Parental alienation almost made you lose your kids, but you managed to pull things back from the edge of the abyss with the help of the courts. You’re relieved and you feel vindicated. You’re ready to start recovering from parental alienation. So how do you begin?
If you were the Targeted Parent who went to court and won enforced parenting time with your child, now comes the difficult process of repairing your fractured relationship. Increasingly, more courts are recognizing parental alienation as a legitimate claim and order reunification therapy to address the damage. If reunification therapy is part of your order, here’s what you can expect:
Reunification therapy is a specialized mental health treatment designed to repair a parent-child relationship due to parental alienation. Sometimes courts make referrals to therapists trained in this kind of therapy. If not, you should research clinicians in your area who have expertise in high-conflict divorce and parental alienation. The goal of treatment is two-fold:
- To help the child value and respect the targeted parent, and;
- To support the child so that he stops emotional caretaking of the alienating parent.
Depending on the therapist’s clinical impressions, he or she may meet separately with both parent and child before facilitating conjoint therapy. The therapist will work with the child on developing critical thinking skills so they can begin to develop and trust their own perspective, which – if the therapy is effective – will differ from that of the alienating parent. The therapist will educate the targeted parent on ways to create a welcoming atmosphere for the children and keep them out of parental conflict.
It is generally not a good idea to bring the alienating parent into conjoint sessions. Depending on the court orders, the alienating parent may be required to meet separately with the therapist so that they understand, and ideally, support the reunification process. However, alienating parents often don’t respond to therapy because of their entrenched defense mechanisms and difficulty separating their needs from their child’s.
How To Work Through Rocky Moments In Reunification
Alienated children can be rude, verbally abusive, and oppositional. They are recovering from parental alienation too. Expect their behavior to escalate during the reunification process due to extreme enmeshment (codependency) with the alienating parent. Being on the receiving end of anger and defiance is challenging, so it’s imperative to develop coping strategies.
- Don’t take your child’s behavior personally. The way they treat you is a reflection of the alienating parent’s propaganda. If you’re able to separate yourself from your child’s distorted perspective, you will be less tempted to react defensively, or with anger.
- Concentrate on your parenting skills. Your focus should be on setting limits, establishing appropriate consequences to undesirable behavior, and assuring your children that you love them, no matter what.
- Manage your emotions. If you return your child’s anger with anger of your own, or dissolve into tears from frustration, you will just reinforce the alienating parent’s message that you’re dangerous and unstable. Utilize coping skills such as mindfulness, journaling, and time-outs to soothe an overactive nervous system.
Recovering from parental alienation and repairing your relationship take time and patience. Try not to form an attachment to a particular outcome. Instead, focus on the process of reunification and helping your child heal from the trauma of parental alienation.
Do you think reunification therapy might be a helpful option in your case? Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Secure your future with your children. Call us: 888-888-0919.