Violence in Families: Systemic Practice and Research

  • Margreet Visser
  • Justine Van Lawick
  • Sandra M. Stith
  • Chelsea Spencer
Part of the European Family Therapy Association Series book series (EFTAS)


It is likely that any social worker, couple and family therapist, or counselor will work with a couple who engages in high-conflict behaviors at some point during their career. High-conflict couples can be characterized by destructive communication between partners, fast rates of escalation during conflict, emotional reactivity between partners, unsuccessful conflict resolution skills, as well as the possibility of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the relationship. This chapter provides an overview of two systemic approaches for working with couples with high-conflict behaviors: Domestic Violence-Focused Couples Therapy (DVFCT) for couples who wish to stay together after experiencing low levels of violence in their relationship and “No Kids in the Middle” for high-conflict families after a divorce. DVFCT is a systemic couple’s treatment developed in the United States, and “No Kids in the Middle” is a systemic treatment developed in the Netherlands for divorcing parents. In this chapter, we review the current state of the literature, methodological practices, methodological challenges, future directions for research, and clinical implications derived from our current research on working with violent couples who wish to stay together, as well as high-conflict divorcing parents.


Systemic treatment Conflict Violence Couples Divorce Intimate partner violence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margreet Visser
    • 1
  • Justine Van Lawick
    • 2
  • Sandra M. Stith
    • 3
  • Chelsea Spencer
    • 3
  1. 1.Children’s Trauma Center, Kenter YouthcareHaarlemThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Lorentzhuis, Centrum voor systeemtherapie, opleiding en consultatieHaarlemThe Netherlands
  3. 3.School of Family Studies and Human ServicesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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