Team Approach       (continued from page 4)

Lesson number five:  "Ensure that there is a Team Leader or Parenting Coordinator and that this person is present at each Team meeting with the parents."

High conflict PAS families intentionally and unintentionally sabotage progress. The Team approach holds everyone accountable for carrying out the treatment plan. Parents are required to report on homework assignments, their communication is monitored and specific behavioral expectations are recorded after each meeting. If the treatment is Court ordered, the Team Leader or Parenting Coordinator acts as the liaison with the Court and Counsel ensuring that the terms of the Order are being complied with by the parents. Team members are held accountable to the parents through the written contract and to the Team Leader or Parenting Coordinator for their performance in carrying out their role within the Team. It is important that the Team Leader or Parenting Coordinator be present at each joint session as this person monitors the process and can intervene with systems observations. In addition, if the Team Leader is a trained mediator or Parenting Coordinator, then written mediation agreements can be drafted immediately resulting in a written and binding record of terms of a parenting plan. The Team Leader provides a written summary of the main points of discussion after each joint session.


Challenges:

There are some challenges with a Team approach such as cost, availability of trained professionals and Team chemistry. In the case mentioned in this article, Team meetings with the parents cost $700 per hour when all 4 Team members are present. This is equivalent to the hourly rate for two lawyers in a 4 way meeting. In addition, there are other costs, such as travel, individual meetings between Team sessions and disbursements. This particular family is fortunate to have the financial resources to fund such a project. In the absence of funding, RCC’S may need to be creative in utilizing existing funded positions such as mental health and addictions counsellors and school counsellors.

The availability of trained professionals is an ongoing challenge. However, in your community there may be professionals who have experience and training in the treatment of PAS. Approaching them for consultation may be a viable option.

Team chemistry refers to how well Team members are able to integrate and yet honor their individual diverse backgrounds, values and clinical philosophy. A collaborative and yet strong Team leader is necessary to assist the Team to create Team chemistry by facilitating and encouraging dialogue between Team Members on the Team’s internal process.