Recently I participated in a case debrief with other members of a Collaborative team. The debrief, or case consultation, is a regular and ordinary part of Collaborative Team Practice. Any team member can request a debrief to get an update or deal with an emerging issue, or they can be regularly scheduled by the neutral coach as part of team practice. I usually don’t think twice about how remarkable these discussions can be. But it is important to occasionally reflect on what makes Collaborative Team Practice uniquely able to tailor problem solving to the needs of clients. The issue we were addressing as a team was how to best support a divorcing couple to deal with hurtful and contentious behavior by extended family. This is not an uncommon concern. It can be difficult for extended family and friends to know how to behave during a divorce, and many default to taking sides. This can aggravate an already painful situation, especially for children who find themselves in the middle when listening to an aunt, uncle, grandparent or other family member who is critical or dismissive of one parent.
This issue had arisen several times while creating a parenting plan. Because parents were working with me as a neutral child specialist, it was possible for us to generate options in an open way, e.g. inviting extended family members to a meeting with me to talk about the goals of Collaborative Team Practice and the importance of keeping kids at the center and out of the middle. Parents and I agreed I should discuss their concerns and potential options with their team.
In the team debrief, the attorneys and neutrals working with this family continued to openly address this issue with a problem solving approach, and more options were generated for supporting our clients and their children. Each team member was able to contribute nonjudgmental, constructive perspective and empathetic support. We shared the commitment to assist our clients through a challenging time. In a different kind of divorce process, it would have been difficult to have such an open discussion about an issue with such potential to be polarizing.
Team debriefs are clearly one of the strengths and value-added dimensions of the Collaborative Team Practice model.Tagged with: children in divorce • Collaborative Divorce • collaborative divorce process • Collaborative Team Practice • communication • Divorce Process • parenting plan