Child Focused CBT

The mental health professional responsible to implement a court-mandated, child-centered
reunification intervention may review a sheaf of documents, interview each parent and the child, and
still fail to understand why the child has allied with Parent A and rejected Parent B. In the typical case,
Parent A alleges that Parent B has been abusive or neglectful, absent or inappropriate and is, therefore,
deserving of the child’s rejection. Parent B, of course, minimizes or denies these allegations and
argues with equal conviction that Parent A has undermined the parent–child relationship
(Albertson-Kelly & Burkhard, 2013; Drozd & Olesen, 2004; Meier, 2010). Both may be credible and
both may be true. Police reports, child protective service investigations, psychological test reports, and
various mental health professionals will all weigh in on the matter, often without consensus or
conclusion. Thus, “[t]he child’s vehement expressed negative emotions and rejection [of Parent B]
may be as consistent with child alienation as well as a child who has been neglected and abused or
exposed to domestic violence” (Sullivan, Ward, & Deutsch, 2010, p. 117).
For better or worse, the reunification therapist is seldom charged with determining the causes of the
parent–child schism and may never know the truth of the matter. Instead, “this therapist aims to take
a neutral and even-handed position of deliberately not taking sides” (DeJong & Davies, 2012, p. 188)
so as to give the child the opportunity to enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents. This first
requires that the therapist establish a trusting rapport with the child. Weitzman (2013) captures this
idea concisely:


Author: Linda Turner

Coaching and Therapy Currently studying Psychotherapy , Cognitive psychology, Hypnotherapy. Qualified NLP, EMDR and CBT therapist. REIKI Master. I believe in truth, honesty and integrity! ≧◔◡◔≦

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