Loving contact and connection are fundamental to every parent/child relationship. Unfortunately, some families never had that important bond with each other, and other families lose contact over time. It can be difficult to build a healthy connection between a child and parent without support and guidance, due to the emotional and deeply personal nature of this relationship. Reintegration therapists assist parents and children gradually and safely confront their strained relationship with the goal of establishing a healthy and loving connection.
In order for reintegration therapy to be successful, all parties must play a role. The primary parent will need to relinquish some of his or her feelings about the past and allow the child to develop a relationship with the other parent. This will require trust, an open mind and forgiveness. The disconnected parent will need to learn patience and celebrate the small victories made along the way. The reintegration therapist can help this parent learn to foster a sense of security within the child, recognizing that the child may be unsure of the relationship at first. Therapy can also provide an opportunity for the parent and child to learn how the other has grown and changed since they last connected with each other. It is important that they learn to parent the child they have now, not the child that they remember.
Children will need to be brave, as they may be overwhelmed by fears of trust and abandonment. Children may need to overcome many difficult emotions, like resentment, feeling forced to reconcile or feeling ambivalent toward the disconnected parent. Reintegration therapy can help children navigate the difficulties of divided loyalties and internalizing the emotions of the primary parent.
In sum, reunification therapy can be a powerful tool for healing the wounds of the past and forming new, healthy parent/child relationships.