The parents agree the objective of Court-Involved Therapy (CIT) is not to determine IF it is in the child(ren)’s best interests to have contact with one of the parents. Rather, the parents agree it is in the child(ren)’s best interests to have meaningful relationships with both parents. The CIT is intended, therefore, to help the children have healthy and meaningful relationships with both parents. This is a court ordered process.
CIT, and herein includes reunification therapy, reintegration therapy, therapeutic mediation, and therapeutic supervised visitation, is a specific form of family therapy which addresses contact resistance or refusal, or estrangement between a parent and a child, most often in cases where the parents are living apart. It is most often sought out by a parent or ordered by a court when a child is resisting contact with a parent.
There are many reasons why a child may be reluctant to have contact with a parent. The parent and child never had a well-established relationship or the difficulties may be newly emerging. Sometimes events have hurt a parent and child’s relationship, including exposure to stormy or violent parent interactions or child mistreatment. In some situations, one parent is knowingly or unknowingly undermining or interfering with the child’s relationship with the other parent. Many times a child is reacting to the stress of being caught in the middle of parent conflict or to differences in the parents’ styles of parenting, and has aligned with one parent to relieve their internal distress. Usually, there is a combination of factors at play.
In CIT, the therapist assesses the family and implements treatment that is designed to address the issues that are contributing to the child’s avoidant reactions. Through the identification and targeting of these contributing factors, the therapist strives to help the child and both parents make changes that will lead to healthier and more satisfying parent-child relationships.
The parents agree to the involvement of the entire family, in various combinations, as directed by the therapist. The process will include meetings with each parent and the child(ren) individually and jointly. The process may include meetings with other family members as deemed necessary by the therapist.
There are a variety of ways in which the child and the parent who is being avoided may be asked to communicate and engage with one another, including, but not limited to: telephone calls, electronic messaging, hand-written communication, and exchanging artifacts, items, photos, and belongings