The primary purpose of High Conflict Co-Parenting Project is to provide a forum where the parents can work to establish a positive and cooperative method of communication thereby helping their children thrive.

The heart of the co-parenting work involves a two-counselor model.  Each parent works individually and conjointly with a counselor. Both parents and both counselors work together in conjoint sessions towards reducing the conflict in the family, improving the communication, and improving their parenting.

The Process

New clients are referred to this program by Attorneys, Judicial Officers, Child Custody Recommending Counselors, other providers, or by self-referral.

    1. Following referral each parent will select from the referral list of participating HCCPP counselor. They will contact a counselor to initiate their initial session.
    2. Individual intake appointments are then scheduled. These initial sessions are necessary and essential to the success of the succeeding conjoint sessions and are structured to gather specific information for use by the counselors in the conjoint sessions.
    3. Following the initial individual session, the two counselors meet to discuss the information gained and develop their approach for the co-parenting, four-way sessions.
    4. The next step in the process is the four-way meeting. Typically, these are one and a half hour sessions held every two weeks (or more frequently if necessary) with both parents and both counselors present.  It is in these meetings that the co-parenting counseling work takes place.  The counselors have the option to tailor the length and frequency of sessions to the needs of the particular family.
    5. The focus of the meetings is to assist parents in resolving current concerns and impasses in order to reach agreements that become part of the parenting plan. The parents will be encouraged to take any agreements to their attorneys facilitating resolution of parenting plan issues.
    6. An opportunity for debriefing is made available for each parent following the four-way meetings. In the debriefings, the parent meets alone with the counselor assigned to him/her.
    7. Following the debriefings, the counselors meet to discuss the process, their respective parent’s reactions to it, and to plan for the next four-way meeting.

Use of Child Specialist

When there is a question regarding the needs of the child(ren) that cannot be resolved between the parents in the four-way meetings, it is sometimes necessary to engage a child specialist.  This is a licensed mental-health professional who has expertise working with children in the middle of a highly contentious divorce.  This counselor meets with the child(ren) listens to their concerns and perspective.  The specialist then presents the findings in one of the four-way meetings after which the counselors help the parents to understand and come to agreement.

Practical Considerations

This approach typically requires a two hour time commitment every two weeks although varia-tions as to the length and frequency of sessions can and do occur.  Each parent is responsible for one half of the cost of these meetings, unless otherwise arranged.  Additional individual sessions between a parent and his/her counselor may be scheduled by mutual agreement of all parties.  Additional fees for emails and communication with collaterals may occur.

Typically the average number of conjoint co-parenting sessions to be six to ten sessions.  This will likely be a variable number, however, depending upon the amount of work that needs to be done, the level of functioning of the parents, the level of the conflict, and the types of issues being addressed.

Communication of Therapists with the Attorneys for the Parties

Once the process has begun, any discussion of the work being done may only take place with the written consent of both parents.  All communication with the attorneys must include both attor-neys and both therapists. There are occasions, when once agreed to by the co-parenting team, that it may be beneficial to speak with one parent’s attorney and their co-parent counselor. This will only be done with written consent to do so.

Potential Advantages

We believe that the two-counselor model is effective in working with high conflict parents in the following areas:

  • It provides individual support within and outside of the sessions to help each parent stay focused, on track, and moving towards the best interests of the child(ren).
  • The two-counselor model increases the likelihood of feeling supported, understood while promoting and modeling quality communication and cooperation.
  • Encourages feedback after each session from the parents to the counselors, thus ena-bling the counselors to refocus future sessions as needed.
  • The objective of this service is to be more efficient at reaching the goals of co-parent counseling, thus saving money for the clients, reducing or eliminating the need for further Court involvement.
  • More structure for co-parents who have tried co-parent counseling previously and have had very little success.
  • By having two therapists in the room each parent may feel more comfortable and supported.