Reunification Therapy (cont'd)

Reunification therapy involves several stages or phases. The first stage involves the assessment of the child's symptoms and a determination is made as to the severity of symptoms and the underlying factors which are contributing to the child’s behavior. The assessment phase involves individual interviews with each of the parents, and if possible joint interviews with the parents in order to assess the level of conflict and the co– parenting dynamics. Extended family members as well as other significant people in the child's life may also be interviewed. The assessment phase is completed with the development of goals and a treatment plan for assisting the child to reunite with the parent who has become estranged or alienated.

The second stage involves the implementation of the treatment plan. Individual sessions with the child and ongoing contact with the parents and significant others in the child's life usually results in a reduction in symptoms. The parents and family are encouraged to focus on the child's best interests, which is to have a healthy relationship with both parents and with both sides of the family. Typically, recommendations are made regarding the reduction of conflict between the parents and the implementation of these recommendations are monitored by the Reunification Therapist. For example, a plan can be developed to reduce conflict during exchanges. The parents and family are educated about the negative impact of parental conflict on the child's development.

The third stage involves the use of strategies to maintain the progress made in Stage 2. Typically, the Reunification Therapist may not see the child as often, however regular contact with the parents is maintained and the child's comfort during visitation continues to be monitored. In the event that Reunification Therapy has been ordered by the Court, a summary report of the therapy may be submitted to the parent’s Counsel as well as the Court.

This article by Bob Fonlay is named, Kids in the Middle - Reunification Therapy for Child Estrangement and Alienation Cases.