Intensive Family Reunification

Lisa offers a 2-4 day Intensive Family Reunification program for families needing support in recovering from severe parental alienation, or for the severe disruption of a Parent-Child Relationship. This is a short-term, effective treatment program to restore healthy family functioning between parent and child, and to promote a respectful co-parenting relationship.

Program Description

This 2-4 day intervention is a transitional program designed to “jump-start” the healing process of a severely damaged relationship between a child and their parent. This program is an experiential intervention program that merges family systems therapy and psycho-education techniques. The intervention is unique in that it incorporates all three forms of learning styles: cognitive, affective (moods, feelings,attitudes), and behavioral. This type of program is used to treat moderate to severe alienation, which is often unresponsive to traditional reunification therapy. The mental health and judicial communities struggle to realize effective treatment for severe alienation, but this intensive program offers an effective alternative to traditional family therapy.

Treatment Protocol

Prior to the intervention an Intake Assessment is done with the rejected parent and the favored parent if they are willing to participate. During several additional, individual sessions prior to the intervention, the rejected parent is coached on how to respond to various scenarios that are likely to arise during the intensive intervention. In addition the parent will gather important documents supporting the information they will be sharing with the child.
The rejected parent will then accompany the child(ren) to the Austin area and stay in a prearranged vacation home, where they will take part in this intervention. They will meet daily with the therapist at her office, or in the vacation home. During this intensive treatment program the child will be supported in expressing his/her own genuine, feelings for and beliefs about the alienated/rejected parent and their family. The child and rejected parent are helped to resolve reasonable issues that the child may have with the rejected parent. Special attention will be provided to help the child deal with guilt from having mistreated the rejected a parent.
The rejected parent will be offered new parenting strategies both before and during the intervention that can assist them in repairing and healing the relationship with their child. The authority of the previously rejected parent is reestablished in a loving and supportive way which clarifies for the child that they no longer need to function in an adult role in the family system.
This treatment requires the suspension of contact between the favored parent or relative, and the alienated child. This allows the child to freely engage in the therapeutic process with the rejected parent, and be freed from the loyalty conflict imposed by the alienating/favored parent. Often a court order is required to insure a no-contact rule.
The alienating/favored parent is offered separate counseling from the family therapy process between the rejected parent and the child. If they are willing they will write a supportive letter encouraging the child to participate in family therapy with the rejected parent. Follow up sessions and check in will be done once the treatment is completed to continue to assist the family in their healing process.

Treatment Process Includes:

  • The experiential intervention of reviewing various mementos of the family history—such as photographs, video recordings, cards, letters, drawings, etc.—the rejected parent and child reconnect emotionally by reliving the experiences of their relationship prior to the onset of the alienation.
  • Family therapy sessions to correct misinformation and false allegations against the alienated/rejected parent. Correcting distorted information the child has been told is essential to the healing process of the parent-child relationship.
  • Psycho educational videos on Alienation and the development of false memories in children and adults
  • Chosen family activities that occur outside of the counseling office where the parent assumes the parental role of supervising engaging with, and enjoying the child. These activities help the parent and child to actually create new experiences. The therapist accompanies the child and parent throughout these activities to provide support and encouragement as needed.
  • The participation of the alienated/rejected parent’s nuclear and extended family with whom the child has had prior relationships are encouraged to be involved in the treatment process. These family members help to facilitate the reunification. The alienated/rejected parent determines who should be invited to participate in the intervention.

WHY?

Reunification is essential to the child’s healthy behavioral, cognitive, and emotional development:
  1. Teaching a child to emotionally and physically cutoff from a previously loving family relationship can be psychologically damaging, especially with respect to the vital parent/child relationship
  2. A child cannot develop healthy self-esteem if she/he perceives a parent to be bad, abusive, unloving, worthless, etc. Research has shown that the negative qualities a child attributes to a parent will be internalized and contribute to their own sense of low self -esteem.
  3. How a child relates to and resolves conflicts with each parent is the single, most significant factor that will determine how the child interacts with peers, authority relationships, and adult relationships in their life. If a child feels unloved by a parent, then the child will often feel unlovable by others, and will be at high risk for pursuing unhealthy relationships in the future
  4. A child cannot develop healthy self-esteem if she/he perceives a parent to be bad, abusive, unloving, worthless, etc. Research has shown that the negative qualities a child attributes to a parent will be internalized and contribute to their own sense of low self -esteem.
  5. Misconceptions about the rejected parent, the favored parent, and about the family history are often so extreme that they can produce a psychopathology that can negatively impact the child throughout their life. Cognitive stability of the child can be at risk if not corrected.
  6. Research demonstrates that it goes against the natural attachment bond for a child to reject a loving parent. The child must therefore create an elaborate delusional system to justify the rejection of the parent, often causing them to exhibit highly emotionally, dysfunctional behaviors. (i.e depression, suicidal behavior, eating disorders, cutting, Etc.)
  7. The rejection of a parent is essentially a loss of the severest kind. This loss can extend to the rejected parent’s family of origin so that loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are likewise rejected. Losses of this magnitude often lead to long term psychological issues.
  8. A Child is this situation often experiences severe anxiety due to the loyalty bind they feel between feuding parents. This situationally-caused anxiety can contribute to psychosomatic issues, emotional and academic problems, as well as peer related issues.
This Intensive Intervention program is based upon the Turning Point For Families Program, and the treatment protocol is similar in nature to the program designed by Linda Gottlieb. Training for this program was done in association with Linda Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW

Contact Lisa

Office Location

Office Address
4131 Spicewood Springs Road
Suite D-3
Austin, TX 78749


Map of Office Complex

(click map to enlarge)

Google map

(512) 643-2851

Mailing Address

Lisa Rothfus
4131 Spicewood Springs Road
Suite D-3
Austin, TX 78759