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how to handle meeting with therapist over exp pursuing contact with dd(56 Posts)
long background but dd is now 16, so any court order for contact not relevant zero contact with her dad since Oct 2014 following incident which was an assault and investigated by SS and deemed inappropriate behavior (was unwanted tickling and invasive, tho not sexual as such). SS recommended no contact unless DD wanted/initiated it. previously she had declined contact, had been let down so many occasions with false promises, had witnessed him being aggressive and violent, had witnessed him attack younger dd (tho youngest has forgiven him, accepting this was when he was depressed therefore she puts it into part of his depression/MH) and hid if he came near house tho tolerated public outings occasionally eg sibling birthdays etc.
exp long history severe MH episodes including aggression, abusive/controlling etc. I left (moved out of jointly owned property) in 2008 with 3 DC. younger dd 13 has weekly contact, often is let down and arrangements not kept. she organizes directly, knows that a promise to eg go swimming may or may not be kept.... other DS disabled, exp sporadic contact eg none in jan feb then 3 x for two hours each during march.
so, exp (who refused to attend a family group conference in 2015) has been pursuing "family therapy" to get contact with dd. psychiatrist from local family centre emailed me to ask if i would meet jointly to discuss a "way forward" and that he has great experience in families where child refuses to see non resident parent....
I have said i would meet privately first to give factual background - i have GP letters, SS report etc. I have no intention of forcing dd to have contact and certainly not while she in midst of GCSEs (I have said as such to exp he has emailed "exams are no excuse! you have stopped her having contact with me for 18 months!"
you get the picture...everything is clearly my doing and nothing to do with his behavior towards her...
I have learned from past experiences in such meetings to a) get the factual background in as exp misses out on crucial facts when he puts his "side" eg claiming he has not seen the Dc for 12 months when he has seen them just not on his terms ("so when did you last see the DC"? "last week, but it was only at the park so didn't count, I haven't seen them properly for 12 months") ,; or not telling a therapist he had had severe MH episodes which impacted on his ability to have contact with the DC i.e. there were times it was not safe for contact to happen - it was not just my whim!; and sticking to a script...
and to be prepared for him to go on about how on xx date in xx year i did xxx to him... he goes on the attack... I dont want a session to be about me defending myself for every accusation
I am also wary of therapists who want to see both sides neutrally ... and may not come down on him for his attack on DD...
I suppose I would like to have a professional tell him to back off (harassing me about seeing DD/blaming me etc ) and for exp accept that the damage has been done..by him to DD - .and he would have to really show some respect and - what? - if he and dd are to have an adult relationship in future...
could this meeting be helpful or will it backfire?
how can I present facts without looking like a mad ex?
how can I make sure I am not coming across as parental alienation etc etc...
how can I make sure ground rules are no accusations etc.; while ensuring his attack on DD is acknowledged?
Can you say you'd like to meet the therapist privately before you decide whether you are willing to have a joint meeting?
I wouldn't go anywhere near it tbh. Family therapy isn't addressing his many issues it just helping him to get what he wants. Your dd is 16 ask her if she wants you to go if not leave it there.
So has the therapist accepted your request to meet privately? If not, I think that says a lot about the therapist and you'd be justified in not going further.
If the therapist is willing to meet you, I think it's worth going along to have your private discussion at any rate. I don't think you're going to come across like a mad ex at all given that you have all this objectively documented background.
From that initial private meeting, you'll get a sense of what the therapist is like and whether this process could potentially be useful for your dd or not. If nothing else, it might buy you a bit of time while she concentrates on her exams.
I'd make the decision on whether to engage at the point where you've met the therapist, because it all stands or falls on their clarity about the situation.
yes has agreed to meet privately - this is where i need some ideas/suggestions really how to go into that meeting.
I need to state factually that ex is an abusive control freak who has been violent and aggressive on multiple occasions (some on police record) and assaulted DD - without making it sound like I am just making up allegations.
I suspect exp will say/will have said that I assaulted him (i slapped him in order to get him off DD and stop assaulting her...) and make it look like we are both as bad... but he is the one trying to make things better...
so I need to know how to best get across what has happened previously...
Would it be possible to take someone along with you, who witnessed any of your Ex's actions?
You have documentary evidence, and that some of the actions are on police records, so hopefully this will be enough to slow or halt this process.
But if you give the factual information to the therapist and he still wants to pursue facilitating a meeting between your Ex and your DD, then I'd back off at that point, because I'd doubt that this person would understand the damage your Ex has done to your DD.
Sorry, not answering your question as I have no real suggestions but what's in it for you or your DD? Are there any benefits for you going through all this again?
He refused a family group conference only last year, so what has changed?
I wouldn't revisited this at all, personally, unless I had to.
I don't see why you need to be out out by all this, I'de write the therapist a letter explaining your points and include photocopies of relavant professional letters.
Getting you to meet is control and he's enlisting the help,of the therapist to this end, I really don't see why the therapist is asking this of you. I would have thought they would be able to access information on their own, particularly through social services.
And if the therapist hasnt got the measure of him then I'de be worried, this feels like harassment by the back door
that he has great experience in families where child refuses to see non resident parent....
This is the bit that makes me think you need to avoid the therapist trying to dominate the agenda, if you do go ahead with the meeting.
You don't need to listen to him, but he does need to listen to you. So be firm and take control of the meeting from the start. Give the factual information unemotionally, and make it clear that this isn't the first time your Ex hasn't told the whole truth (as you mention previous meetings in your OP).
Hang on. The child is 16? She's old enough for her wishes and feelings to be taken into account. Does she want to see him? If no, then it's end of.
I wouldn't. Is he seeking your support to coerce a 16 year old into seeing him?
I wouldn't meet with the therapist personally. I would send a letter and copy in the manager of the service he works for outlining what you have in your first post leading up to the no contact. State clearly that it isn't simply a case of a child refusing contact with a parent, but of a 16 year old soon-to-be adult setting personal boundaries after witnessing him being abusive and following being bullied and assaulted herself. I would state in the letter that counselling isn't reccommended for situations were abuse from either party has happened due to the abuser manipulating the therapist and continuing their abuse via them and that this is precisely what your ex is doing now. I would then reiterate that your daughter has made the decision to not have contact with her father and this is supported by social services, school and any other agencies involved and that as her mother you are supporting her in having autonomy over her own life, the same as you would support her if she had of wanted contact. I would end the letter with a paragraph stating that any counselling offered to ex should be along the lines of helping him come to terms with his daughters decision and helping him to recognise that even if he doesn't agree with her reasons he needs to respect them so as not to alienate her further and drive a bigger wedge. Final sentence, any further request to engage with him or these services will be reported to the agencies involved with us in protecting us from him as 'he is using this as a way of trying to engage us in contact against our wishes'.
*respect them and her decision and stop trying to force contact from her
yes, she is 16 now;
I am unsure of the motivation of the therapist (who is expert witness and used by local courts in child and family cases, is mentioned all over family law in various cases including those where residence has been transferred) given she is now 16.
the benefit could be that the professional might agree that she is 16 and her wishes take precedent; harassing me wont make any difference;
and might drum this into ex
(and maybe suggest that if he backs off respects her wishes etc then who knows later when dd is stronger/older she may start to rebuild a relationship... )
the fact that other dd sees exp with my blessing (and support when it goes wrong and she's left swim bag ready and crying coz he hasnt turned up again...) surely shows that it is not me deciding on contact/no contact...
Oh and sorry make sure that in the final paragraph you state that what he is doing is tantamount to harassment.
amusing yes good points; that is exactly where I need to go with this...
Fully agree. Letter is the way forward. Getting your points across without engaging in any face to face debate with a strange therapist who may basically cross examine you and put you on the back foot.
Also it's pointless given your daughters age to engage in anything that even smells like a negotiation. There is no negotiation over contact nor will there ever be.
Definitely a stern and strictly factual letter. With bullet points if need be!
He's basically doing what most abusers do and changing tactic to engage you and your dd in anyway he can-he doesn't care what sort of engagement it is, he doesn't even really care about the outcome as long as it has the desired effect, validitates him and makes your dd talk to him (and if he can twist the knife and abuse you further/sully your name then that's a bonus).
It is harassment, plain and simple. Quite worrying that the counsellor hasn't figured this out for himself really but then again it does depend on the story your ex has told him, I'm guessing he is a plausible liar. At least if you deal with it in writing none of what you say can be twisted and you've created a paper trail (keep a copy too).
Depending on your daughters feelings if she wanted to herself she could write a short letter to be therapist herself stating she has made the choice not to have contact and she wants her dad to stop harassing her as if she changes her mind in the future she will let him know. I know I had to verbally tell my bio dad when I was 14 and wanted to stop contact with him, which I had to do several times in the end (he blamed my mam too-it was obviously nothing to do with his alcohol problem or the abuse I witnessed ) he still goes around making out like he doesn't know why I don't contact him now 15+ years later.
*validates (sorry auto corrected to something that makes no sense)
IMO, I would write this letter and say that you will not partake in any family therapy with an abuser. He has only done this, to abuse you all further and to try and get a professional to agree that his motives are that of a plausible and loving father. I would go onto say that as she is 16 and does not want contact, then as her primary carer you are supporting her with this.
I would go on to list police/SS reports and dates that he has not attended contact and I would end the letter by saying that you do not wish to be contacted again, as this matter is now closed.
Professional witnesses are paid for their opinions op I wouldn't touch this with a barge pole, your dd is 16 this is a can of worms the therapist is trying to open.
I personally really don't feel comfortable with any of this, and I'm a complete stranger.
I would have no confidence whatsoever in an alleged psychiatrist who has set out their stall in such a blatantly partisan manner that it has, understandably, caused you to become defensive which means that, should meet this shrink face to face, you'll be coming from a position of weakness as you'll have it all to do to counteract the heavily sanitised tale of formerly harmonious family life that your ex has spun.
You're best advised to compose a one page letter to be sent recorded delivery incorporating some of the suggestions above and explaining that, on refection, you see no purpose in meeting as you have no intention of engaging in any therapeutic or other activity that is intended to persuade your dd to go against the recommendations made by SS and that she remains free to initiate contact with her father at any time should she wish to do so.
You know your ex - and you know that this is no more than an attempt to press your buttons as well as place your dd in an invidious position. Don't give him the satisfaction of knowing that he only has to pull your strings and you'll start dancing to his tune.
No. There is something very wrong with a therapist, especially one who is used as an expert in courts/family law matters making such an approach. They will have a very good idea about the law and ought to know better. Sounds as if your DD is needed to add to his/her 'success' list.
Trying to justify yourself to anyone who has bought your ex's story or hoping your ex will understand is pointless.
A path was set out by SS and your ex refused.
Your daughter is 16 and she has said no.
Either you or your solicitor needs to write and say that you will regard further contact about this as unwelcome and will refer to police/professional body/head of practice or whatever and request that DD is not disturbed until she has done GCSEs.
For most 16-year-olds it's a pivotal point - and that may be a time when you talk to her about her future relationship or not with her father or offer her chance to explore with a therapist/counsellor her feelings about the whole thing. But until then let her do her exams in peace.
I would be checking this therapists credentials if you haven't already.
it's sounds very suspect to me, but i do admit to not knowing how it works.
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