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Separated parent? Going into court or a stressful negotiation? 4 reasons to see a coach!

A legal colleague chatted about a client at court. Accordingly, the client provided contradictory information, got angry, added new information, sobbed and was forgetful. More attention was paid to the client’s manner by the court than what the client had to say. This is actually referred to as demeanor evidence and is relied upon by judges – rightly or wrongly. Indeed I am told by many people that their former partner presents better than themselves and they worry how this will work against them in court. This is a common scenario.

In these situations, people mistakenly prepare for the wrong thing when headed to court, mediation or Collaborative Law.

They spend an inordinate amount of time gathering formation to bolster their position and arguments in favor of their position. They also prepare by developing material that essentially seeks to discredit the other person.

All this preparation leaves out the other side of the equation: You, personally.

You can inadvertently hurt yourself in at least these 4 ways:

  1. You may have triggers, those comments or gestures that will spark you to lose your ground and act out defensively.
  2. You may have some issues of your own, perhaps ripe for exploitation.
  3. Your story may not yet be as coherent as you would like.
  4. You may not know how to manage your own personality, distress or expressiveness.

You want to present yourself well and present your case and interests as reasonably as possible. To prepare properly, it helps to meet with a coach. In this context the coach may also be known as divorce coach, separation coach, mediation coach, etc.

The coach is there to help you prepare. The coach can:

  1. Teach strategies to manage, cope and present your interests;
  2. Help you practice strategies for maintaining composure while answering tough questions;
  3. Help you find ways to share your information in a way best received.

If you do not present yourself well, your message can be lost in the delivery.

While everyone may benefit from coaching, if you are concerned that your former partner presents better than you and if the outcome is important, then preparation is key.

Consider a coach.

It would be my pleasure to be of service and just to remind, I am available for coaching by SKYPE if you are not able to meet in person.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please feel free to check out all my services and then call if you need help sorting out parenting or relationship challenges.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

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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 and Georgina 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

Domestic Violence? Preparation is everything in settling parenting disputes.

Pleased to receive this message from a colleague:

“Yesterday I forwarded two of your blogs to a client who is struggling with the court’s attitude on a couple of things. I thought the blogs would help validate her own perceptions and concerns – the court took a simplistic view of her and is assuming she is stupid and malign, whereas in reality she is highly intelligent and thoughtful and trying to get things right. I was right – she did appreciate the validation in the blogs and she also is thinking about the differences between her assumptions and your advice. I just wanted to say thanks for making this reliable resource material freely available. It helps me stay on track as someone who has now learned enough about these things to be conscious of what I don’t yet know (and what my colleagues and the judiciary don’t necessarily know either).”

My colleague’s views were validated as well by the workshop I attended yesterday, but yet is known to those of us who work extensively with these issues.

The workshop was presented by Peter Jaffe, Ph.D. – an renowned expert and researcher in domestic violence. Dr. Jaffe discussed how men who abuse tend to present themselves well, whereas the women they abuse often present themselves poorly. Why? Because the abused women will appear depressed and/or anxious and/or angry and often confused about her situation and will have often minimized her own abuse history only to disclose at other times more forthrightly.This creates the illusion that she has/is a problem and changes her story. However, unappreciated by uninformed courts and lawyers and even some mental health professionals, is how she was confused and/or terrified by the abusive behavior, at times felt ashamed and embarrassed and likely felt unsafe to fully disclose at first. She was not lying at either time in her disclosure but rather coming to grips at different times with her experience and how to address it.

That is why it is important for women to receive not just good counseling, but coaching on how to cope, convey their story and manage themselves if in a court or other dispute resolution process.

BTW – In the discussion about domestic violence, it is vital to differentiate the type of domestic violence and there are several.

Where as some types, typically more minor, can be seen occurring equally between men and women, the more dangerous and lethal types and those motivated by power and control are statistically disproportionately committed by men.

Just to remind, I am available for consultation by SKYPE if you are not able to meet in person.

It would be my pleasure to be of service.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call if you need help sorting out parenting or relationship challenges.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

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 and Georgina 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

Counseling Shouldn’t Be a Race Against Time

When people attend traditional counseling, they have to come back for that standard 50-minute session week after week before accomplishing anything. Each return visit also takes time to travel to and from. That is more time away from other areas of life and often more interference with work and other commitments.

With my approach people attend for up to three hours in a single session. You see, I always set aside a three hour chunk of time when I meet with people although I only bill for actual time used. That way we can typically end when it makes sense and not just because we ran out of time. That means we can often resolve issues in a single meeting.

If/when another meeting is advisable, it usually wouldn’t be for several weeks, typically four weeks later. This allows time for the information and experience from the first meeting to digest and gives people time to work with it.

Counseling doesn’t have to be a week after week endeavor. Indeed many people find that approach challenging because they may be required to leave the meeting when upset or on the brink of reaching an insight or in the middle of conveying their story.

People need time to unpack their story, for the counselor to ask questions and then for feedback and even guidance. I provide that kind of time.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call if you need help with a child behavior, relationship issue or upsetting life event.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

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 and Georgina 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

Turn Grain into Bread: Building Your Successful Peacemaking Practice

Do you remember the story of the Little Red Hen?

The hen found some grains and thought to plant and harvest them to turn into bread. At each stage in the process the hen asked who would help. Not the cat, not the duck, not the frog. When it came time to eat the bread everyone was willing, but the hen enjoyed the bread all to herself.

Many people in a private professional practice must rely upon themselves to build, market and grow their business. You are responsible for developing fruits from your labour. However, developing a successful practice takes time and its own skill set.

Chief among those skills are the ability to:

  1. Develop and deliver innovative, appealing and flexible services;
  2. Differentiate yourself from other professionals in a positive way;
  3. Convey your differentiation and services to others;
  4. Convert referrals into clients by meeting their needs.

The degree to which professionals can master those skills, their practice can grow and thrive.

Even if you use outside resources to promote your practice, you still must master those skills because most outside resources rely on your instruction and direction. Like any other skill, those skills can be learned and mastered.

If you are a collaborative lawyer, mediator, mental health professional or divorce financial professional, it would be my pleasure to see your practice succeed. In addition to this workshop November 4th just north of Toronto, I am available for consultation and coaching. Workshops can also be provided for groups and organizations.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Hope to see you November 4th!

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

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 and Georgina 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

 

 

 

Getting Through the 6 Stages of Mediation

Mediation is not a single event, not a one-time meeting where magically issues are resolved.

No. Mediation is a process that occurs with very predictable steps. Understanding these steps to the process can help you manage through the process. Separated parents entering mediation may meet greater success understanding these steps and their role within.

  1. Pre-mediation: This stage may have been days to weeks to years. It involves the build-up of conflict, acrimony, aversive behavior and failed attempts at resolution, all before the final decision to attend mediation. This is all the issues that undermined your relationship and lead to its breakdown. Combined, the pre-mediation phase can create the impression that one or both sides will not negotiate in good faith; will undermine the process intentionally; will remain unmovable in their position. It is vital to appreciate that these are the typical conditions through which virtually every separated parent first enters mediation. If not for these conditions, you wouldn’t be considering mediation in the first place. The key is to not get deterred right from the get-go; to not let your pre-judgments color your view of what may possibly lay ahead.
  2. Agreement to Mediate: Somehow you have reached an agreement to enter mediation. This is where there is often a build-up of tension and positioning. One or both parents may seek to harden their position, entrench or anchor themselves hoping to gain an advantage in doing so upon entering the actual mediation phase. This can be scary and off-putting to some. It can erode confidence in the upcoming mediation. The challenge in this stage is to resist participating in defensive or offensive posturing. If/when confronted with posturing, the challenge is to resist responding. This is not the time or place to begin negotiations because those are frequently only bully-tactics deployed to muscle or scare you into submission. Ignore and look to others for support. Save your comments and concerns for the negotiating table. Don’t get inducted.
  3. Beginning stage: This stage can be quick or take some time. It involves the mediator getting to know you and your situation. It is fraught with triggering events – hearing things from the other side to which you take exception – sometimes extreme exception. You may feel the other side is lying, posturing, dramatic, trying to induct the mediator. You may feel outraged, scared or disillusioned. Keep in mind, most mediators weren’t born yesterday. Your mediator will understand that some clients enter the process ready to shoot down the other side right from the start. These are just opening salvos where one or both persons try to gain an upper hand, at times through direct or indirect intimidation strategies. Your mediator may give time for people to be heard without seeking to take sides. Letting someone be heard does not mean they are influencing anything. Indeed, through this process, the mediator is learning as much about people through what they do and how they communicate as what they actually say. Frequently, people’s delivery of information says more than the content delivered. If matters appear to get truly inappropriate, most mediators will intervene and reinforce rules for behavior and some will coach participants how to more respectfully deliver content. Little to nothing gets resolved at this initial stage of mediation. Often much time is directed to actually managing behavior. To the degree to which the participants heed rules and guidance for behavior, behavior subsides. The challenge in this stage is to manage oneself, not the other. To the degree to which one remains composed, bully-tactics lose their value.
  4. Working Stage: This is where participants finally get down to the substantive business. Notwithstanding the allegations, denials, projections, hardened views on outcomes, participants can exchange proposals to develop a plan to resolve their dilemma. Interestingly, people don’t necessarily have to admit anything untoward from their past. This may sound counter-intuitive, but what matters in mediation is what people may do differently on a go-forward basis. Given there is often little to no trust between participants, then strategies to monitor and assess adherence to plans can also be proposed. Consequences for failure to stick to agreements can be put in place as well. Given that both sides already know each others opening position, proposals that begin unchanged are not advised. Rather, proposals that show movement will be encouraged. Your mediator in hearing issues and proposals will also wonder about common short term and long terms interest and be curious about mutually agreeable road-maps for achieving those joint interests. This shift in the mediation process is all part of this working stage. While there may still be skirmishes, dust-ups and challenging moments, the real challenge is to focus on what you need to do to meet each others needs and interests while feeling comfortable that your needs and interests are addressed and met too.
  5. Ending Stage: Mediation formally concludes with the preparation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This is not a formal legal document but a document that commits in writing an understanding of what has been agreed to. Between participants who have gained trust in each other, they can implement the terms of their MOU on a friendly basis. If there is concern for trust or follow-through you can have the MOU formalized in a legally binding contract. To do so both must bring their copy of the MOU to their own lawyer for independent legal advice (ILA). Your lawyer will review the MOU, make sure it is understandable as written, make sure you understand the terms of the agreement and advise of any concerns arising or not yet addressed sufficiently. Parents are cautioned as to their choice of lawyer for this process. Some lawyers are apt to create issues where none may really exist. To that end, I suggest that parents seek ILA from a lawyer who has training in either or both mediation and collaborative law. Given both parents are satisfied with their MOU, then the lawyers will incorporate the MOU into a separation agreement which will be signed and notarized making it a formal legal contract. If issues are flagged, then parents can return to the mediator to clarify and/or resolve those issues.
  6. Post-mediation: This is where the rubber hits the road in terms of your agreement whether formalized in a settlement agreement or standing as a MOU. The agreement may be tested by one or other parent. There may be a need for post-mediation discussion and meetings to review adherence to the agreement. This doesn’t mean the agreement is wrong or bad. Some agreements take time to adjust to. There may be shifts in parenting responsibilities or the residential arrangement. Time to adjust is normal whenever there is change. The key is to use the provisions of your agreement to address concerns arising during the adjustment phase of post-mediation and to not simply throw away the agreement in the face of adjustment.

These steps are fundamental to most mediations.

The key though to most successful mediations has little to do with these steps. Key is your own deportment or behavior in the process. To the degree to which one manages emotionally and behaviorally competently at every stage in the process, you are likely to have a better outcome. If you are prone to angry, controlling or violent behavior, then do seek help to master those behaviors as they likely will interfere in the mediation process and undermine your attaining anything near your goals. Similarly, if you are scared, intimidated, lacking confidence, then also consider getting help to manage yourself in the mediation process.

As much as seeking to resolve issues with a former partner can be a dreadful thought, consider the alternative. Court.

Court too is fraught with the same or similar stages. However with court you have no control of the final outcome. With court an order will be imposed that one of you may find quite unsatisfactory. If that is the case, then what is the likelihood of adjustment and follow-through? In mediation you remain in control of the final agreement. There is no agreement until you both say so. As a result, while you may not be fully satisfied with the outcome, you will have crafted a resolution you can at least live with and that can have provisions for monitoring and consequences. Manage yourself through the stages regardless of what the other may do. Concentrate on your behavior, not the others. (Only proviso – dangerous or abusive or threatening behavior.)

Listen to this 8 minute interview with host Barb DiGiulio of Newstalk 1010for a discussion on this topic:

 

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call if you need help sorting out some differences as separated parents.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

(Download as a handout)

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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 and Georgina 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

5 Tips to Manage at the Negotiating Table

Your behavior, how you conduct yourself at the negotiating table can work for you or against you.

Remember, this is a negotiating table, not a court of law or arbitrator’s office. In negotiating, there is little to prove and all to negotiate.

Negotiation is about how to move forward, not prove who necessarily did what. The service provider is there to help you both reach a resolution between yourselves.

Service providers are not there to take sides although some may express opinions or offer information to facilitate your negotiation. You certainly can raise contentious issues. It doesn’t mean the other side has to agree to one’s point of view. Interestingly though, plans can often be put in place to mitigate concerns without either ever having to admit anything. If there are allegations of untoward behavior, without admitting culpability, plans may still be available to move forward and to have contingencies in the event someone engages in untoward behavior.

However, if a parent really needs to prove something in order to move forward then negotiations can break down. If a parent is looking for validation, a confession or closure, then too negotiations can break down. If a parent continually seeks to induct the service provider into their view of the other parent and towards support of their position, then too, negotiations can break down. Keep in mind, the goal of negotiation is a settlement or resolution – an agreement on how to co-parent moving forward.

It is not uncommon for parents to hear things from the other that trigger emotions. When triggered, it can be a challenge to; mind one’s own behavior; let the other person finish; maintain one’s emotional composure; respond in a civil or composed manner.

Indeed some persons, knowing their former partner’s triggers, may intentionally provoke to undermine the other person’s self-confidence and stability while at the negotiating table. Some provocation can be overt and readily observable, such as shouting, name calling, scowls or other gestures. Other provocations can be subtle and not readily observable such as use of particular words; gestures not visible to the service provider; or calmly mentioned allegations to incite you.

While the service provider will do everything possible to manage behavior in the midst of a meeting, final control of one’s behavior continues to reside with oneself. If one or other person does not control their behavior with or without being triggered, then again, negotiations may fail.

Before getting to the negotiating table it may be constructive to speak with your lawyer or a divorce coach about your deportment in the process – how you will present and handle yourself. Your lawyer or a divorce coach can prepare and teach you skills to manage in the situation as well as help you understand and appreciate the goal of the negotiation process. While at the negotiating table, consider these tips to manage your own behavior:

  1. Resist aggressive tone or behavior. This will reflect poorly upon you. You don’t want to inadvertently create bias in the mind of the service provider against yourself for your own behavior;
  2. Resist blame, but do explain. Speak from a first person narrative. This means, do not call the other person names and do not provide your assessment of the other person. Rather, speak to your own point of view and experience. (e.g. – rather than saying the other person is abusive, say, “It’s my view that I was called names which upset me.” As a result, I would prefer for only written communication and no phone or voice-mail.)
  3. Maintain your composure. While it is not uncommon for people to cry when upset, hurt and distressed, to do so in this context may reinforce a feeling of power in the other person. Alternately, crying can also be interpreted by the service provider as a means to gain sympathy and thus bias the service provider. Same goes for angry outbursts. Angry outbursts can provide a negative impression of yourself regardless of what you say about the other person.
  4. Speak to and look at the service provider rather than the other parent. Staying focused on the service provider can help maintain composure. If one is looking at the other parent as a means to gain control and be subtly coercive, this too can form a negative impression in the mind of the service provider, so here too it is beneficial to look at the service provider.
  5. Practice your breathing before and during the negotiation. It is not uncommon that under duress our breathing gets shallow. As we breathe deeper and more relaxed, then our demeanor follows.

Now, why would anyone put themselves through negotiation? The answer is because negotiated agreements tend to be longer lasting and better followed than decision imposed by a court or arbitrator.

Entering a tough negotiation, consider those tips! Needs help to master those and other strategies to get through your negotiation, consider a divorce coach.

BTW – not all negotiations are tough. In fact, many are not and many are experienced remarkably positive. Depending on your service provider as well as reaching an agreement, many parents also learn the tools to communicate more effectively themselves to better address future issues that may arise.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call if you need help sorting out some differences as separated parents.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

(Download as a handout)

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 and Georgina 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

4 Points to Consider Before Sending Your Child to Counseling

Question:

Gary, I heard another psychologist state that counseling is not beneficial for children under 12 because they see things so literally and are not able to consider the concepts and abstract. Would you agree? ( I think I paraphrased her correctly). I am curious about your thoughts on this subject. Thank you.

Answer:

Like so many other issues in life, the answer is, “It depends.”

Let me unpack that:

  1. Preschool and school-aged children (at least under 12 and easily into adolescence) do not have a developed cognitive capacity for self-reflection or insight. This is not to say that some cannot necessarily figure out what’s bugging them, but not what makes them tick. The child and many adults alike rarely wake up to say, “You know, that experience when younger has impacted me in this way, causing me to see the world such and so and needs changing.” So looking to develop insight the result of counseling in a child is misguided.
  2. Children in distress between separated parents experience a loyalty bind. Children brought to counseling to discuss their distress between separated parents are at risk for one or both parents seeking to coach the child or be interrogated after as to the content of their discussions with the therapist. To add, some separated parents bring their child to counseling hoping to gain new information to support the parental position in a custody/access battle. The child seeing a counselor in these circumstances then escalates the very conflicts to which the child is already exposed to and distressed about.
  3. Children have limited agency with regard to the greater world around them. This means they have limited control in their lives. They do not choose when to go to bed, dinnertime, school, expectations, how their parents get along, etc. Attending counseling to have a child get something off their chest yet offer no change to the conditions that lead to distress can be akin to emotional teasing. While the counseling provides the allusion of doing something for the child, it is a little like arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It looks good but doesn’t address the conditions leading to distress. This is often the case of children distressed by parental conflict in intact or separated families.
  4. Whether we like it or not, counseling is still stigmatizing. While people may be appreciative of my services or any other counselor for that matter, few clients ever leave the office to extol the virtue of their service provider to friends or family. Many will do that though about their dentist, doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc. Children are exposed to stigma too. Children will worry about being perceived differently by peers and adults alike. If the child is so young so as not to realize there can be a stigma, the issue can still crop up come adolescence or adult life. The child now an adult may worry about how an early counseling experience may be interpreted by friends or intimate partners.

In view of the above, counseling for children shouldn’t be treated like water and should not be entered into lightly.

Care and forethought must be given to the context in which the child’s issues, emotions or behavior arises. Given that so much of a child’s distress is contextual, rather than seeing the child in counseling, address the context giving rise to the child’s issues.

All this is not to say that counseling or mental health or psychological investigation isn’t at times necessary and helpful.

For instance, some children have learning challenges that are best determined through a psycho-educational assessment. Some children may have developmental, medical or physical issues that too can create challenges that in turn affect performance, behavior and emotions. Hence medical investigations may be helpful and even sight and hearing examinations let alone language processing assessment by a speech-language pathologist.

If counseling is sought for trauma, emotional distress that persists over time, under-developed social skills, adjustment to significant change or loss then I suggest attention be paid to coping skills. Coping skills may be facilitated in various individual therapies and group therapies. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and far too many methods and types of approaches to provide for in this brief blog.

Before a child is signed up for counseling, I suggest that both parents see a counselor or mental health professional first. I recommend that the counselor take a bio-psycho-social perspective to suss out (British slang for investigate) the source of the child’s distress.

A bio-psycho-social assessment requires the assessor to ask a multitude of questions of both parents to review matters from a biological, developmental, psychological (cognitive, emotional, behavioral, educational) and social-familial perspective.

When requiring both parents to attend, depending on the parental circumstances, this requirement can quickly bring parental issues to the fore if one or other is fully unavailable, uncooperative or unsure. There may be issues of parenting or the parental relationship underlying concerns regarding the child. This forms the data as part of the bio-psycho-social assessment.

As demonstrated, there are so many issues that can create concerns over the children. Before the rush to counseling, make sure the child would be going for the right reasons and that the intervention will do more good than harm.

So please do not read this blog as anti-counseling for children. This blog is actually neutral on the matter. Counseling may be appropriate and good and it may be inappropriate and contraindicated. It depends.

The real issue is making sure the child receives the right service for the right issue. Hence start with the parents and obtain a bio-psycho-social assessment.

Lastly and by way of analogy, imagine a child has a pain in their side. Would a surgeon provide an appendectomy on the basis of the parent calling asking for surgery?

Before cutting, at least examine.

I hope this addresses your question.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call me if you need help with child behavior, relationship issues or an upsetting life event. Need Help? Please get help.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

(Download and print as a handout)

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 and Georgina 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