Per Isdal, Clinical Psychologist, was one of the founders of «Alternative to Violence» (ATV) in 1987. ATV was one of the first European treatment-centres for men who use violence against their partners. He has been working as a therapist for male perpetrators of violence for more than 30 years. He has written several books on the topic of violence.
His latest book («Contaminated by violence») focuses on the effect this work has on the therapist/helper. This book is also translated into Swedish and Danish. In 2017 he was knighted by the Norwegian king to the order of St.Olav for his 30 years long contribution in the field of family violence.
Key note title
Consequences of working with violence
Your work as a therapist or social worker involves listening to stories of violence and abuse in the lives of clients year after year. How might this affect you as a human being, both on a professional and on a private level? Isdal talks about his own experiences as a therapist. For 32 years, he has been working with men who are violent against women.
In the book “Contaminated by Violence” (Norwegian), which is based on personal experiences, he explains that he was strongly, but gradually and imperceptibly affected by his work. Working with violence constitutes a mental health risk for the professional. Concepts like secondary traumatization, vicarious traumatization and compassion fatigue are used to understand typical and normal consequences of this type of work.
Understanding and accepting the health risks that are embedded in this work is necessary in order to take preventive actions. How can we keep a healthy mind and soul when working in this field, and not lose our selves on the way?