What is Family Reunification?
Family reunification is a form of intervention, typically court ordered, utilized when the children of a separated family lose contact with or find difficulty visiting a parent. It is especially useful in cases where one parent has been absent for a long period of time and/or when there is a history of some form of abuse that the child experienced or witnessed. A parent can request a Court Order for family reunification in order to reestablish contact with their child. The primary goal of family reunification is to reconcile the relationship between the parent and child(ren) in a safe environment and to recognize the stressors in the parent-child relationship.
How does it work?
Family reunification usually involves a review of the court documents, a meeting with one or both of the parents, and a meeting with the child(ren) individually. After meeting with the reunifying parent and the child(ren) individually, reunification sessions will include both together. During these meetings, the clinician acts as a facilitator between the child(ren) and the alienated parent in order for them to reconnect and establish trust.
The amount of sessions needed to complete family reunification is unique to every case. Cases where the child(ren) are overwhelmed at the idea of being reunited with their estranged parent may take longer in order to ensure that a healthy, long-lasting bond is formed. Some factors which may affect the length of a case are the child’s age, the level of resistance to visits, the issues which led to estrangement, the degree of complexity of the case, and/or the length of time of the separation. It is important for the non-estranged parent to be cooperative and supportive of the child(ren)’s participation in reunification.