When Parents are at War: A Child Therapist’s Guide To Navigating High Conflict Divorce & Custody Cases

Office of Wonders Counseling Services, counselor in Marietta GA

When Parents Are at War: A Child Therapist’s Guide To Navigating High Conflict Divorce & Custody Cases is Now Available on Amazon!

All psychotherapists who work with children and families will come across cases with the parents divorcing or previously divorced experiencing high levels of conflict. These cases can be extremely complex and there can be potential hazards mental health professionals need to be aware of and prepared for. This book, written by Lynn Louise Wonders, is a practical guide providing actionable measures mental health professionals can take to properly screen potential cases, establish and observe essential policies and protocols and observe important boundaries in order to preserve the integrity of the child’s therapy and maintain healthy therapeutic relationships with the parents who are at war with one another without being pulled into the middle of the parental conflict. This guidebook also provides specific recommendations with regard to ensuring the self-care is in place for the psychotherapists when working with these kinds of cases that can cause mental and emotional depletion. 

This is such an important topic and a helpful book for anyone working with children and families. Often, clinicians are reluctant to work with families that might be involved in a custody battle; however, Lynn Louise Wonders provides practical tips about how to protect yourself as a clinician while also serving the best interests of the child. If you are working with children, then you are going to need these tools at some point! You will feel much more prepared if you have this book before you get called into a course situation.

Amazon Customer

I am a LCSW working in a non profit agency for children. This book was a great, simple and straight forward read. Good for those working with children and families going through divorce. Lynn provides details in screenings and how to work with child’s parents, planning for treatment and attorney involvement.
I look forward to putting it to use in my practice.

Jeannette Miller

This book is easy to read, concise, and a practical guide to helping child and parents experiencing divorce/separation. Working with child of high conflict is no easy manner. While reading, I reflected on many similarities from previous families I’ve work with. I feel so much more prepared, still slightly anxious, but mostly important, not alone.


This book is an easy read and offers essential information and guidance for therapists who work with children and families. The specific protocols identify important steps in working with parents engaged in divorce and custody cases. Lynn also identifies yellow and red flags to be aware of. The explanation of the Divorce Conflict Continuum and 3 Dimensions of Conflict were helpful in understanding aspects of divorce interactions. Lynn does a wonderful job breaking down how to conduct the initial session with parents, strategies, treatment planning and documentation. Definitely will help to navigate divorce and custody cases.

Michelle Hammel

Having a clear framework for how to conceptualize cases alongside directives for how to navigate those cases is exactly what most therapists are looking for when they need guidance and grab a book out of their collection. This book can help you from the start – when you’re deciding whether or not you’re the right therapist for a particular child – and will continue to guide you from record keeping to court testimony.

Gamer Parents

Lynn Louise Wonders gives useful advice on how to handle screening potential clients, effective ways to handle divorced parents and promote co-parenting, how to respond to subpoenas, tips on helpful record keeping and also stresses therapist self-care for dealing with these types of difficult situations. As a child therapist and supervisor, I recommend this book to all clinicians who work with children and families.

Desiree McAllister, LPC, LMFT, RPT-S

Lynn’s breakdown of the different types of conflicting parents with yellow/red flags to beware of in high conflict divorce will help any child therapist avoid potential issues. Easy to implement policies and procedures are included along with examples of scripts to reference at every stage of treatment. There is so much more that makes this book a must have reference for every child therapist!

Angela Tate, LCSW, RPT-S

This book is necessary for all child and family therapists to have. As the books states at the beginning, when working with children in this role it is a guarantee that one will deal with divorce situations and likely a high conflict case. I am a clinician that has worked in agencies but am opening my own private practice shortly, and this book is very helpful with setting up my policies and procedures around these issues. I appreciated the specific suggestions that could be added and examples of scripts that could be followed when talking with parents, attorneys, or guardian ad lietms. I will keep this as one to refer back to when these situations arise.

Amazon Customer

This is a must have for all clinicians working with families. Even if you do not see a lot of people involved in the court system any of these issues covered in the book can come up, and likely will. I just used this book with a high conflict case!! There are many references for when working with the court system and can be used as a guide so you can assure you are covering everything. Of course utilize attorneys and legal consultation when needed but reading this will give you more confidence when working with this population group.

Jennifer Hayes

As a clinician working with children, I wish I had this book years ago. It provides an easy to follow outline for how to navigate challenging inevitably come up. The screening information and scripts are useful for any clinician and invaluable for any new clinicians struggling to set boundaries with difficult parents. I will continue to use this as a reference when I find myself stuck with families… this book has already done the work for you, all you need to do is read.


This book is a step by step, easy to read and easy to understand treasure!! Not only does it take you step by step through what to expect and how to handle court custody battles but it also covers how to take care of yourself!!
Ann Elliot LCSW, CCJS, CDVC, CCBT, CPTT, Autplay and TF/CBT Therapist and educator

Excellent Resource.
Maureen Callahan

This book was fantastic! Easy and fast read, completely applicable and every word was written in a manner that was directly related to our work as therapists with children in a field where complex family dynamics make the work very complicated. Lynn Louise Wonders keeps our work focused, child focused and gives the reader a clear sense of her own experience as well as legal knowledge as well as even scripting to help when the waters get particularly muddy. This book is a must have when working with children. She states on page 28 that much of her words of advice are “wise to follow with all” families of divorce not just those who are in high conflict situation. The structure of communication is excellent and keeps the child client front and center. Chapter three reminds us to respect our profession and the skill set we bring to the work. The ever valuable Bill of Rights for children of divorce is addressed and Wonders discussed this when remaining neutral and when parents bring sessions to a high level of energy.


We are asking every therapist in our group practice to read this. It’s a quick and comprehensive read. We have the same limits on except we delete all emails rather than saving so that parents don’t think they can write just anything to us (often about the other parent) in an email and have it on record.

This book provides a great review or introduction to working with high conflict divorce cases and includes the importance of practicing self-care for clinicians. A quick accessible read.

I definitely recommend for therapists who work with these cases or are interested in working with these cases.

Ked Waterman

This book brings to awareness the essential concepts surrounding the parent dynamics in divorce that may intrude on a therapist’s work with a child. Specific child and family treatment interventions are not a main focus. The layout and suggestions presented have value for someone just starting out with this population and help to establish a strong foundation for the challenging work ahead. The author offers guidance in identifying high conflict cases and what this entails, and solid advice for a therapist to consider in making a determination about taking on such cases. The author highlights the importance of and strategies related to establishing clear boundaries from the onset, and gives reminders throughout. Starting from the initial phone call, potential issues that may come up and impact the therapeutic alliance with the child are discussed, with a balance of structure, grounded in simplicity, and the author’s personal strategies for identifying and addressing this with the parents, all while staying anchored and focused on supporting the child through these challenging dynamics. The author graciously includes her adaptation of the Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce, worded both for the parents and the child. A few case examples would have been an additional highlight.

Agent Squeegee

I particularly enjoyed the layout of this book. Lynn did an excellent job of condensing so much information into a format that is easy to read and cross reference easily. Chapter 8 was especially helpful in laying out exactly what my roles are and how to best support the child.

Amy Quaring LPC CADC III, Child and Family Therapist

Very helpful information for Professional Counselors. The yellow/red flag information was very helpful and provided a good framework for where to ask questions and gather more information. The information I learned helped me feel more confident and competent when/if I experience a high conflict divorce situation with a client I am working with. I really enjoyed that the book not only provided information about court, attorneys and the legal system but also the Counselor’s role as it relates to the legal system and the work that we do with the client; from screening, intake and treatment planning with the child-client and the parents.

Heather McGhee, LPC, RPT

As a newer clinician in the field, I found this book to be extraordinarily useful in navigating divorce and child custody cases. I found the “Initial Screening” and “Treatment Planning & Recording Keeping” chapters to be especially helpful. I liked that the author gave sample questions of things that would be good to ask the parents, and also outlined what yellow and red flags are in divorce cases. The other chapters were full of great, detailed information, and as a reader, I could tell that she truly has a wealth of knowledge in this area. This book is nicely organized, which would make it easy to flip through if I was looking for something in particular. I’m glad I read this, as it will greatly aid me in the field. Add this to your professional library if you haven’t already!

Amazon Customer

As an early career or seasoned clinician, this book will give you the confidence needed to work with cases involving high conflict divorce. These cases are very likely to walk into our office’s as clinician’s who work with children. Lynn is extremely thorough in addressing all aspects that play into these cases. It felt like she had written these pages as a thorough professional consultation, just for me, as each chapter was congruent with my experience and gave clear answers and guidance on the best plan of action. Not only does it help you work with all aspects of these cases, but it truly helps you to understand the emotions and struggles of the child(ren) involved, as well as best practices of intervention.

From screening and intake, working with child client’s, parents, and attorneys, to treatment planning and record keeping, and even preparing for going to court, this book leaves no stone unturned. This book is the holy grail of knowledge and information when working with children whose parents are involved in a high conflict divorce.


I found this book to be informative, based on research with citations provided, as well as based on years of knowledge and experience from the author. There are many useful/applicable tools for therapists to use with their own clients, employees, and supervisees. We will review our own office policies and procedures and ensure they are aligned with research and up to date best practice/standards. The child bill of rights for divorced parents was new to me and I plan to utilize this readily. Highly recommend this book for any child provider, as divorced families and potential for conflict can arise with any/all clients.

Rebekah Talley, MSW, LCSW, RPTS

As a newly graduate mental health counselor, I honestly love this book! It provides a comprehensive outline of the real work a therapist can face when working with high-conflict divorce. It provides a throughout outline of the challenges and various situations a therapist can find themselves in when working with this population. While reading the book it felt like a conversation and it provided insight into ever intricate aspect of the situation as it dissected the content.

This is a quick read. I definitely recommend for therapist who work with this population or with any as there are aspects that can be applied to further enhance the therapeutic experience.

Jonathan Persaud

I’m very relieved to have this short and sweet book on my shelf now, before I find myself in the kind of high conflict situations the book describes. I am a play therapist and counselor working with children, and I think this book is an extremely valuable resource for any clinician who works with kids. It has gotten me thinking about my own policies and boundaries, and how I might tweak them to better serve and protect everyone involved in the therapy process. Lynn’s online trainings have been helpful to many, and I’m glad to see her branching out in this direction!

It’s a quick and comprehensive read. It provides a clear outline of what standards a mental health specialist should follow when dealing with custody cases. In addition, how therapist can protect themseleves when having to go to court. I struggle sometimes to be able to set limits with my client’s parents. Wonders provides helpful tips on how to set limits and boundaries with the parents and keeping the focus on the child that I plan to start to implement. I thought the “bill of rights” for children was insightful and plan to start to implement that at my practice. Along with having the clients write on a stone or clothes pin something helpful they learned in session that day.
Sarah Erd, LPCC, RPT

A practical and informative book, written clearly and succinctly by a highly ethical and compassionate veteran of the high-conflict divorce “wars”. Lynn Louise Wonders presents common misconceptions and pitfalls mental health professionals will face when working with families; and assists mental health professionals in thoughtfully navigating and managing challenging situations in the best interests of both child, family and clinician.

Rosalind Heiko, Ph.D.

This book provides valuable information for clinicians to protect themselves. It is presented in a easy to read format without clinical jargon. It stresses the clinician seek supervision for support with these difficult cases. Being newer to private practice and working with children and families, it has helped me to consider safety measures that I need to put in place. While I’ve only met Lynne online her writing and resources that she shares in the book, in her trainings, and in online groups, make her feel a mentor. Thank you for the information.

Jen Palma, LPC and Registered Play Therapist

As a child therapist, I have had my fair share of custody and divorce cases. I have made many recommendations and testified more times than I can count. However, even with my experience, When Parents are at War outlined helpful strategies and policies to put into place in my practice. This book is easy to read! It’s straightforward and is organized to be a reference tool. From developing practice policies to treatment planning and the therapeutic process to recommendations and testimony, this book is a must have for any therapist working with children.

I am currently starting my private practice, and I feel better equipped to provide quality care to the children I work with while ethically and legally protecting myself and my practice. I appreciate the language provided in this book because it will assist me with conceptualizing the child and the parents to provide the best quality of care while keeping the child as the primary focus! Although this book appears to be for custody cases between parents, I found many parallels in the custody disputes between parents, foster parents, and kinship placements, which has been a large portion of my clinical work. This book is a MUST HAVE because custody and divorce is not something we can fully prepare for in school. I look forward to continuing to use When Parents are at War!

Destiny White, MS, LPC/MHSP-Tennessee

As a licensed clinical social worker I would highly recommend this book! This book is a great tool for navigating the legal system. There are many tips on how to handle sticky situations. Very helpful in recognizing red and yellow flags during your intake to help prepare you for success or to refer out to another provider. Many tips on what to do if you find yourself feeling stuck or in sticky water. This education needs to be in all clinicians offices! What a great resource.

Heidi Kaminski

This well written book packs in a lot of detail in a useful way. The author is sharing her expertise of dealing with divorce cases so that you as a professional can learn from her mistakes and milestones. I loved that it was short and to the point, providing tips, flags, and useful tools to stay HIPAA compliant, as well as definitions of the different subpoenas and parts of the divorce process in the court room. I learned so much.

Ashley Buckmore, LPC, RPT

I work as a child and family therapist at a clinic and have a big caseload and work with a lot of different diagnosis, ages, and family systems- sometimes I feel like I struggle to keep up on the best practice for each individual need. I was excited to read this book but also thought a lot wouldn’t apply to me because I don’t work with high conflict divorce cases, but I was wrong. As I read I realized I can apply a lot of the information to my current cases and will hopefully feel more prepared for future cases. I can even use some ideas with my parents who were never married but in court for custody issues. The book provides helpful tips and lists of ways to discuss topics with families, treatment plan ideas, and court preperations. I really liked chapter 8 about the child bill of rights when parents are divorced or divorcing and the list provided to review with parents and children. I’m going to start using that right away. If you work with families I recommend reading this book, it’s a short and easy read and ends with a focus on self care!

Vanessa LICSW

Quick and easy read. Perfect for new clinicians trying to decide if they want to wade into working with parents and children dealing with divorce. This book gives a quick overview of some of the issues you may deal with and explains things to look for before starting the work.

Erica T.

This was a fast, current, and relevant read. It includes practicable suggestions for organizing and maintaining a practice with this population. It includes a review of information related to screening, scripts, interventions, communicating with other professionals, and business and personal self-care. Information on working with children in high conflict families is scattered throughout the internet and out of date. This book outlines much of the basic information and addresses questions you may have about working with this population.

Tracy Garay, LCSW

I am a licensed professional counselor who is board certified and am also a registered play therapist. I provide counseling to clients and training to mental healthcare clinicians. Lynn Louise Wonder’s book “When Parents Are at War: A Child Therapist’s Guide To Navigating High Conflict Divorce & Custody Cases” provides the tools necessary for a mental healthcare clinician to effectively navigate the legal and ethical obligations of a clinician who serves children whose parents are divorcing. Lynn discusses the process of working with children of parents involved in high conflict divorce cases that includes chapters on: initial screenings, parent intake protocol, parental traits and behaviors, treatment planning, rejection and alienation, working with attorneys, working with guardians ad litem, responding to subpoenas, co-parenting, treatment planning, record keeping, court, and self-care. I love how digestible the content is and how quick a read it is for busy clinicians!

S. Willis

All therapists need this book and training! I highly recommend not only Lynn’s knowledge around court issues but her live trainings are excellent and help clinicians all over the world to confidently navigate these sensitive issues. This book needs to be on your shelf.

This is an invaluable resource for therapists working with children. It is well organized and easy to read and provides a clear outline of a number of the important issues along with guidance for how therapists can handle those issues when working with this challenging population.
Dr. Julie Maccarin