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How Can Reunification Therapy Help a Child After Their Parents’ Divorce?

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Divorce and the strain that comes before it can be incredibly traumatic for children. The psychological effects can include anxiety, anger, fear, uncertainty, and depression. Some children act out, regress, or struggle in school. 

Most children are able to bounce back, especially with help. It’s important to understand how children are affected by divorce and provide the needed support.

A damaged child-parent relationship is one of the greatest challenges during divorce. Reunification therapy (RT) is designed to repair this disrupted relationship. In most cases, a non-custodial parent asks the court to order RT after a child stops following the parenting plan. They may believe there has been parental alienation

What Is Reunification Therapy, and How Does It Work?

Reunification therapy is a form of family therapy. It typically begins with an assessment. The therapist will learn about the reasons for the disrupted relationship or estrangement. To be effective, the therapist will need to understand the family dynamics and challenges. 

Multiple Therapeutic Approaches

A personalized plan is created that includes several techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful for improving communication. It helps children and parents learn conflict resolution skills and change destructive patterns. 

Family systems therapy is another common approach. Families identify behavioral and communication patterns and learn healthy, effective ways to relate.

A phased approach is usually used to restore a healthy parent-child relationship. Initially, the therapist focuses on establishing trust with each family member. Then, the therapist will work to identify trauma, communication problems, and unresolved conflicts. 

The Child’s Feelings Are Not Ignored

Reunification therapy has its critics. Criticism of the approach usually stems from therapy that discounts the child’s experiences, feelings, and trauma. A good therapist will understand the complexities involved and recognize “justified rejection.” This can result from abuse or neglect. It may also happen after witnessing domestic violence, alcoholism, or untreated mental illness.

Children will be interviewed separately and allowed to freely air their complaints and concerns. The therapist will take the child’s feelings seriously. It’s common for issues to become much larger than they really are in a child’s mind, especially during a difficult time in their life. The therapist will help the child consider how a more positive relationship with both parents will benefit them. 

The Goal of a More Positive Relationship

A good therapist will listen to input from both parents but avoid assigning blame to either parent. This is not helpful, and one parent is rarely completely responsible. How open both parents are to reunification counseling can impact the results. The history between the parent and child and the personalities in the family are also important. 

The goal of RT should be fostering a more positive and closer parent-child relationship. Making adherence to a specific schedule or parenting plan may be unhelpful. When children have a strained relationship with a parent, they may resist and resent being forced to adhere to what they see as the parent’s demands. This is particularly true for older children. 

The Benefits of Reunification Therapy For Children

It’s common for parents to give in when a child does not wish to see the non-custodial parent. Outside of safety concerns, it’s usually in the child’s best interests to have a fulfilling relationship with both parents. Allowing the parent-child relationship to deteriorate without addressing underlying issues can be detrimental.

The quality of a child’s relationship with their parents can have profound effects in childhood and adulthood. Your child’s parental relationships help shape their emotional, social, cognitive, and physical health. 

A disrupted relationship can increase your child’s risk of:

  • Emotional instability
  • Insecurity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impaired social skills

These issues can follow them for life. 

Reunification counseling is not a silver bullet for improving relationships and family dynamics. It can help mitigate the effects of divorce on a child, though. RT helps foster the trust, closeness, and support of a disrupted child-parent relationship. This can improve your child’s mental and emotional health and create a positive foundation for their future.

Are you going through a contentious custody dispute or divorce? A family law attorney can help you identify solutions to issues like parental alienation. Contact our law firm today for a consultation with an Orlando family law attorney. We will discuss the challenges you’re facing and how we can help.

Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

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