Understanding Family Therapy for Separated Families

Managing co-parenting and parent-child relationships through and after the process of separation is complex and hard. At a time when you are often full of fear, rage, hurt, and disappointment, you are called upon to also somehow uphold the relationship between your child and your co-parent, and navigate the tricky steps in protecting the healthy development of your children at the same time as figuring out what your own new lives are going to look like. Maybe you’re doing this in the context of excellent social support (and yet still find friends and family give conflicting, or well-meaning-but-not-useful advice). Or maybe your context (particularly in a pandemic year) involves stepping this through whilst isolated from family and friends. Whichever way you’re traveling, this is a journey you don’t need to do alone.

Increasingly, courts are recommending Family Therapy as a first-line intervention to support families in achieving healthy co-parenting and supporting children to have healthy relationships with both parents. In the years that I’ve been working with court-involved families, this has been an exciting transition to see. Family Therapy at one point seemed to be the last-ditch option that courts would throw at families they didn’t know what else to do with. Now, they recognise that there is much that can be achieved in the therapy room that is outside the capacity of the court room.

Years and hundreds of thousands of dollars can be shaved off a court process by using Family Therapy as a first line intervention.

Parenting Orders can have blunt statements directing that parents “be restrained and an injunction granted restraining the parties from denigrating the other party“; and “use their best endeavors to reach agreements” – but what does that look like on the ground? How do you actually do that? That’s a skill-development process, and belongs in the therapy room, not the court room.

In this interview with Dr Leslie Blevins from the Enilda Clinic, I explain more about the goals and process of family therapy:

Check out Dr Blevin’s Resource Library for more great topics on parenting

How do I find a Family Therapist?

Working with separated families to achieve healthy co-parenting is a specialised area of work. It requires a clinician who has solid training and experience in working with complex, conflicting family systems.

  • If you have a lawyer assisting you, or a Single Expert Witness or Family Consultant appointed, they may be able to give you some recommendations
  • Look for a mental health professional who is registered with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

The following private practices in Western Australia have mental health professionals who regularly provide family therapy to separated families. Inclusion on this list does not represent my endorsement, and is not exhaustive.

If you are a mental health professional working with court-involved families who would like to be added to this list, please contact me .

Stay in-the-know

I am super-close to being ready to share with you some new resources and workshops I have the in the pipeline suitable for:

  • Parents
  • Separated parents
  • Mental Health professionals

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This entry was posted in Frequently Asked Questions, Parenting, Separted parents and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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