Is it Conflict or Abuse? Assessing for Power and Control

Recorded Webinar
Instructor: Catherine Hodes, M.S.W., LICSW 
CEs: 1.5 
Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: Social workers and other social service providers.
Course Delivery Method and Format: Recorded webinar, self study. All courses are hosted on SmithOnline. Login information will be emailed immediately after registration to the email address entered during registration.
System Requirements: Attendees will need access to a computer with internet and the capability to play recorded videos.

Date of original webinar: September 25, 2019

Conflict is a normal part of relationships and can lead to change, growth, and deeper connection. It can also lead to divergence, alienation, and endings. In some cases, escalating conflict can result in risk, even danger, but does that make it abuse? Understanding the differences between conflict and abuse involves understanding relational power dynamics, and looking beyond the “shortcuts” of behavior and gender to more complex and nuanced elements such as context, motive, impact, and pattern.

This workshop examines key ways in which abusive relationships are different from relationships where there is escalated conflict and volatility. Understanding complex power dynamics and exploring autonomy, entitlement, fear, and isolation can help deepen assessments. Comparing healthy, high-conflict, and abusive relationships in several key areas helps to promote safety, trauma-reduction, and best practice. Specific assessment questions and a case scenario will be presented.

Registration Fee and Deadline:

$35 (one time registration fee of $5) | Ongoing 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Describe the differences between an abusive relationship and a conflictual one.
  2. Explain how to assess for abuse considering such elements as context, motive, impact, and agency.
  3. Define differential power dynamics such as power-sharing, power-struggling, and power-over.

Instructor Biography:

Catherine Hodes, M.S.W., LICSW is currently the director of Community Programs at Safe Passage in Northampton, MA, where she oversees the provision of services, including crisis intervention, counseling, safety planning, and advocacy for diverse survivors of partner abuse. Hodes was the director of the Safe Homes Project in Brooklyn, NY from 1994-2017. She has also been an instructor and faculty field advisor at New York University and Smith College Schools of Social Work, and served as the director of Survivor Supports at Hampshire College.

Completion Requirements for Recorded Webinars and Online Courses.

To receive a CE certificate, you must complete the entirety of the recorded webinar or recorded video presentation. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the class. For recorded webinars and online courses, participants must complete an evaluation and a post test, noting the length of time to complete the course. Participants must earn a minimum score of 80 percent on the post test in order to earn CEs. Retesting is allowed up to five (5) times. If a passing score is not achieved, CEs will not be awarded. Links to the evaluation and post test are available in SmithOnline. Participants must also complete an attestation of completion for each fully completed course. A copy of the attestation is available in SmithOnline. It is attendee’s responsibility to contact their state licensing board/certification boards to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.

How Will a CE Certificate Be Awarded?

Upon completing the course evaluation, successfully passing the post test and submitting the attestation, participants will be emailed their online certificate​ within 30 days of course completion​. ​Participants should save and/or print ​the certificate upon receipt for ​their records. Receiving the CE certificate is contingent on submitting attestion, completion of the evaluation and passing the post test.

Continuing Education Credits and Approvals for This Course

Continuing Education (CE) credits offered vary by course. This course only offers the CE credits listed below.  It is the attendees' responsibility to contact their licensing board to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.


Smith College School for Social Work, #1755, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period:11/19/2021-11/19/2024 . Social workers completing this course receive 1.5 clinical continuing education credits.


Smith College School for Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is therefore authorized to provide CEs as a postsecondary institution accredited by CSWE in many states. Courses offered through the School’s Program of Professional Education are awarded continuing education credits in accordance with Continuing Education Regulation 258, CMR, 31.00 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

NY State

Smith College School for Social Work is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0169.

Approved for Counselors (LMHC/LPC)

Smith College School for Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 7110. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Smith College School for Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.