Sometimes a parent can lose contact with a child during the challenging and confusing process of separation and divorce. It is devastating to the family when this occurs and careful and immediate intervention is necessary to decrease the likelihood of lifelong difficulties.
In the event that there is substance abuse and alcohol issues, allegations of abuse or past domestic violence that the child has witnessed or been victim to then reunification therapy begins the process of safe contact for the child and that parent. All pertinent records and contact with collateral professionals and governing agencies will need to be available to the reunification therapist and the Court Order should include the expectations of cooperation by both parents, the Court’s concerns and treatment goals and what interventions will be used, parameters for extended family involvement, discretion to the therapist to set arrangements for treatment, payment arrangements for the therapist, and contingencies in the event of relitigation.
The reunification therapist spends time individually with the child and with the reunifying parent before meeting with both of them together. Therapy will evolve along three (3) stages: (1) Assessment, (2) Commitment & Preparation, and (3) Integration. A fourth stage, monitoring and evaluation, is an important feature to ensure progress is made along a positive continuum of visitation. The monitoring stage can involve the therapist, but the therapist is usually not maintaining an active long-term role in reunification, although the therapist may remain available for consultation from time to time.
Generally speaking, there is a minimum of eight to twelve weekly (or bi-weekly) sessions with outside visitation depending on the circumstances of the case and at the discretion of the therapist. The therapist may keep the court apprised of any information she deems necessary at any time during the process in addition to a written or verbal report at the conclusion of reunification therapy.
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