Creating a position of trust
While it is important to offer children a separate opportunity to express their feelings about the parental separation or divorce, clinical experience indicates that the direct engagement of parents where possible in this process, creates the best opportunities for long-term positive outcomes. The reason for this is that the child and young person is struggling both with the actual separation of the parents, as well as having to negotiate the emotional mental reality of loss that can never be recovered. For children, this may take the form of a dread of any kind of separation, and a fear of being at the mercy of a panic that either parent may disappear without notice.
Helping the parents to recognise that while their relationship is over, the parenting task continues, needs to be kept at the forefront of our concerns in supporting children and young people. For children, the very fact of parents being able to come together with the therapist to discuss a problem concerning the child is already enormously therapeutic for the child.
The next chapter will address how the clinical method described so far can be translated into clinical technique in working with children, parents and young people.