Parental alienation is a term that gets tossed around a lot in custody matters. True parental alienation is rare, but it’s real. And, it really messes up children.
With over two decades of experience in working with alienated children, fighting parents, high conflict people, child protection issues, and parent-child contact problems, we’ve got some tried and true methods of helping families heal and rebuild.
We accept only a limited number of referrals for true parental alienation work because it’s intense, it’s super focused, and we want good results. This is not once a week counselling where kids and parents talk about their problems. This work focuses on rebuilding relationships between alienated children and the targeted parent, creating new and positive experiences and memories, assisting the alienating parent to understand and address his or her behaviours, and helping the child rebuild and maintain healthy relationships with both parents.
True parental alienation is a form of psychological and emotional abuse. We take that very seriously. In these types of scenarios, both parents have an unhealthy relationship with the child, and left untreated, this dynamic will lead to life long consequences for the children, particularly as they grow into adulthood.
We work with all parents and their children to rebuild and develop healthy parent-child relationships and to address any parent-child problems that may have arisen post-separation. If a child is refusing or resisting contact with one parent, don’t wait. The longer parents “wait and see” or try to “respect what the child is saying,” the worse things are likely to get. Once a child has begun to resist contact with one parent, it needs to be explored and addressed quickly to determine what is happening. Waiting will not make it better.
Children’s voices are important. But they do not make adult or parenting choices. Nor should they be the ones to decide if and when they will have a relationship with one parent. Children don’t get to decide if or when they attend school, or whether or not they see a doctor or dentist because they are not emotionally and cognitively mature enough to do so. They don’t have the ability to understand the consequences of these types of decisions. And, the same applies to deciding whether or not to see a parent.
Reach out! Let’s figure this out together before things become out of control.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE COST OF REUNIFICATION THERAPY?
That depends on what is required and is decided together after the initial intake sessions. In generally, the fee for intake sessions as well as ongoing sessions with the child and parent(s) is $200 per hour. Fees may be reimbursed by your benefits provider if you have counselling services as part of your package. Play or talk based therapy for children with a child therapist in our practice is also billed at the same fee.
We offer one time consultations (virtually or by phone). The fee is $300 and the session is 1.5 hours. A written report/summary of our consult can be provided for an additional fee to submit to counsel or the courts.
For children who have not had contact with the one parent for some time, or those who frequently resist or refuse visits, we work under retainer for a set number of hours and sessions as determined by the therapist conducting the initial intake sessions. We complete a thorough intake session with each parent, as well as reviewing the court material and any assessments or recommendations that have been made. From there, the therapist will determine how frequently and how many sessions will be required for reintegration and repair work. These sessions are also $200 per hour, but are billed as a retainer, much like lawyers do.
WHY A RETAINER? WHY CAN’T WE PAY AS WE GO?
A prepaid retainer allows us to ensure that we have the funding necessary to provide the interventions required with children and parents. The retainer will also include the fee to provide a final report/summary for counsel and the courts. It’s not uncommon for one parent to try to sabotage the process, to refuse to pay, or to quit entirely before any goals have been met. A retainer allows us to at least complete some of our work and provide a written summary outlining why we can’t continue if that happens.
DO YOU DO INTENSIVE REUNIFICATION WHEN A COURT HAS “FLIPPED CUSTODY?”
When a court decides that there is no other alternative but to place the child in the care of a parent they have been taught to fear or reject, they and their parents will need intensive supports. We are able to provide a reunification/repair program for the child(ren) and the targeted parent, as well as provide supports and therapeutic services to the parent that no longer has custody. We do this in an intensive one week program by providing either full day or half day interventions with the children and the targeted parent that include teaching, counselling, and repair work to family members, and helping to redefine and create a healthy positive relationship for both parents and children to replace the false narrative that the parent they are now with is somehow dangerous.
If a parent or their counsel believes that this may happen at an upcoming court appearance, please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can accommodate the family immediately. We want to provide interventions as quickly as possible to minimize the risk of breakdown, and to help the child navigate what is a very stressful and confusing situation for them.
Parents and alienated children can expect to spend anywhere between 3 to 6 hours a day in this program, with a highly skilled and trained therapist to assist them to successfully reintegrate and be comfortable together. Most parents take a week off of work and use vacation time to be fully available for this process. Generally sessions are completed during the day and are held in our offices, your home, and in the community as deemed appropriate. Sessions are tailored and individual for your unique situation. You’ll be given tasks to do at home in between sessions.
WHAT IF THE OTHER PARENT WON’T PARTICIPATE?
In many cases, the court will order both parents to participate and this is preferred. Having said that, even in mandated cases, some parents will resist interventions, undermine therapy, file complaints or make allegations against the therapist, or find ways to terminate. It is what it is, and we do our very best to continue to try to work with both parents as much as we possible can.
In more voluntary situations, we also try to work with both parents as much as possible. However, not everyone is ready or willing to move forward at the same time. As part of the intake process, we’ll assess each family member willing to participate. If one parent is not willing to become involved, depending on the circumstances, we can still work with the children and the alienated or targeted parent if we feel it will be beneficial to the child. In other situations we may be able to work with the targeted parent alone to address issues as they arise and provide parent coaching.
An important factor is how both parents contribute to or undermine the therapeutic process. If we believe one parent is deliberately undermining therapy, negatively influencing the child’s progress, furthering allegations against the targeted parent with no collaborating evidence, or is causing the child stress or emotional harm as a result of their participation we may terminate involvement. A brief final report outlining our decision to terminate interventions will be provided to both parents.
WHAT IF THE COURT THINKS I’M THE PROBLEM?
Sometimes kids are fearful of a parent or refuse to see them for issues that are not related to parental alienation. We call that estrangement and in many cases the child has justifiably raised concerns about one parent that require some parenting help. These cases can lead to alienation or long term refusal contact if the “favoured” parent intentionally or unintentionally reinforces or increases the child’s fears without allowing the parenting issues to be safely addressed and the relationship repaired.
As part of any assessment, we take into consideration what children are saying and why they’re saying it. In almost every situation, these issues can be addressed safely and the child and parent can work to rebuild their relationship successfully. We can provide support for the child and the parent to address issues such as discipline, adult relationships, concerns with a new partner, substance misuse, communication issues, misunderstandings, or areas that legitimately make children feel unsafe. The goal of this type of reunification work is to help the parent address the identified (and legitimate) concern, and to allow the child to know this is happening. Once it is deemed safe, parents and children meet together to explore how to move forward and to rebuild their relationship.
In the interim, children and the identified parent should continue to have contact to maintain their relationship in a safe way. This can mean video chats, phone calls (if the parent is appropriate during calls), supervised access, public visits, or any manner of contact that allows the relationship to be preserved while the parenting issues are addressed and the child’s safety is assured.
Regardless of the reason a child refuses or resists contact with a parent, we’re here to help.
HOW DO I MAKE A REFERRAL?
In general, referrals will likely be made by counsel or the court. Clients are also welcome to self-refer. Referrals can be made via email to email@example.com. We are also happy to answer any questions prior to the referral and assessment process. Please contact us at 548-688-1310 to discuss your situation.