Working with High Conflict Co-Parents
The divorce rate in the USA averages at just above 50% for first-time marriages, and is higher than 60% for remarriages. Within that divorce rate there is a subgroup of couples with children whose post-break up relationships are marked by intense animosity, anger, and distrust. These couples are often involved in heavy litigation, battling with each other inside and outside of the courtroom.
Termed high-conflict co-parents, when they seek therapy for their children, they present challenges to even the most experienced of therapists. They often attempt to align the therapist to their side, or accuse the therapist of being aligned against them, or they pressure therapists to extract information from their child for them to use in custody proceedings, and more.
If you find yourself working with a family in a high conflict divorce, you likely feel stressed, anxious, and unsure of how to manage the co-parent and family dynamics.
Graduate training and internships don’t usually prepare therapists to work effectively with these types of clients, and making missteps with them can lead a therapist to lose the client or experience licensing board complaints.
Yet, with the right policies and procedures in place, and by implementing some specific strategies, you can work effectively as a therapist with high conflict co- parents without the anxiety and stress, providing the families with much needed therapeutic support.