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Therapeutic Interventions

Therapeutic Interventions with Children and Families in High Conflict Separation/Divorce Situations Part 1

Coping with parents’ separation and divorce is one of the common reasons for children to be in psychotherapy. When a highly distressed separated couple lingers in intense conflicts, the quality of parental care may suffer and children are pulled into the parents’ turmoil. The risk of emotional harm to children is real and significant.  High-conflict families present with many challenges for helping professionals. Therapists and counsellors often find themselves overwhelmed as they attempt to unravel the issues, sort facts from unfounded allegations and help build a solid agreement that protects the children from chaos and conflict. A strength-based, competency building approach is essential to support therapists in their work with these families.

Course Description:

This course will explore the common dynamics, issues, and challenges presented by these families. It will assist the clinician by providing a better understanding of these families, formulation of the presenting problems, and techniques and strategies that have been shown to be most effective with this high-risk group.

The Therapeutic Interventions with Children and Parents in High Conflict Families Certificate Program consists of the successful completion of three of the four courses listed below for a total of 39 hours of instruction.  Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 or Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4 will qualify for the Certificate Program.  All courses are designed as individual workshops or as a certificate program.

Part 1:
Therapeutic Interventions with Children and Families in High Conflict Separation/Divorce Situations:  Basic Concepts and Clinical Applications

This 2-day course will provide an overview of various models and interventions used with high-conflict families.  Participants will learn to utilize their psychotherapy training and experience to effectively work with these children and their families.  The following topics will be covered:

  • Characteristics of high conflict families: Risk factors for children
  • Understanding the effects on children: Current models
  • The “Divorce Impasse” Model: Understanding the family dynamics
  • Current legal and clinical approaches in managing and treating high conflict cases
  • Differentiating high conflict from abuse and alienating behaviour
  • Individual counselling with children
  • Decreasing parental conflict
  • Systemic approaches to working with estranged and alienated children and their parents

Date: TBA

Part 2:
Divorce Impasse Counselling – Therapeutic Interventions with High Conflict Families:  Essential Skills
Prerequisites:  Part 1 or equivalent

During this 2-day course, participants will learn the essential therapeutic skills for working with high conflict families.  Participants will be asked to apply their basic knowledge of this approach by engaging in didactic discussions and role plays.

The following topics will be covered:

  • Planning your intervention: family counseling, dyadic counseling or individual approaches?
  • The importance of professional collaboration and a systemic approach
  • When the legal system is involved or psycho-legal professionals: approaches
  • Strategies in working with children
  • Strategies in working with parents/adult caregivers
  • Family counselling strategies and approaches
  • This 2 day course will involve applying the skills learned and implementing the strategies through role play and other practice techniques.

Date: TBA

Part 3:
Divorce Impasse Counselling – Therapeutic Interventions with High Conflict Families: Case-Based Learning
Prerequisites: Part 1 or equivalent and Part 2

During this 2-day course participants will use case scenarios and simulations to learn the clinical applications in various presentations and case situations. Participants will also learn about common clinical/professional dilemmas and strategies in dealing with “burn-out” with these cases.

Date: TBA

Part 4:
Divorce Impasse Counselling – Therapeutic Interventions with High Conflict Families:  Clinical Application in Actual Practice
Prerequisites:  Part 1 or equivalent, Part 2 and Part 3

This longitudinal 6-week course (3-hour sessions) will be a practical, hands-on course, providing an opportunity for participants to share cases drawn from their own clinical practice. With client consent, participants will bring in actual data (e.g. audio or videotape of sessions) and use these recordings for consultation in small groups.

Date: TBA


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