Online Counseling | 830-832-1509| Admission
Online Counseling | 830-832-1509| Admission
How Reunification Counseling Works
The reunification counselor’s role is to work with the entire family for the best interests of the child or children in question. Neither parent directs the therapy and information shared with the counselor is not confidential. The counselor must report significant findings and positive or negative outcomes back to the court.
Assessment and Preparation
The first step is family assessment. This involves meeting with each parent separately and reviewing any custody evaluation and current court orders or parenting agreements related to custody or visitation. The counselor may also consult with other involved professionals, such as a parenting coordinator. If the custodial parent is not supportive of the counseling, the counselor will attempt to facilitate voluntary cooperation by focusing on what is best for the children. Parent education will revolve around family dynamics which commonly arise during the divorce process, how such dynamics may lead to children feeling the need to align with one parent over the other, and the ultimate negative impacts of such dynamics.
The counselor will not begin with any preconceptions regarding how the current situation has evolved. While the non-custodial parent usually holds the custodial parent responsible for the lack of contact with the child, few scenarios come down to one parent being totally right and the other being totally wrong. The custodial parent will have the opportunity to provide information about contributing actions of the non-custodial parent. Assigning blame to either parent is not helpful. A successful counselor builds trust and enlists both parent in working toward positive results for children.
The counselor interviews children separately, not only from the parents, but also from any other children. It is common for one child to resist contact to a much greater degree than another. Older children also sometimes urge younger siblings to adopt an agenda against the non-favored parent. The counselor will encourage children to air all complaints and will always take them seriously. Often complaints are justified, but rarely are they serious enough to support elimination of parental contact. Family tension from a difficult divorce sometimes causes complaints to loom larger than life in a child’s mind. The counseling will help the child consider the long-term benefits of having a positive relationship with both parents.
Family Integration: Joint and Individual Sessions
After interviewing the family members individually, the counselor will begin to see the child with the non-custodial parent. The focus of these joint sessions will be on addressing the child’s thoughts and emotions and coaching both the parent and the child toward more positive and blame-free interactions. The counselor can also use the sessions to help the parent and child plan some activities to do together outside of therapy.
The counselor generally also observes the child’s interaction with the custodial parent. Parents are often unaware of subtle cues they send children through words and actions. Individual sessions with each parent can focus on modifying behavior patterns that may be contributing to the current situation. The goal of the therapy is to gradually increase the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent until a more normal relationship is restored.
Results of Reunification Counseling
Counseling results vary, not only according to the history of each parent-child relationship, but also according to the ongoing interaction of all personalities in the family. As a general rule, children do not respond well to being forced to adhere to the demands of a parent with whom they have a difficult history. This is particularly true of adolescents, who at least to some extent are developmentally programmed to pull away from parents. Focusing on the process of developing a closer emotional relationship rather than on a goal of eventually adhering to any specific schedule may be helpful.
Parents generally need to commit to a longer term course of counselingto see real results. At least eight to twelve sessions with increasingly frequent outside visits is generally recommended, during which time the therapist will keep the court apprised of progress. The counselor will also submit a final report to the court at the conclusion of the process.
Do you think reunification counseling might be a helpful option in your case? Contact Us today for a free confidential consultation. Secure your future with your children. Call us: 830-832-1509