Purpose: The aim of our research was to find out what experience with the psychosocial strategies the former child soldiers who participate in the governmental reintegration programmes in Colombia have, and in this way to provide valuable knowledge for other professionals who attend similar populations.
Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative study of descriptive-analytic design was based on semi-structured interviews with 69 young adults, carried out in three regional centres of the Colombian reintegration office from February to September 2019.
Findings: Respondents evaluated the support received in the reintegration programme for adults in a more positive way. They appreciated more their autonomy than the conveniences offered by the programme for minors where they had to observe relatively strict rules. The thematic analysis identified three attitudes toward the psychosocial support: respect, scepticism and gratitude for the help. The relationship towards professionals was generally deemed good, but it was based less on confidence and more on searching for practical advice. Both programmes worked only in a limited way with family members and broader community.
Originality/value: Our investigation showed that despite the psychosocial focus of the reintegration programmes in Colombia, the up-bottom individual strategies prevailed in practice, particularly in the programme designed for minors. The results bring direct feedback on the reintegration programmes, their strong points and gaps from the young adults’ perspective.
Keywords: psychosocial support, armed-conflict victims, reintegration programme, young adults.