What Is Reunification Therapy And How Can It Help?
By Toni Hoy
Updated December 07, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Reunification therapy is therapy designed to heal the relationship between a parent and child torn apart by divorce. Reunification therapy reunites the child and parent under the watchful eye of the court. During a divorce that includes children and an estranged parent, the court may require reunification therapy to reunite the child and estranged parent. What is reunification therapy & how can it help? This question is answered by the court as much as it is answered by a reunification therapist.
Reasons a Court May Order Reunification Therapy
In divorce cases where alcohol abuse and other types of abuse have been witnessed by the child, or if the child was a victim of abuse, the parent accused of the abuse may not have the right to visit the child. Another reason for reunification therapy would be if an absentee parent who lost custody of the child to the other parent returns and wants to have visitation rights. In cases such as this, and as deemed reasonable by the court, the estranged parent can request reunification therapy.
An estranged parent may need to understand before they begin this type of therapy that it is not designed to force the parent and child together. It is designed to provide a safe place, under the supervision of a licensed professional, where the damaged relationship between child and parent can begin the process of repair.
What is Reunification Therapy & How Can it Help?
During a high-conflict divorce case where one of the parents is estranged from the child or children for any number of reasons, a request may be made through the court for mediation between the parent with custody and the estranged parent. If you have had a difficult relationship with your child and you do not have custody of the child, the court may order reunification therapy.
If the court orders reunification therapy, you and the child will receive therapy aimed at reuniting the two of you and reporting the effects of the reunification therapy to the court. Because the initial estrangement between you and the child occurred due to conflict, the therapist is required to report all information gathered during the therapy to the court. This therapy is not private and everything that takes place is recorded.
This type of therapy is effective because it reunites the parent and the child under safe circumstances and both receive therapy to heal the estranged relationship. It is helpful because without it, the court may not concede to visitation between the estranged parent and child. The parent and child receive therapy individually, and together, in an attempt to help both parties express their feelings and for the healing process to begin.
If a court agrees to provide reunification therapy, the estranged parent must follow all precepts set out by the agreement. The parent who has custody is involved and they are made aware of all the proceedings of the reunification therapy through the court. A court does not have to grant reunification therapy but if it does, both parents and the child must be involved.