When helping co-parents have better parenting relationships after separation and divorce, therapists often see their clients caught in the same pitfalls again and again. As a therapist helping co-parents, you may see clients who are caught up in the past romantic relationship or struggle with black and white thinking.
Clients who are court-ordered for Specialized Family Therapy, our specialized therapy model for separated families, can benefit from some helpful tips to make the most out of their time in co-parenting counseling. As the therapist, you can share these tips with your client in the form of a handout, and discuss any tips with which they struggle.
This tips sheet can also be useful for clarifying the purpose of co-parenting counseling and opening the door to conversations about appropriate referrals for individual needs, such as grief counseling.
- No matter how much you dislike your former partner, avoid thinking of your former partner as “evil” or “all bad”
- No matter how much the other has been hurtful, avoid thinking of yourself as the “angel” or “all good” parent
- Admit to past mistakes
- Accept that you chose this person (directly or indirectly) to be the parent of your child(ren)
- Be open and honest with the therapist and your former partner
- Accept your former partner’s admissions of wrong-doing rather than resenting them for it
- Keep co-parenting about your child, not romantic relationships
- Treat co-parenting like a business relationship–be polite and respectful.
- Focus on the present and future, not the past
- Realize your therapist will not take sides, but will work for the best interest of your child
- Avoid making your child take sides or feel guilty for loving both parents
- Focus on what you can control, yourself. You can’t control your ex.
- Unlike court, counseling is not about having one winner and one loser. In co-parenting counseling, the goal is to always make your child(ren) the winner by being teammates with the other parent, rather than each parent being his or her own team against the other.
- Seek your own counselor if you are struggling with anger, resentment, guilt or grief.
Click here to open the PDF handout Helpful Tips for Successful Co-parenting Counseling
In your work with co-parents, have you found any other tips to be helpful? Let us know how you are using the tips sheet with your families!
Leave a comment below and share with the Specialized Family Therapy Community.