From Dr. Jochem
While psychotherapy and diagnostic assessment are core areas of my practice, I have also developed a subspecialty focus upon alternative dispute resolution. This includes issues related to post-decree parenting disputes experienced by divorced parents.
Of course, there is always concern for children in the aftermath of divorce. One of the key research findings regarding the impact of divorce upon children is that post-divorce adjustment is often determined by the degree of post-decree conflict between parents. One of the most effective interventions to help children of divorced parents is to work towards reduced conflict between parents.
My concern for children post-divorce has led me to develop three distinct services, which differ based upon the needs and circumstances of the family. Services designed to assist children and families experiencing divorce include the following:
- Co-parenting consultation—this is mediation tailored to the needs of post-decree parents
- Parent coordination—this is a court-ordered intervention where the provider utilizes mediation skills, but also may intervene with parents in a more directive and assertive manner than typically occurs in mediation to reduce parent conflict and facilitate consistency in parenting styles
- Collaborative divorce child specialist services—this is consultation provided to couples who are utilizing the collaborative model for their divorce, where the child specialist assists in assessing the child and developing a parenting plan.
The following material describes my approach to co-parenting consultation, which is a form a mediation.
Co-parenting consultation services provided by HCG are a limited scope engagement distinct from other mental health services. Co-parenting consultation provided by Hawthorn Counseling Group is a form of mediation which is defined as, "...a process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute..." (Illinois Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/2(1)).
The co-parenting consultant is practicing as a mediator, with particular focus upon co-parenting disputes. Co-parenting consultation is not psychotherapy and does not include psychological assessment, diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition.
Co-parenting consultation includes the services listed below, which may be expanded or modified by a court, or otherwise tailored to the parties' needs and circumstances by consent of the parties:
- The consultant provides mediation services, seeking to improve communication and dispute resolution between parents regarding parenting decisions.
- The consultant provides education and coaching regarding child development, impact of divorce upon children and effective post-decree parenting strategies, seeking to improve consistency in parenting and reduce conflicts between parents.
- The consultant provides a forum for discussion of parenting decisions and assists parents in reaching conjoint understandings and durable decisions with respect to parenting. The consultant is vested with no decision-making authority with respect to parenting decisions.
- The consultant seeks to reduce the child's exposure to conflict or disputes between the parents.
- The consultant may recommend outside resources as indicated, such as parenting classes and psychotherapy.
- The consultant may recommend or assist parties in developing guidelines, shared understandings or ground rules for communication between parents.
- The consultant may meet with the parties, the children, and significant others, conjointly or separately. Decisions as to who will attend consultation sessions may be determined by court order and will be by mutual consent of the parties.
- The consultant will recommend if appointments shall be conjoint with both parties or separate and this may vary over the course of the consultation process. Scheduled appointments are typically 1-1 ½ hours in duration, by prior agreement with the parties.
- The consultant will not serve as a court's expert professional in any capacity or in any proceeding related to a marital settlement agreement or parenting allocation judgment.
- The consultant will not offer opinions, judgments or conclusions regarding an issue of fact or law related to parenting matters. The consultant will not provide legal opinion, recommendations or guidance.
- The consultant maintains a position of impartiality and neutrality throughout the consultation process, is guided by the best interests of the children. The parties affirm that the consultant has no prior interest, financial or personal, or prior relationship with themselves or, to the best of their knowledge, the other party which might compromise the consultant's impartiality.
Feel free to contact me with any further questions about parent coordination services –contact information is shown on the Contact page on this website.