How the University of Salford’s specialist domestic abuse service is helping different groups access therapy

Categories: School of Health and Society

The University of Salford’s specialist domestic abuse service is hoping NO MORE Week will encourage different groups to access therapy. NO MORE Week is an international campaign which aims to share resources and information around domestic abuse and sexual violence.

At the University of Salford’s Counselling Centre, specialist counsellors work with victims of domestic abuse who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Clinical lead, Jeannette Roddy, explained: “living in an abusive relationship has a detrimental effect on mental health, often continuing after the relationship is over. People talk about simply existing after the relationship, counselling helps people to begin living their lives again”.

Person in counselling suite reception area

A lot of publicity around domestic abuse focuses on male perpetrators, however the universities specialist counselling service recently recorded that one third of their client base are male victims. The clinic also recorded 20% of clients come from an ethnic minority group, highlighting how domestic abuse is present in many different relationships and cultures.

These figures highlight how victims or survivors of sexual abuse are recognising their struggles and reaching out to gain support. It is believed this increase is due to the clinics’ self- referral process, which requires clients to recommend themselves for counselling.

Dr Jeannette Roddy, Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford, said, “Research shows that clients who self-refer have already made the decision to access counselling and are more motivated to complete sessions. Self-referral also means that they don’t have to ask for anyone’s permission or agreement to access the service”.

It is important that victims of domestic abuse feel safe within their experience of getting help. Many victims or survivors often find it difficult to speak about their experience. Self-referrals allow these clients, and others, to seek help without involving any third party, creating a more inclusive service in which people feel more comfortable speaking about their experience.

During the coronavirus pandemic the clinic began offering telephone and video sessions, this meant clients both within the local community and across the UK could easily access the services. This impacted the increase in usage of the service, “Some clients prefer to speak on the phone as they find it easier to open up. Others prefer online counselling as it reduces travel time and fits in more conveniently around work and childcare responsibilities”.

“Working remotely is not for everyone and we have alternative arrangements for those who prefer to see their counsellor in person. However, we have seen great success with the online services and as word has spread about the quality and accessibility of the service, our self-referral rate has increased” said Jeannette.

The counselling service, launched in 2019, focuses on understanding what the client has experienced and how this has affected them. Counsellors base their practice on a client- based research model developed by Dr Jeannette Roddy.

Training focuses on how people use and experience power and control, rather than using a gender-based approach. This means it is suitable for people of any background, gender or sexuality who have previously been in an abusive relationship. This approach ensures that clients feel supported and safe to speak openly about their experience.

“A lot of literature on domestic abuse focuses on power and control in a gendered context, i.e., how men use power and control over women. Our approach is to explore the individuals experience and how their partner controlled them, paying attention to how this affected them and understanding both the relational context and reactions as well as cultural, social and gender sensitive situations.

Counsellors at the clinic include current and past students at The University of Salford.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.