Making the transition from a shared household where everyone lives together to a co-parenting arrangement that spans two different locations is a challenge for the entire family. Children, in particular, often have a hard time adjusting to only seeing one parent at a time and moving back and forth between houses.
Parents who want to minimize how difficult this transitional period can be for their children may recognize the importance of providing a safe environment for children to express themselves and process their emotions. Counseling and therapy can be very useful for those adjusting to major changes within the family unit. Here are some of the forms of counseling that might benefit families adjusting to new co-parenting relationships.
One-on-one talk therapy
Teenagers and even preteens may have very intense emotional lives and might benefit from having someone there to listen to their experience of the changing family dynamics. The relationship that a child develops with their counselor can provide them with a healthy outlet and can also give them a space to learn communication skills and self-soothing techniques to control their emotional reactions.
Sometimes the best form of therapy for the children in the family won’t involve them at all. Instead, the focus will be on their parents, who have to learn new skills to effectively cooperate for co-parenting purposes. Co-parenting therapy can help adults reframe their relationships and learn the skills they need to work together effectively.
There are some therapists that will facilitate counseling sessions with the entire family present. Such arrangements can be beneficial when there are complicated dynamics in play or when there needs to be accountability for what some family members say about others.
As a final note, either parent deciding to undergo individual therapy while acclimating to the co-parenting arrangement would likely also benefit the children in the family. Even if the parents cannot cooperate to improve their relationship with one another in joint counseling sessions, they can still focus on healing themselves and learning ways to become more effective parents during what will be a difficult time for their children. Tapping into thoughtful resources can take some of the stress out of the transition to a co-parenting arrangement.