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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Best Practice Child Custody

When a divorce has occurred, contact between former spouses can result in tension. To limit this therapists working with children take the following position and set the following boundaries:

 1. When a couple divorces, they essentially create two separate families – the child belongs to both families, but each spouse is typically excluded from the other – This is the basic premise of a divorce.
2. Family therapists will remain open to sharing from both parents, interested in both parent’s perspective on their child’s mental health and behavior. The exceptions are extreme cases where such communication unhelpful to the Therapeutic process (e.g., the other parent is incarcerated, or is incapacitated due to chronic drug addiction).
3. Family therapists directly with the family that initiates the counseling process, because they are the family who has hired them to help the situation. They work indirectly with the other parent, if they want to be involved.
4. If both parents are “friendly with each other” it is occasionally possible and sometimes helpful to have meetings that may involve both parents – this is rare, but in some cases, when all parties agree, it can be helpful. It is not required, however, and is dependent solely on the situation presented.
5. If both parents are “not friendly with each other” and they are incapable of working together, or that the direct involvement of both parents in counseling is detrimental, a therapist may limit their work to the family that hired them; but remain open to communication with the other parent.
6. There are extreme situations in which a therapist would not be open to communications from the other parent who may have legal custody (child abuse, incest, violence, other forms of abuse or danger). This is a matter of state law which gives mental health professionals discretion as to limit-setting within family Therapy.
7. Child Custody Evaluations need to be done by Psychologists with Ph.D. level credentials. Therefore, Master's Level (even Licensed) Therapists do not provide input to custody disputes or court proceedings.
8. Family therapists should remain neutral.  They do not make recommendations for custody.  Family therapists or attorneys can refer you to Psychologists that can make child custody evaluations.



Competence as a forensic specialist is crucial in custody evaluations. 

Particular competencies and knowledge are required for child custody evaluations to provide adequate and appropriate psychological services to the court. 

Therapists Who See Children

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