You get trained in everything from driving a car to working your home computer; from project management at work to recycling your disposables at home…and yet, nowhere in your education were you given the practical tools needed to do the most important job of your life: the raising of your children. Raising socially responsible, respectful, contributing and loving members of society is a lifelong task worthy of doing well. Understanding a little about childhood psychology, stages of development and the needs of your children and teens will enhance your talents as a parent.
Many of you will benefit from gaining parental negotiation tools and communication skills with your kids. I will help you learn how to address single parent, blended family, & divorced parents’ issues including how to ensure a team approach to parenting, especially after anger has been an ongoing part of your relationship. I can also help you to avoid unhealthy family dynamics, enhancing love and respect, and assist you with gaining insights into your family’s or child’s breakdowns. Let me introduce you to critical tools for effective and intelligent parenting practices.
Whatever struggles you need to address—acting out or scholastically un-motivated children, adolescent sexual identity or sexuality, un-aligned parents, domestic violence, incest, distrust within the family, disruptive marital breakdowns, gangs or other hostile influences, sexual predators, or other equally challenging examples—I am here to help.
Single Parenting or Co-Parent Counseling
Today, 25% of all American families are single parent households. Single parenting comes about following divorce, death or a partner, abandonment, and incapacity of one parent to participate. Both parenting alone, and parenting cooperatively with divorced partners introduces multiple sets of additional challenges for parents. It is common that the added burden of work and home life scheduling leaves parents feeling guilty and inadequate. Hostility between ex-partners can introduce ongoing stress on the children as well as the parents themselves. Financial struggles are common. These are only the tip of the iceberg in areas of struggle that can lead to exhaustion, despair and isolation.
It is not uncommon for separating or divorced parents to feel threatened or unproductive in their communications with their co-parent. Parenting styles, rules and custody negotiations typically trigger highly charged, deeply emotional issues. Whether you are a high functioning or a high conflict couple, I will work with you to organize the details of your parenting plans, your communication methods and styles, and assist you in finding a win-win scenario so that your children will learn from you what it means to be respectful, kind and forgiving in the face of hardship and hurt.
Parent Coordination (Court or Attorney Referral)
When working with “high conflict couples” during a divorce who are having difficulties agreeing on how to come to decisions affecting raising their children, Parent Coordination may be a desired option. Parent Coordination can be agreed to by both parents and their attorneys, who in turn will request that the judge order this avenue of resolution regarding co-parenting issues. Parent Coordination varies significantly from Co-Parent Counseling. “Counseling” is a therapeutic process with the intent to seek insights and emotional ease from distress, and is voluntary; co-parent counseling may or may not involve the family court system. By contrast, Parent Coordination is more directive and details oriented; the parents agree to abide by the PC’s decisions regarding the details concerning joint parenting practices, and the PC does not attempt to assist the couple through growth work or by offering therapeutic processes and insights. At the same time, due to the nature of the dynamics of the relationship of high conflict couples, one of the key tasks the PC concentrates on is improving communication between the parties which helps the couple make respectful, rational, cooperative and fair decisions involving their children. Anyone can request PC services, (the couple, the attorneys, the guardian, the judge,) as long as both co-parents agree to participate in the process and legally be bound to and abide by the outcome. If your co-parent is not in agreement, either attorney can ask for the judge to order the PC’s involvement.
As a PC, with signed releases from the couple, I will cooperate with team management members, keeping regular communication open with those professionals involved in the case. These people might include attorneys, guardians, counselors, psychological evaluators, school teachers and/or administrators. Therefore, it is important to understand that this process is not confidential, as therapy would be.
The process utilizing a PC can take anywhere from as few as 4 sessions, up to a year or longer, depending on the degree of hostility or compliance that the couple is exhibiting, the cooperation and communication that is formed, and the complexity of the family situation. I am budget conscious and will not keep clients longer than is necessary and/or desired. As the PC, I will determine the frequency and duration of my involvement. Typically, the longer the involvement term, the greater my advantage is in understanding the family’s needs, but I prefer to reach solutions as quickly as is ethically possible.
When courts are involved, if either parent subpoenas me I will attempt to avoid testifying in an attempt to protect the PC process. When compelled to testify, it most likely will become necessary for me to be dismissed from the process, since the relationship has become unbalanced. A preferred method of gaining my input and insights is to require summary reports complete with my recommendations, which either party can (and should) enter into the court records as formal declarations.
In most PC situations, both parties have agreed to abide by my recommendations and instructions BEFORE they embark on our sessions together. In other words, my word becomes law in the matters concerning childhood coordination and co-parenting processes. It is imperative that the couple realize that the PC process is NOT psychotherapy, but rather, is much more directive with the PC dictating the topics and process discussed, with or without their ongoing agreements. Counseling for co-parents can sometimes be paid for by insurance when the services are provided for health reasons; the PC process cannot be billed to health insurance and is paid for in advance by month, direct pay. I charge $400 for the initial 2 hour intake session, and I bill at $175. per hour thereafter for each 50 minute session. In most cases, I prefer to see the couple for 1.5 hours at a time, when possible, for a cost of $260.00 (a slight savings.) In my experience, the hour and a half session allows us to advance much further, faster, saving considerable money in the long run.