Meditation for domestic violence treatment the focus of new study: seeking participants

Published 18 January 2021
People sitting cross-legged with upward palms and meditating

Comparing the effects of relaxation methods and facilitated support groups for women affected by domestic violence is the focus of a new study lead by the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine.

Researchers are recruiting participants for the second wave of the study, which will commence in February. The study is open to women aged 18 years and over living in the Adelaide area, who have been previously affected by some form of domestic violence (but not currently).

With almost one in three women worldwide exposed to domestic and family violence at some time in their life, domestic violence is a major issue, not only causing physical injury but also significant social, economic and psychological harm.

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine’s Associate Professor Matthew Leach is leading the study in partnership with Heather Lorenzon from the Adelaide Southern Regions Transcendental Meditation Centre, which is exploring new treatment options for women who have been affected by domestic violence in Australia.

“Previous research suggests that people who learn a certain method of relaxation called Transcendental Meditation (TM) or attend a facilitated support group report a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression,” said Associate Professor Leach.

“Building on this body of work, we are hoping to explore whether women exposed to domestic violence also see improvements in quality of life, perceived stress and mood through the use of TM or group support.”

Associate Professor Leach said domestic violence was a global epidemic which had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, further accelerating the need for viable treatment options.

"There has been a notable surge in the number of calls to domestic violence helplines internationally, and in the number of internet searches seeking support for domestic violence,” he said.

Whilst there are a range of support services available for women in Australia, these services are not necessarily appropriate, accessible or appealing to all women.

“Best practice currently recommends behavioural, psychological and relaxation therapies to aid recovery in women affected by domestic violence, and while there is some evidence to suggest that these therapies may be effective in improving wellbeing, access to these therapies in terms of cost, appropriateness and availability can pose a challenge for many survivors,” said Associate Professor Leach.

“We wanted to address this issue by increasing the choices available to women to help aid their recovery from domestic violence.”

Participants will be randomly assigned to a program facilitated by an experienced therapist, which will include up to 11 sessions of either TM or group support delivered over eight weeks. Women will also have access to crèche services free of charge and will receive a small honorarium for their time.

Full details of the study have been published in Science Direct, which is available for free download.

This research has been approved by the University of South Australia Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 202647).

The study is funded by the David Lynch Foundation Australia, a non-profit organisation founded by filmmaker David Lynch which provides evidence-based meditation techniques to victims of domestic violence, first responders suffering severe stress, and at-risk youth who have experienced family trauma.

How to participate in the study
Eligible women are those aged 18 years and over living in the Adelaide area who have been previously affected by some form of domestic violence (but not currently).
For more information about the study or to apply (by 10 February 2021) to participate contact the project manager Heather Lorenzon on 0416 108 476.

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and innovation in naturopathic medicine and health education, research and practice. NCNM creates, promotes and advocates a strong culture of incorporating evidence-based science into naturopathic education and clinical practice.

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