Conjoint therapy is understood to be ordered when the court believes there is a need for the repair of a relationship between a parent and child/ren. During this process it is hoped that the issues which caused the relationship strain can be discussed, trust built and coping skills defined.
The therapeutic unit is the parent and the child/ren. Sometimes they will meet together with the parent if there is more than one child and sometimes separately. It depends on the individual relationships.
The first phase typically focuses on exploring and processing issues that have led to a sense of estrangement. The second phase involves work on healing the areas of the relationship which have become difficult and tenuous. In the third phase parties will have resolved their past emotional estrangement and will move into a more stable relationship.
Some times the therapist will choose to meet solely with the parent or children. This is a part of the course of therapy and occurs at the therapist’s discretion for any number of reasons, in light of the treatment plan.
During this process, it is acknowledged that the primary parent may also be experiencing their own stressors. As such, periodically an invitation will be extended to check in with them to process their questions and help them understand the importance of their supporting role. During that time, client confidentiality will be maintained and the particulars of the conjoint sessions will not be disclosed. Further, the custodial parent should refrain from asking questions about the sessions.
The therapist is not acting as an advocate or evaluator and as such, will not give recommendations for custody/visitation, except as ordered by the court. If the court orders that a report be submitted, it will outline the progress as it relates to the stages described above and include any critical incidents which may occur during the process. Outside of a court order, no report will be generated in compliance with confidentiality and privilege requirements.