What Is Reconciliation Counseling?


Divorce is a challenging process, especially when children are involved. It can lead to a significant shift in the family dynamic, causing a child to become excessively hostile toward one parent or reject them entirely. Reconciliation counseling, also known as reunification therapy, is a valuable form of family therapy that aims to mend the relationship between a child and one of their parents. In this article, we will explore the concept of reconciliation counseling, its goals, when and where it is used, and how it can benefit families going through divorce or separation.

What is Reconciliation Counseling?

Reconciliation counseling, also known as reunification therapy, is a specialized form of family therapy designed to mend the relationship between a child and one of their parents. The process involves re-establishing trust, improving communication, and building a healthier bond between the parent and child. This type of therapy is typically temporary and is used when specific life events have caused a rift between the child and the parent.

The Goals of Reconciliation Counseling

The primary goals of reconciliation counseling are as follows:

  1. Re-establish Trust: Reconciliation therapy aims to rebuild the trust that may have been lost between the child and parent due to divorce or other conflicts.
  2. Improve Communication: Effective communication is crucial for a healthy parent-child relationship. Reconciliation counseling helps parents and children express their feelings and concerns in a constructive manner.
  3. Strengthen the Parent-Child Bond: The ultimate objective is to strengthen the bond between the child and the estranged parent, leading to a more stable and loving relationship.
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When and Where Does Reconciliation Counseling Take Place?

Reconciliation counseling can be initiated voluntarily by families or mandated by a court. The sessions can take place in various settings, such as a therapist’s office, the family home, or a neutral location where the child feels comfortable. To ensure success, the therapist and parent must be patient, allowing the child to progress at their own pace and creating a safe environment for them to open up.

Getting the Most Benefit from Reconciliation Counseling

Reconciliation counseling is most effective when combined with other types of therapy, such as individual therapy or family therapy. By addressing personal concerns and emotions through additional support, both the parent and child can engage in healthier communication going forward.

When is Reconciliation Counseling Used in a Divorce or Separation?

Families may opt for reconciliation counseling voluntarily, but it is often court-mandated after a high-conflict divorce. Some common situations that may lead to the need for reconciliation counseling include:

Divorce Stress

The process of divorce itself can create a temporary resistance in the child, causing them to pull away from one parent. However, as the child and parent spend time together outside the context of the divorce, their bond may strengthen and the resistance can subside.

Negative Parental Behavior

Negative parental behavior during divorce can include verbal or physical abuse, neglect, or manipulation. Such behavior can push a child away from the parent, creating a strained relationship.

Resist-Refuse Dynamic

Children lack the emotional intelligence to cope with high-conflict divorces fully. They may gravitate towards the caregiver who shows more affection, even if it is manipulative. This resist-refuse dynamic leads the child to reject contact with the alienated parent to maintain their relationship with the other caregiver.

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Goals and Benefits of Reconciliation Counseling

Reconciliation counseling offers several valuable benefits, including:

Repairing the Parent-Child Bond

Reconciliation therapy works towards rebuilding the damaged parent-child relationship by addressing the child’s underlying feelings and helping the parent counteract any negative emotions.

Re-establishing Trust and Feelings of Safety

The therapy assists in repairing trust and re-establishing feelings of safety for the child, especially in cases where the parent’s behavior had been aggressive or neglectful during the divorce.

Enhancing the Co-Parent Relationship

In some cases, reconciliation counseling can help divorced parents navigate their new relationship as co-parents, ultimately benefiting the child.

Potential Downsides of Reconciliation Counseling

While reconciliation counseling can be highly beneficial, it is essential to consider the potential downsides, including:

Increased Financial Burden

Reconciliation counseling may place an additional financial burden on families already struggling with expenses related to divorce and court proceedings.

Variable Effectiveness

The success of reconciliation counseling can vary based on family circumstances, and it may not be effective if a parent or child is unwilling to engage in the process.


Divorce can take a toll on parent-child relationships, but reconciliation counseling provides hope for healing and strengthening these bonds. By re-establishing trust, promoting healthy communication, and enhancing the parent-child relationship, reconciliation therapy offers a path toward healing for families facing the challenges of divorce. If you are experiencing challenges with your child post-divorce, consider seeking the support of a qualified reconciliation counselor to facilitate the healing process.


  1. What is the main goal of reconciliation counseling?
    • The main goal of reconciliation counseling is to mend the relationship between a child and one of their parents, which may have been strained due to divorce or other conflicts.
  2. Is reconciliation counseling suitable for all families?
    • Reconciliation counseling may be beneficial for families experiencing post-divorce challenges or parent-child relationship issues.
  3. Can reconciliation counseling be court-mandated?
    • Yes, reconciliation counseling can be court-mandated, particularly in cases of high-conflict divorces.
  4. How long does reconciliation counseling typically last?
    • The duration of reconciliation counseling varies based on the unique circumstances of each family and their progress during therapy.
  5. What should a family do if reconciliation counseling doesn’t work?
    • If reconciliation counseling does not yield the desired results, families can explore alternative therapeutic approaches or seek the guidance of mental health professionals to find a suitable solution.
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