What are the root causes of family violence? And how can therapists and communities work to help families transcend adversity so that they are able to realize post-traumatic growth and resilience? These are some of the questions asked in a pathbreaking new article by Dr. Stephen Southern of Antioch Los Angeles and Raymond D. Sullivan of Antioch Santa Barbara. Their article, “Family Violence in Context: An Intergenerational Systemic Model,” was published this August in the highly-respected The Family Journal.
Southern and Sullivan’s groundbreaking, innovative research promises to have benefits not just for other counseling researchers but also for educators in the field and especially for practitioners. Family violence represents a major public health problem, and in the article, they point out that it is also a violation of human rights. As such, efforts to mitigate and lessen its prevalence are highly important. Southern and Sullivan found that family violence—which includes child maltreatment and intimate partner violence—is caused both by “horizontal stressors,” such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by “vertical stressors,” including events in the family life cycle and changes in cultural contexts. For this study, they built on research that shows there can be intergenerational transmission of violence, applying a systemic model that identifies multiple contexts and levels for evaluating and treating family violence over the life span. Ultimately, they hope that early identification and intervention can help prevent further acts of violence and can instead result in rehabilitation and resiliency.
Southern is currently Chair of Antioch’s new, low-residency Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology (MAP) program, and he also serves as core faculty in the full-residency MAP program at Antioch Los Angeles. The author of three books on addiction and correctional psychology, he has published chapters and peer-reviewed articles on family therapy. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Family Journal, with over seventy research and professional publications.
Meanwhile, the article is Raymond Sullivan’s first publication. Sullivan is currently a student in Antioch Santa Barbara’s Doctor of Psychology program. He has had diverse clinical experiences in community mental health and working with adult populations and court-mandated Military Veterans. Sullivan is currently doing rotations at an outpatient hospital clinic in a behavioral health department while providing individual psychotherapy, treatment group therapy, and consultation with medical providers.
The Family Journal is the official journal of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors. It aims to advance theories, research, and the practice of counseling with couples and families, all from a family systems perspective.