Whether before, during, or after a divorce, a parent may lose contact with their child for a variety of reasons. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the parent can no longer reconnect with his or her little one. Reunification between parent and child can happen naturally, or it may be aided by what is called reintegration therapy.
What is reintegration therapy and is this a good idea for your child? Here are some things to think about.
Reintegration Therapy: A Basic Definition
Reintegration therapy, sometimes called reunification therapy, is a method of rebuilding the bond between a child and a formerly-absent parent, conducted by a mental health professional. This therapeutic process is meant to reintroduce the child gradually and sensitively to the parent-child relationship, especially after a long period of alienation between the two.
Family courts sometimes order reintegration therapy before granting a mother or father their parenting time. This typically happens when the divorce or child custody case has been tumultuous. But even if you and your former spouse have been amicable, either of you may still consider reintegration therapy after being separated from your child.
Pros And Cons Of Reintegration Therapy
Therapeutic reintegration sounds completely beneficial at a glance, but there are aspects to it that make it unfavorable in certain circumstances. Consider these pros and cons:
Advantages Of Reintegration Therapy
- It focuses on the child. Psychologists have noted that after being alienated from a parent, children – and even teenagers – are full of strong emotions that are difficult to distinguish. They may have a secret longing to be reunited, but are afraid that the parent may withdraw his or her love from them. Reunification counseling delves into the child’s perspective to help him or her heal emotionally. It also helps the parent understand the child’s typical initial rejection and hostile attitude.
- It is actively facilitated by a professional. The emotions and dynamics between parent and child may require a professionally trained clinician. The role of this mental health professional is to actively assist the child, as well as the parent, back into a loving relationship. This is opposed to other reunification methods such as therapeutic supervised visitations (TSV), where the professional simply observes the parent-child interaction.
- It specifically addresses the dynamics between those involved. Unlike other procedures related to child care, there is no cookie-cutter way to conduct reintegration. A therapist plans and proceeds with the reintegration depending entirely on the particular circumstances of each case. Even selecting the therapist itself is something that both parents can and should decide together.
Disadvantages Of Reintegration Therapy
- It can be influenced by a party. There have been cases where an unfriendly custodial parent has been able to influence the therapist, the child, or both to prevent the reunification of the child with the absentee parent. When making a reintegration plan, a therapist typically gets much of the information from the custodial parent to get to know the child better.
- It can be used against the non-custodial parent. Reintegration plans are not confidential. It is possible that an absentee parent’s voluntary signature on a reintegration plan can be held against him or her during a divorce or child custody case. The other party may reason that if reintegration therapy was necessary, then there was a major issue between that parent and their child.
- It is time-consuming and costly. Reintegration therapy is a lengthy process and timelines can often be vague. Further, it is typically not covered by insurance, even if you have mental health coverage. You may check for reimbursement options, but generally, you would have to expect out-of-pocket expenses.
Reintegration therapy can be the effective tool you need to restore your relationship with your child once and for all. Even psychologists approve of this method. But before deciding on it, consider your family’s circumstances first. Will your former spouse support this process? Are there other emotional or psychological remedies suited for your child? And most importantly, are you ready to commit to this process and to your parenting role afterwards?
Don’t hesitate to discuss this with a family therapist or professional. If you encounter any legal issue around reintegration therapy, you can talk to us at Goldman Law for case-specific guidance.