The Overcoming Barriers Approach: What are the components of the Overcoming Barriers Approach?
Our approach is a whole family approach that builds effective parenting and coparenting structures which are in the child’s best interests.
Both parents, including the favored parent and the resisted parent must attend Family Camp and other OCB programs, because each member of the family has a role to play in any solution to move the family forward. In our experience the problem is a shared and very complex issue.
Although the family may be court ordered to attend camp, everyone involved is expected to come with an open heart and mind and the willingness to work for the best interests of the child(ren). Evidence indicates that having a healthy relationship with both parents is best for the child(ren).
Often step-parents, significant others, older siblings and even grandparents may be requested to attend if clinical intake suggests they may be having an impact on the situation.
OCB programs include psycho-education and a team of clinicians providing interventions in a safe supported environment outside the comfort zone of “home.”
Our mission and the focus at camp is to educate each family member about the importance of the child’s relationship with each parent and to provide more functional coparenting connections.
Families work with a team of experienced clinicians in the field.
The mornings are spent with each family member in psycho-educational groups and afternoon interventions are tailored to the individual needs of each family, pairing family members up in parent-parent, parent-child, or whole family configurations.
Education focuses on cognitive processes (polarized thinking, perceptions) and problem solving skills for the children and for the parents. Parenting skills are a primary focus for the adults as well. Each adult receives a copy of our guide entitled Overcoming the Co-Parenting Trap: Essential Parenting Skills When a Child Resists Contact with a Parent.
Camp is experiential and what happens at camp provides ideas for the clinical team to work on with each family.
Although each family’s story is revealed during clinical intake and expanded at camp it is important for family members not to remain “stuck” in that story but to open the door for a new and different story that includes the perceptions of both parents and children.
OCB offers an alternative to ongoing litigation.
A primary goal of the program is for parents to develop ways to break the cycle of litigation and agree to solve problems outside of the legal adversarial paradigm. The emotional and financial costs of continued litigation is often a significant stressor for divorced families.
Some families who have attended previous camps have developed agreements at camp that have ended their involvement in the Court.
The expectations and hopes for your family are to provide all family members with tools to resolve parenting concerns and to begin to break down the barriers to shared parenting. Although the courts are not social service providers, it is hoped that the mental health, legal and judicial professionals involved with the family will work in conjunction with one another to support the individuals and the collective family group.
Programs incorporate recreational activities that foster positive connections between family members, from parallel activities to direct engagement activities.
These opportunities serve to increase connections in a safe and respectful way between all participants. Staff are wonderful role models and the milieu is an excellent place to practice new skills.
Additionally each family will meet others who also have ruptured relationships with one another. Both parents and children find comfort and hope in meeting others in similar situations. At camp OCB promotes the understanding that no one is all “good” or all “bad.”
Provides for legal and therapeutic follow-up and aftercare as necessary components to success.
At the end of camp we provide a Summary of Interventions and Agreements which may include suggestions for your family to move forward.
The Summary of Interventions and Agreements document is approved by and signed by all parties [child(ren) may or may not sign depending on relevant content] as it is based on agreements reached at camp. Children are encouraged to sign child-centered agreements.
Sometimes the agreements reached at Camp are positive deviations from previous arrangements, while others, although no less important, may be baby steps to parents working together in a different way in the best interest of their child(ren).
In addition to agreements, OCB offers suggestions on post camp support for your family, which may include a Parent Coordinator, therapy for individual family members or family therapy.
This Summary of Interventions and Agreements can serve as a template from which the court can follow the progress made within the family.
If clinicians are called to testify after camp either with permission from both parents or by subpoena he or she must be compensated at their normal rate.
Goals for Overcoming Barriers Programs and Trainings include:
Differentiating the continuum of parent-child contact problems and understanding the multiple factors that contribute to high conflict coparenting
Developing a structure for constructive coparenting communication
Teaching coparents to self-regulate thoughts and statements reflecting harsh, rigid, polarized thinking.
Shifting the coparenting narrative from blame to shared responsibility
Helping coparents to reframe the “divorce story” into a new family narrative for the child(ren)
Showing children how to manage their emotions and learn to solve problems
Supporting children to become more free to feel and show connection with both parents
Allowing children to see parents working together in a safe way
Assisting family members to understand the roles that each play
Providing participants with problem-solving skills to apply to difficult situations