Lunch & Learn Virtual Event – June 17th – What IS the problem in resist/refuse cases?

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What IS the problem in resist/refuse cases?: Early Research Findings


Resist/refuse family dynamics are a challenge for all professionals in family courts. Currently, there is little consensus or direction on what is helpful to families along with a disconnect between legal services and available mental health services. Professionals are trying to problem-solve and start interventions; however, there is little agreement on what it is that is being addressed in these cases and no standardized approach. It is important to identify the “problem” and use evidence-based or research-informed approaches to properly address the complexity of the family system. The presenters have conducted qualitative research around parent-child estrangement to further understand these family dynamics. This workshop will incorporate this research to help professionals understand what is contributing to the parent-child contact problem and what needs to be addressed to help heal parent-child relationships. Professionals will gain a further understanding of the emotional components of this complicated relationship dynamic and barriers to helping these families from the perspective of the estranged parents.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review and understand the current state of how resist/refuse cases are addressed in family courts.
  2. Distinguish the conceptual problem in the complexity of resist/refuse cases.
  3. Discuss research findings that delve into estrangement and how the problem can be further conceptualized.


Erin Guyette, MS, LAMFT, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota studying Family Social Science with a specialization in Couple and Family Therapy. Her research and clinical practice involve families in divorce/separation transitions, coparenting, and improving services for high-conflict families. Erin is trained as a mediator and parenting consultant, which informs her practice and research. Erin is the Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and is on the education and annual conference committees for the Minnesota Chapter of AFCC.
Steven M. Harris, Ph.D., LMFT, is a Professor of family therapy at the University of Minnesota. He has authored over 90 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has written four books, and has contributed a variety of other publications to the field of family therapy throughout his career. Dr. Harris serves as the Associate Director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project. He and his co-author, Dr. William Doherty, released the first textbook on Discernment Counseling in April 2017.