We use systemic empowerment to prevent interpersonal harm. Will you?

Stephens, Anne, and Liley, William (2022) We use systemic empowerment to prevent interpersonal harm. Will you? In: Edson, Mary C., (ed.) Handbook of Systems Sciences. Translational Systems Series . Springer, Tokyo, Japan. (In Press)

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Applying a system lens and systemic approach is valuable for exploring problem situations and difficulties. A systems understanding allows deep exploration of complexity and diversity with respect and invites multiple approaches and perspectives. Importantly, and sensitively, issues of power, dynamics and change in perspective and opportunity can be brought into clearer understandings. Solutions that value creativity and imagination can be revealed (Stephens, Lewis and Reddy, 2018).

Preventing family and community violence before it happens is a challenge. Many targeted campaigns focus on bystander actions, victim protection and support, or on the perpetrator from counselling support to lengthy jail convictions, after an event or series of violent acts have occurred. Community campaigns encourage victims of violence to get help, leave or change shared attitudes, but despite decades of concerted effort, the rate of domestic, community and family violence have not changed in Australia. Yet, every act of violence is another lived example of the failure of primary prevention.

On average, one woman a week is killed by her intimate partner (ANROWS, 2018) in Australia, from preventable violence has prompted us to reconsider the problem from the perspective of primary care and especially that of the family physician. There are significant resources devoted to the clinical response for Family Physicians whose patients reveal that they have experienced violence from someone with whom they have had a previous relationship (see for example the RACGP’s White Book, Safer Families (RACGP, 2014). The source of frustration for us as practitioners is that while family medicine physicians are expert in disease prevention and primary prevention, to date few resources have been devoted to the recognition and active prevention of violence in relationships before the initial act, at developmentally appropriate opportunities.

With a review of the sociology and neurobiology of violence and conflict analysis, we developed a problem-structuring model containing ten elements including six necessary factors that must coalesce for an act of violence to take place. Our systems application reveals these factors and their implications and strategies for change can be explored by family physicians, counsellors and health workers who are able to use this model as a tool to talk through matters with individuals, families and communities. We call this the Cooktown Ten (C-10). Coupled with mindful self-calming strategies, advocated by psychologists including Bowby and Neff (Metcalf, 2010; Neff, 2003) and our own ‘Gentle Hands’ technique, (W. Liley, 2015, 2016; W Liley & Stephens, 2018), the approach supports practitioners and clients to effectively diffuse and de-escalate tension, prejudice and isolation, and, over time, change behaviours. Self-control and self-soothing have long been an interest for systems researchers. As self-aware, writer, practitioner, researcher, activists, we acknowledge that with almost every concept we have designed from, we build on the work of others; we can because they have.

This chapter discusses the C-10 as a practical application of systemic thinking for individual and community education. Systemic thinking is a necessary tool in our repertoires of practice to deal with the almost universal problem of interpersonal harm. We will explore the paradigmatic framework that can justify clinical endeavour without waiting for a bureaucratic directive or guideline to follow. Primary healthcare has an important role to play in dealing with violence prevention, particularly where early identification can allow timely interventions.

Item ID: 54770
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISSN: 2197-8832
Keywords: systems thinking; violence prevention, Cooktown-Ten, systemic empowerment
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2018 00:05
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4204 Midwifery > 420403 Psychosocial aspects of childbirth and perinatal mental health @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441005 Social theory @ 40%
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390308 Technical, further and workplace education @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920205 Health Education and Promotion @ 100%
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