”Putting violence into words together”

Mikael Skillmark, senior lecturer in social work at the School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, has been granted SEK 2.4 million over three years from the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority (Brottsoffermyndigheten) for the research project Putting violence into words together: representations of violence and victimhood in professionals' treatment conversations with children exposed to child abuse.

Photo: Alexa @ Pixabay

More than one out of ten children in Sweden will, at some point during their upbringing exposed to violence from a care giver. It is known that child abuse can have serious negative consequences for the victims. It is therefore important that there are effective treatment methods and competent therapists available for these children.

There are methods and professional approaches that have been shown in research to be beneficial for children exposed to child abuse. One such method is Cognitive Integrated Treatment for Child Abuse (KIBB). However, there is a lack of studies on how structured treatment methods are used by professionals and how the topic of violence is manifested and made comprehensible in the meeting between children as victims of crime and professional therapists.

The same applies to how the professionals explain and justify how the treatment is carried out, for example regarding the relationship between children's agency and participation on the one hand and compliance in relation to the method on the other.

Between 16 and 20 treatment sessions

“Through qualitative conversation analysis and interviews with a stimulated recall procedure where we start from authentic institutional conversations, this project aims to investigate how conversations about violence take place in meetings between children and professional therapists. Between 16 and 20 treatment sessions will be recorded from different phases of the child's treatment in KIBB. There will also be the same amount of follow-up interviews with therapists,” says Mikael Skillmark.

Girls and boys of different ages will be included in the survey. In this way, the researchers will be able to investigate and contribute knowledge about, and how, ideas about gender and age affect the design of treatment efforts - with a particular focus on the children's agency and participation.

“The research project focuses on meetings between abused children and therapists, in combination with a research design that enables micro-level analyzes where the therapist's considerations when carrying out the treatment are made explicit. These factors give the study its originality and importance,” says Mikael Skillmark.