I just received this question emailed to me and to several other professionals. I thought it was an excellent question to get everyone on record answering. It is simple and direct.
So I replied all and answered it. Here is the question, and here is my answer – on record:
Question: What is your professional opinion regarding a 90 day “Protective Separation” in conjunction with Reunification Therapy?
Dr. Childress Answer:
Treatment decisions are based on diagnosis, and diagnosis is based on assessment. Assessment leads to diagnosis and diagnosis guides treatment.
A protective separation of a child from a parent is based on a professional diagnosis of child abuse. If there is not a professional DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse, made by a qualified mental health professional, it would seem difficult to establish the need for a “protective” separation. Suspected child abuse may fall into that range of considered options pending establishment one way or the other regarding the child abuse concerns.
Children benefit from receiving 100 mom-love and 100 dad-love, bunches and bunches. If mom-love or dad-love is less than 100, then our treatment plan is always to find ways of getting 100 mom-love and 100 dad-love to the child.
An enforced parent-child “separation” is not a good thing. Dropping mom-love to zero or dad-love to zero is not a good thing at all, and it is not a treatment. Dropping mom-love to zero or dad-love to zero is only warranted when it is an issue of child safety and child protection, that means a DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse (suspected or confirmed) made by a qualified mental health professional.
In my professional opinion, a protective separation of the child from a parent is only warranted in cases of a confirmed or suspected DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse made by a qualified mental health professional; the protective separation is to protect the child from an abusive parent, and lasts only as long and only to the degree that the protection needs for the child exist.
Treatment decisions should be based on the child’s symptoms in the context of the child’s diagnosis.
As to the second part of the question about “reunification therapy” – there is no such thing as reunification therapy. There is no book ever written which describes something called “reunification therapy.” The construct of “reunification therapy” does not exist as a defined form of psychotherapy.
So I am unable to render an opinion on that part of your question until you cite an actual form of therapy or provide a citation to a reference for “reunification therapy” – I will then read this citation reference and render an opinion on it.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857