Reunification Therapy is typically for parents and children who have experienced a disruption in their relationship due to:
- Visitation resistance or refusal
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Alleged or founded child abuse
- Court order
- Job transfer or situation which has prohibited regular visitation
- Introduction of a parent to a child
Our approach to Reunification Therapy incorporates the principles of Filial Therapy to reestablish or enhance the bond between parent and child. The visiting parent learns how to communicate more effectively with their child and to empathize with all of the feelings the child has about the separation/interuption and preceding events. The visiting parent also learns non-punitive limit setting skills and how to facilitate decision making skills in their child. The filial coaching also may include education about child development and other issues related specifically to their child or family.
This training enables the visiting parent to engage in therapeutically supervised non-directive play/expressive arts sessions with their child in order to rebuild the relationship and to work through any issues the child may have with the targeted parent due to the separation. There is also an opportunity to work on co-parenting concerns and communication which ideally includes the residential parent. As relationships improve outside contact between the visiting parent and child begins or increases and the therapeutic sessions are phased out.
The first step after a referral is made is for assessment of readiness for reunification with both parents and the child. This process may involve feedback from other family members and professionals working with family members, review of psychological records and evaluations and court orders. Specific barriers to reunification are explored and additional services or supports may be recommended to improve outcomes.
The visiting parent begins Filial Therapy training and simultaneously the therapist meets with the child to develop rapport and begin planning for the first joint session. Initial sessions may be more structured with older children or when multiple children attend together. When several successful family sessions have been completed in the office, outside contact resumes or increases if already occuring.
The visiting parent and child continues to attend family therapy sessions with decreasing intervals as contact increases with successful outcomes or resumption of pre-established schedules. Ideally at this stage both the residential and visiting parent are able to meet together with the therapist to discuss parenting concerns, progress and future plans for the child.