What Is Reunification Therapy?

Mandating reunification therapy between your kids and your ex, but you're not really sure your ex is healthy? Well, we're going to talk about that. Today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. And I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations
teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization. Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. And let's jump into today's question.
I'm going through a divorce right now. And my kids haven't seen their mom for three months. There are some drug and alcohol issues,
and I actually have a restraining order against her due to a history of violence towards me that
both the kids saw. I'm not sure if she's even sober. But the court is mandating reunification therapy with her and the kids. What will it be like for the kids and how can I prepare them?
Thank you for the question. It's a difficult topic to broach. Totally understand that the court
is mandating it. Obviously you have to comply. I'm not here to give you any. Legal advice on what to do more. From the emotional standpoint. So if you have to find communication therapy for this, I encourage you to do so. You want to probably find a therapist who specializes in working with kids and teens,
has some experience in bridging the gap between parents and kids. Also, if your wife or ex wife.
I'm sorry, their mom is not sober. It'S really going to be counterproductive probably. In fact, it'll probably make things worse.
That may need to happen. I don't know. Hopefully she's in a good place, she's in a healthy place,
she's getting support she needs. So the reunification therapy can be about the kids needs and
not her needs. And that's when you want an experienced therapist to kind of step in and navigate
that and help make sure that the focus of the therapy is on the kids. And that's what I recommend
is if you want to start reunification therapy, you start with the therapist and the kids without
mom there because you want to make sure that therapist has a chance.
To build rapport and trust with those. Kids so they feel safe. So they feel when their mom comes.
In, at least they have an advocate there who can look after their needs and help keep them safe.
Also, I'm not really sure what the age of these kids are. Are they four and seven? Are they 14 and
17? There's a lot different how it can go about. Also, if there's a big age difference in the kids,
it may be beneficial to have reunification therapy separately. Like if you've got a 17 year.
Old and a six year old, let's say you may want to do therapy with a seven year old by his or herself.
And the six year old by his or herself, because they're going to have very different needs and
have very different conversations. It's something that's going to take time. This is not where
you have the supervised visits. It's really more focused on how do we build rapport, build trust,
a supervised visit. We have, like, a professional supervisor. They're just there to make sure that.
Everyone'S monitoring the boundaries. They're not there to kind of facilitate anything.
So I think it's really important that the focus is on the kids needs, not Mom's needs. Hopefully,
mom is getting the support she needs. You also want to make sure that you're not badmouthing
mom. That's not going to make things any better. You may have a lot of severe feelings about her,
but sharing those with. Your kids does not help them. It just puts them in this bind where they're stuck in the middle, and you may say, but my kids already
see it. It doesn't matter. It's still their mom. And no matter what, they still love their mom. They still may want to connect with her. And it's
not about your feelings either. It's really about, again, the kids feelings. It's a big topic.
Obviously, I don't know the details of this situation. Again, you want to make sure she's sober.
You may not have control over that, but if the therapist is recognizing she's not sober, that
would be something to end therapy pretty quickly. But you want to talk to them. You want to talk
to the kids about what their expectations are, what their needs are, what do they want from the
communication therapy? What happens if they don't get what they want? And again, that conversation
is very different from the 17 year old than it is with a six year old. It's a big topic. There's
a lot of layers to go into. If you have any more questions about this, please give us a call here
at Teen Therapy Center or Child and Teen Counseling. If you have more question you'd like answered,
please email us at tipsonteens@teentherapycenter.com or You can direct message us right here on Facebook. We love your questions. Again, my name is Kent Tuzant with. Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. And we'll see you next Wednesday at noon
on Facebook Live. Bye.

The purpose of reunification therapy is to reunite or reestablish a relationship between a parent and child.

The first thing to know about this kind of therapy is that it should be about the kids. The primary focus and goals center around the needs of the children involved. 

Therapist As Advocate

Therapy should begin with the kids well beforehand. This gives the therapist a chance to build a strong rapport and trust. Reunification therapy happens without the other parent present. Thus, it’s most successful if the therapist has a strong bond with the children so that they feel they have someone they trust in the room who advocates for them.

Tread lightly!

The next thing to remember for a parent in this situation is not to badmouth the other parent. This is counterproductive and backfires every time. The kids still love and want to connect with whichever parent has been on the outside no matter what. Maligning them only puts the children in the middle and makes it harder for them.

Last, if the kids involved are of very different ages, it may be best to consider doing reunification separately with each child. The kinds of questions and needs a 17 year old may have will differ greatly from those of a 9 year old.

There’s a lot to discuss on the topic of reunification, and we get the conversation going on this Tips on Teens:

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.