Reunification therapy is designed to heal and restore the relationship between a parent and a child, usually torn apart by divorce.
In most divorce csses, one parent retains custody of the minor child[ren] and the other parent is given visitation rights. In such cases, before the divorce happens, there is usually a change in living arrangements, leaving one parent cut off from seeing their child[ren]. It is at this point when children may begin making assumptions about the parent that they are cut off from, often resulting in feelings of anger and resentment towards the estranged parent. In some cases, resentment may be focused towards the custodial parent.
There are many reasons why the child may not see the other parent. No matter the reason, even with safety concerns, the courts try to heal the relationship as best they can. Their aim is to make sure the child has a healthy relationship with both parents. Not always safe to abruptly allow the other parent to see the child again, the courts permit this under very watchful eye, such as supervised visitation. This is one part of the reunification therapy.
The courts may believe that the parent and child have been separated for invalid reasons and this is where reunification therapy helps with a reunification therapist. This will also help the parents involved to resolve some of the issues impacting their child[ren]. It is clearly established that, in the most healthy settings, both parents are benefcial to healthy development of children. Each parent brings unique, yet important, qualities to the child’s life, separately and together they offer comfort and stability.
A request has to be made, by the estranged parent, for mediation between the estranged parent and the parent with custody. If a parent has a difficult relationship with the child and do not have custody, the court may order reunification therapy. Once ordered, both parents must attend, even if the parent with custody or the child do not want it to take place. This order must be obeyed unless there is proven immediate danger to the child.
If the court orders reunification therapy, parent and child receive therapy aimed at reuniting the two. It is not private and all imformation gathered through therapy is reported to the court. All that is said during sessions are reported, which may work in the estranged parent’s favor or not in a divorce proceeding.
This type of therapy can be traumatic and the court recognizes this, and an estrsnged parent may need to understand before they begin that this is not designed to force parent and child together. The design is that it should provide a safe place, under the supervision of a licensed professional, where the relationship can be repaired.
Parents must be cautioned to not harm the child’s relationship to the other parent, by ‘bad-mouthing’ them. Refrain from this because during the separation, the child may feel abandoned or may have been told that the parent is ‘unfit’. It’s important that the parent and child come together in a healthy way.
The parent-child relationship under normal circumstances, should not impact the relationship with each other. Children interpret situations by taking them personally, and may internalize their related feelings. These feelings may become internalized and could have a lasting effect on future relationships and their own sense of self and self-worth.
In therapy, the child has the opportunity to re-acclimate to the estranged parent and become acquainted without the influence of the custodial parent.They may heal an old relationship or start building a new one. Both are given the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings and concerns, as well as their motivation for moving forward together. Both parent and child receive therapy together and individually, in order that both may express feelings and help the healing process.
Reunification therapy does not have to be ordered by the court, but if so, both parents and the child[ren] are and must be involved. This therapy is important in that it may grant custody or viisitation to the estranged parent depending upon the circumstances surrounding the divorce. It is extremely important to comply with all the rules and restrictions set forth in therapy.
Even if custody or visitation aren’t granted, this type of therapy helps repair relationships between parent and child. This process may help parents begin rebuilding relationships in which it took years to destroy. Reunification therapy could be the first step in creating solid bonds between parent and child that will make their lives much better looking forward.
I say to parents who are contemplating obtaining a divorce from their spouse, outside of abuse of any kind and safety concerns, do not let your relationship between you two interfere with the stability that your children require and have grown to know. This stability can be managed and maintained even if seprate living arrangements.
If your relationship has taken on new direction, keep those concerns between you both, as adults in the room. Do not burden your cildren with problems or concerns that they cannot and should not be privy to. Do not insult the other parent, either in or outside of your children’s presence-not to them or around them. Be discreet.
Never forget that your children are biologically connected to you both. There is a part of you and the other parent that makes your child who he or she is or will be. Severing a relationship between parent and child hurts both child and the other parent. Be mindful of the way your child will interpret these ‘adult’ issues. No matter what you say, most children will be confused, angry and hurt believing they did something wrong; that they are not loved.
Life can go on for you, but your child’s life is just beginning. When we teach fair play, children will learn to play fair. Be fair and resolve your issues….in the best interest of the child[ren].