It is extremely important to maintain familial bonds, especially when reunification is the goal. Bonded relationships are crucial to healthy child development, and when that relationship is threatened or severed, trauma can result. Interrupted bonding can take a tremendous toll on the health and well-being of the child. The younger the child and the deeper the bond, the more devastating the impact.
Supervised visitations afford the non-custodial parent(s) the opportunity to strengthen and/or restore familial bonds with his/her child(ren) in a neutral setting without interference from the custodial parent or other interested parties, and provides children the opportunity to establish a normal, healthy relationship with the non-custodial parent and other relatives.
When children are separated from their families and/or non-custodial parents, supervised visitation is crucial because it helps maintain familial relationships, empowers non-custodial parents and helps them to learn and practice new skills and behaviors. Visits help children express their feelings and relate better to foster parents, calm some of children's separation fears, and gives children continuing opportunities to see their biological parents realistically. Most importantly, continued contact with parents increases the probability that children will go home to their families.
Hope for Tomorrow, a Child and Family Support Center, provides visitation services for children in foster care and children whose parents require supervision in order to visit with their children, per court order or as a result of custody litigation. Please call us for more information at 877.652.4673 or fill out the form on the right.
Reunification therapy is becoming more widely used in divorce cases, and the particular circumstance of each case dictates the purpose and goals of the reunification therapy. It is common for this type of intervention to be court ordered, with specifics identifying the relationship between the child and the reunifying parent, and the stressors which have impacted the relationship. The primary goals of reunification therapy are determined after singling out the factors contributing to the estranged relationship and by working on communication, trust and residual feelings playing a factor in the estrangement.
In cases in which there are substance abuse/alcohol issues, allegations of abuse or past domestic violence that the child has witnessed or been victim of, the reunification therapy begins with safe contact between the child and offending parent. All pertinent records and contact with collateral professionals and governing agencies will need to be available to the reunification therapist. In addition, the court order should include the expectations of cooperation by both parents, any concern the Court has as well as desired treatment outcomes, parameters for extended family involvement, discretion to the therapist to set arrangements for treatment, payment arrangements for the therapist, and contingency plans in the event of relitigation.
Of utmost importance is the requirement of all parties to have a clear understanding of the expectations and limitations of reunification therapy before the process begins. The reunification therapist’s role is to work with the reunifying parent and child. The information is not confidential as the therapist is responsible to report back to the court regarding any significant findings and/or barriers encountered. A common misconception of reunification therapy is the assumption that it is client-centered--that is, that the child or parent gets to determine the goals of treatment and that confidentiality is maintained. This is not the case for court-ordered reunification therapy.
The reunification therapist will spend individual session time with the child and with the reunifying parent before meeting with both of them together. Essentially, the therapist provides a secure environment for the reunifying parent and child to safely address their relationship hopes, fears, and concerns.
It is important to consider the use of third-party individual therapy for all parties (custodial parent, child and reunifying parent) for the several reasons. For example, the custodial parent may feel left out of the process and question the child and impose his/her feelings on the child, which undermines the reunification process. This parent would benefit from an individual therapist that could assist in addressing these feelings. The child may have significant concerns or a lengthy history related to the reunifying parent. A therapist for the child can provide the individualized attention the child may need to work through these concerns.
Generally, reunification therapy is short term (3 to6 months), dependent on the situation. Additional outside parenting time between the child and the reunifying parent is generally expected as therapy progresses, but these arrangements contingent upon circumstances of the case and at the discretion of the therapist. The therapist will keep the court apprised of any information deemed necessary at any time during the process in addition to a written and/or verbal report at the conclusion of reunification therapy.
Family therapy is based on the belief that the family is a unique social system with its own structure and patterns of communication. These patterns are defined by many factors, such as the parents' beliefs and values, the personalities of all family members, and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, and uncles). A direct result of these variables is that each family develops its own distinctive personality, which is powerful and affects all of its members.
Family therapy may include all family members or just those most able to participate. Family therapy sessions can teach the skills needed to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after therapy is complete. It is common of the family dynamic that any change in one member of the family impacts both the family structure and each member individually. Family therapists view any problem in one member as a symptom of change or conflict in the group comprising the family. Family therapy is a very active type of therapy, and family members are often given assignments. For example, parents who might need to work on providing their children with more opportunities to exercise good judgment and learn new skills might be asked to assign more responsibilities to their children.
The number of sessions required varies, depending on the severity of the problems and the willingness of the members to participate in the actual therapy. Not all members of the family attend each session.
Anyone who has a condition that interferes with his or her life and the lives of family members may benefit from family therapy. The concepts of family therapy can also be used in individual therapy sessions and are particularly helpful for people who come from families in which there is illness and/or other problems. Adults who lived in poorly functioning families as children may benefit from individual therapy using family therapy concepts.
Family therapy has been used successfully to treat many different types of families in many different situations, including those in which:
- The parents have conflict within their relationship.
- A child has behavior or school problems.
- Children or teens have problems getting along with each other.
- One family member has a long-term (chronic) mental illness, such as an alcohol use issue or severe depression.
Family therapy can also be useful before problems begin. Some families seek this type of therapy when they anticipate a major change in their lives. For example, a man and woman who both have children from previous marriages may go to family therapy when they marry to help all family members adjust by learning how to live together.
For the best results, all family members need to work together with the therapist toward common goals. However, if one member refuses to attend sessions, other family members can still benefit by participating.
Couples therapy helps couples understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. This type of therapy gives marital and/or long-term romantic partners the tools to foster better communication, negotiate differences, problem solve and even argue in a healthier manner. The couple’s relationship is the focus of the therapy. Hope for Tomorrow only offers services to couples that have children who would benefit from their parents’ therapeutic involvement.
The goal of this type of therapy is to improve relationships between relational partners or family members, or to help with the dissolution of a difficult relationship with minimum harm to all, with the overarching goal of creating a more positive, healthier environment for children to thrive in. Those receiving therapy are given the guidance needed to understand the motivations and actions of others. They are taught techniques to modify their own behaviors, or how to more readily accept the behaviors of others.
Success in couples and family counseling requires patience, time, and a commitment to succeed. As dysfunctional behaviors are acquired over long periods of time, long periods are required to first unlearn troublesome habits and then replace them with more appropriate patterns of behavior.
Couples therapy can be short-term. Participants may need only a few sessions to help them work through a crisis. However, many partners need couples therapy for several months, particularly if the relationship has greatly deteriorated. Therapy can be a useful tool for navigating any stressful life change or other difficult situation.
Illness, infidelity, sexual incompatibilities, anger management issues, communication problems, children, dysfunctional families — all can contribute to distress in marriages or other relationships. Marriage counseling or couples counseling can help resolve conflicts and heal wounds.
Children and adolescents can face a range of difficult problems in their lives that might lead to sadness, anxiety, academic stress and family conflicts. They need to learn how to understand, control and share their emotions appropriately. They also may struggle to control their behavior and meet the expectations of their parents, guardians and teachers. A child and adolescent therapist can help children work through these issues and make better choices in their lives. A therapist can be a trusted mentor who helps children grow, mature and overcome obstacles.
Therapy is utilized to decrease or eliminate problem behaviors, motivate positive interactions, and teach effective parenting techniques. It includes outpatient counseling treatment services for children, adolescents and their families in a comfortable, confidential and home-like setting. In addition, we collaborate with other professionals such as the child's pediatrician, teacher, psychiatrist and other community providers to provide continuity of services and ensure all of the child's and family’s needs are met.
The therapist can help children overcome problematic behaviors within the context of family and peers. After the initial intake, therapists establish a treatment plan with specific goals that will be monitored as therapy progresses.
Hope for Tomorrow utilizes a strengths-based approach to offer both individual and family therapy via its pediatric counseling program. Strengths-based practice involves a shift from a deficit approach, which emphasizes problems and pathology, to a positive partnership with the family. The approach acknowledges each child and family's unique set of strengths and challenges, and engages the family as a partner in developing and implementing the service plan. Pediatric counseling is for children and youth ages 4 to 21.
Some of the challenges that we help children, adolescents and their parents work through include:
- Behavioral Difficulties - Unruly behaviors, fighting at school/home, bullying, not listening to adults or parent/child conflicts, drug use, teenage sex, teen pregnancies, self-injurious behaviors, substance abuse, etc.
- Depression - In childhood and adolescence, depression can manifest with irritable moods, anger, lack of interest or participation in previously enjoyable activities, or withdrawing from friends and family.
- Anxiety - Difficulty being separated from parents, excessive worries about the safety of self/others, compulsive behaviors, indecisiveness or fearfulness.
- Trauma - Being a past victim of abuse or neglect, or witnessing violence of any kind, which can cause sadness, overwhelming anxiety and feelings of being unsafe in the world.
- Grief and Loss - Dealing with a chronic illness in self or family member; death of family or friends; divorce/separation of parents or caregivers; the death of a pet.
- Relationship Issues - Difficulty making friends, shyness, hostility, passivity, or conflicts with peers.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention and in some cases, hyperactivity.
- Autism Spectrum Conditions - Difficulty with social interactions and communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior.