high conflict separation
Over the past few years, social service agencies in Toronto have seen an increase in the number of high conflict families in need of services and programs.
Many of these services are child welfare in nature and many of these clients partake in other prevention and treatment services within the larger children’s mental health sector. Specifically, families and children are often involved with school social workers, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, children’s aid societies, physicians, family lawyers, police, therapists and other mental health professionals.
Often parents within these families present particular challenges to practitioners and are described as being resistant and focused on retributive anger towards the other parent. These families often take up a disproportionate amount of time and tend to dominate the workload of practitioners.
There is much concern by professionals about the efficacy of services and programs being provided and there are a multitude of agencies providing service in an often uncoordinated manner. Children in these families are often caught in the acrimony between the parents and suffer from emotional harm and abuse.
Frequently, children’s aid societies become involved, particularly when children exhibit emotional problems and the level of conflict intensifies. This pattern increases when a parent makes repeated allegations of abuse against the other parent which results in multiple child protection investigations.