Reunification Therapy

The purpose of Reunification Therapy is to re-establish the relationship between a parent and child who have been estranged or disconnected from one another. Research shows that it is in the best interest of children to enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents wherever possible.

Reunification Therapy is provided to a parent and child in order to create a safe place in which to process the issues that are hindering the child’s ability to connect with the parent outside of professional support. Through Reunification Therapy, the factors that have led to a break in the relationship tend to come to light. The therapist can work with both the child and parents to support a rebuilding of trust and reconnection between the parent and child.

In this way, the goal of Reunification Therapy is to create an atmosphere of trust where the child is freed up to love and connect with both parents. This form of intervention includes both parents and their child because the child needs the support of both parents to participate in the therapy.

The process may also include the supportive services of Parenting Coordination, Parent Coaching and Reunification Therapy. A unique Reunification plan is created with specified services and the number of recommended sessions, according to the needs of your family and situation.

Why Is Reunification Important?

*It Promotes Positive Mental Health for Your Child. If you are currently the resident parent, consider this: Right now, while supported at home and not yet faced with the complexities of adult life, your child has an opportunity to work through the hurt or confusion they may be experiencing from a strained or estranged relationship with the other parent.

Reunification therapy can help your child resolve issues with their other parent and experience a healthier parent-child relationship.

*It Promotes Healthy Future Relationships

While former partners may disapprove of, or even distrust the other parent, this dislike does not justify significantly limiting or supporting a child in ending their relationship with the other parent.

Research tells us that healthy parent-child relationships promote healthy attachment which positively impacts your child’s ability to feel secure, create solid and stable relationships in adulthood.

In this way, supporting the process of reunification is a gift that you can give your child as you invest in their long-term mental, emotional and relational health.

“Extensive national and international studies have revealed that children of divorce generally show better outcomes on measures of emotional, behavioural, psychological, physical and academic well-being when they maintain close emotional bonds, frequent contact and quality relationships with both parents.” 

— Shely Polak

Why Has My Child Pulled Away?

After a separation or divorce, a child may refuse to spend time with one parent and feel that they need to choose one parent over the other. This is especially common if there has been high conflict between the parents. As a result, the parent who is experiencing rejection may be concerned that their child is the victim of parental alienation.

Parental alienation is when one parent influences their child to reject the other parent. Signs of parental alienation include: severe disdain or disrespect where there was once a healthy relationship, borrowed adult phrases that the child cannot explain, or an extreme alliance to one parent, regardless of their own faults.

However, parental alienation is only one potential cause of breakdown in the parent-child relationship.

Other factors include:

  • A prolonged absence
  • A parent saying or doing things that deeply hurt the child
  • The child witnessing high levels of conflict or violence
  • The personality type of either parent
  • Complicated attachment to the resident parent

The Reunification Process

The Reunification process begins with individual meetings with both parents and child(ren). We then meet with both parents to provide a specific therapy plan for your family. We recommend starting the therapeutic process as soon as possible in order to minimize further negative effects to the relationship.

The therapist will first work with the parents to clarify expectations, provide appropriate education and create a reunification plan. Initial visits may also help to clarify the issues impacting the parent-child relationship.

By Peaceful Waters takes a child-centred approach to reunification. Understandably, this process requires patience and sensitivity of both parents to support the child in rebuilding a healthy connection with parents.