Reunification counseling is a process meant to rebuild a relationship. 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. There are several reasons why reunification counseling may become necessary. It could be a situation where one parent was not involved in the child’s life for a long period of time and so some type of counseling becomes helpful in assisting both parties ease back into a normal relationship. Alternatively, a course of reunification counseling can be used after a sudden change in relationship has caused damage or anger. For example, a child may not understand why his or her parents have separated and may show anger or resentment towards the parent who moved out of the home. Or perhaps, it is not even the child initiating the feelings of resentment or anger, but the other parent who then projects those same feelings onto the child.
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 reunification therapy as an option to get the relationship back on the right foot again.