Meanwhile I am providing training and consultation on this topic for therapists and today on the blog I want to share some top tips.
Play therapists are very vulnerable to the risks when dealing with cases that may end up in court. Just by being a witness to what a child experiences, we set ourselves up to be pulled into litigation. Here are the highlights of all the important tips I teach in my four hour recorded CE training called Play Therapy with High Conflict Divorce & Custody Cases.
1. Be prepared from the initial phone call.
During this call, it is your time to screen and assess. Listen to what the parent is saying and not saying. Continue to assess during the intake session. I recommend a 90-minute parent-only intake session (click here to learn a thorough run-down about how I structure my intakes and why).
2. Have very thorough policies and informed consent.
Have a section in your informed consent that specifically addresses divorce and custody cases. Although it doesn’t provide an air-tight guarantee you’ll be left out of court, be sure to include a clause that has clients agree to NOT subpoenae you. You can access my practice forms templates which includes my very thorough informed consent. It is important to review your policies with parents during the intake session.
3. Know Your Role and Stay in Your Lane.
Remember, the role of a therapist is different than the role of a custody evaluator. It is not our job (in fact- it is often against our code of ethics) to give custody recommendations. Be very clear about your role in your informed consent and be prepared to explain your role again and again to parents, attorneys, guardians ad litem and sometimes even judges. You’ll be able to read more about my own stories involving this issue in my book coming out in the near future.
4. Know your research to back up your work as a Play Therapist.
It is very important to be able to talk about what play therapy is and why it’s important and effective with working with children. I practice play therapy with a prescriptive approach using facilitative interventions when needed on the foundation of Child-Centered Play Therapy. Keep the Evidence-Based Practice Statement from the Association for Play Therapy in your back pocket!
5. When possible, do all you can to avoid going to court.
If your policies are dismissed and you are subpoenaed to court,
- Contact your liability insurance immediately and report the subpoena immediately. They should assign you legal representation.;
- Alternatively you may want to pay for a consultation with a healthcare attorney in the case you feel unsatisfied with the response you get from your liability insurance
6. Seek consultation or supervision with a therapist seasoned and experiences with these cases.
It is important to have a good mentor or supervisor, especially when involved in court cases. If you are looking to consult about custody or high conflict divorce cases, I would be more than happy to schedule a 30 or 60 minute consultation with you. Contact me here to inquire for more information or schedule a consultation.
7. Learn all you can BEFORE you are subpoenaed. Get trained in advance. Be prepared!
Seek training. I have three recorded training workshops on this subject that all count for NBCC approved CE hours and APT approved play therapy non-contact training hours:
♦In the Play Therapy Summit that came out in 2017, Jen Taylor, LPC, RPT-S invited me to speak with her on this topic for one hour. You can access that one hour training called Play Therapy and Family Court: How to Navigate Risks and Realities of Divorce & Custody Related Cases
♦Play Therapy & Court: Be Prepared! is a one hour training that walks you through what to do if subpoenaed and how to prepare for court and giving testimony.
♦Play Therapy with High Conflict Divorce & Custody Cases is a four hour intensive, thorough training all about working with these tough cases and includes proprietary documents/forms and research articles you will want to have on hand addressing parental alienation behavior and how to treat children in therapy who are being alienated.
I would love to be on a mailing list of any trainings or opportunities you are offering. I have spent most of my career in an outpatient agency setting where someone else is handling legal and other matters. i am now working to go out on my own and want to make sure i am protected and considering the right areas!
additionally do you have any samples of what youre templates look like. Im assuming they are well worth the fee but want to more a more informed decision before purchasing.
Hi! Feel free to check out my navigating high conflict divorce cases training and my book. Also, sign up for weekly resources e-mailing list under professionals tab!