Reunification, alienation, or re-traumatization?

“Reunification therapy” is regularly ordered in family court for children who resist contact with a parent they claim is abusive. Based on my client’s experience of court-ordered reunification with her father who had sexually abused her, this case study demonstrates the harmful effect of forced contact between a child and an abusive parent. My client’s involvement in this reunification process further illustrates how implicit bias can cause family court professionals to mistakenly attribute a child’s legitimate estrangement from a parent to “parental alienation”. To prevent further harm to the child, and to ensure that courts receive reliable evidence of the child’s experience, this case study highlights the need for the appointment of a trauma-informed attorney to advocate for the child’s expressed interests.

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