1. How is Parent Facilitation different from therapy? Parent facilitation isnot therapy, marriage therapy, nor family therapy. Therapy focuses on personal insight and growth in order to improve an individual's, a couple's or a family's relationships. Parent facilitation focuses on problem solving, compromising and ending conflicts for the sake of children. Facilitation also stresses accountability by making agreements and monitoring co-parents commitments. However, some of the skills taught in Parent Facilitation are the same skills taught by Marriage and Family therapists, like communication skills, anger management and parenting practices.
2. If Parent Facilitation focuses on problem solving, is it the same as mediation? No, mediation is different because it is a team process, with lawyers, a mediator and co-parents sitting together to mediate differences at one long meeting. Parent Facilitation meets multiple shorter times and deals with one or two problems at a time. Mediation also handles questions of custody and divisions of assets. Parent Facilitation does not handle questions of money and property, or custody, but centers on parenting disagreements that affect the children.
3. How do I know if I need a Parent Facilitator? Do you have a lot of disagreements with your ex-spouse that never seem to get settled, and there seems to be a lot of anger and hostility between you? Are you discouraged about the way you and your co-parent cannot seem to communicate without arguing? Is your child showing signs of stress? if your answer to any of these questions is yes, a Parent Facilitator or Coordinator can help.
4. How does divorce affect children in general? Divorce always affects children, but a cooperative relationship with your co-parent will mitigate those affects and allow your child to adjust. If there is angry arguing or hostility that the child observes, then they are more likely to be affected long-term. Research shows that children who are exposed to their divorced parents' angry conflicts report difficulties lasting into adulthood in the areas of forming relationships, anger management and substance abuse.
5. How do I know if my child is being affected negatively? Has your child observed either you or your co-parent in angry exchanges at possession switches or over the phone? Have there been conflicts about the child's possessions, and allowing them to go back and forth? Does your child says one thing to you and another to your co-parent about the same subject? Does your child complain to you about the other house frequently? Has your child's sleeping or eating habits changed since the divorce? Has their school work suffered recently? These are all signs that they are being affected negatively by the divorce.
6. Would it be better to put my child in therapy to help them adjust to divorce? Therapy is usually very helpful for children showing signs of stress about divorce, and we often recommend it for the children of parents working with us. However, since parental behavior is the main cause of their stress, changing the behavior of co-parents is necessary to achieve long lasting healthy family relationships.
7. I really cannot stand my ex, and do not want to sit in the same room with them. Can Parent Facilitation/Coordination be done by phone or Skype? Unfortunately, Parent Facilitation really needs to be done face to face. Our experience with phone meetings shows they are not productive. Only in cases where the actual safety of one of the co-parents is in doubt (as recognized by the court), do we allow parents to meet in different rooms , but we note that this slows the process considerably. If one co-parent is too angry to sit in the same room with the other, the chances of developing a cooperative relationship with them is low. Individual therapy for the co-parents, separately, may be helpful in these situations, before Parent Facilitation/Coordination can be fruitful.