Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Harvey Joanning


Concerns about how family therapists respond to violence in families have been discussed in the literature for more than two decades (e.g., Bograd, 1984; Cook & Franz-Cook, 1984; Crnkovic, Del Campo, & Steiner, 2000; Goldner, 1985; Hansen, 1993; Harway, Hansen, & Cervantes, 1991, 1997; James & McIntyre, 1983; Pressman, 1989; Shamai, 1996,).;This study was designed to determine to what extent clinical supervisors' awareness of violence in families reflects or contradicts the poor awareness of family therapists as reported in the literature. Feminist informed critical discourse analysis was used, with a particular emphasis on exploring how the language that supervisors used addressed agency for violence.;54 AAMFT Approved Supervisors provided written conceptualizations and interventions for a case vignette that described the severe perpetration of violence by husband and father toward his wife and children, or by a mother and wife toward her husband and children.;Data was evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively. Results indicated that when conceptualizing the case the Approved Supervisors acknowledged the violence more than family therapists in past studies did, while having similarly poor awareness regarding appropriateness of intervention. Significant differences with regard to supervisor gender and perpetrator gender were found.;Additionally, most participants addressed the perpetration of the violence without assigning agency for the violence. Phrases like "marital conflict," "family violence," or "difficulty with anger issues" were used much more often than "his violence" or "her violence," obscuring the agency of the perpetrator.;Recommendations for training family therapists and for further research are discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kathleen Murphy Adams



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

167 pages