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What is “Reunification Therapy”?

Where a parent alienates a child from another parent – this can cause significant long-term trauma for that child (let alone for the targeted parent). As we have discussed in other posts, like this one on parental alienation and this one on the impact of divorce on children, children can experience a range of painful long-term consequences as a result of their parents’ actions.

Where the formerly loving relationship has been interrupted/severed, it may be advantageous to pursue  “Reunification Therapy”. Below, we provide a brief introduction to this treatment and we discuss whether it may be suitable for your family.

Addressing the fractured parent-child relationship

The main objective of child reunification therapy is to address a severe rift or fracture in the relationship between parent and child. While the specific therapeutic methods can vary, generally, they focus on:

  • Reconnecting the estranged parent with the child
  • Helping a child view their parents in a more realistic way
  • Rebuilding healthy boundaries between co-parents and child
  • Facilitating positive interactions
  • Improving communication skills
  • Giving parents the knowledge and resources to parent in a healthy way

Through these and other reunification techniques, parents and children can receive the redirection, guidance, and support that they need to enable the re-establishment of healthy, loving relationships. 

Who benefits from this therapy?

It is not unusual for a child to object to this type of therapy, especially when they are still under the thumb of the favored parent.  The child may express that they are not interested in rebuilding the fractured relationship with the now ‘hated’ or ‘denigrated’ parent.

Some judges in Canada believe that they do indeed have the power to order Reunification Therapy.  Some favoured parents can be persuaded/pressured to agree to and even participate in RT.   Parental alienation is a complex matter.  It can arise as a result of a vengeful former partner; it can arise as a by-product of a difficult legal situation. Either way, RT with a specially trained and qualified therapist can help to rebuild fractured critical relationships.  Everyone can benefit from RT.

Will it fix the relationship between my child and me?

There are no guarantees when it comes to coping with and recovering from past traumas. However, you can improve the efficacy of this therapy by being proactive and engaged.  Don’t let the alienation just continue while uninformed players in the judicial system incorrectly tell you that “time heals”.  Early action is required.  If both parents will encourage engagement in the process, the chances of success are maximized.  It is crucial to find the right therapist – ie. someone with specialized training. 

Having said that, know that repairing the relationship between parent and child will take time and work. One should utilize all available resources to help the healing (reading, individual counseling, alienation consultants, legal action) including reunification therapy.  All this can be vital in navigating this complicated situation.

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