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Trainer Resources

Asking The Question about Violence and Abuse in Adult Mental Health Assessments

A one-day training course has been developed, which is intended to introduce mental health practitioners to the practice of routinely asking about client experiences of violence and abuse in mental health assessments. It is suitable for all practitioners working in mental health services such as nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, IAPT counsellors, health care assistants and support/recovery workers. It can be delivered to whole teams or as open courses accessible across a Trust (in some Trusts it is a mandatory course for all staff conducting assessments). It is recommended that no more than 20 participants attend each course as the training includes experiential and participatory elements.

The purpose of the course is to help staff become more confident about asking in assessments whether clients have experienced violence or abuse at any point in their lives and in providing support and signposting following disclosure of such experiences. The expectation is that, if they don’t already, staff who undertake assessments will begin ‘asking the question’ following the training.

The training should be delivered by practitioners with some experience of supporting clients who have experienced domestic or sexual violence/childhood abuse. All materials for delivery and links to research evidence and background reading are included in the trainers’ notes – which also provides a slide-by-slide script to accompany the PowerPoint presentation. Links to both the PowerPoint presentation and the trainers’ notes can be found below.

This is a completely updated third edition (November 2014) of a course first delivered in 2006 to support the pilot implementation of the Department of Health policy on routine enquiry in mental health services. This edition of the course has been designed and produced by Dr Sara Scott (DMSS Research) and Dr Jennie Williams (Inequality Agenda) who have been training mental health professionals together since 1999. Enquiries about this course and other training available on gender, violence and abuse can be directed to them: and


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, participants will:

  • Have greater knowledge and awareness of the potential consequences of violence and abuse on mental health

  • Have the confidence to routinely ask about violence and abuse as part of assessments

  • Be able to respond appropriately to disclosures 


Training Files

PowerPoint presentation

Trainer notes



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