I work closely with the family law community to provide Reunification Therapy. This service will typically be initiated through a court-order or an attorney referral. The goal of Reunification Therapy is to repair the parent-child relationship within the context of a high-conflict divorce/separation. You and your family members will usually be asked to participate in Reunification Therapy if a parenting plan, assigned by the court system, is not being followed, when a parent and child have been estranged for a prolonged period of time (for example, due to past history of abuse, incarceration, substance abuse, and domestic violence), when a child is having difficulty establishing or maintaining a relationship with a parent, or when there is conflict between a parent and a child.
While most Reunification Therapy follows a general model, I appreciate the uniqueness of your family and will tailor my approach to fit your particular situation.
How long does the process of reunification take?
In order to best answer this question, I will assess for the following factors:
- Age of the children
- Length of absence of visiting/estranged parent
- Level of resistance of visitation of children
- Factors that led to parent-child resist/refuse
- Level of cooperation of each parent
- Number of children involved in the reunification process
Once I have a more thorough understanding of the above factors and your particular situation, I will work with you and your family on a plan that outlines goals and length of treatment. However, because of the complex nature of these cases, progress is best assessed on a short-term basis and length of treatment may vary. On average, reunification therapy take anywhere between 3-12 months.
How to Initiate Reunification Therapy
I will conduct a phone consultation with you regarding your case. You will be asked to provide me with any court-related documentation that makes reference to reunification therapy, as well as releases of information signed by both parents that will allow me to communicate with your attorneys and the Child for the Attorney and/or Guardian ad Litem (if there is one assigned to the case). Additionally, I will provide a contract for services for each parent to sign, indicating they agree with participation in reunification therapy. Please note that reunification therapy does not involve confidentiality privileges due to it being court-ordered.
The sessions that are involved in the reunification process have several components. Please be aware that these components of Reunification Therapy will depend on restrictions placed by the court.
Intake: I will meet with each parent separately for an intake session to gather historical information about the child(ren), family, and couple that is relevant to the reunification process. Additionally, I will also meet with each child living at home for an initial assessment.
Sessions with the children: I will continue to meet individually with the children involved in the reunification process. In these sessions, I will continue to work with the children in determining level of readiness for visitations with estranged parent.
Meeting with parents: I may request to meet with each parent separately to address concerns that arise in the individual sessions with the children. This will be an opportunity for the parents to obtain education on parenting skills that will support the reunification process and an adaptive home environment.
Visitations at the therapeutic office: Visitations with the estranged parent will occur gradually in order to make the reunification process smoother. This may entail encounters between the estranged parent and child to be done over the phone or virtually initially. Face-to-face sessions will begin to occur later in the visitation stage of the reunification process. I will provide ample support when structuring these sessions.
Visitations in the community: Contingent upon the outcome of the in-office visits, the next step in reunification may for the estranged parent and child to meet in more natural settings. I may or may not be present at these meetings, initially, depending on your family’s needs. If you are working with an Attorney for the Child or Guardian ad Litem, this individual may also be present. Later, meetings will occur without my presence. Once again, I will provide support and structure for these meetings.
Please be aware that, because of the complexity of these cases and various reactions children may experience, the reunification process is not a linear process and may involve repeating some of the components listed above more than once. Reunification is also not a guarantee and will be highly dependent on your involvement and follow through of clinical recommendations.
Why does my family need a Reunification Therapy specialist?
Many families who seek Reunification Therapy often wonder why their child’s individual therapist cannot also facilitate the reunification process. Reunification Therapy may establish different goals than those in traditional psychotherapy and often times, these goals cannot be integrated by the same clinician providing services. Having a separate reunification therapist and an individual therapist will ensure clinicians are not engaging in a dual role and will support each clinician in operating from a non-biased standpoint so that your family can experience better outcomes as you navigate through the reunification process.
Additionally, Reunification Therapy requires that the reunification therapist have legal knowledge and experience in the courtroom and most traditional therapists do not receive this type of training. It is important that your reunification therapist not only feels comfortable working with children, adolescents, and families, but has experience working with the legal system.
A retainer for my services is required at the onset of the reunification process. Reunification Therapy differs from traditional psychotherapy because the legal nature of this process will require me to provide services that extend beyond weekly individual sessions. For instance, I will be consulting with other professionals involved in your case, such as other treatment providers, case managers, Attorneys for the Children, Guardians ad Litem, and attorneys, to name a few. Additionally, I may be providing the Court with written reports and participate in court appearances. The retainer fee will ensure that these extended services are being covered and the reunification process occurs smoothly and in a timely manner. I will determine your retainer fee based on various factors of your individual case, such as number of children involved. I will discuss payment plans with you and your family upon initial contact.