Because the legislature recognizes the importance of protecting people from abuse they have specifically created a law that mandates treatment for perpetrators of domestic violence. RCW 26.50.150 requires that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) adopt rules and standards of approval for DV perpetrator programs. In order to satisfy state requirements that are ordered by courts and even to advertise as a DV treatment program, approved programs must be one year long and include the following minimum requirements:
(1) All treatment must be based upon a full, complete clinical intake including: Current and past violence history; a lethality risk assessment; a complete diagnostic evaluation; a substance abuse assessment; criminal history; assessment of cultural issues, learning disabilities, literacy, and special language needs; and a treatment plan that adequately and appropriately addresses the treatment needs of the individual.
(2) To facilitate communication necessary for periodic safety checks and case monitoring, the program must require the perpetrator to sign the following releases:
(a) A release for the program to inform the victim and victim’s community and legal advocates that the perpetrator is in treatment with the program, and to provide information, for safety purposes, to the victim and victim’s community and legal advocates;
(b) A release to prior and current treatment agencies to provide information on the perpetrator to the program; and
(c) A release for the program to provide information on the perpetrator to relevant legal entities including: Lawyers, courts, parole, probation, child protective services, and child welfare services.
(3) Treatment must be for a minimum treatment period defined by the secretary of the department by rule. The weekly treatment sessions must be in a group unless there is a documented, clinical reason for another modality. Any other therapies, such as individual, marital, or family therapy, substance abuse evaluations or therapy, medication reviews, or psychiatric interviews, may be concomitant with the weekly group treatment sessions described in this section but not a substitute for it.
(4) The treatment must focus primarily on ending the violence, holding the perpetrator accountable for his or her violence, and changing his or her behavior. The treatment must be based on nonvictim-blaming strategies and philosophies and shall include education about the individual, family, and cultural dynamics of domestic violence. If the perpetrator or the victim has a minor child, treatment must specifically include education regarding the effects of domestic violence on children, such as the emotional impacts of domestic violence on children and the long-term consequences that exposure to incidents of domestic violence may have on children.
(5) Satisfactory completion of treatment must be contingent upon the perpetrator meeting specific criteria, defined by rule by the secretary of the department, and not just upon the end of a certain period of time or a certain number of sessions.
(6) The program must have policies and procedures for dealing with reoffenses and noncompliance.
(7) All evaluation and treatment services must be provided by, or under the supervision of, qualified personnel.
(8) The secretary of the department may adopt rules and establish fees as necessary to implement this section.
Anyone who has been convicted of a DV related offense must complete the above program. If you wish to avoid the necessity of having to complete a domestic violence treatment program or even in the alternative wish to find the most appropriate program to meet your needs, you will very likely need to consult a skilled and experienced Washington domestic violence lawyer.