Legal and Ethical Issues in the Court-Mandated Treatment of Batterers

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Spouse Abuse; Domestic Violence; Law Enforcement


Health Services Research | Law | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


In the following article, we will explore the nature of the therapeutic relationship as it relates to batterers' treatment programs. We will consider the impact of obligations created by forces outside the relationship, such as those imposed by legal proceedings. We will discuss the concepts of confidentiality, privilege, and agency and their impact on the therapeutic relationship and the extent to which the therapists' understanding of the role these concepts play may be altered by court orders that impose treatment on a client/patient. Finally, we examine the issues and choices a therapist must make when engaging in court-ordered treatment of batterers, and the implications of those choices for both therapist and client; we will also suggest guidelines to help therapists sort through the often conflicting goals of therapy and the legal process.

DOI of Published Version



Rosenbaum A, Warnken WJ, Grudzinskas AJ. (2003) Legal and Ethical Issues in the Court-Mandated Treatment of Batterers. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 7 (1/2):279-303. DOI: 10.1300/J146v07n01_12

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma


Also published as a book chapter in: Dutton, D.G. and Sonkin, D.J. (2003) Intimate Violence: Contemporary Treatment Innovations. New York: Haworth Trauma and Maltreatment Press.