Treatment of emotionally abused women within a clinical setting: A Delphi study

Linda Redmon Guthrie, Tennessee State University


Emotional abuse is a widespread form of violence crossing cultural, racial, and socioeconomic lines. It is seldom recognized as abuse by many of its adult female victims, perhaps in part, due to having only been acknowledged within the last decade as a phenomenon in a variety of interpersonal relationships. The current literature suggests that continued emotional abuse may result in depression, suicide ideation, anxiety, and psychosomatic symptoms for which victims seek the services of mental health professionals. Current research has mainly addressed emotional abuse in conjunction with physical abuse. Those studies focusing on emotional abuse as occurring separately have primarily addressed the lack of a definition of the concept, the types, the impact, reaction patterns, comorbidity, and disclosure of emotional abuse. Unfortunately, the information is limited due to small numbers of women participating in the clinical studies reported as well as by the small number of research studies conducted. This study sought to identify mental health professionals' approach in treating emotionally abused women. A three-round Delphi study, with an 80% consensus criteria, was used to gain information on a label for the concept of emotional abuse and its definition, presenting complaints and the effects of emotional abuse, preferred treatment choices, techniques, and counseling styles, and goals and treatment success criteria. Results indicate an agreement as to a label for the concept, themes to clarify the phenomenon of emotional abuse, reasons for the victim to seek help, useful clinical strategies, treatment goals, and treatment success criteria. The results also identified questions for future research. The information obtained from this research is only the beginning in learning the extent of emotional abuse in the population and has underscored the need for public education as to the concept of emotional abuse.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Linda Redmon Guthrie, "Treatment of emotionally abused women within a clinical setting: A Delphi study" (2000). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007606.