WWP EN Webinar

Positioning as a tool in working with perpetrators

Facilitators: Helena Päivinen and Juha Holma


Webinar details:

In this webinar we are introducing positioning as a practical tool in working with perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Our view is based on qualitative research conducted on a perpetrator program in Jyväskylä, Finland. There is a long tradition of discourse analytic research on this program. In addition to the analytical aspects of the term, positioning also bears beneficial qualities for treatment practice, as we are going to show.

By positioning we mean taking a conversational location, from which one speaks, or offering this kind of a stance to another person in the conversation (Davies & Harré, 1990). Bringing up different voices is a commonly used technique in psychotherapy and this way of working is advantageous also in perpetrator treatment programs. Positions that are taken up or offered in a conversation draw from variety of cultural discourses about for example relationships, genders and family. As these possible cultural understandings are many, so are also positions during a conversation changing and shifting. This flexible quality of positions may be used by both clients and facilitators in a treatment conversation.

In their treatment the perpetrators often take up the position as a victim and thus refrain from taking responsibility of their behavior. However, other positions may be taken up or be offered by other participants in the treatment setting. For example, speaking from the position of a parent, a father, or a child himself may lead to different viewpoints towards one’s violent behavior.   Furthermore gendered positions may play a role in perpetrator treatment. This aspect has to be acknowledged when there is e.g. a female facilitator in a male perpetrators’ treatment group.

In the webinar we are going to illustrate how positions are constructed in perpetrator treatment and how positioning may be used as a tool by the facilitators in their work with perpetrators.



Helena Päivinen, M.A., is a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her dissertation concerns gendered positioning in therapeutic conversations. She is a clinical psychologist specialized in intimate partner violence issues and works as a group facilitator in the local perpetrator program.

Juha Holma, PhD, is a professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä. He has over 20 year experience as a group facilitator in the treatment groups for men who have battered their partners. He is the responsible researcher in a research on these groups and published several studies on this field.

Last changed: 04.02.2021