Reunification is not therapy. Reunification is ordered by the family court system. It is a series of activities designed to reacquaint a parent and the child(ren). The activities are meant to foster a functional relationship with each other.
Before reunification begins, there will be a session held with both parents, in an individual session, to outline the program. Questions can be address during these sessions. Then there will be a session with the child(ren) to outline what activities they will be participating in as they reunite with a parent. Parent participation is not advised as it could keep the child(ren) from feeling they can speak freely. Each child will be given the chance to voice their opinions at this time. It is acknowledged that not all children will be happy to attend. Questions that arise will be answered. The parent that is requesting reunification will be responsible for providing a copy of any court documents pertaining to the case. (Guardian ad Liem reports, statements from the Court)
During the parent sessions I will makes notes on that parent’s prospective of the situation. During the sessions with the parent not requesting reunification, I will request a copy of the current Parenting Plan. As a professional, I am able to listen without judgement, I am only looking for the parent’s feelings, which are many. I will read all documents. If the courts request a statement, I will use the court documents and the information gathered from the three different sessions, plus my observations of those sessions, to make my statement.
Reunification has 7 activities tailored to reacquaint children with a parent they have not seen for a period of time. The child(ren) will participate in the following:
- You Like WHAT? Compare answers to general questions to show similarities and differences.
- TEAM (how the members can work together around the house. Discuss what is similar and what are differences at each house. Child is encouraged to speak freely.)
- Emotions (BINGO type game played with candy ‘markers’ Discuss child’s thoughts about emotions.
- Family Tree (values and qualities- each person has a branch to place ‘leaves’ describing who they are) Both parents are encouraged to attend.
- Family Activities (worksheet that include what each person likes to do inside and outside.)
- My Life (using colored candy, each person tells of things they have experience in their life.)
- What we have learned (compare what you learned during activities.)
The goal of Reunification is to establish a working relationship with the parents and the children involved. Working together for the benefit of the child(ren) should bring about healthy attitudes for the children. Children’s mental health develops best when they are free to love both parents.