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Educational Assistants: First Responders with Violent Students

Parents have seen me post about Educational Assistants.

I don’t think the general public and mostly parents whose kids don’t need an EA understand how important their role is.

You see, in the past five to ten years kids have been getting more challenging to manage. This is the result of the shifting economy causing more parents to have to work and work longer hours with sometimes more than one job. It is also the result of technological change where even though more connected, we are increasingly disconnected, parents from kids and kids from play and nature.

You see, we all need connections to feel secure, without which we experience anxiety, the chief disturbance seen in kids today.

It is the EA in your child’s school who seek to be the social glue, keeping some kids together and others from freaking out. However when that child freaks out, happening more often than parents know, then it is the EA who acts as the behavioral and emotional fireman, seeking to contain explosions.

So parents, appreciate that without EAs, all students would be at risk of being caught up in the explosions and aftermath of behavioral outbursts. And the EA does their job, now, in this day and age, with no to limited prior knowledge of the very students who are explosive. They at times do their job with more protective gear than the police riot squad. EAs are the first responders in the schools keeping things safe when students act out. Their job has the record for lost time injuries, greater than any other service profession including police.

So parents, if you want your children to have a good day at school, start at home finding time to spend with them, limit theirs and your online activity, and inform yourself about and support the role of the Educational Assistants.

When you see your kid after school today, give them a big hug, enjoy a snack or activity which can include making the meal together and ask if any other kid lost it at school today. Then think of the EA, working on behalf of all kids trying to keep a safe and supportive environment for all students.

If you support the role of the EA and if you want more parents to read this, then please share this post.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

When You Yell at Your Partner or a Child

Bubbles_over_blades
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You are angry with your partner. You kinda lose it. Not terribly, but you at least raise your voice, perhaps point a finger, admonish.

Your partner reacts poorly and raises their voice, perhaps telling you that you cannot talk to them that way.

You try to return to your issue, but in a louder voice and maybe that finger is wagging more or is more pointed in your partner’s face.

Does this remind you of anything?

Think back to your own childhood and if you were scolded as a child. Assuming so, think back to how you may have felt as that child being scolded. Consider if your partner may have been scolded.

People often don’t remember what they were being scolded for, but typically do remember the scolding (or worse).

Many folks say they were yelled at, scolded, hit as a child and they turned out all right.

No. It’s not true.

If it were true you wouldn’t be repeating this pattern now in your intimate relationship. This is not turning out all right. This is repeating a pattern that hurts and does not resolve issues but rather makes things worse.

Of course your partner cannot hear the issue when scolded. Your partner is busy reacting to the shame felt in childhood for the same experience and now as an adult is revolting against it.

Rather than scolding either a child or your partner, seek to maintain your calm and explain your upset; explain how you feel; explain your love; explain your hurt; all in a calm voice that does not seek to shame or blame, but merely explain – about the impact of the other’s behavior upon yourself. Then, and most importantly, leave either the child or the partner time to let it sink in.

Do not expect or require an immediate response. Don’t even worry about a response as odd as that may sound.

Leave the child or leave your partner thinking about what you had to say, the impact of their behavior upon you, rather than a delivery that creates for the child or catapults your partner back to the pain of an early childhood experience.

Go about your business after that. Continue to be reasonable. See what happen over time. Be patient, Manage yourself.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Trouble in Adult Life – Here is the Key to Change….

I don’t know that people really appreciate how influential their upbringing is on their adult life. I don’t know that people understand that you cannot escape your past, that it shapes the person you are as a grown up.

Jennifer Lopez refers to herself as Jenny from the block. No matter how high she climbs, she recognizes her roots, roots that continue to be influential and propel her.

I cannot escape my roots. I am Gary from the Jewish part of Toronto (Bathurst/Wilson). Even though non-practicing of my faith, I am Jewish to the core, the result of having grown up in a Jewish home in the heart of the Jewish part of the city.

Similarly, not only are we affected by the culture of our community, we are affected by the goings on in our homes. Our home is the kitchen through which our views of the world, sense of self, ways of relating are baked with the ingredients of parental and sibling role models.

While we cannot escape our past, for some, their past propels them to great heights, others to lead quiet average lives and for some, lives of desperation. Interestingly one’s own kitchen, even if with poor ingredients can produce outstanding results. Maybe less because of and maybe more in spite of. Nonetheless – it is one’s own kitchen, their family, their upbringing that remains influential – one way or another… or both. We cannot escape it.

If, however, there are issues from our past that undermine our present, while we cannot escape, we can become aware and with awareness comes choice.

Choice is magical.

Having choices is what opens us to a world of possibilities.

Choice begins with self-reflection, appreciating one’s history, one’s kitchen giving rise to the person of today.

Therapy is about unpacking the ingredients of your kitchen. Those influences unrealized that created the person you are – good, bad, in-between.

Are there issues in your adult life? Would you like to alter the trajectory of your adult life?

Be open to self-examination. Seek a therapist who can take you back in order to make better choices going forward. Learn the ways of change. Seek therapy.

You can’t change or escape your past. You can come to view it more clearly such that new choices and opportunities emerge.

I am Gary from the Jewish part of Toronto. Since my upbringing, I have maintained much of what I learned in my kitchen growing up. I have also made changes. So too can you.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Help For the Person Tied to a Narcissist

In my experience, most therapists see folks who come to them voluntarily for depression or anxiety. Underlying the distress is often unrecognized trauma, usually from childhood. As a result, they are seeing otherwise decent folks who appreciate help sorting out their difficulties. This so fits with most therapists’ training and disposition as therapists see themselves as helpers and see clients as otherwise nice people. Hence you get a paradigm of nice therapists helping nice people.

This is far removed from the client who comes to them whose distress is tied to living with a narcissist.

The therapist is now meeting with a desperate person who is currently shell-shocked and likely in the throes of PTSD. The therapist will hear stories of gas-lighting, manipulation, lies and deceit from a person who is also described as charming in the company of others. In this situation, the client is either seeking help to change their partner, escape their partner or survive as co-parents. This represents a shift for the therapist as the therapist must accept the description of the unseen partner in horrid terms.

The person described by the client is not often seen in therapy as those persons never have an issue with themselves. They are rarely in distress and if they are it is for feeling thwarted by someone with whom they lost power and control. While this will drive such a person into rage, because they do not see themselves as the problem, they see no need for therapy. Their need is to restore their control in the relationship or otherwise wreak havoc through vengeance which they see as reasonable. Many therapists have not dealt with narcissists directly and when they do, with limited experience and exposure, they come to be tied up in knots too.

It is a challenging paradigm shift for therapists to accept that their compassion and empathy will not facilitate insight and healing in many narcissists and that while one can appreciate the terrible formative experiences such a person may have endured, they remain a current threat and danger to their targets – those whom they believe should meet their needs. If, by the way, a narcissist is seen in therapy, it is likely to help them restore control over their partner and if the therapist is not helpful to that goal, then the therapist is seen as thwarting their needs and thus may be a target of vengeance too.

Hence, many therapists are ill-equipped to meet the needs of this therapy client. This leaves this therapy client feeling more scared and alone and often invalidated for their experience, which only adds to their crazy-making situation and distress.

The required paradigm, from my perspective in working with someone living with a person described as a narcissist is validation and support. The therapist within this paradigm must come to appreciate, there are some folks aptly described as evil. This is so different as well from working with persons whose abuse is physical as often, the narcissists’ tools are not physical, but emotional and psychological.

Help for the client managing life tied to a person described as a narcissist must go beyond support and validation though. It must include survival strategies. Those strategies may be to manage in the relationship, extricate the relationship or co-parent as separated parents – depending on the needs and desire of the client.

The therapist must help the client build boundaries and develop reference points to reality that are not structured or determined by the narcissist. The client must be helped to strategically use empathy and respect in dealing with the narcissist even though this is counter-intuitive. It must be understood that strategies of empathy and respect does not include acquiescing to inappropriate demands or expectations or agreeing with the views or opinions of the narcissist. It just means leaving the narcissist feeling heard as that is actually soothing to such a person and can limit escalation of narcissistic exploitation. Help is also required to set a reasonable appreciation for what may be expected from the narcissist and help should also include self-care strategies.

To the person seeking therapeutic support, do ask your intended therapist is they have any knowledge, training and experience in supporting people managing a narcissist in their life.

To the therapist either supporting a person in relationship with a narcissist or working directly with a narcissist, if your knowledge or training or experience is limited, either seek supervision or refer the person to someone with greater skill. The real challenge in these cases is the paradigm shift. These people can be truly evil and their charm and niceness veils danger. The therapist’s own niceness and can make them ripe for exploitation by the narcissist. So sure, be nice, but at least not naïve. Our help must be helpful and include skill development.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

4 Parenting Tips for This Millennium:

Parenting for this millennium:

  1. Time over stuff: As for our guilt, no longer can we assuage it by giving our children stuff. Giving stuff suggests to kids that stuff is more important than relationships and we the parent will only be valued for the stuff we provide. No stuff, no value. Of course kids who are constantly given stuff don’t otherwise listen to parents. Rather than stuff, give 10 minutes of special attention to engage in a quick activity or admire something of the child.
  2. Disconnect to reconnect: As much as parents all complain about their kid’s use of tablets, smart phones and social media, truth was, so too do parents preoccupy themselves with such things, even when purportedly talking or being with their kids. Turn the devices off – at least certain times of the day, such as at meals and at bedtime. Be truly present and undistracted when with your child. That you turn off your device (actually off, not on vibrate) is a huge signal to your child that they are of value to you over and above anything else. Then you are in a position to truly reconnect.
  3. Reconnect through normal activities: Have time together as a family, typically through shared mealtime. Shared mealtime can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Statistically, the more shared mealtime together, the better children’s behavior and the more likely you can transfer your values and morals to your kids directly as opposed to their picking up whatever by surfing the Internet.
  4. Parent with intention: Lastly be in charge benevolently. Not all expectations are a discussion. Just like in school, when the teacher says, take out your books, this is a demand, not a question. So too parents need to act with reasonable authority and a tone of voice that demonstrates not anger, hostility or fear, but a clarity that what is being sought, is actually required.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

I Want to Survive

There are two things that make us uniquely human:

  1. The will to survive;
  2. Concern over limited resources to survive.

Given the will to survive we typically will fight to escape death, not only on our own behalf, but on behalf of at least our family, then our friends and then others. There is a pecking order to this survival.

Picture 14Given the world and us have limited resources, we then concern ourselves with amassing those resources to appease our need for survival. In amassing those resources we then consider amassing those resources in groups. The group may be the family, the community and/or the country.

An issue becomes in determining who is in our group. By what distinction do we differentiate our group from another and then fight for those resources on behalf of the group?

With that, family members fight over inheritances; communities fight over what may affect property values; and countries fight over such resources such as what creates purchasing power and access to other resources such as water or food or personal safety.

We pit groups against each other based on differences in the quest to amass our resources.

However, throughout all this, there are also those who recognize that in order to appease the need to survive, we must to at least to some degree, share our resources, lest those with less seek to take ours through violence which then undermines survival.

So we give to others. We give within our families, communities, countries and even internationally.

Those with limited vision or those whose access to resources are truly limited and only provided at or near existence levels argue against giving abroad not recognizing that giving abroad does also provide some modicum of safety from infiltration by others seeking our resources by violence.

And so the world is organized into groups, groups who have identifiable characteristics to make identity and affiliation easy for the amassing of resources for survival.

However, the population has swollen and resources are shrinking and we are poisoning our supplies. So, we fight more and with greater concern for survival and access to those precious resources.

In our fight, we raise the image our group to limit the infiltration of the other groups.

Our vision of humanity is limited. We do not see the folly of group against group and this limits cooperative behavior. Thus we become anti-immigration, anti-identifiable minority, anti…. We put babies in cages to limit families who flea oppression and lack of resources to limit their access to other resources that are held tightly by groups of more means. We use tactics of vilification, demonizing others to justify our hoarding of resources. We become a mean-spirited society all in the service of our holding on to resources.

This is a topsy -turvy world. The race to save oneself is at the peril of losing that which also makes us uniquely human, our humanity, our compassion.

What if we had a vision of a broader group for which we fought for survival? What if it included the whole of the world? What if we pulled together instead of apart? What if we collaborated towards this vision?

Would we then seek to have clean air for all? Would we seek to maintain an abundance of clean water for all? Would we seek security of the person for all?

We must choose. Fighting is always fraught with uncertainty. One never knows for sure who will succeed.

Collaborating though seeks to offer a win-win for all. It may not be as lavash as the spoils going to the winner but that is uncertain and at tremendous cost.

I would much rather do with less on behalf of a larger group and insure greater safety and security for all than take a more restrictive view where harm is imposed.

I not only want to preserve humanity, but my personal humanity.

Seek leaders who seek peace and prosperity on behalf of the world. Stand for humanity, worldly and personally. Seek and practice compassion. Share.

Let us all win. With that we survive and thrive.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Managing Oneself to Manage One’s Relationship With the Ex

He called complaining about his ex, seeking to manage their situation better. I offered to meet with him in the role of Separation Coach.

It seems they had a fiery relationship that carried over into their separation and the care of their kids.

When asked about how he handled himself when upset by her, he acknowledged calling her the “c” word. I don’t know any more crude or inflammatory or abusive word a man can call a woman.

As much as there were some reasonable issues attributed to her, it was also clear how his behavior fueled any fire she may have begun. Because of this, ascribing blame was useless and not of value over describing how our own behavior can cause an escalation and even expectation of bad outcomes.

We met for less than three hours. During that meeting we discussed his temper and behavior. We also discussed how his child showed no joy in any of the extra-curricular activities attended. We also talked about the long game – a life-long relationship with his kids where his kids were great adults.

To that end I offered a number of strategies to enable his control of himself, particularly when triggered. Those strategies were tailor made and based on his life and interests.

We met again a month later, giving time for him to consider and practice the strategies.

The fellow was able to acknowledge the temper he had and how he used the strategies to manage himself.

He talked about the joy his child now seemed to have when partaking of the extra-curricular activities. He talked about not only controlling himself with his ex, but with his girlfriend too. He gave an example of leaving his cell-phone in a store only to remember leaving it there once back at the car. His girlfriend was apparently visibly concerned and immediately sought to south him. However, he advised he was fine; went back to the store; found his phone and returned to the car in good spirits.

Before this second meeting ended, we talked about the long game again – having a life-long relationship with his kids as great adults. We also talked about the impact of his behavioral change as a role model to his kids, particularly for their handling their big emotions. He advised of an incident of where his child threw an object against the wall more recently in anger. He further advised of how he maintained his calm to only discuss the incident reasonably with his child whereas in the past he might have shouted and admonished instead.

He was a changed man. He saw the changes in himself and the impact of those changes on his relationships. No more “c” word or any other foul language ever since.

Our first meeting was 2 ¾ hours. Our second meeting was 45 minutes.  I remain available should the need arise.

Similarly, I have worked with women to better understand their response to the behavior of others and thus manage themselves differently. Regardless of gender, as one changes, the situation may change.

Separation Coach

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

My life is changing…..

After serving the Hamilton and area community for 29 years and the Georgina (1/2 hr north of Newmarket) community for 5 years, Arlene and I are moving permanently to Georgina this fall.

Arlene grew up in Hamilton and I grew up in Toronto. Upon our marriage, I moved to Hamilton (Dundas) and we have lived here ever since, 29 years.

Although I grew up in Toronto, my parents bought a cottage in Georgina the year I was born. I have spent summers there my entire life. Almost 6 years ago we sold the cottage and bought a home one street over. With that, I began developing my practice in Georgina so we could spend more time there.

Along the way, our son grew up, got married and now we are grandparents.

With the move to Georgina, we will be somewhat closer to our kids and grandson who turns 1 this week.

We will be sharing in taking care of him one day a week and I will continue my practice in Georgina.

For my Hamilton and vicinity clients, I can continue to see you electronically with video conferencing. It is easy and I have been doing that for years with other persons who see me from a distance. By the way, it is only a 1hr. and 40min. drive to my Georgina location and people have always been driving to see me at distances greater than that, so people are always welcome to still see me in person if they would like to drive.

I apologize for any inconvenience or concern this may cause about my availability, but as with us all, life does bring about change.

Please note, I am not retiring, just changing. I love what I do and I am grateful to be of service.

I trust this makes sense and that people will  understand.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

The Injustice of Justice in Family Law

Oh, what great naivety we have when it comes to justice.

There is a great belief among many that holding one’s truth and going before a judge that one’s truth will prevail, and justice will be done. Myth.

One’s truth does not translate to justice.

One’s truth, even supported by facts is still subject to interpretation. And of course, there is also the truth of the other. So, whose truth shall prevail in a conflict of truths?

And then there is the other issue of by what degree shall something be taken as true. There are two standards in court and which is applied depends on the particular court. There is the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” as is seen in criminal prosecution and there is, “on the balance of probabilities” which is seen in family law. Clearly the latter leaves much wiggle room: On the balance of probabilities.

It is no wonder that many persons are left at least disenchanted and some absolutely shattered, particularly in family law, when verdicts do not reflect their truth. Such though is the risk associated with the contest of truths in this arena. To add, the concern is not even with truth per se, but the concern or standard for decision making is “best interests of the child”. If the former “balance of probabilities” provided much wiggle room, you can imagine that the determination of “best interests of the child” may in fact create even greater space for interpretation and wiggle room.

Given the subjectivity involved, particularly in family court, even with reliance on as much corroborated evidence as possible and even in view of social science research, it is no wonder that many verdicts are met with disdain by at least one of the parties. And, when each continues to still hold true to their respective version of truth, is it any wonder that such an aggreged parent would seek to overturn such a verdict, appeal, resist, foot-drag and otherwise seek to undermine the outcome?

Court as a strategy of mitigating conflict becomes a folie à deux – a shared delusion that each shall win the day over the other; that justice will prevail, and the world will fall into order. That delusion is fueled by the other actors on the stage.

The lawyers hold to their winning strategies and the judges hold themselves as above bias, that their spill of the morning coffee will not influence their own patience or the previous evening dust-up with their spouse won’t influence their decision making, or that their own family history is separate from their thinking on the bench.

The influence of unconscious bias is ill-examined. Yet people entrust their lives and the decisions affecting their lives to others in this arena. People voluntarily subordinate their own power and control in negotiations to the will of this court.

Before drinking that cool-aid, consider the rabbit-hole to be entered and ask yourself, is there a better way? How might I maintain some semblance of control of the outcome, although perhaps not ideal, still livable?

Consider mediation. Consider having input into the decisions that shape your life and that of your child. Consider having an outcome that while not loved by either, is yet manageable by both.

Oh yes. You will have to forgo your version of truth for truth is not the matter. A livable outcome is.

Seek not justice in family court, but a way through life you can manage.

The challenges faced in entering mediation, a moment in time relative to your life must be weighed against an unsatisfactory court outcome that becomes your life.

Choose wisely lest you risk the injustice of justice.

My bias is clear.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Therapists Be Informed: Counseling Children of Separated Parents is a Specialty Area of Practice

It’s not uncommon for therapists working with children between separated parents to get caught up in the conflict between those parents. Just as children can be triangulated between their parents, so too can therapists.

This occurs when one parent seeks to limit access to information by the other parent; or when one parent seeks the therapist to write a report for court purposes; or simply by accepting the referral to work with the child on the basis of one parent’s request to do so in the absence of he other parent’s input or knowledge.

When children are referred for counseling, it is always advisable for the therapist to ask about parentage; if both parents are in agreement to therapy; and to advise on policies regarding confidentiality, reports and court involvement.

It is also important for therapists to know that in the Province of Ontario, regardless of who has decision making authority (custody) or who the child resides with mostly, both parents still have the right to unrestricted access to information regarding their children unless expressly specified otherwise in a legal agreement or court order.

Given the above, therapists are advised to:

  1. Acquaint themselves with Family Law in their province or state;
  2. Have policies in place for working with children of separated parents
  3. Be clear as to your role and that as therapist, it does not include advocacy or working on behalf of one parent’s legal interests;
  4. Include both parents as best as possible in the referral and treatment process and consider obtaining the consent of both parents before proceeding.

Failure to be knowledgeable or have processes in place for providing service in these circumstances can increase conflict between the parents to which the child is exposed and inadvertently increase risk of harm. These circumstances also place the therapist at an elevated risk of complaints often in the nature of dual roles if/when the therapist moves from their therapeutic role to that of custody/access assessor or parent advocate.

If you are a therapist and are unsure about a situation regarding rights and responsibilities in the provision of therapy to children of separated parents, do seek consultation.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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 and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.