Reunification therapy offers therapeutic services for a parent and child or children who have been separated for a period of time or have never had a relationship and are reconnecting. The purpose of this program is to offer short term, goal focused therapy for the parent and children to begin to build a basis for a future relationship. Reunification therapy is slightly different from Therapeutic Supervised Parenting Time, in that issues are dealt with more directly than they can be in Therapeutic Supervised Parenting Time and the parent and children are more quickly able to return to a more normalized relationship.
When is Reunification Therapy Appropriate?
Typical cases include: after a separation due to imprisonment, after separation due to custody disputes, initial integration as a child or adolescent is introduced to a parent for the first time, after separation due to abuse or neglect allegations or convictions, after drug treatment or separation due to geographical or other relational constraints.
What is the process for Reunification Therapy?
* The Therapist meets separately with both parents or guardians and the minor children for intake sessions. This gives all parties an opportunity to confirm that the therapist is a good fit for them and to discuss concerns honestly and openly before reconnecting parent and children.
* Depending on the needs of the particular situation, additional sessions may be required with either the therapist and children or therapist and non-residential parent to adequately prepare for the first session together.
* The therapist then provides a safe space for the parent and children to reconnect and provides guidance as they discuss concerns in age appropriate ways, helping to heal wounds from the past and begin laying a foundation for a healthy parent-child relationship moving forward.
* This continues either with weekly session or less frequently, as is court-ordered or permitted due to cost.
* The therapist notifies both parties when it comes evident that therapy is no longer required in that setting. The therapist does NOT make custody recommendations but will make therapeutic recommendations such as when reunification therapy is no longer necessary.
What is a typical timeline for a case?
Every Case is different because of their different situations and individuals. Reunification therapy is usually beneficial for a minimum of 6 sessions, and generally lasts no longer than 6 months, though exceptions may be made as necessary. Families often transition to regular supervised parenting time through another organization. However, in some cases, if the reunification process goes smoothly and all parties agree, including the courts when involved, it is possible to transition to unsupervised parenting time. The therapist has seen significant success with progressive parenting time court orders that specify a flexible plan and timeline for the family to follow. These plans have in the past specified and minimum length of time in reunification therapy, a specified time for supervised parenting time, and a tentative date for transitioning to unsupervised parenting time, with or without safe exchanges. When a therapeutic relationship has been previously established, it is possible for the family to continue to use the therapist as a resource as they hit bumps in the road along the way.
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Amy Wheeler, LPC