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CODA - Children overcoming domestic abuse

CODA is a multi-agency 12-week group work programme for women and children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse.  

CODA is for children, young people and their mothers who have experienced domestic violence. They provide a community based setting to share and talk about their experiences.

CODA is a primary prevention programme for children that is trauma-informed and embedded in an attachment-based approach to group work. It is designed to build skills, knowledge and promote long-term recovery for children and mothers.

The programme is accessible in a number of community-based settings and virtually. It is franchised to the main organisation in a local area under licence for three years to enable partners in the area to meet the needs of child survivors of domestic abuse.


If you are interested in bringing CODA to your area and want to learn more about these groundbreaking recovery groups, please fill out this brief expression of interest form. For more information on CODA or to enquire about commissioning CODA in your area, please contact us on CODA@avaproject.org.uk


The CODA group work programme is designed to respond to high levels of demand and prevents duplication across multi-agency partners by adopting a collaborative approach to service provision.  

The programme also incorporates the principle of prevention and harm reduction alongside core recovery work, and links to Domestic Abuse Act 2021. 

To provide consistency across groups, we have introduced a set of core issues that provide goals and direction, as well as accountability to the community. 

These are: 

  • Validation of the children’s experiences
  • Safety planning
  • Understanding abuse and reducing self-blame
  • Appropriate versus inappropriate expressions of emotion

CODA was evaluated by Middlesex University. Their final report can be found here.

Key Features

Concurrent Group Model 

The CODA programme employs a concurrent group work model, whereby children and their mothers participate in different support groups that run simultaneously, allowing women and children to heal together but separately. Here, mother and child are treated as distinct but entwined survivors. The strengths of the concurrent group model include;

  • Partnerships Mothers, children and facilitators experience themselves working as partners together. 
  • Validation Supported by skilled facilitators and other survivors, CODA helps children and women understand their partner’s choices and behaviour and the impact on their lives. Children experience their mothers as involved and that they have skills to help them heal and recover.
  • Empowerment of mothers CODA recognises women’s expertise and knowledge of their children and works in partnership with them to inform the delivery of children’s group work. CODA’s uniqueness disrupts mother blame and enables mothers to think through the eyes of a child – restoring relationships and securing long-term outcomes that are preventative and solution-focused.

Multi-Agency Collaboration

CODA adopts a collaborative approach to service provision. Providing a coordinated community programme reliant upon multi-agency collaboration can improve services to children and women experiencing domestic violence and maximise their continual safety and well-being. Strengths of multi-agency collaboration include; 

  • Reducing the risk We know from Climbe and other child protection cases the dangers of failure to work together in practice, and this is particularly true in relation to children living with domestic violence. Coordinated responses to domestic abuse are proven both nationally and internationally to reduce the risk of harm to women and their children. 
  • Skill Sharing Skills obtained from the programme are transferable. In addition, staff bring the expertise from their primary work environment and utilise it in the groups to assist children encountering difficulties in other aspects of their lives.
  • Value for Money Communication and relationships across and between agencies improve and helps to prevent duplication of services.

Fun and Engaging

The CODA groups are a fun and engaging way to seek and get support. 

Child Groups 

  • Provide a space to explore their feelings, have fun, tell their stories in a safe, confidential space, rebuild their relationship with their mother, and be with other children. 
  • By providing enjoyment and connection, the groups alleviate the emotional labour of healing for children and their mothers. 

Mothers Groups 

  • Many women who live with violence are extremely isolated in their experiences. Offering a group programme to mothers is an opportunity for them to take the first step towards decreasing their sense of isolation by coming together and identifying the value of women making connections with one another in the group setting. 
  • For many mothers, the groups are the first time they can talk about their experiences and the specific challenges they face in parenting and feel heard and no longer alone in their parenting experience.
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