I do a lot of child custody work as well as consultations and second opinions in ongoing child custody cases at Family Court. This provides the opportunity to engage therapists in managing cases as well as observe therapists in action on ongoing cases. (I will address the issue of psychological evaluations later). There is probably no area where greater harm can occur and where therapists expose themselves to liability. I posted a series of comments on the Hawaii Psychological Asociation list serve on this topic. It doesn’t seem to have helped much, since I continue to see child therapists engaged as partisans in child custody disputes and regularly making rookie type errors. I feel like yelling out loud at the professional community! Maybe that is why I have turned to blogging. If you are a therapist, child or adult, with people who are involved with the Family Court, you need to read the following documents so you do good instead of harm and do not expose your self to damage.
Reference: Greenberg, L. R., Gould, J. W., et al (2003). Is the child’s therapist part of the problem? What judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals need to know about court-related treatment for children. Family Law Quarterly, 37, 241-265.
This is simply a superb article on psychologists working at the fringe of the court system. It provides some great conceptual guidelines between treating therapists, treating experts, and expert witnesses, if you ever have to go to court and testify.
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has developed a set of draft Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapists. If you are a child (or adult therapist) working with clients going through divorce, reading these articles will make you a better psychologist, I promise!