Response-based therapy is a relatively new psychotherapeutic approach to treating psychological trauma resulting from violence, based on the theory that whenever people are treated badly, they resist. Incorporating elements of Solution focused brief therapy, Narrative therapy, and discourse analysis, it was first proposed by a Canadian family therapist and researcher, Dr. Allan Wade, in his 1997 article "Small Acts of Living: Everyday Resistance to Violence and Other Forms of Oppression.".
Therapeutic methods of response-based therapy are based on two theoretical foundations: (1) That alongside accounts of violence in history, there exists an often-unrecognized parallel history of "determined, prudent, and creative resistance," and (2) language is frequently used in a manner that (a) conceals violence, (b) obscures and mitigates perpetrator responsibility, (c) conceals victims' resistance, and (d) blames or pathologizes victims. This second principle employs "discourse analysis" and is referred to in response based therapy as the "four discursive operations."
This presupposition of resistance as a natural response to violence is used to engage clients in in-depth conversations about how they responded to specific acts of violence. In response-based literature, resistance is defined and examples given:
“Any mental or behavioural act through which a person attempts to expose, withstand, repel, stop, prevent, abstain from, strive against, impede, refuse to comply with, or oppose any form of violence or oppression (including any type of disrespect), or the conditions that make such acts possible, may be understood as a form of resistance.” (Wade, 1997, p. 25)
“Whenever people are abused, they do many things to oppose the abuse and to keep their dignity and their self-respect. This is called resistance. The resistance might include not doing what the perpetrator wants them to do, standing up against, and trying to stop or prevent violence, disrespect, or oppression. Imagining a better life may also be a way that victims resist abuse.” (Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, 2007, p. 5).
In response-based therapy, the client is viewed as an "agent" who has the capability to respond to an act, rather than a passive "object" that is "acted upon." Example: the response-based therapist would not ask a victim "How did that make you feel?", but instead would ask "When [act of violence] was done to you, how did you respond? What did you do?"
- Wade, 1997, p. 23
- Wade, A. (1997). Small acts of living: Everyday resistance to violence and other forms of oppression. Contemporary Family Therapy, 19(1), 23-39
- Coates, L., & Wade, A. (2004). Telling It Like It Isn’t: Obscuring Perpetrator Responsibility for Violent Crime. Discourse & Society, 15(5), 3-30.
- Todd, N. & Wade, A. (2003) 'Coming to Terms with Violence and Resistance: From a Language of Effects to a Language of Responses', in T. Strong & D. Pare (eds), Furthering Talk: Advances in the Discursive Therapies, New York: Kluwer Academic Plenum. p. 152.
- Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter. (2007). Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships (formerly Resistance to Violence and Abuse in Intimate Relationships: A Response-Based Perspective) Available from Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, P.O. Box 52051 Edmonton Trail N., Calgary, Alberta T2E 8K9.
- Coates, L. & Wade, A. (2004). Telling It Like It Isn’t: Obscuring Perpetrator Responsibility for Violent Crime. Discourse and Society, 15(5), 3-30.
- Coates, L. & Wade, A. (2007). Language and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations. Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 511-522.
- Maddeaux-Young, H. N. (2006). Therapeutic Responses To Violence: A Detailed Analysis Of Therapy Transcripts. Master of Arts Thesis, University of Lethbridge, Department of Sociology..
- Renoux, M. & Wade, A. (2008, June). Resistance to Violence: A Key Symptom of Chronic Mental Wellness. Context, 98, 2-4.
- Todd, N. and Wade, A. (2001). The Language of Responses Versus the Language of Effects: Turning Victims into Perpetrators and Perpetrators into Victims, unpublished manuscript, Duncan, British Columbia, Canada.
- Todd, N. & Wade, A. (2003). 'Coming to Terms with Violence and Resistance: From a Language of Effects to a Language of Responses', in T. Strong & D. Pare (eds), Furthering Talk: Advances in the Discursive Therapies, New York: Kluwer Academic Plenum.
- Wade, A. (1997). Small Acts of Living: Everyday Resistance to Violence and Other Forms of Oppression, Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy, 19, 23–40.
- Wade, A. (1999). Resistance to Interpersonal Violence: Implications for the practice of therapy. University of Victoria, Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Psychology.
- Wade, A. (2007a). Despair, resistance, hope: Response-based therapy with victims of violence. In C. Flaskas, I. McCarthy, and J. Sheehan (Eds.), Hope and despair in narrative and family therapy: Adversity, forgiveness and reconciliation (pp. 63–74). New York, NY : Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. HF
- Wade, A. (2007b). Coming to Terms with Violence: A Response-Based Approach to Therapy, Research and Community Action. Yaletown Family Therapy: Therapeutic Conversations. 
- Weaver, J., Samantaraya, L., & Todd. N. (2005). The Response-Based Approach in Working with Perpetrators Of Violence: An Investigation. Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter 
- Centre for Response-Based Practice. 201 – 312 Festubert Street, Duncan, British Columbia, V9L 3T1, Canada.
- CounsellingBC.com directory: Response-based therapy
- Flaskas, C., McCarthy, K., & Sheehan, J. (2007) Hope and Despair in Narrative and Family Therapy: Adversity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Publisher: Routledge.
- Yaletown Family Therapy Centre 2025 West 16th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6J 2M6, Canada. Phone: (604) 688-7860