Reunification counseling is often recommended when a child has been separated from a parent.
The reasons for this separation can vary, from the child having an affinity for one parent over
another, an estrangement due to neglect or abuse, absence due to incarceration, or parental
alienation. This counseling is often ordered by the court or suggested by the Family Law
Attorneys working with the family. The goal of reunification therapy is to help the child and
parent reconcile their relationship in a safe atmosphere.
When I begin the reunification process, I like to meet with each of the parents separately. This
will include review of any pertinent court documents, and possibly conferencing with the attorneys
involved with the family. After I have a thorough understanding of the circumstances that led the
family to this juncture, I will meet with the children. I meet with siblings together as well as
the children for individual sessions. After I have met with the children, I will map the process
for reunification. This may be a combination of meetings with the children together or
individually with the reunified parent. It may also include meetings with the primary custodial
parent or the parents together in some cases.
It is important to make sure that ground rules are established regarding some of those initial
visits. For example, bringing gifts for the children, physical contact, and information shared by
the parent. The child's feeling of safety and comfort are essential to the positive outcome of
re-establishing a relationship. The number of parent/child sessions can vary.
I often recommend that the primary custodial parent see an individual therapist in addition to
referring the parents to co-parenting counseling. It is important that the parents discuss
concerns, learn how to improve communication, and develop a schedule facilitating the child's
access to both parents.