IS PARENT ALIENATION OR HIGH CONFLICT FAMILY DYNAMICS TEARING YOUR FAMILY APART? 

Has everything fallen apart in your family? Is your family involved in a messy divorce or separation? Are your children alienating themselves from you? Or have you or your children been ordered to attend counseling to repair relationships between your children and the other parent? Are you puzzled as to how this all ended up such a mess? Has every attempt at making communication and relationships work among family members ended up in failure or actually made it worse?

Maybe you feel like everything could be resolved if only your partner or spouse would calm down and just listen to you. Maybe you are feeling the grief and bewilderment that comes from having the child with whom you were once so close refusing to communicate with you. Maybe you are wondering: “What am I missing? What did I do to get to this point? Is it the other parent’s fault? Is it mine? And where do I even begin to sort it all out?

Your grief and frustration in these situations may be almost debilitating at times.

Communication breakdowns, poor boundaries or boundary violations, past grievances, relational wounds, frustration, anger, and often fear can all contribute to high conflict family situations, and all to the detriment of your children’s emotional health. Working with an experienced, compassionate family counselor who knows how to set boundaries and hold all sides of the story with equal compassion is crucial to unraveling the tangled thread of parent alienation and/or high conflict families.

DISSOLUTION OF A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP IS ALWAYS PAINFUL 

It’s never easy, even under the best of circumstances. Ending a marriage or a committed relationship, especially when there are children present, can be fraught with landmines. While most divorces that happen in the United States—and there are many—can be navigated with manageable conflict or none at all, there are some where all of the dominoes line up just right for a cascade of devastation and pain.

It is vital that you and/or your family work with a therapist who understands the issues of family conflict and parent alienation through a dynamic, systemic lens. It is also important that you work with someone who has the ability to help everyone feel like they have a place at the table, including those you don’t necessarily want at the table!

WHY EVERYONE  NEEDS TO BE AT THE TABLE 

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High conflict family situations and/or parent alienation syndrome are never about one person and never is one person to blame. Everyone needs to be at the table to sort out the painful, sometimes ugly mess. Everyone’s emotions may be running high. Everyone in your family may be feeling extra sensitive, and it may seem like everyone is having to walk on eggshells. This is a family affair in the truest sense.

The work of high conflict family therapy, or working with a child or parent engaged in estrangement dynamics requires a very different kind of counseling than individual work. It requires more directives, psychoeducation, and working with all of the players—family members, guardian ad litem, lawyers, and others who may be part of the legal system. In cases like these, it is crucial that you work with someone who is trained in high conflict family and parent alienation work. (Please see my credentials for relevant trainings.) In high conflict family work, I work with experienced consultants and peer supervisors to assure that your needs are met. I work diligently for appropriate transparency, strong boundaries, clarity, and to have as wide a perspective as possible to understand the landscape through which we travel as well as a great deal of flexibility and responsiveness.

Staying the course can bring calm, a feeling of empowerment for all involved, and an appropriate resolution or reparation of parent and child alienation. While the therapy and the journey require patience and trust, the family can move through a transformative process and come out the other side.

MORE QUESTIONS REGARDING HIGH CONFLICT FAMILY COUNSELING 

My child and I are estranged at the moment. Can you work with my family as a whole and with my child at the same time to fix this situation?

It would be necessary for us to decide if I will be working with your family or with your child. It would be unethical and ineffective for me to serve as both the family therapist and your child’s therapist. If I am your family therapist, then I would work with your child’s therapist. Or vice versa – if I am your child’s therapist, then I would be in consultation with your family therapist.

I thought that divorce and custody issues were legal issues. Why should I consider counseling?

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More and more family lawyers and courts are seeking the assistance of those in the mental health profession in the area of divorce conflict family dynamics during divorce. While they are legal issues, emotions and relationships are at the foundation and core of these. Thus, counseling would be the way to address the roots of the situation.

Will insurance pay for the sessions?

This will depend on each individual case and your insurance plan. Many insurance plans do not cover family therapy. We can work together to find ways to obtain insurance reimbursement and/or out-of-pocket payments that are more affordable. Getting into therapy sooner rather than later can save heartache, more conflict, and money in the long run.

IF YOU ARE READY TO MOVE FORWARD AND WANT MORE INFORMATION 

If you are ready to begin or have more questions regarding counseling for high conflict family resolution or parent alienation syndrome, I offer a 15 minute phone consultation or a 30 minute initial office consultation. Please call 425-238-2765, send an email to robinbarre@whidbey.com, or fill out the Contact Form. I respond to all inquiries and communications within 48 hours. I invite you to explore the menu on the right for more information and resources regarding families, family therapy, and issues regarding high conflict family dynamics.

 

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