Encounters        (continued from page 2)

The experience of myself and my colleagues is that the PC role is very challenging and requires PC’S to have the following body of knowledge and skill set; a sound knowledge of family law as pertains to parenting plans, family dynamics of separation and divorce, the effects on children of divorce, family violence, mental health and addiction issues, mediation and arbitration training skills and the ability to tolerate and manage high conflict cases. Recently there has been a shift from PC’s acting alone to PC’s operating as part of a team. The PC role is a blend of teaching, coaching, assessing, monitoring, mediating and arbitrating. As I am sure you can appreciate, it is difficult to balance and implement all of these roles. That is why we are beginning to realize as PC’s that it is helpful to work as part of a team. With respect to a number of my files, I have found it extremely useful to work with child therapists, psychologists and divorce coaches in managing high conflict cases. For example, currently I am the Team Leader on a team that is working with a high conflict parental alienation case. In this case, a 12 year old child has been unwilling to have any contact with their father for well over a year. A Section 15, Custody and Access Assessment was completed and the psychologist determined that the case was a hybrid of alienation and child estrangement dynamics. The recommendation was that the family receive intensive counselling. This case is still in trial so a PC has not been appointed. Our team is comprised of myself, two divorce coaches, one for each parent and a child therapist who sees the child. To date we are noticing progress and improvement in communication between the parents and lessening of resistance on the part of the child towards the father. Although our process is fairly new we are encouraged by the signs of progress. With respect to my other files, I have worked with a child therapist and psychologist and once again have found this team approach to be very useful. The child therapist and the psychologist are able to deal with specific issues relating to the child’s emotional well-being and to advise the parents on parenting tips and strategies while I can remain somewhat detached from that process and restrict my role to implementation of the parenting plan and making decisions where the parents cannot agree.