Domestic Violence Counseling Careers

What is Domestic Violence Counseling?

The niche of domestic violence counseling is a rewarding albeit difficult field. Professionals must face the darker aspects of human interaction and seek ways to mitigate family violence. Domestic violence counselors must minimize maladaptive and violent coping skills, by teaching anger management. Domestic violence counselors work with violent behaviors like punching, smacking, kicking, spitting, and restraining. They also deal with controlling behavior. The niche of domestic violence counseling exists to prevent ongoing violence in families and partnerships. The field of domestic violence counseling is rapidly expanding, with many individuals convicted of violent offenses against their partners each year.

What Does a Domestic Violence Counselor Do?

The primary job duty of a domestic violence counselor is to establish physical and emotional safety within a family unit. In order to do this effectively, domestic violence counselors will first survey the situation within a household by interviewing family members. As a domestic violence counselor, you will encourage your patients to become self-directed, empowered, and autonomous. Often, you will help victims to understand the lifelong impacts suffered from staying with abusers.  As a domestic violence counselor, you will advocate for the well-being of your patient by helping him or her find safe housing. Other responsibilities include court-involvement advocating for victims, helping patients find medical treatment, and restraining orders.

Domestic violence counselors are also charged with the responsibility of treating patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, depression, anxiety, and other abuse-related conditions. Domestic violence counselors also work closely with offenders, identifying and altering mental patterns which result in controlling/manipulative behavior within relationships.

Where Does Domestic Violence Counselors Work?

Domestic violence counselors may work on hotlines, in clinics, hospitals, social service centers, shelters, and many more settings. In serious cases of abuse, domestic violence counselors must work with the correctional system, and law enforcement to prevent further harm.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Domestic Violence Counselor?

Domestic violence counselors must earn a bachelor’s degree, often to be followed with either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in counseling or family therapy. One must also complete a certain amount of continuing education requirements yearly. A state-level certification test is usually administered.

Educational requirements vary widely by state. Aspiring domestic violence counselors must take classes regarding substance abuse, violent interactions, postr-traumatic stress disorder, and much more. Additional classes include mediation, child development, and negotiating skills. You must also learn to deal with threats and intimidation in an effective manner. Some schools even suggest that domestic violence counselors learn basic self-defense techniques, or learn fundamental martial arts skills. Generally, assertiveness classes are mandatory for those who intend to work with violent populations.  Those with advanced degrees in the field of domestic violence counseling are highly sought after.

What are the Work Experience Requirements for a Domestic Violence Counselor?

Domestic violence counselors are required to complete demanding internship requirements. Internships often take place in domestic violence shelters, hospitals, or mental health clinics. Additionally, most states require that students complete 3,000 internship hours. Internships may involve managing a shelter, or managing cases within a crisis intervention center. Generally, work requirements do not involve any statistical research- although certain governmental agencies may ask interns to collect data. Internships also often require students to become familiarized with the court system, and basic record-keeping methods. Some graduate schools have low-cost clinics in which you may be able to acquire the necessary clinical internship hours.

What are the Licensure Requirements for a Counselor?

Licensing requirements vary by state. For example, on the state of California, individuals must complete a certification course of 40 hours or more before being allowed to work within patient populations. Information related to state professional counselor licensing boards is available on American Counseling Association website.

What Personal Skills are Needed to be a Domestic Violence Counselor?

As a domestic violence counselor, you must have a very specific set of skills and abilities. You must be resilient, and able to work with traumatized populations. You must be able to set firm boundaries. In addition to these skills, domestic violence counselors must be kind, empathetic, firm, multi-taskers, and good critical thinkers. Ideally, domestic violence counselors have calm personalities, are good listeners, and can suspend their judgments. While some counselors have a prior history as victims of domestic violence, experts suggest that you resolve any familial difficulties long before entering into therapy as a clinician with victims and perpetrators. Domestic violence counselors must not be triggered or frightened by stories of abuse, and must be able to act- often in the face of violent threats.

What is the Salary of a Domestic Violence Counselor?

Marriage and family counselors make an average income of $48, 710 every year. No data has been recorded- specific to that of domestic violence counselors. Social workers (who often work in situations of domestic violence) can expect to average around $42,480 per year (

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