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A Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional with specific training in the Collaborative Divorce Process. The Child Specialist has expertise in the areas of family therapy, child development, child and adolescent therapy, families in life transitions, co-parent counseling and child custody and placement issues.

The Child Specialist role is time limited and goal specific, focusing on the family related divorce issues. The Collaborative Child Specialist does not function in the role of a therapist for your family. The role operates outside the medical model, and no diagnosis is given.

Kathy Gehl, PsyD, an experienced Child Specialist discusses the impact of divorce upon children and the role of the Child Specialist in the Collaborative Process

The Child Specialist remains neutral throughout the Collaborative Process to assure that each family member is free to speak. Children are often silent participants in divorce. The Collaborative Divorce process recognizes that children are profoundly impacted by their parents’ divorce.

The Child Specialist identifies individual characteristics of the children and helps parents focus on how children’s temperament, level of development, and unique family situation contribute to their adjustment. The Child Specialist offers a neutral place for children to express themselves without feeling “in the middle.”

The Child Specialist is the only member of the Collaborative Team who meets with each family member. The Child Specialist is able to hear the needs, wants, concerns, and desires of each family member.

Remaining neutral, the Child Specialist is able to provide the parents, and the team, with valuable information, options, ideas and suggestions that reflect the best interests of the children. However, parents always have final decision making responsibilities regarding their children.

Parents often have concerns about the impact divorce has on their children. Knowing what to tell the children about the divorce, and when, can be confusing and a source of conflict between parents. Part of the expertise the Child Specialist brings to the parents and Collaborative Team is knowledge about frequent changes in children’s behavior in response to the stress of divorce , and to offer guidance in how to help the children get ‘back to normal’.