As of 1996, there were no consensus definitions about emotional abuse. Thus, clinicians and researchers have sometimes offered divergent definitions of emotional abuse. However, the widely used Conflict Tactics Scale measures roughly twenty distinct acts of "psychological aggression" in three different categories: verbal aggression, dominant behaviors and jealous behaviors.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work. Several studies have argued that, unlike physical and sexual maltreatment, an isolated incident does not constitute emotional abuse. And Tomison and Tucci write, "Emotional abuse is characterized by a climate or pattern of behavior(s) occurring over time [...] Thus, 'sustained' and 'repetitive' are the crucial components of any definition of emotional abuse."
In her breakthrough book, The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, Beverly Engel, one of the world’s leading experts on the subject of 'emotional abuse' defines what it is and what to do about it. The text will help clinicians identify emotional abuse and how to find the roots of the behavior. Combining personal clinical stories with action steps to heal, Engel provides prescriptive strategies that will allow therapists and their clients to work together to stop bringing out the worst in an abusive relationship. Clinicians will be able to recommend this book to clients wrestling with the horrific experience of emotional abuse. See below the continuing education course based on Engel’s breakthrough book here at www.GenesisCE.org. The course helps Mental Health Professionals fulfill CE credits and is available for Psychologists, LCSW, LPC, LMFT, LMHC, LSSP and more: approved by APA, ASWB, NBCC, NAADAC and most states for School Psychology.
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