Therapeutic Change in Colombian Families Dealing With Violence: Therapists, Clients, and Referring Systems in Conversation


  • Karen Ripoll-Núñez, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Universidad de los Andes; Carlos Felipe Villar-Guhl, BA, in Psychology and Anthropology, is a masters’ student at Universidad Central; Eduardo Villar-Concha, MD, is a Psychiatrist, Director of Sistemas Humanos, a Systemic Family Therapy and Consultation Center, and Director of the Masters Program on Human Systems Intervention at Universidad Central.

Address correspondence to Karen Ripoll-Núñez, Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Universidad de los Andes, Cra. 1 Este 18 A-10, Bogotá, Colombia; E-mail:


There is a gap in the Marriage and Family Therapy literature regarding clients’, therapists’, and family judges’ theories of change in relational therapy for family violence. We conducted in-depth interviews with eleven court-referred families, their therapists, and two family judges in Bogota, Colombia. Interviews focused on their expectations of therapy outcomes, their understanding of change, and their evaluation of individual and relational therapy outcomes. We followed a grounded theory approach to data analysis. Analyses showed that therapists, family judges, and clients hold different expectations and theories regarding therapeutic change. Findings are discussed based on existing research on clients’ and therapists’ ideas about change. Implications for future research and practice are presented.