Working with Children of Separated Parents
We have a policy of working and communicating with the key people in a child's life wherever possible. It can often be very helpful for the child for us to talk with both of their parents, and often leads to greater changes in their life.
Therefore, in an ideal world, we want to communicate with both parents of children as much as we can.
Unfortunately however there are two problems which can make this difficult or impossible.
1. Problems of Confidentiality
We need formal permission to talk with parents who have not physically attended the session (from now on, let's refer to these parents as "non attending parents").
Permission to talk with the "non attending parent" will either need to be given by (a) the parent who has physically attended the session with the child or (b) the child/teen if they are old enough to give "informed consent" (informed consent means that they understand what it means to say no or yes to us talking to the "non-attending parent" )
If the attending parent (or the child/teen) do not give us permission - we are not allowed to call, talk to or email the non-attending parent.
This is not our rule - this is the one which governs all health practitioners (eg doctors) and is set out in the Australian Psychological Society Ethical Guidelines. Often parents are not aware of this ruling, and understandably sometimes causes distress. However, it is a guideline which we are bound by as health professionals.
If permission has been given for us to talk with the non-attending parent, then the second problem arises.
2. Problems related to Time
We see many children every day who attend with one parent/caregiver only and most of our day is taken up with appointments with these children. It is impossible therefore from a time perspective for us to give detailed feedback about the work we are doing with children to non attending parent/caregivers.
We need to rely on the attending parent/caregivers to give feedback or information to the non-attending parent/caregiver.
We understand that unfortunately this is not always easy, particularly if there are communication difficulties between parents.
In this case, then we suggest that the non-attending parent either make a time to bring the child to an appointment themselves, or make a separate appointment for themselves on their own, without the child.
Provided we have permission from the child or the attending parent, this appointment enables us to spend time explaining the work we are doing with the child to the non-attending parent, and to discuss their thoughts.
Please note that some families are funded under schemes which allow for parent only sessions (ie NDIA funding, ATAPS funding) whereas other funding models (ie Medicare) do not allow for parent only sessions, in which case there is a fee for these sessions.
If you have any questions about these guidelines, please feel free to give the office a call on 8357 1711.