Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP
Reunification Therapy was written by future Industrial Organizational Psychologist, Brandon Araujo, for the D’Arienzo Psychological Group in September 2014. D’Arienzo Psychological Group is a Jacksonville, Florida based Clinical and Forensic Psychology Practice that specializes in reunification therapy and other counseling services related family court. Dr. D’Arienzo and his team of mental health specialists are credentialed, experienced, and well respected within the North Florida psychological and legal communities. Reunification therapy, consultation, and counseling are available today.
The purpose of reunification therapy is to reestablish the parent-child relationship after alienation while identifying the problems that have caused the quality of the relationship to decline. These problems are then addressed while also working on on communication, trust, and empathy.
Alienated children typically claim to hate their alienating parent; however, underneath this façade of anger and detest, alienated children really want to love and be loved by both parents (Baker, 2010). Research has also shown that alienated children can rapidly switch from refusing or resisting the alienating parent to being able to display and receive love from that parent; there is also an equal chance for the child to switch from loving to resisting. (Fidler and Bala, 2010).
Reunification therapy should emphasize the clinical significance of children coming to view both of their parents as equally valued and loved in their lives. There are many models of intervention that have been created in order to address alienation, the most prevalent being Warshak’s (2010) Family Bridges Program. This program focuses on multiple objectives, which include allowing children to have a healthy relationship with both parents, removing the child from any parental conflict, and encouraging the child to engage in autonomy, critical thinking, and the development of different perspectives. Another popular program is Friedlander and Walters’ (2010) Multimodal Family Intervention, which provides multiple interventions tailored for specific situations of parental alignment, alienation, and estrangement.
Reunification therapy will provide multiple benefits to alienated parents relating to their efforts to establish a protective, nurturing, and inviting atmosphere for their children. Ellis (2005) describes five strategies for alienating parents: (1) dissolve children’s negative image of the alienating parent by providing positive information; (2) avoid placing the child in the middle of parental conflicts; (3) develop techniques to appease the resistance of the alienated child; (4) look for opportunities to break down the barriers between the child and the alienating parent; (5) do not give up on reunification efforts. Warshak (2010) recommends introducing an alienated child to people who respect and look up to the alienating parent to show the child that not everyone shares the same opinion of the parent. Also, it is important to realize that high quality parenting involves respecting the other parent’s role in the child’s life. Any type of derogatory behavior towards a co-parent is detrimental to the child. Therefore, an alienating parent should try their best to impose positive views of him/herself through other individuals’ opinions while limiting negative opinions, especially from their co-parent.
Baker, A. (2010). “Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 51, 16-35.
Ellis, E.M. (2005). “Support for the alienated parent.” American Journal of Family Therapy, 33, 415-426.
Fidler, B. and Bala, N. (2010). “Children resisting postseparation contact with a parent: Concepts, controversies, and conundrums.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 10-47.
Friedlander, S. & Walters, M.G. (2010). “When a child rejects a parent: Tailoring the intervention to fit the problem.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 98-111.
Warshak, R. (2010). “Family Bridges: Using insights from social science to reconnect parents and alienated children.” Family Court Review, 48 (1), 48-80.
We hope that you choose one of our mental health specialists to assist you with reunification therapy or reunification counseling services. We also provide marital counseling, parenting coordination and social investigations in northeast Florida. Contact us today drdarienzo.com at 904-379-8094 or at [email protected].