At times, children are pulled into the middle of their parents’ divorce. When too much information is shared with children, they may feel pulled to align with a favored parent over and against the other, causing damage to the child’s relationship with the devalued, alienated parent.
Often co-parenting skills training can help, if both parents are able to put their child’s needs in the forefront of their concerns.
In some high-conflict divorces, parents are not able to come together for co-parenting work and the court will order re-unification therapy. Under certain circumstances, reunification work can be effective if the child (or adolescent) receives separate, individual therapy with a therapist experienced in high conflict divorce who is able to maintain a clearly neutral stance towards the parents, and can collaborate effectively with the Reunification therapist. The child’s individual therapist needs to be a neutral, safe place for the child, unencumbered by the parent’s divorce-related disputes.
At times, I will require that the child and parent each have their own Reunification therapist, or I will serve as “The Reunification Therapist” and have a reunification therapist present as a support for the child. This is the case when children have been so “poisoned” against the devalued parent that they do not feel safe in that parent’s presence.
I will refer to special reunification immersion programs, such as Family Bridges, when it is clear that reunification progress is impossible due to the child’s ongoing exposure to the favored parent’s unrelenting bias against the devalued parent. The situation in such circumstances is akin to expecting a child – raised in an Arian Nations household, with extended family upholding the same views – to accept and embrace a person of a different ethnicity. Consequently, more intense measures are required.