Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, participated in a CLE panel discussion on March 18 titled Advanced Family Law Methods: Reunification Therapy as a Resource in Mediation. The panel was sponsored by ADR Systems and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.
Judge Berger was joined by clinical psychologists David Finn, PsyD, and Gail Grossman, PhD, as well as mediator Amy Gertler, Esq.
“Success in family law mediation is based on cooperation, retaining control over the process and using available resources to break down barriers,” said Judge Berger. “Reunification Therapy is a great resource to help break down those barriers, repair relationships and reach an agreement, but it needs to be a priority.”
Reunification Therapy is designed to repair a child-parent relationship that has been disrupted during or after a high-conflict divorce. Reunification Therapy practitioners contend that children thrive when they have the best possible relationship with both parents and, as such, should be shielded from their parents’ disputes. Therapists cannot share any information shared during sessions with any other party without the consent of the client.
“For Reunification Therapy to be effective, participation from all parties is essential,” said Judge Berger. “The best way in a mediation to secure that buy-in is to remind the parties that it is better to retain control over the process through reunification therapy, rather than leaving custody and co-parenting plans up to a court. No one wants to be put under the microscope of a costly custody evaluation.”
The discussion also centered around the proper times to use Reunification Therapy, the importance of starting the process early and the overall use of the practice within the bounds of mediation.
Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.) is an experienced civil litigator who tried cases in Criminal, Chancery, Law and Domestic Relations before serving as a judge in Cook County’s Domestic Relations Division for 19 years. Judge Berger has been active in the legal community, including Chair of the CBA’s Fee Committee and President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. She is now a senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems where she concentrates in family law. Judge Berger is flexible and creative in her approach to mediation and has helped ADR Systems launch an innovative fast track mediation program for family law cases.
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