Team Approach       (continued from page 3)

Lesson number two:  "Contract with the parents in order to have clear objectives, clear expectations of the parents, and clearly articulated Team roles."

The contracting process is extremely important as this sets the stage for working together. Parents are encouraged to ask questions, express their doubts and fears, review information on the Team approach and seek legal advice. They also have the opportunity to meet with each Team Member and make choices as to “fit and comfort.” If the treatment is Court ordered and Court involved, they are still encouraged to make choices within the parameters set by the Court. Managing expectations is key to building trust and a therapeutic alliance. A written detailed contract protects all of the participants and allows for clarification on various terms prior to signing. The signing of the contract serves as a metaphor for commitment to change.

Lesson number three:  "Consult, consult, consult, think Team, think Systems."

The Team views the family as a system that can be influenced to change. We help each other to both join with the family and to step back and observe the family system. We ask ourselves, “Why is this behavior appearing now?” Team Members are expected to consult with each other between sessions in order to maintain a flow of communication as circumstances change. We meet together before each joint session and provide each other with regular up- dates on the individual adult and child therapy. We have learned to value each other’s perspective, working together is stimulating and satisfying.

Lesson number four:  "Eliminate unhealthy triangles and alignments by insisting on open non-privileged communication."

High conflict PAS families tend to operate with closed systems of communication due to high levels of mistrust and fear. Parents withhold critical information from each other, children are expected to carry messages back and forth between the homes, and the alienating parent distorts the previous family narrative and communicates a new fear based narrative to the PAS child. Secrets abound as family members internalize the new narrative and gossip negatively about each other often in the presence of the PAS child. The Team blocks these unhealthy communication patterns by insisting on a rule of no confidentiality and open communication. Email and text message communication between the parents and the children and the parents are cc’d to Team members. The only confidential communication that is allowed is between a parent and their individual Coach/Therapist. The Child Therapist is not allowed to meet individually with either parent and only reports on the children’s progress in Team meetings with both parents present.