About Connie J. A. Beck Ph.D.
Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1999
Dr. Beck's work focuses on how the legal system creates or exacerbates psychological distress, and how it can be adjusted or restructured to minimize that distress. She considers both the effects on legal professionals of working in legal settings and the effects of legal processes on those people who have disputes and attempt to resolve them using the legal system. Her book (with Bruce Sales), Family mediation: Facts, Myths and Future prospects (American Psychological Association, 2001), critically evaluates the claims made by mediation proponents and outlines a program of research to seek an accurate understanding of the impact of family mediation as an alternative to litigation.
To this end, Dr. Beck is exploring the issues surrounding whether clients mandated to attend mediation should be screened, including the dimensions that might be used to screen clients and what the screening procedure might entail. Currently, domestic violence is the major reason for couples to be screened out or excused from participating in mediation. Dr. Beck is interested in understanding of the nature of these relationships and then what occurs both during and after the divorce. She has collected data on 1015 couples who attended mediation. She has collected longitudinal data following these couples for five years post mediation and police and sheriff data. On the legal side, Dr. Beck has been focused on defining the minimum level of skills and emotional stability necessary for litigants to participate in divorce mediation. Couching this issue in terms of “client competence,” two recent articles (with Lynda Frost) present and explain a model legal standard for assessing the litigants’ competence to mediate.
Parenting coordinator programs have gained widespread appeal in courts across the country. They are designed to provide high conflict, separated or divorcing couples with the knowledge and assistance of a trained professional to help resolve disputes. Since these cases make up only approximately one percent (1%) of all divorce cases but they take up ninety percent (90%) of the family courts' resources, parenting coordinator programs also are designed to be an efficient, less costly, less formal and less time consuming way to resolve conflicts than scheduling court hearings to resolve day-to-day disputes regarding parenting. A major goal of these programs is to teach families to resolve problems on their own, without the detailed assistance of the appointed coordinator or the courts. Arizona has recently implemented parenting coordinator programs in two jurisdictions (Maricopa and Pima Counties). To gain a better understanding of the new program in we are conducting an initial exploratory study. The aims of this research were first to explore the PCs' general philosophies of the program and their role in assisting families. Because this program is implemented by people from several professions, we also wanted to understand the variability in experiences and practices with actual cases. Finally, we wanted to gather data to later develop a more comprehensive program evaluation.
Important voices often left out of the process of divorce are the children of divorcing families. Dr. Beck is interested in assessing how the young adults from divorced families function day-to-day to one day determine how the divorce process might be adjusted to better meet their needs. To this end she has collected data on over 600 participants.
Other areas of scholarly interest include conflict resolution; legal professionals; psychology, gender and the law; ethical issues and forensic assessment and the law.
Beck, C. J. A. & Sales, B. D. (2001). Family mediation: Facts, myths and future prospects. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Articles and Monographs
Beck, C. J. A., & Frost, L. E. (2006). Defining a threshold for client competence to participate in divorce mediation. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 12(1), 1-35.
Beck, C. J. A., & Frost, L. E. (2007). Competence as an element of “Mediation Readiness.” Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 25(2), 255-278.
Beck, C. J. A. (2007). Book Review. Mending Broken Families: Social Policies for Divorced Families: How Effective Are They? Emily M. Douglas. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(3), 888-889.
Levenson, M. D., Beck, C. J. A., Mehl, M. R., & Sbarra, D. A. (2007). An exploratory study of the Parenting Coordinator Program in Pima County. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Newsletter, (Summer 2007), 1-2.
Beck, C. J. A., Putterman (Levenson), M. D., Sbarra, D. A., & Mehl, M. R (2008). Parenting coordinator roles, program goals and services provided: Insights from the Pima County, Arizona program. Journal Child Custody, Special Issue on Parenting Coordination, 5(1/2. 122-139.
Sisco, M. M., Becker, J. V., & Beck, C. J. A. (2008). Looking forward and back: Sexual victimization prevention. Aggression and Violent Behavior 13,261-275
Beck, C. J. A., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., D'Onofrio, B. M. Fee, B., & Hill, F. (in press). Collaboration between judges and social science researchers in family law. Invited paper. Special Issue of Family Court Review.
Beck, C. J. A., Walsh, M. E., & Weston, R. (in press). The difficult balance of safety versus access: Mediation agreements of families with intimate partner abuse. Invited paper. Special Issue of Family Court Review.
Beck, C. J. A., Menke, J. M., O’Hara, K., & Figueredo, A. J. (in press). Validation of a measure of intimate partner abuse with couples participating in divorce mediation. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage.
Beck, C. J. A., Walsh, M. E. & Mechanic, M. B., & Taylor, C. S. (in press). Intimate partner violence screening and accommodations provided for safety in mandatory divorce mediation. Law and Human Behavior.
Tanha, M., Beck, C. J. A., Figueredo, A. J., & Raghavan, C. (in press) Coercive Control as a Motivational Factor for Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. (Graduate student masters thesis.)
Beck, C. J. A., & Raghavan, C. (in press). Coercive control measures couple power dynamics in custody mediation. Family Court Review.
Beck, C. J. A., Sales, B. D. and Emery, R. E. (2004). The impact of research on mediation practice. In J. Folberg, A. Milne, & P. Salem (Eds.). Mediating Family and Divorce Disputes: Current Practices and Applications. Guilford Press. (Invited Book Chapter).
d'Estree, T.P., Beck, C.J.B., and Colby, B.G. (2004). Review of past efforts to define and evaluate success in environmental conflict resolution, p. 15-54. In Tamra Pearson d'Estree and Bonnie G. Colby, d'Estrée, T.P., & Colby, B.G. (2004). Braving the currents: Evaluating conflict resolution in the river basins of the American West. Norwell, MA: Kluwer.
Beck, C. J. A., Sales, B. & Benjamin, G. A. H. (1995-96). Lawyer distress: Alcohol-related problems and other psychological concerns among practicing lawyers. Journal of Health & Law, 10 (1), 1-60.
Sales, B., Beck, C. J., & Haan, R. K. (1993). Is self-representation a reasonable alternative to attorney representation in divorce cases? St. Louis University Law Journal [Health Law Symposium], 37, 553-605.
Sales, B., Beck, C. J. & Haan, R. E. (1993). Self-representation in divorce cases. Chicago, Il: American Bar Association