Where do you work and what type of services do you provide?
I am a licensed therapist at Resolve Counseling and Wellness, Northland location. I currently provide in-person and online individual therapy for children, teens, and adults, as well as couples and family therapy. I have a huge passion for working with children and families. I incorporate elements of play therapy into my practice with young children, and easily connect well with teens. I am also in the process of obtaining certification in Parent Child Interaction Therapy.
How can therapy be helpful for children when parents separate?
Therapy provides a safe place for children to process this new normal. It can be sad, confusing, and messy for children to understand when one household now becomes two, and getting into a new routine of splitting time with parents can be hard to comprehend at times. Therapy helps to process this change in a healthy manner, and provide coping skills for children that have a more difficult time with the separation.
What involvement do therapists have in court proceedings?
None. As the therapist to the child, my job is to remain neutral with parents by involving both parties in the therapy process, and focus directly on the child and their mental and emotional health. I do not make recommendations for custody, provide evaluations for court, or present as a party to any legal proceedings against either parent. My focus is on the child and providing helpful tools to both parents to assist their child.
Are there specific therapists that work with children who are having a hard time adjusting to co-parenting?
A therapist that specializes in children and families would be the most appropriate clinician to address these issues.
How can parents use therapy when their child is exhibiting negative emotional responses to co-parenting?
The most important thing is to seek therapy as soon as you can. Co-parenting can be hard, for the adults and the children involved. It’s a new normal that everyone must process and learn about. It would be unreasonable to expect the child to never have a negative emotional response, in likely each household. Therapy provides a safe and neutral environment that the child can come and process their thoughts and feelings, with a clinician that specializes in addressing these issues. The therapist will also help provide and teach healthy coping skills that can be used when the child is feeling frustrated or having a difficult time in either household. It helps to keep both parents on the same page when it comes to their child and their child’s mental health. Therapy will focus on the importance of consistency across both households to ensure optimal therapeutic success.
What issues have you seen surrounding children and co-parenting?
For children, the biggest difficulty they have is understanding what’s going on, what their new lives will look like, how it will work, etc. Depending on the age of the child, this can and will look different. Young children may exhibit regression behaviors, such as potty training accidents, baby talk, aggression, temper tantrums, difficulty sleeping, etc. Teens may withdraw, resent one parent over the other, exhibit aggression and anger, etc. There is no “right or wrong” when it comes to these responses and every child will react differently. No matter what the response, therapy can address any difficulties the child may be having.
How important is it that both parents are involved in the therapeutic process?
Crucial! I can’t say this enough. It is so important that BOTH parents are involved in the therapeutic process to ensure consistency across both households. Therapy will focus on helping the child process their thoughts and feelings, and also provide techniques to parents on how to support their child.
What tools would you suggest parents use when the other parent is not cooperating with therapeutic suggestions?
Communicate. Just simply communicate with the other about why the suggestions and techniques are important, and remind each other that consistency across households provides therapeutic success. If there are questions about specific tools or techniques and the justification for using them, this can be address at the child’s next appointment.
How is the child’s ability to cope and have successful outcomes in therapy impacted by the parent’s ability to coparent?
If parents are able to create and form a healthy coparenting relationship with a foundation in open and honest communication that puts the child as the priority, the child is more likely to cope better and have more successful outcomes in therapy. If parents are unable to coparent effectively, the child may struggle greatly and therefore require a much greater commitment to therapy.