Through all the confusion and conflict of going through divorce, the Collaborative Child Specialist serves as the neutral voice of the children
What is a Collaborative Child Specialist?
In Collaborative Divorce, the Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with extensive training and experience in family systems, child development and the needs of children during and after divorce. As you are aware, children are greatly impacted by their parents’ separation and divorce. Each child deals with divorce differently because of age, gender and developmental stage. Children can get lost in the shuffle of divorce. Although they are resilient, they soak up the emotional energy around them. If the parents are fighting or giving each other the silent treatment, the kids take it all in. They may know a lot more than you think they know. Some children feel that they caused the divorce. We also know from experience and research that even adult children often experience pain, confusion and conflicted loyalties when their parents divorce.
As the Child Specialist, I am the professional representing the “neutral voice of the children”. There are a sequence of steps in utilizing the expertise of a Child Specialist.
Step 1: The first step is for you to fill out a detailed questionnaire about each of your children.
Step 2: The second step is to set up an appointment to meet with me. The beginning of this meeting will have both of you present and then each of you will have time to speak with me privately. This is an opportunity for you to express your concerns and ask questions. You will also be guided in how to talk to your children about seeing a Child Specialist and how it is different from seeing a counselor.
Step 3: The third step is meeting with your children individually to get an understanding of how they are dealing with your divorce. I may ask “What is something your mom or dad could do better? What do you want your parents to know? What is going okay for you? How are you handling the transition? The children are given a voice and an advocate to talk about what is going well, things that are bothering them, or how they hope their future will look.
Step 4: The fourth step is a meeting with you and your Collaborative Divorce Team to present my clinical impressions and recommendations. With the children’s permission, I relate what they shared about their feelings, concerns and hopes for the future. Most parents appreciate hearing about how their children are doing and what steps they can take to make things better for their kids. This valuable information helps the parents and divorce coaches keep the children’s “best interests” in mind when developing a Co-Parenting Plan.