The STOP Program: For Women Who Abuse

It used to be that, when we trained mental health professionals, probation officers, victims’ programs, attorneys, and correctional officers all over the world, we had to convince people there was such a thing as female domestic violence.

But over the past decade, the landscape has shifted—and instead we hear pleas everywhere for a quality treatment program for women who abuse that is specifically targeted to women’s issues.

So, after years of pilot group testing, integrating rapidly emerging new research trends, and borrowing from the tremendous success of “The STOP Program for Men” (now in its Third Edition, published by Norton in 2013), this new treatment program was hatched: “The STOP Program: For Women Who Abuse” (Norton, 2016), focusing on innovative strategies for women who abuse their partners.

Like the men’s manual, this new program integrates contemporary interventions and client-centered guidelines to successfully treat domestic violence offenders—who happen to be female.

This program is timed to address the rapidly increasing awareness of female domestic violence and need for quality treatment services. Developed and field-tested for over twenty-five years among military and civilian populations internationally, this program offers therapists, social workers, and other counselors a new level of sound, psychologically-based interventions that actually reach the very women who often seem so unapproachable in a treatment setting.

Presented in a 26-week or 52-week psychoeducational format, “The STOP Program: For Women Who Abuse” is packed with updated skills, training exercises, articles, video clips, handouts, homework, and other resources–that push participants to examine the complex roles of trauma, emotional dysregulation, self-esteem deficits, and history of personal victimization in their relationship problems. And the program gives them new tools to manage these unique issues.

This manual includes many of the same sessions as the original STOP Program for men, with appropriate changes in pronouns, vignettes, and examples. We also have developed and integrated new material specifically dealing with issues that contemporary research and our clinical experience indicate are especially relevant for female offenders: victimization (and rationalization) issues, assertiveness vs. aggression issues, shame, grief and loss, parenting and co-parenting, boundary violations, emotional self-management and dysregulation issues, jealousy, self-esteem issues, gender rules and gender roles, and need for social support.

We are offering training workshops in this new model throughout the world. COME JOIN US IN OCT 2016 FOR THE TWO-DAY “STOP PROGRAM: FOR WOMEN WHO ABUSE” CONFERENCE IN SAN DIEGO. For more info, go to

And if any of you are doing similar work, please let us know so we can all share and learn.

David B. Wexler, Ph.D.

McGill Domestic Violence Clinic

The McGill Domestic Violence Clinic (MDVC) is a state of the art facility for service provision and student training. It provides counselling on issues related to all forms of violence in intimate relationships and the effect such violence has on families and their social networks. For over 40 years the Clinic has trained graduate students from the disciplines of social work, counselling and psychology, providing them with expertise in individual, couple, family and group therapy using the most up-to-date intervention strategies. In addition to group work (treatment for men and support for women survivors), which is the central focus of the clinic, graduate student interns work with men, women, and where appropriate, their partners or families. At the Clinic, interns receive specialized instruction in the Needs ABC Model (Caplan, 2008, see: which espouses an integrative process oriented, emotion-focused pro-feminist approach. Through the School of Social Work student interns take Violence Against Women (SWRK 628, Krane) to deepen their appreciation of the theoretical debates and substantive issues that shape the field of intimate partner violence.

While pursuing an internship at the Clinic, students engage in assessments and offer direct service in multiple formats. Their counseling sessions are video-taped and excerpts are discussed and analyzed during weekly team supervision meetings. The supervisory team and student interns can also draw on other faculty members for consultation. All MSW interns undertake independent study projects related to some aspect of violence in intimate relationships.

There are exciting opportunities for PhD students to become involved in the clinic for professional training as well as research undertakings. Additionally, the Clinic is a training center for established clinicians and supervisors interested in meeting the requirements for membership in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

The McGill Domestic Violence Clinic continues to lead the way in providing graduate students with the most up to date instruction, training and information on intimate partner violence, psychotherapy, intake and screenings. There are boundless opportunities for professional growth at the Clinic!

Serving the Latino community

Since 1995 it has been my honor to research intervention with Latino partner abusive men and to create solutions to this widespread problem, together with many of my colleagues here in the US and in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Sin Golpes is the Spanish-language treatment program for Latino men that resulted from a four-year pilot study based on my doctoral dissertation in 1999. My esteemed colleague David Wexler, Ph.D., allowed me to use his STOP Domestic Violence program as the foundation of the new program, and cultural adaptations were added based on my qualitative research. Latino men both in the US and Latin America generally respond very well to the model, which emphasizes a cognitive-behavioral skills-based approach, along with the respect of the therapist and group that springs from self-psychology, and a focus on human rights. In November of 2014, the first group of trainers was certified in Durango, Mexico, to teach the use of the Sin Golpes model to therapists and other professionals in Mexico and wherever they are invited.  All of the five certified trainers have at least 4 years’ experience working with Mexican men or women offenders in the states of Durango, San Luis Potosí, and Jalisco. This year we hope to be able to complete the first phase of a longitudinal treatment outcome study, with participants from offenders’ groups in various parts of Mexico. I am very grateful for my colleagues in various parts of Latin America who have responded to the great need for treatment for those who are violent to their partners and who are passionate about expanding this work as much as possible.