Position paper on court mandated mental health treatment for men who batter

Many courts throughout the country are using mental health treatment as a penalty for men’s acts of assault against their partners.

It is our strong professional determination, based on many decades of work in the field, that an order for mental health treatment as a sanction for an assault is not the appropriate response.

Mental health treatment offers people the opportunity to do the very difficult work of self exploration. Mental health counseling was never designed to hold people accountable for criminal acts, or to monitor unacceptable behavior.

While counseling can aid people with a wide variety of life issues, it has never proven useful in stopping crimes.

Appropriate criminal sanctions partnered with social change and prevention efforts of outraged citizens remain our best efforts at creating safe communities.

Having made this very important point, we are nonetheless aware that men who abuse their partners will continue to voluntarily consult therapists for help with a wide range of personal issues, including depression, marital problems, anger management, parent/child difficulties, etc.