Typically when mom, dad, or both parents bring their child/children in for counseling due to their divorce, everyone is in great turmoil. Mom and Dad are often fighting over rules in each other’s homes, who is picking up the children at what time and where, and who is right and who is wrong in all of this. Usually lawyer’s and sometimes the judge is involved if everyone is not in agreement and the detrimental part of this is that the children are greatly affected by all of the chaos that ensues when parent’s divorce.
So what is the role of the therapist when they work with children in counseling and what exactly are their goals. First of all, psychotherapists that work individually with divorcing parents need to understand what is at stake or in other words the importance of both mom and dad’s role in parenting their children. Therapists will not be looking simply at the immediate complaint of the mother or father (ie… Ashley gets away with everything over at her mom’s house or Ashley’s dad says bad things about me in front of Ashley) rather they are looking systemically at the problem. The therapist looks at the choices made by both parents and how this affects the overall dynamic in the family. The therapist will also educate the parents on what divorce looks like for the child after they get a divorce. Most children, whether the parents believe it or not, want both mom and dad in their life. The biggest value in therapy is the therapist explaining a very realistic picture of what divorce looks like for a child, the likely sources of conflict that will ensue, the loneliness that is often felt by everyone, and of course that the parents must continue to parent together. This is the value of the therapist in the life of kids of divorce and it can contribute to everyone’s well-being in the years that lie ahead for everyone involved.