Published in 2010, the AFCC Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy set out a clear analysis of how court-involved therapy differs from “traditional” or “community” therapy. Many of us have worked on cases in which a child’s therapist, not only does not invite both parents’ participation in the process, but refuses to include a parent who requests to be involved. It is important to separate situations in which a parent asks to have the opportunity to provide their view of the child’s development and psychological status and to be informed about the treatment plan versus a therapist needing to have the parent attend the child’s sessions. There are a variety of cases in which the latter might not be appropriate, such as a case that is still under investigation regarding allegations of abuse by the parent.
The AFCC Guidelines state:
The CIT must, whenever possible, obtain each parent’s perspective in the treatment process and maintain professional objectivity when interpreting statements and behaviors of children.
A CIT should respect each parent’s rights, as defined by relevant orders or law, regarding knowledge of, consenting to, and/or participating in a child’s treatment. (e)A CIT should be knowledgeable about appropriate expect.
When children are involved in treatment, a CIT has an enhanced obligation to consider multiple hypotheses, seek information and involvement from both parents and avoid the biasing effects of one-sided or limited information.
A recent Consent Decree from the Minnesota Board of Psychology has affirmed these principles. A licensee agreed to surrender her license due, in part, to:
Licensee failed to involve Father in the therapy she provided to Clients, despite repeated requests. Licensee accepted the information provided to her by Mother without attempting to obtain Father’s version, or to independently corroborate the information Mother provided.
This Consent Decree provides solid guidance to professionals on the need to allow both parents to participate as appropriate to the circumstances of the case.
Mindy Mitnick, EdM., MA