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Collaborative Divorce: The Role of the Coach & Child Specialist
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Collaborative Divorce: The Role of the Coach & Child Specialist

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Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW presented this to the American Psychoanalytic Association, Winter 2008. She discusses the role of Child Specialists & Coaches in the Collaborative Divorce process.

Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW presented this to the American Psychoanalytic Association, Winter 2008. She discusses the role of Child Specialists & Coaches in the Collaborative Divorce process.


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  • Introduce myself. MY INTEREST IN the way people get DIVORCE d began when I was hired to run groups for newly separated or divorced men and women for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. Running these support groups I saw people already traumatized by the loss of their partner, further traumatized by the often long, drawn out, and costly litigation process. I decided to become more involved and try to find a way to help these men and women. I became a MEDIATOR, THEN A Collaborative DIVORCE COACH.
  • Before describing the role of the coach and child specialist. I want to give you a an idea of effect divorce had on the participants in my groups. Normally high functioning people experienced any number of those symptoms listed on that slide. Those in the group who were already struggling in life were even more disabled by their divorce. Signs of Depression/Depression (point to them) Signs of Mania (point to them) Loss of Self Respect/Self Esteem - Sharing very personal information with everyone, “spilling”
  • . symptoms similar to A DIAGNOSIS OF Post Traumatic Stress: NIGHTMARES, INSTRUSIVE THOUGHTS, FLASHBACKS, THEIR Ability to function effectively in their lives was significantly impaired. IT WAS DIFFICULT TO WATCH PEOPLE IN THIS STATE BEING FORCED TO PARTICIPATE IN A TRADITIONAL ADVERSARIAL DIVORCE PROCEDINGS.
  • Litigation Model - Adversarial ISLOATED Mental Health Support System is Isolated from the Divorce Process if present at all Each Client hires their own experts Therapists Child Therapists Financial Analysts
  • Coll Holding Environment for the Divorcing Couple and their ch Provides a holding environment for the clients and their children. As Katherine has shown, the transparent nature of this process works against “side taking” behavior and paranoia. It requires co-operation. Communications form a safety net for the client.
  • Coaches and are not Therapists Time limited/goal oriented professionasl who are part of the entire divorce process from beginning to end. At the first meeting The Client is going to be asked to sign an agreement that clearly outlines the limits of the coach’s confidentiality. This document has been called many things, “ Stipulation to Retain a Coach” “Statement of Understanding” “Contract” S hare all relevant information with other members of the collaborative team. R equest a separate ‘permission to release information’ from the client to speak to anyone outside the team Refuse to release any session notes to any outside party or to testify as part of any legal procedure. R eport suspected child or elder abuse/neglect and to warn the appropriate parties if a client is a serious danger to herself or others as required by law.
  • Social worker, psychologist, psychoanalyst, etc. MANY OF PEOPLE GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE ARE SEEING PSYCHOTHERAPISTS OR ARE IN PSYCHOANALYSIS. IN MOST CASES PsychotherapiustsCOULD NOT OFFER THE SUPPORT THAT OUR GROUPS COULD OFFER OR THE TYPE OF INFORMED SUPPORT THAT A DIVORCE COACH
  • Assessment: Abuse, Sexual abuse, child abuse, addictions, mental illness. Determine if there are red flags that lawyers might want to know about. In this way serve as a resource for the team. Work One on One with Client to “create a sense of personal empowerment”. Prepare them to speak about important issues with their spouse. Educate Them: Tell them what to expect. Manage emotions. Clarify their thoughts. Define their goals and Communicate them. Be Assertive and Listen. Stress reduction Meet with th co-coach to get a better idea of what to anticipate in the coming 4 way meetings. Alert them to any problems you forsee in the future.
  • Note: Child specialists focus on different age groups—from infancy to teenagers. Important that the specialist stay within his/her area of expertise.
  • The child specialist’s only role is that of advocate for the child. He/she does not become involved in the parent dynamics—that’s for the coaches to manage. Neutral toward parents means that the child specialist doesn’t “take sides” in determining which parent is more suited to be with the children, but provides information and challenges parents to keep the children’s needs first. Clearly tells the children that the purpose of the meeting is to have their parents understand better what they are going through and listen to any ideas the child might have.
  • In five-way meetings with coaches, the child specialist helps parents understand what their child is experiencing, offers ideas on helping the child. Coaches, parents and child specialist then have a discussion—building on each other’s ideas, on ways to help their children.
  • Both parents are focused on their child; working together to come up with ideas that will help their child. They receive ideas from the child specialist, and the coaches. The five-way meeting is solely focused on finding solutions, not creating problems or supporting blaming.
  • Toronto - IACP Conference Many seminars and trainings in Working with the Difficult Clients - Difficult Clients are Clients with personality disorders
  • Transcript

    • 1. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com Collaborative Divorce: The Role of the Coach & Child Specialist Presented by Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW at the American Psychoanalytic Association, Winter 2008
    • 2. A Few Common Symptoms of Newly Separated/Divorced Men & Women
      • Feeling “Crazy”
      • Shock
      • Affective Storms
      • Rage
      • Denial
      • Low Self Esteem
      • Harsh Self Criticism
      • Self Harming Thoughts & Behaviors
      • Weight Loss/Gain of >10lbs.
      • Sleep Disturbances
      • Difficulty Concentrating
      • Euphoria
      • Shame
      • Guilt
      • Lethargy/Hyperactivity
      • Loss of Self Respect
      • (Data from Judith Levitan, LCSW
      • Director, Divorce Support, JBFCS)
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 3. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com Recently Divorced and Separated Population Show Symptoms Similar to PTSD
      • Recurrent nightmares related to the event
      • Intrusive and recurrent unwanted thoughts about the event
      • Flashbacks - reliving moments of the event
      • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event
      • Loss of memory about aspects of the event
      • Startle reactions
      • (Data from Study by Judith Levitan, LCSW,
      • Director, Divorce Support, JBFCS)
    • 4. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com Litigation: A Paradigm of Conflict Without Support Client #1 Client #2 Therapist #1 Therapist #2 Lawyer #1 Lawyer #2 Financial Analyst #1 Child Specialist #1 Child Specialist #2 Financial Analyst #2 Lawyer #2 Judge Court Appointed Legal Guardian
    • 5. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com Collaborative Divorce: A Holding Environment Client #1 Client #2 Divorce Coach #1 Divorce Coach #2 Lawyer #1 Lawyer #2 Financial Analyst Child Specialist
    • 6. COACH THERAPIST
      • Client - Divorce
      • Time limited & Goal oriented
      • Support Client in completing divorce process
      • Forming New Post-Divorce Families
      • Information Shared with All Team Members
      • Patient - Pathology
      • Open ended & Process oriented
      • Understand Patient’s problems in context of their history
      • “ Curing” - The Patient
      • Complete Confidentiality
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 7. IACP Divorce Coach Qualifications
      • Licensed Mental Health professional in good standing
      • Minimum five (5) years post licensure experience with couples and families
      • In-depth knowledge of divorce processes, child development, impact on family
      • Training in interdisciplinary teamwork
      • Mediation training essential
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 8. Coaches
      • Assess couple at the beginning
      • Work one-on-one with each client to prepare them for meetings with partner & team. Work with co-coach to facilitate process
      • Create a parenting plan with clients utilizing input from the Child Specialist. Adapt parenting plan if circumstances change in the future
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 9. Benefits to the Clients
      • Support at Meetings so client’s voice can be heard
      • Preparation to control emotions and focus on task
      • Learn new ways of communicating and interacting with ex-partner
      • If children, learn parenting techniques and design an evolving co-parenting plan for now and for future
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 10. Child Specialist Qualifications
      • Licensed Mental Health Professional in good standing specializing in children
      • Specific training in child development
      • Minimum five (5) years post licensure experience working with children
      • Training in effects of divorce on children
      • Interdisciplinary training/mediation
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 11. The Child Specialist
      • Advocates for the child/teen - in a time limited relationship; he/she is not a therapist
      • Provides information about the developmental needs of the child not recommendations
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 12. Benefits to the Parents
      • Gain a deeper understanding of their child’s experience
      • Obtain information on how to help their child
      • Provides forum for obtaining ideas, tools and resources for their child
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 13. Benefits to Co-parenting Relationship
      • Takes focus off differences between parents
      • Provides parents with new concepts to use co-parenting
      • Helps parents experience working together
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 14. Psychoanalysts & Collaborative Divorce
      • Team Members - Coach & Child Specialist
      • Refer Patients for Consultation with a Divorce Coach/Child Specialist or Collaborative Lawyer
      • Advocate for a process that values the mental health of the clients
      New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
    • 15. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com Analytic Thinking & Collaborative Divorce
      • Psychodynamic Assessment
      • Importance of Neutrality
      • Manifest Content vs. Latent Content in Clients’ Core Issues/Interests
      • Understanding of and Insight into “Difficult” Personality Types
    • 16. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com
      • Understanding of Normal and Pathological Defensive Structures & How to Supportively Work with them.
      • Identification of Transference & Countertransference within a Team
      • Potential of The Collaborative Team to be a “Container” for the Couples’ Divorce and Provide a “Transformative Process”,
      • Bion’s Concept of ‘Containment’
      Analytic Skills (cont.)
    • 17. New York Center for Divorce & Family Mediation | (212) 866-0489 | Kathleen Bar-Tur, LCSW | nydivorce-mediation.com “ One of the ways I know I am not being effective is when I am feeling anxious or fearful…It is as important to the process that all of the professionals feel ‘safe’ as it is for the clients. The container holds all of us.” -Holly M. Hohlbein Counselor at Law Kirkland, WA