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What Is a Domestic Violence Counselor?

Domestic violence is a common problem in the United States. Both perpetrators and victims require specialized therapy to help them break the cycle of abuse and learn how to be in a healthy relationship. These specialized counselors are experts in helping people involved with domestic violence to heal and move on from their trauma.

Whether you are interested in becoming a Domestic Violence Counselor or interested in seeking help from one, understanding the details of the career may be helpful. 

What Is a Domestic Violence Counselor?

Every person who has been involved with domestic violence will need therapy to heal from the experience. This includes the victims, the abusers, and relatives such as children who have had to witness the abuse. Professional help is necessary to stop the cycle of abuse from spanning generations.

Domestic violence counselors work with families in crisis to help them learn how to relate in healthy and supportive ways. Victims are taught how to repair broken self esteem after an unhealthy relationship, given support in moving on with their lives in career and other aspects, and how to identify red flags so they can avoid abusive relationships in the future. Some also work with perpetrators, helping them to learn better ways of managing their anger. Many domestic violence counselors work for shelters and other nonprofit organizations that help families in crisis, so they must be skilled in active intervention.

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A Day in the Life of a Domestic Violence Counselor

Domestic violence counselors have varied schedules because they do a great deal more than just therapy. They often are responsible for intakes and discharges from shelters and other organizations offering emergency services to victims. They also spend time counseling people, often offering both individual and group therapies. Many work with both victims and perpetrators who wish to end their harmful behavior. In addition, many domestic violence counselors are involved in administrative activities such as keeping records, writing grant proposals, and seeking out resources for their clients.

The compensation for a domestic violence counselor varies and is dependent on education and experience. People without degrees may make very little while people with graduate education can make in the high five figures or even six figures a year.

Becoming a Domestic Violence Counselor

The credentials needed to become a domestic violence counselor vary by state and even by each unique organization. Some people are allowed to work in this field with a mere certificate, which can be earned in as little as two years. Some have a bachelor’s degree, often in social work or a related field. The highest paid professionals are those who have a master’s degree or doctorate, especially if they have specialized counseling certificates such as an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) or an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

This field usually requires a great deal of training because of the specialized skillset involved. Many of the people attracted to this field have experienced domestic violence, either as a child or a partner, and thus are highly motivated to make a difference. However, any person with the right skills and dedication can find fulfillment here.

Domestic violence counselors have challenging but rewarding work. They ensure that the cycle of abuse is stopped and that people can have healthy, safe relationships. Although the field involves a great deal of stress, it has many benefits as well.

Related Resources:

The Top 10 Online Marriage and Family Counseling Degree Programs
50 Top Online Bachelor of Psychology Degree Programs
Top 100 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling in the U.S. by Region 2021