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Screening for Domestic Violence and Power Imbalances in Collaborative Law, Mediation and Couple Counseling

The issue of screening for domestic violence and power imbalances has come up from several directions for me this week.

In all cases, the question was about finding a screening tool, a questionnaire that would give insight into these issues for separating couples entering either collaborative law process or mediation process. I would like to add that from my perspective, this issue is also relevant to couples entering into couple counseling.

I advised that we screen to determine risk of harm to the couple in partaking in the respective processes. We want them to arrive safely, leave safely and be safe in between our meetings. We want them to be able to negotiate freely and without seeking to sell the farm to buy peace where that provides a lop-sided agreement undermining one’s future.

Sorting out separation/divorce issues and addressing couple issues in therapy are two of the greatest risk moments for persons whose relationships include violence. The risks include homicide and suicide. Just attending a meeting together escalates those risks and places people at harm as they walk through our doors. While homicide and suicide are the greatest risks, the harm imposed by violence of any kind or degree can be devastating and life altering.

While personal safety and the ability to discuss matters freely are ultimately the responsibility of the persons seeking service, clearly we the professionals do want to be at least minimally trained to understand and detect those risks to mitigate harm as best as possible.

No single or even battery of questionnaires will ever suffice to do the job and anyone who relies just upon a questionnaire to ascertain the degree to which these issues may be at play may misread or totally not see avoidable risk. Instead of or in addition to questionnaires, the person conducting the screening must understand the issue and when issues surface, how to provide support and guidance to mitigate risk of harm.

If you work with separating couples or couples in therapy, I certainly urge you to be trained in screening for domestic violence and power imbalances.

If you are a persons seeking these services and are in a relationship marked by any degree of violence, abuse or power imbalance, please advise your service provider and ascertain if they have any knowledge or experience with those issues. If not, then consider an alternate service provider.

At the end of the day, your safety must come first.

Here is my statement on domestic violence and power imbalances.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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The Road to Mediation Influences the Outcome

How you arrive at mediation can be influential to the process and outcome of your family matter.

I am frequently called upon by collaborative lawyers to mediate the parenting plan. Clients referred by their collaborative lawyers arrive at mediation with a positive sense of anticipation. While a little nervous, they are pleased to participate. They work well together and the work can progress quite smoothly. They make good use of time and are appreciative for guidance provided.

Once involved in this capacity, I occasionally hear that the collaborative lawyers are stuck and their 4-way meetings are running out of gas with the settlement of financial matters hanging in limbo. I offer to join my clients at their 4-way meetings in the role of facilitator. The clients then go to their lawyers and request my presence. Once requested and given collaboratively trained lawyers, I am always invited in. Invariably settlement discussions improve as I help manage emotions and behavior and facilitate the process. These files have always settled.

I also receive many referrals of separating parents who have yet to retain lawyers. These clients enter into the mediation process with more concern and trepidation than those referred by their collaborative lawyers, but are generally keen to sort things out between themselves. In those cases, I invariably sort out the parenting plan and then refer the parents to select collaboratively trained lawyers to complete their separation agreement. These files go well. The clients have already learned to work together the result of their mediation experience. They know what to expect and they make good use of their collaborative lawyers.

From time to time, I see clients for mediation who have already retained litigious lawyers. These are the lawyers who are not keen to work together and do most of their work by sending blame and demand letters to each other. These situations are almost invariably a “sh-t show” by the time the clients enter mediation. One has to wonder at times if mediation is being used as a strategy to run out a clock to establish a status quo or provide an impression of reasonableness as only a tool for court purposes.

This mediation process usually starts by the clients taking notes on each others comments. They are entrenched in their positions and tend to hurl their I want statements at each other. Each is also looking for information that can use against the other, assuming the mediation will fail from the get-go.

So whereas clients referred by collaboratively trained lawyers enter mediation with a sense of hopefulness, and those who attend on their own accord enter into the process at best hopeful and at worse neutral, those who are referred by litigious lawyers come with a sense of dread, perched atop a flight or fight response.

Often I must impress upon the clients referred by their litigious lawyers the impact of their conflict on their child’s developmental trajectory and mental health. With that, I can usually then move them towards more constructive discussions regarding their mutual interests, such as the well being of their kids. This is remarkable progress from whence they came.

While negotiations typically improve in mediation, these clients frequently tell me how things have stalled with their litigious lawyers on their financial matters and how there is an escalation of nasty letters. At times, clients even tell me they were unaware of the letters sent on their behalf by their lawyer. What they get is a verbal (telephone) report from their lawyer saying the other side is holding things up.

When the client who received a nasty letter then produces it in a mediation meeting, it is not uncommon for the other person to apologize for what has been sent by their lawyer. (Learning how to talk respectfully and how to apologize when appropriate is a good outcome of mediation.)

In these situations I offer to facilitate a face-to-face meeting with the litigious lawyers. I explain to my clients that rather than sending blaming and demanding letters where neither side really provides answers apart from setting out their counter blame and demands; by sitting round-table, we can fully determine where things are at, what needs to be done and set out a plan for another meeting to facilitate accountability.

My clients understand this because that is essentially the mediation process and because the mediation experience is successful, this isn’t a hard sell, let alone a sell at all. I am just offering a reasonable solution on a kindly basis to help settle the financial aspects of their separation. I am clear that I hold no power or expertise and that my involvement is only to facilitate and manage the meeting.

While these offers are met well by the clients, they are met with range of reactions by the litigation lawyers. Some of the lawyers are puzzled. Some are pleased and some are actually angry.

Of those who agree to my involvement to facilitate a meeting, a settlement usually transpires. Of those who do not agree to my help, the whole endeavor is a house of cards.

In a recent file where we couldn’t bring about a 5-way meeting, I continued to work with the couple and oddly enough they reconciled and will be terminating their lawyers. This isn’t a common outcome.

In other situations, particularly when a litigious lawyer is angry at my offer, all settlement discussions have broken down and their matter drones on with escalating costs and conflict. In others still, the parties dismiss their current litigious lawyers to start fresh with settlement oriented lawyers, typically those trained in collaborative law. Those matters usually improve and result in settlement agreements.

Mediation is a very useful process for resolving disputes and facilitating settlements. It really is interesting how the process goes, depending upon how the clients enter into the process.

In the end, if it is a pound of flesh you are seeking, find a hardball litigator. You may not reach a settlement. The process will likely cost dearly. There may be no survivors, but you will have extracted your pound of flesh.

That pound of flesh, by the way, may not be metaphorical. High conflict disputes are at risk for creating mental health problems in both the children and parents which may result in suicide or homicide. I do not say that lightly. Ask several lawyers or mental health professionals who have been involved in this work for some time. Many of us have experienced the tragic death of a client or child, either by their own hand or the hand of another.

If you want peace though and a reasonable way to end what was an intimate relationship, particularly when faced with needing to maintain a parental relationship, then consider mediation.

If you are using lawyers, choose wisely. The lawyers you choose can be a determinative factor in the success or failure of the mediation. Need help choosing a lawyer? Consult your mediator.

By the way, my workshop proposal, Mental Health Professionals: Taking Charge of Your Practice, has been accepted as a 90-minute workshop at the International Association of Collaborative Professionals’ 16th Annual Networking and Educational Forum in Washington, DC taking place October, 2015.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. I am both Collaboratively trained and a mediator.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Assessing and Managing School-Age Children with Behavioral Problems

Your child is about 7 years old. The teacher reports problems listening in class, sitting still and getting into conflict with peers. First thought always seems to be ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). But what if that was not the case?

Assessing school-age children with behavior problems takes more than just a superficial look at behavior. While many children present with the above-mentioned symptoms, the cause can range from neurological to psychological to family to social issues. By way of example, the above symptoms can be seen in children with ADHD, but can also be seen in children with allergies, or by children who are bullied and by children whose parents are undergoing separation/divorce, not to mention children who are witness to domestic violence or subject to abuse or neglect themselves.

To add to the complexity, there can also be multiple variables contributing to behavior, so a child can suffer as the result of several conditions; kind of like having a broken leg and a cold at the same time.

Hence to help school-age children with behavior problems, assessment must come before determining the management strategies. Unless you have assessed the cause of the problems correctly, wrong management strategies may be applied. The danger here is that with the wrong management strategies the behavior may not only continue, but worsen. In some cases, people will then apply the same wrong management strategies more harshly only to then worsen problems even more.

A good well-rounded assessment model takes a bio-psycho-social approach. With this model the child may be seen by a number of professionals, or at least one professional who is able to interview the parents and child as well as at least obtain school records and ask a range of questions ranging from the child’s health and development to family matters to school related issues. From a single well structured interview with a professional who takes a bio-psycho-social approach, it can then generally be determined if other professionals need to be brought in such as a medical practitioner, psychologist, speech-language pathologist, social worker or others.

The result of this approach should be the determination of issues underlying the behaviour. In other words the assessment(s) should then explain the cause or causes of the behavior problems. Thereafter, an appropriate course of action or management strategies can be recommended.

Depending on the assessment results and if the causes of the behaviour problems relate to biological, psychological, family or social issues, the management strategies can include anything from medication to change of diet to individual, family or parental counseling, to special education or instruction.

One thing is for sure, a mere description of a few behavioral problems as at the outset of this article cannot be relied upon to lead directly to management strategies. Dig deeper with a bio-psycho-social approach to be assured of targeting the right cause and ensuring the probability of successfully helping the child in question.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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The Six Strategies of Subtle Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Much is written about overt abusive behavior, the kind of in-your-face actions that are easily recognizable to virtually anyone. Those more obvious forms of abusive behavior include behaviors such as yelling, screaming, name calling, threatening and intimidating as well as physical forms of violence such as hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving and strangulating up to stabbing and shooting. But what of the more subtle forms of abusive behavior?

With the more subtle forms of abusive behavior, the abuser can appear with a smile on their face and absolutely calm and in control of themselves. They can be remarkably charming and convincing, causing the abused to believe they are the problem. These are more cold and calculating forms of abuse. However the victim, unable to identify the abuse is still affected by it.

There is a craziness the victim of these more subtle forms of abuse feels and that craziness is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and/or depression and/or anxiety and/or anger and resentment.

The goal of the subtle forms of abuse is the same as for the more overt or egregious forms of abuse: power and control. In virtually all cases of abuse, the abuser is seeking to hold power and control over another person to one’s own gain. That gain can include power and control for its own sake as well as for other objectives such as sex, money, favors and/or access to other resources.

By identifying the more subtle forms of abuse, the victim is freed from thinking the problem is oneself and can more appropriately hold the abuser accountable for their actions. Although the abuser using these strategies will be skilled in the art of manipulation including deflection of responsibility, it is important for the target of the abuse to realize they must not depend upon the abuser acknowledging the abuse in order to free oneself from their clutches.

The victim must come to their own realization and accept the fact the abuser may never take responsibility for their behavior. When this is the case it becomes vital for the target of the abuse to extricate themselves from the situation for self-protection.

These are six key forms of subtle abusive behavior: Stonewalling, Gaslighting, Duplicity, Guilt, Memory Loss and Sarcasm.

  1. Stonewalling is basically a refusal to communicate or address the issue. It can take an angry form such as when a partner exclaims they are not going to talk or outright refusing to listen to your concerns. It can also take a more passive form such as when a partner simply avoids you or puts off dealing with the matter at hand. The abuser uses extreme patience to wait you out until finally you cave to their wants.
  2. Gaslighting is the distortion of information so that something appears other than what it is. For example, when you think your partner is having a romantic tryst and it gets explained away as an innocent business meeting, yet the credit card charge includes the hotel fee. While you are given a plausible explanation for something, the total story doesn’t hold together, yet it is difficult to put your finger on it.
  3. Duplicity is out right telling you one thing while doing another. Outright deception. You know your partner is duplicitous when you finally gather irrefutable evidence of the problematic behavior.
  4. Guilt is when the abuser tries to make the other feel bad about themselves for somehow not having met the abuser’s needs or expectations, particularly when those needs or expectations are only self-serving and/or could undermine the well being of the other. You are somehow made to feel bad for thwarting their objective. A favorite line of this abuser is “If you really loved me, you would….”
  5. Memory loss is simply the “I forgot” strategy. If I forgot, then somehow I am not accountable. People who use this strategy however will appear to have excellent memories when it suits them.
  6. Sarcasm is the use of humor to disguise verbal abuse. When the target of the sarcasm complains about the comment, the abuser hides behind the humor, saying the comment was just a joke. Abuse disguised as humor is still abuse.

All of those behaviors are emotionally and psychologically abusive. If you are the victim of any of these behaviors, trying to hold your partner accountable is like trying to catch smoke. Your partner will be slippery and likely not take responsibility for their actions. If you think you need their validation of the abuse in order to perhaps leave or at least feel better, then you will remain in their clutches.

Rather, if you are victim to any of these forms of abuse and your partner will not take responsibility, then couple counseling is likely useless and you should consider individual counseling to address the need for validation and to consider your options. First and foremost though, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, although you may be driven nuts.

Like banging your head against the wall, it’s so good when you stop. When your partner will not change, you may want to consider getting out of your partnership.

If you are thinking of counseling, consider this.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Adult Bullies

As a social worker, I work with many adult bullies and so do many of my colleagues. Recently at a meeting, my colleagues and I were discussing being the target of adult bullies, the result of the work we do. Amazingly all of us at this meeting had been bullied by clients in our social work practice.

How do you know a client is a bully? Because when they don’t like what you say or try to hold them accountable, or provide feedback as to the impact of their behavior, they attack you, viciously, personally, professionally. They seek to intimidate to get you to back down or punish with their version of revenge for not getting what they want.

The adult version of the bully in my work is the one who will write complaints about your professional practice to your licensing body or write trash about you on websites whose only purpose is to give people a place to spew their vitriol, their cruel and bitter criticism.

The adult bullies I work with are always in troubled relationships. Their relationships are troubled because they bully their partner. No real surprises here.

Having been subject to the atrocious behavior when the bully doesn’t want to be helped or held accountable or approached as to their contribution to distress, I can only tell you, that my heart goes out to the partners of these bullies.

Sometimes despite our expertise in helping people assess and change their own behavior, there are those folks who are quite simply resistant to help. We see them as having personality disorders, typically of a narcissistic or anti-social type.

Despite complaints, both to my professional licensing body and on complaint boards, I continue to meet with couples in distress the result of a bully as do my colleagues. This is part and parcel of the work we do. These are our occupational hazards.

However, for every complaint received, you have got to know there is a victim of the bullying who is pleased to have had their experience validated and who is pleased to have removed themselves from the abusive relationship.

That is why we do this work and that is why we continue to serve, even when we the service providers become the target of the bully.

Oddly enough, complaints against me, particularly those on the internet have only served to strengthen my practice. While posted with the intent of hurting business, people see through the vitriol and recognize the comments as a reflection on the person commenting. Bullies are self-evident.

If you are in a relationship with a bully, please do not despair. Instead, see it for what it is and do not be embarrassed or ashamed. It’s not you. It is the bully. You need not fight, but neither do you need to back down. You find a way to walk away. If you have children between you, the challenge is to find strategies for self-protection that minimizes the need for ongoing contact. At times, an intermediary is preferred. Such is the role of the Parenting Coordinator.

If you need strategies to cope with a bully in your life, it would be my pleasure to be of service.

If you are a colleague who works with bullies and have become their next target, also, do not despair. They are only showing you why they have terrible relationships; they are only demonstrating the behavior that creates their distress in the first place. It is a reflection on the bully and not you. If you are encountering your first brush with an adult bully in your practice targeting you, it can feel overwhelming. Get supervision or a consultation for yourself to talk it out and debrief.

The partner of the bully will be grateful for your understanding and support. As we stand strong, so too can the partner. These clients count on us.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Mediation: I have so many of these conversations a week….

Caller: I heard you are the best.

Me:      Best? At what?

Caller: Telling it like it is. Me and my ex are at court and I want you to do an assessment.

Me:      I don’t provide court involved services anymore.

Caller: But you’re supposed to be the best.

Me:      Well thank you. The reason I don’t provide court involved services anymore is because people are too litigious and neither the process nor the outcome actually resolves the underlying conflict, so while you may get a resolution, the fight still continues.

Caller: So what am I to do?

Me:      I can help you resolve things outside of court.

Caller: But you’re supposed to be the best and I want an assessment.

Me:      If I am supposed to be the best and I won’t go to court, but offer you an alternative, what does that tell you?

Caller: So you won’t do an assessment?

Me;      No. I can offer you mediation though and hopefully resolve things without going to court. Court more often inflames problems and that doesn’t really serve children.

Caller: So you won’t go to court.

Me:      Nope, but I am prepared to help you both resolve whatever is going on.

Caller: But you are supposed to be the best. What if I want you to go to court?

Me:      Sorry – I don’t go to court.

Caller: Even if I pay you?

Me:      Everybody pays me, but there is no payment that is going to change my mind. Parents talking each other down at court just isn’t good for children. Would you like help to resolve your issues instead? I can help you with that.

Caller: No. I want someone to go to court and you’re supposed to be the best and you won’t help me.

Me:      I would be pleased to help you and in a way that is typically better for your children.

Caller: But you keep saying you won’t go to court:

Me:      Yes, that’s true. I help people resolve things without going to court. It’s usually far less expensive and people are more apt to follow their agreements.

Caller: If you won’t help me and you’re supposed to be the best, I just I am going to have to settle for someone else.

Me. If you ever want some help to settle your dispute, it would be my pleasure to be of service. Feel free to call back.

Caller: What are you?

Me:      A social worker.

Caller: What’s that?

Me:      A professional who helps people to get along and/or feel better about themselves.

Caller: My lawyer says I need an assessment?

Me:      Why?

Caller: To fight my case. My ex doesn’t listen and I need an assessment.

Me:      What if the assessment isn’t favorable to you?

Caller: Can that happen?

Me:      Yes. That is why I work with people to resolve issues between themselves because then they have some degree of control of the outcome. That’s why I provide mediation.

Caller: My lawyer says mediation is crap.

Me:      Well, your lawyer may think so, but at the end of the day, this is your life and your decision. I can only tell you that I am available if you want help to settle your issues.

Caller: What do you think I should do?

Me:      What you do is your decision, but to help you with that, why don’t you speak to several lawyers, mediators and collaborative lawyers so that you put together your own views and come to a decision about a service that may be best for you.

Caller: So you’re not trying to sell me on what you do?

Me:      No. not at all. I used to provide services for court involved parents but have decided for myself that those services do not provide the best outcomes for the children I am trying to be helpful to. You don’t have to believe me whatsoever though. Call around to other service providers. Read a bit and come to your own conclusion. If you find someone you think you could work well with, then go with that person.

Caller: I think I want to go with you.

Me:      Thank you, but really, I do think you should speak with others so you feel absolutely confident about your decision. Sometimes it is better to go more slowly down the right path than rush headlong down the wrong path. Feel free to call back if after checking things out, you think I can be of service. Please also share my website with your former partner so that hopefully you can be in agreement as to which service you both want. That could be your first act of cooperation.

Caller: Thanks. I’ll look into this more. Can my ex call you?

Me:     Absolutely.

Give people information and let them decide. BTW – My mediation practice is growing.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Separated Parents and Unfounded Reports to Child Protection Agencies

Some separated parents fighting it out over the custody and residence of their children seek to induct the child protection agency into their dispute. The belief is claims against the other parent may bolster their position at court. At times the claims are of a dubious nature and not really of the magnitude to require involvement of the child protection agency.

These parents whose custody/access issues languish in family court due to unremitting disputes are referred to as high conflict separated parents. They can be the bane of child protection agencies and waste valuable worker time and resources.

More to the point, the only thing truly accomplished by dubious claims to child protection agencies is placing the children into the middle of parental conflict and exposing the children to unnecessary investigations and interviews. If anything, this reflects negatively on the parent making the claims and can work against that parent given a view of always crying wolf. Indeed, if bad enough, these claims can be viewed as a kind of institutional abuse where the caller evokes the power of the agency to harass and intimidate the other parent.

The challenge of the child protection agency however is trying to close those cases where the allegations continue and by mandate, investigations are still required. Further, if an ongoing worker is successful at closing the file, the risk is that it will be re-opened when a new issue presents at intake.

Strategies to wean high conflict separated parents away from spurious claims include helping the parents to understand and appreciate the impact of their dispute upon the children and the impact of multiple investigations including the sense of embarrassment a child can feel when workers must show up unannounced at home or school. Another strategy is to make clear that multiple unfounded claims make the caller look like a disruptive or even abusive person which in turn can undermine their position at court.

Beyond those strategies, workers need to key in on personal and interpersonal variables of both parents to help them strengthen capacity for resilience in the face of their dispute.

To round out the strategies for closing and keeping files closed, there needs to be a collaboration between intake and the ongoing worker, facilitated through the supervisors so that each group may be apprised of higher order strategies to resolve new matters quickly at intake.

I have the pleasure of providing consultation to our local child protection agency on matters concerning high conflict separated parents whose claims fall below the threshold of legitimate child protection issues save for perhaps emotional harm, the result of parental conflict. It would be my pleasure to be of service to provide consultation on these matters to other child protection agencies, either in person or electronically as through SKYPE.

If you are the parent forever engaging the child protection agency thinking it will bolster your claim in a custody/access dispute, think again. You just may be working against yourself. Don’t cry wolf and save the intervention of the child protection agency for legitimate concerns.

(download this article)

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

Facebook
Linked In
Twitter

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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