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How Co-Parenting Counseling Can Help in High Conflict Situations

by | Dec 19, 2023 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

Are you struggling to co-parent with your ex-partner?

Have you tried being reasonable and civil but they continue to act manipulative and controlling?

I know how frustrating it can be and what it’s like to feel like there is no support or solution.

Family court will make a court order based solely on the facts. Mediators often rush through sessions to find a quick solution.

Most of the time, parents like us are left in the lurch while our narcissistic and difficult co-parents get away with their toxic behaviors.

Because their sob stories and pity parties are taken at face value.

What if I told you there may be a way to work through your co-parenting struggles where your ex can’t pull shenanigans?

Co-parenting counseling is a thing, and it involves working with a professional who understands the complex dynamics of high-conflict co-parenting.

Let’s take a look at what it is, how it can help, and how you can find the perfect therapist:

What is Counseling for Co-Parents?

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Co-parenting counseling is a special type of therapy designed to help parents work together for the child’s well-being. It recognizes that there are challenges and the potential for conflict.

This type of counseling focuses on improving communication, reducing tension, and establishing a cooperative co-parenting relationship.

After spending so much time banging your head against the wall because your co-parent is difficult, this sounds great, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a closer look at what counseling for co-parents entails:

Co-Parenting Therapists

Co-parenting therapists are professionals who are trained to facilitate communication between divorced or separated parents. They also have expertise in conflict resolution and understand the unique dynamics of high-conflict situations.

This means that they won’t just take what is said at face value. These therapists approach the situation with a neutral stance and actively listen to both sides of the story.

Choosing a co-parenting therapist is a great way to ensure that your ex doesn’t manipulate the situation to make themselves look good or like a victim. Regular family therapists may not have the skill or insight to make the distinction between what is true and what is a show.

Co-Parenting Therapy Techniques

These therapists use different techniques to address the co-parents’ specific needs. For example, this may include communication exercises, conflict resolution skills, and tools for managing emotions.

Sounds a lot like parallel parenting, right?

These are all useful techniques for reducing conflict between co-parents. While I always suggest implementing them when parallel parenting, sometimes it helps to have a professional third party lay it out for your ex.

Overall, co-parenting therapy techniques focus on creating a positive and healthy co-parenting environment that benefits the kiddos and prioritizes their welfare.

The Benefits of Co-Parenting Counseling

While co-parenting counseling may sound like a fancy way of doing parallel parenting, there are definitely benefits to speaking with a professional when it comes to co-parenting.

For instance, co-parenting counseling provides a structured space where you can address issues without things getting out of control. You have a sort of moderator there to calm outbursts and guide conversations.

This type of therapy also promotes effective communication by helping both parties rephrase their concerns in real time. The therapist can pause a conversation and redirect it in a more effective and less hostile way.

Co-parenting counseling provides an opportunity for parents to develop a shared understanding of what their roles are. Instead of bickering back and forth, the therapist can act as a sort of mediator when it comes to each parent’s responsibilities.

And, again, it’s all about the kids. Co-parenting therapy can help reduce stress and improve your children’s overall well-being.

Does Co-Parenting Counseling With a Narcissist Work?

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That’s the big question, isn’t it? Does therapy work when you’re dealing with someone who is the master of manipulation?

As I mentioned above, co-parenting therapists are better equipped to deal with narcissists. They often have a keener eye for controlling and manipulative tactics.

However, the success of co-parenting counseling depends on the narcissist and how severe their traits are. If they are willing to engage in the process, it could work. Otherwise, using therapy as a way of helping your situation may not be effective.

If you do try co-parenting therapy and find that your ex is getting away with their sob stories and false accusations (i.e., the therapist is believing them), shut it down. You don’t need a professional third party empowering their nonsense.

Take the time to find a therapist who understands the complex dynamics of narcissism.

How to Find the Best Co-Parenting Therapist

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Okay, so let’s talk about how to find the best co-parenting therapist to help you deal with co-parenting with a narcissist.

Again, dealing with the complexities of narcissism requires a skilled and experienced therapist – someone who understands and recognizes manipulation.

Just remember that you don’t have to look for a “co-parenting therapist!” I’m not even sure if that title is widely used.

You’re really just looking for a professional who understands the intricacies of conflicted co-parenting.

Here are some ways you can find the perfect therapist for your situation:

Research Specialized Therapists

First of all, find someone who specializes in high-conflict co-parenting situations – particularly someone with experience in dealing with narcissistic personalities.

While family therapists are great, they may have a more generalized approach to your issues. This usually involves facilitating conversations until family members or ex-partners come to their own solutions.

In the case of co-parenting with a narcissist, this won’t fly. 

So talk to different therapists about your concerns. Along with using the term “narcissist,” describe your ex’s behaviors and get a feel for how they plan on approaching the situation.

Get Recommendations

Reach out to friends, family members, and legal professionals for recommendations. Look for people who have dealt with a similar situation and sought the help of a therapist.

I know the likelihood of finding someone in your life who has tried co-parenting counseling is slim, but personal referrals are the best way to gauge if a therapist is going to be helpful.

You can also post on social media to find recommendations.

Interview Therapists

There’s nothing wrong with interviewing a therapist before deciding whether or not you want their services.

This is the time to explain your situation fully and describe your ex’s behaviors. Try not to sound accusatory – you don’t want your therapist to think this is a revenge thing.

Even though they are professionals, they can still develop biases. It sucks, but it happens.

Instead, present them with evidence like texts or emails that show your ex is difficult and manipulative despite your attempts at cooperation and civility.

Trust Your Instincts

In the end, choosing a co-parenting therapist is all about trusting your gut. If a therapist feels dismissive about your concerns or starts to favor your ex’s perspective, they are not the right one for your situation.

Establishing trust with a professional is important if you want co-parenting therapy to work – especially when dealing with the mess that is your narcissistic co-parent.

What If My Ex Refuses To Go To Therapy? Court-Ordered Co-Parenting Counseling

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In some cases, family court may include co-parenting counseling as part of the custody arrangement. Or you can talk to your lawyer to see if this is something that can be added.

The whole point of a court order is to establish a co-parenting guideline that reduces conflict and creates a better situation for the child. It also pushes parents to develop the skills necessary to co-parent without court intervention.

So requesting co-parenting counseling is not an unreasonable ask.

Even if you don’t think therapy will be successful with a narcissistic parent, it’s worth a shot and can provide a structured framework for parenting communication and parenting decisions.

And it will help you maintain more control over the situation. If co-parent therapy is court-mandated, your ex has to show up.

Hope Through Co-Parenting Counseling

So maybe successful co-parenting counseling with a narcissist is a pipe dream, but it can be a way to take control of the situation.

Having a professional guide both of you through your co-parenting struggles may be a way to navigate those challenges successfully.

Again, it may not be a perfect solution, but it may make your situation better – which is the best thing you can do for your kiddo!

Have you ever tried co-parenting counseling? How did it go? Share your experiences in the comments below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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Let’s create a supportive community and navigate the complexities of co-parenting with strength and resilience!


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