What do you need to know about reunification therapy in Palm Beach County
Vassilia Binensztok, PhD, LMHC
Reunification therapy is a court-ordered therapy that aims to bring together children and parents who have had long gaps in contact. Reunification therapy is ordered by the Palm Beach County family court for parents who have been separated from their children because of substance abuse, military deployment, extended absences, alienation, high-conflict divorce, etc.
While reunification therapy can pose many challenges, I welcome all clients in a supportive and nonjudgmental way. My goal is to help families heal and form stronger bonds. A parent’s consistent presence can make all the difference in a child’s life. Even parents who have been apart from their children for extended periods can foster healthy relationships with their children.
Who needs reunification therapy?
Parents who have been separated from their children for extended periods of time, causing damage to the parent-child relationship. This is a court-ordered therapy
Who needs to participate in reunification therapy?
It is not just the reunifying parent that must participate. The participation of the custodial parent is critical to the process. I will meet with the parents separately and together as well as meet with the child(ren) and parents together.
What is the process or reunification therapy?
First, I communicate with both parents as well as parents’ attorneys. In this process, I determine if the family is a good fit for reunification therapy and all parties agree to use my services as a reunification therapist. All parties receive consent forms and the reunification therapy process is explained. I then meet with parents and children individually to assess the quality of the parent-child relationship as well as readiness for reunification. Several sessions may be needed to address issues that stand as obstacles to reunification. Once it is determined that reunification can proceed, contact begins with phone and video calls, moving to in-person contact. In-person visits can be therapeutic in nature and non-therapeutic supervised visits are also conducted. In therapeutic sessions, family therapy and parent-child therapy is conducted. I use talk therapy, play therapy, and experiential techniques, depending on the age and needs of the child(ren). Appropriate parenting strategies can also be taught. Co-parenting sessions are conducted with the reunifying and custodial parent to foster positive, cooperative parenting strategies and decrease conflict. Once it is determined that the reunification therapy process is complete, all parties are discharged. I maintain regular communication with attorneys and the court to help the process progress smoothly.
What if the child does not want to see the reunifying parent?
In cases of abuse and neglect, reunification therapy might not be indicated. I screen all cases to determine if they are appropriate for reunification. When children express resistance, I explore the reasons for this resistance and work with both the child and custodial parent to increase the child’s motivation and cooperation in the process. Children’s strong reactions are often due to their pain and fears. Except in cases of abuse, children can overcome these obstacles to form better relationships with their parents.
Is reunification therapy covered by insurance?
I am an out-of-network provider. Additionally, insurance often does not cover these kinds of services. Because this is a court-ordered therapy, it includes billing for record reviews, attorney communications, official letters and reports, and court appearances. Usually, the court decides how the parents will split the fees. A retainer fee and security deposit are required.
Does reunification therapy really work?
Many people who find themselves at this stage feel hopeless about recovering relationships with their children. They might want to give up entirely or feel like they are being labeled as the “bad guy” for having been absent in the first place. Though difficult circumstances might have brought you here, reunification therapy can be a greatly rewarding experience. I have reunified many parents with their children and helping people do this work has been one of my greatest joys. Children need loving and involved parents and many parents find that it is not too late to form a meaningful, lasting relationship with their child(ren).
What are your qualifications as a reunification therapist in Palm Beach County?
I have years of experience working with children and families in different settings and modalities. I bring experience working with the Department of Children and Families and testifying in both the family and dependency courts, having knowledge of current Florida laws and ethical standards. I have worked with many high-conflict divorce cases and a variety of child and adolescent issues including emotional disturbances, behavioral problems, and juvenile delinquency. I have training in Forensic Mental Health Evaluation, Parenting Coordination, and Triple-P Positive Parenting.
If you are looking for a reunification therapist Palm Beach County, call me for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.