personal values, becoming aware of their emotions and thoughts, noticing the consequences of their behavior, and learning new ways to respond to emotions and thoughts. The facilitators work with the members in a collaborative and compassionate manner, modeling the supportive respective behavior they are trying to teach. They do not offer advice, engage in problem-solving or provide extensive direct instruction. Instead they help group members come to realizations on their own and develop intrinsic motivations to change. These new skills are taught through metaphors and in-session experiential exercises. Session content focuses on five categories: The Big Picture, Barriers to Change, Emotion Regulation Skills, Cognitive Skills and Behavioral Skills.
I conducted an evaluation of 3,696 men arrested for domestic assault in Iowa who were court-mandated to treatment from 2011-2013. This analysis showed that participants in ACTV had half the recidivism rates for domestic assault and two-thirds less violent charges than those who participated in treatment as usual (a combination of Duluth and CBT). In addition, ACTV participants who were re-arrested had significantly fewer charges than those in treatment as usual. The results held for both people who completed the ACTV program and those who left before completion. Anecdotal evidence also shows increased job satisfaction for facilitators as well.
Initial funding for the program came from a Violence Against Women Act grant from the Iowa Judicial Branch. Currently ACTV is funded through state appropriations. Additional funding sources are being sought for quality improvement and further evaluation.
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(1), 199.
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Aug 19, 2016 @ 18:59:46
I have used mainstream CBT techniques for years in my BIP groups, including the use of CBT logs, but have also incorporated suggestions based on Acceptance and Therapy Principles, before I began to hear about ACT only a short time ago. For example, we do one exercise in which we ask clients if they know of anyone who has actually “exploded” simply because they felt angry – literally, exploded, rather than engaging in aggressive behavior in a misguided attempt to “let out steam.” Much of what we teach clients regarding emotion management focuses not on changing emotions, or controlling one’s thoughts, but becoming more aware of those thoughts. I like the “C” part of ACT – commitment to values based actions – because clients who are working towards pro-social goals can more readily maintain the patience to accept those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. The ACT approach, in my view, is compatible both with evidence-based practice and the requirements of the domestic violence courts whose focus is on behavioral accountability. I am not surprised at all that your research has found such positive outcomes. I am eager to hear more about your work!
Oct 26, 2020 @ 00:21:43
I have been studying ACT and have begun using it in practice with individual clients. I find this type of article misleading because fundamentally ACT is in the stream of CBT thought. It simply, to me, provides a particular structural frame through which to view and structure work with a client. I do find the acceptance / mindfulness components a very useful addition to the partner abuse intervention toolbox, as that is often a justification offered for violent reactivity and one that the curricula that I have read or been trained in seldom address. I need to try to pull down this article, because I am also often skeptical of “BIPP” research that seem to prove Brand A (usually the author’s) is better than Brand X (usually the incumbent) as there is seldom any discussion of process and implementation fidelity of organizations that say they are using Brand X but, if examined, may be putting forth a poor intervention and just calling it Brand X. A significant challenge of attempting to evaluate this work. I have been approached by quite a number of persons who want to research the topic but fold under the slightest questioning of what they want to measure as proof of success and how they might actually gather that. I personally found Duluth Model, at least in its most recent incarnations, very congruent with CBT and ACT-type defusion/restructuring. To my mind, they simply use a different vocabulary and structure to do the work.
Oct 26, 2020 @ 16:36:08
I prefer ACT over regular CBT because it is more practical for the population I serve, which are court-mandated IPV offenders, many of whom are under-educated and/or not very self-aware, and in the ACT approach one does not identify and challenge their cognitions but rather observes and detaches from them. I agree that Duluth can be congruent with CBT and ACT, but that depends on the knowledge and skills of the group facilitator, of course. My problem with the Duluth approach is that it is fundamentally based in feminist sociopolitical theories rather than the empirical research evidence, and while it may certainly be appropriate for some clients it is also highly inappropriate for others.