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.
I recognize that each child and family are unique. There is a general model that is typically followed when using Reunification Therapy. The uniqueness of your family will be considered, and I will take an approach to gear treatment to your families particular situation.
How to Initiate Reunification Therapy
I will conduct an individual meeting with both parents in order to obtain information. 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 Amicus Attorney (if there is one assigned to the case). Additionally, I will provide intake paperwork and a contract for services for each parent to sign, indicating they agree with participation in reunification therapy.
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, 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 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 the estranged parent.
Meeting with parents: Initially I request to meet with each parent separately to address concerns. Throughout the process, I may request to meet with individual parents to address any 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 initially. Face-to-face session 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: Depending on how things go during the office visits sometimes, the next step in reunification therapy may for the estranged parent and child to meet in a more natural setting. I will be present at these meetings, initially. If you are working with an Amicus Attorney, this individual may also attend. 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 each person’s 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 psychotherapist cannot also facilitate the reunification process. Reunification Therapy may establish different goals than those in traditional psychotherapy and oftentimes, 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 clinician 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, adolescent, and families, but has experience working with the legal system.
Fees for Reunification Therapy: $150 per 50-minute session