Reunification therapy is a process designed to improve or reestablish the relationship between a parent and child. The focus of reunification therapy is on ascertaining the source of estrangement between the parent and child and thereafter working with the family to build or rebuild a healthy and connected relationship with the parent. While the Dr. Forshee may make therapeutic recommendations to the court related to the therapeutic process itself, the she will not make legal recommendations or custody recommendations.
Dr. Forshee’s role is to help the child work through his/her perceptions of the family conflict. She will help each parent distinguish valid concerns from overly negative, critical, and generalized views relating to the other parent. The goals are to facilitate communication, parenting, cooperation and positive mental health among members of the family. Dr. Forshee’s goal is to get the estranged child/parent talking and reunited in a way that they can resolve problems in a constructive manner without the assistance of therapy.
Reunification therapy requires active and meaningful participation on the part of all participants. Throughout this process, Dr. Forshee will meet with the parents, their spouses or significant others, the child(ren), and any other individuals deemed necessary to the reunification process.
Once Dr. Forshee receives a copy of the Court Order directing the parties to participate in reunification therapy, she will discuss and explain with each parent, or their respective attorneys, the reunification therapy process; the terms of the reunification therapy agreement; forward the retainer and fee agreement to the clients or their attorneys for their clients’ review and signature; schedule initial sessions with the parents; lay the groundwork, and settle expectations from the outset. During the reunification therapy process, you can expect that Dr. Forshee may schedule conference calls with the attorneys, with or without the clients’ participation.
First, Dr. Forshee will meet first with the parents, then with the children and later with any spouses or significant others or other individuals identified as necessary to the reunification process. The purpose of the interviews is to allow Dr. Forshee to obtain the relevant facts and assess the issues surrounding the disputes.
Dr. Forshee will first meet with each parent individually. These initial sessions with the respective parent are typically scheduled for two- hour (2 hour) time periods in order to obtain background information. This allows the Dr. Forshee to assess whether it may be feasible to meet with the parents together at a future session. During these initial sessions, Dr. Forshee will review the reunification process with each parent, and ask each parent to give consent for the children to participate. In the beginning of the reunification therapy process, it is important to schedule more frequent and regular sessions to make the best progress. Therefore, Dr. Forshee will likely recommend initially scheduling weekly, hourly sessions. If additional weekly sessions are deemed necessary, this will be discussed and scheduled with the parties involved.
After the first appointment, each parent will be expected to sign releases of information for all current providers they are working with (therapist, psychiatrist, etc.,) and all relevant past providers whose information would be useful in accessing readiness and treatment planning. The opinions, prior treatment plans, or recommendations of any current or prior provider will not be relied upon by Dr. Forshee in providing services. Additionally, current or former providers are not permitted to interfere or attempt to interfere with the reunification therapy process, and instead are expected to encourage reunification.
Following the initial individual sessions with the parents, Dr. Forshee will meet with the child(ren). The sessions with the child(ren) will be initially conducted without the parents present. Dr. Forshee will assess the child(ren)’s readiness for contact with the reunifying parent, and assist the child(ren) to prepare for upcoming encounters with this parent. All efforts are made in this process to proceed at an appropriate pace for the child (which may be different for each child). This does not mean, however, that the child chooses when the first contact with the reunifying parent will occur. Sometimes when children have been estranged from a parent for an extended period they become anxious about resuming contact and must be encouraged to have this first encounter. This will not occur until Dr. Forshee deems that they are psychologically and emotionally ready for the encounter.
Dr. Forshee will then schedule sessions with the child(ren) and their parent. The goal and intent is to conduct joint sessions with the parent and child(ren) as soon as possible, so long as consistent with the emotional safety and stability of the child(ren) and in their best interest. In this regard it is imperative that both parents meaningfully participate in and encourage the process. To keep the process as open and transparent as possible, the Dr. Forshee requires all communications be in writing through email correspondence.