Counseling may be a useful resource for children dealing with changes in family status due to divorce or separation. It can provide the children with a safe place to discuss and process their feelings. Both parents will need to agree to counseling unless one parent has sole legal custody. A parent can petition the court for an Order regarding counseling if they can't get the other parent's consent. Family counseling is another option if the relationship between a parent and child has been damaged or if a parent is looking to rebuild a relationship after a period of missed time with the child. Often times, reunification counseling will be used in the context of a custody dispute to reintroduce and/or reinforce the relationship between a parent and their child.
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Reunification counseling can be viewed as a more collaborative approach to re-establishing a relationship as opposed to just having the court force certain periods of visitation when the child may not be willing or emotionally ready. This is especially a concern when dealing with teenagers. A custody order forcing visitation with the other parent may serve a temporary goal but ultimately result in lifelong resentment once the child is over 18 and free to make his or her own choices. It may be more beneficial to be patient on the front end in exchange for a healthy relationship that has the potential to last past their "childhood" years. It is the role of the reunification therapist to facilitate the process with the end goal of repairing the relationship going forward. If you are facing a high conflict divorce or separation or have been inactive in your child's life for a certain period of time and feel you may need help rebuilding the relationship, consider counseling as an option to get the relationship back on the right foot again.