Does Reunification Therapy Really Work?

Updated July 01, 2020

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What is reunification? The definition is coming back together again after being separated. Although it is typically used in the reunification of territories, states, or countries, in this case, we are talking about family relationships. Reunification therapy is done with the help of a reunification therapist and is sometimes ordered by the court for parents in the divorce process. Because of the trauma and conflict that divorce or separation brings, the court often suggests or orders it to help make things easier for the children.

Why Should We Attend Reunification Therapy?

Reunification therapy is a relatively new process developed and named in the past decade or so. The reunification therapist is usually assigned in a divorce or separation case between parents, whether or not there has been any obvious trauma. Just the process of being separated from one of your parents is harmful enough to a child, whether they show it or not. A lot of the time, the parents do not think it is necessary, and most children do not want to do it either. The parents think it is a waste of time because they do not realize their child is hurting. The children are typically just avoiding the subject or in denial, depending on the age. They may also be angry with one or both of the parents and do not want to do therapy with them because of that. The reunification therapist is trained in dealing with these situations.

The Reunification Process Helps Everyone

Most often, reunification therapy is ordered by a judge because one of the parents is not seeing the child for some reason. The reunification process is supposed to build that relationship back between the parent and child. However, both parents and children have to be involved in the process of reunification with the reunification therapist. Whether it is ordered by a court or you do it voluntarily to help your child, reunification therapy is an excellent way to learn how to relate better to your child. Whatever the situation, reunification therapy is suitable for everyone.

Reasons For Reunification Therapy With A Reunification Therapist

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What is the point in reunification therapy if we are getting divorced anyway? We do not want to reunify, and our children seem fine with it? Whether your children seem fine or not, they are not immune to what is going on. They are good at hiding their feelings once they get old enough, and many do not want you to worry. Some children just ignore it because they think their parents will work things out. It is best to nip this in the bud early to prepare your children for what is going to happen. Here are some excellent reasons for reunification therapy.

Your Children Do Not Want To Visit The Noncustodial Parent

Almost all children over the age of five tend to blame one or the other parent for the split. Sometimes they blame both of them and do not want to cooperate with any kind of visitation schedule. Maybe your children are mad at the noncustodial parent for leaving since they do not understand what is going on. As parents, we tend to try and shelter our kids from the pain and keep them in the dark about the divorce or separation issues. While they do not need to know the details, a reunification therapist will tell you that you should not try to keep things from your child. Depending on their age, you should take the time to gently talk to them about the situation. What they imagine in their head is usually much worse than the truth, so it is good to set things straight. The reunification therapist can help you with this during one or more sessions of reunification therapy.

When One Of The Parents Abandons The Family

If your partner left the family or does not show up for court, reunification therapy is typically issued to help the children and parents get on the same page. If your children feel like one of their parents does not even care about them enough to show up or to visit them, they can easily suffer from depression or anxiety. Once that happens, it can be increasingly more difficult for the reunification therapist to reunify the children with that parent. Often, when your children show signs of depression or anxiety, you will be referred to family therapy as well as reunification therapy. This is to help the child, not the parent. But, in the end, it helps everyone.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is when the children do not want to be around their other parent, are afraid of the other parent, or refuse to speak to the other parent. Cases of parental alienation happen for many reasons, but the most typical one is when one parent talks badly about the other parent to the children. This is a type of psychological manipulation of the children in order to get them to side with them on the issue. Sometimes it is unintentional, and the parent does not even know they are doing it. They may say things about the other parent when they do not know the children can hear them. In cases with younger children, it may be due to how one parent acts toward the other. In other words, if you act hostile towards the other parent, your children may do the same thing. Reunification therapy will always be ordered in this type of situation and can help a great deal. But the children will also need family or individual therapy as well.

Custody Evaluations

Sometimes a court orders reunification therapy to gain a better insight on the relationship between parents and children to assess the custodial situation. The therapist does not choose the best parent. Alternatively, it is the reunification therapist’s role to do a psychological evaluation of each member of the family separately. The therapist can suggest what they believe would be best for the children, but ultimately it is up to the judge to make that decision.

Child Removal From The Home

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If your children have been removed from the home for any reason by the child welfare services or another social agency, you will be ordered to attend reunification therapy for a time before you can revisit your children. In most cases, you will also have to attend individual or family therapy for the other issues that caused the removal. For example, if there was any type of alcohol or drug abuse, you will have to attend therapy as well as some kind of support group such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. The reunification process with this type of situation is a bit different and may take more time, depending on the reason for removal.

The Process Of Reunification Therapy

The process of reunification therapy begins with an assessment of the situation. The therapist will usually meet with each of the family members separately to get their own evaluation of the problem. The reunification therapist’s role, in this case, is not one of the mediators. They are concerned with the welfare of the children and will work together with the whole family to help the children feel better about the situation. The reunification therapy process is different for everyone, and it is based on the age of the children and the current situation that needs to be addressed. This type of therapy is best done with the approval of everyone involved, but if ordered by the court, it will be done regardless of approval.

The Steps In Reunification Therapy

Identifying the deficiency or deficiencies in the family dynamic is the first step in reunification therapy. The therapist may ask a colleague or another mental health professional to help in certain areas. The next step is to find out the reasons for the deficiency and what can be done to fix the problem. The whole family will be involved, sometimes together and other times separately, in talking about their feelings and thoughts on the situation. Some reunification therapy includes encouraging communication between the children and the estranged parent. This may consist of writing letters or sharing videos or photos. Supervised visits will ensue as the reunification therapy continues while the therapist further evaluates the situation.

Can We Do Online Therapy?

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After the initial assessment, the therapist will continue by interviewing each child and parent to determine whether further therapeutic intervention is needed or not. They may suggest that you find a therapist besides them to do individual or family therapy. Sometimes, you can do online therapy, but reunification therapy usually involves personal visits as well since it is such a sensitive topic, and it involves the children. However, online therapy can be very useful for other types of situations during this time, like family or individual therapy.

What Is The Point?

You have to remember that reunification therapy is done in the best interest of the children, as well as everyone else involved. In some cases, it could be a situation of whether or not one of the parents should be allowed to visit the child or children at all. This is usually done in serious instances, like with cases of domestic abuse. Most often, reunification therapy is ordered to determine when the parent and children should be reunified. The therapist will visit with the children several times alone as well as with the parent in question to see how the children react to the parent in person.

Reunification Therapy Is Good For The Whole Family

It is important that you know the reason for the reunification therapy, so make sure you are clear on the purpose of the therapy. You all need to be on the same page for the reunification therapy to work as it is supposed to. Whether it is ordered by the court or done voluntarily, it is essential that both parents show up and participate, even if they do not want to be there. In the end, reunification therapy is good for the whole family. It is good to continue with therapy after reunification therapy is over to maintain good family dynamics and communication with the children. You can talk to a therapist at ReGain.us online without an appointment, and you do not even have to leave the comfort of your own home.


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