Program helps families manage stress of separation and divorce

A program is being offered through a local non-profit to address the needs of families in high-conflict situations.

Goal is to provide parents and children coping skills when going through high-conflict situations

Kathy Jones, executive director of Family Service PEI, says long-term, high-conflict situations can affect the emotional well-being of children. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A program is being offered through a local non-profit to address the needs of families in high-conflict situations.

The New Ways for Families program has helped about 10 families since it was launched in June through the charitable organization Family Service PEI, said executive director Kathy Jones.

Its goal, she said, is to provide parents and children coping skills when going through a separation or divorce.

"The research would tell us long-term impacts on children of being in protracted high-conflict situations between their parents is that it can have a significant impact on their emotional well-being."

It gives the children the opportunity to talk about some of the stresses they may be experiencing.— Kathy Jones

The program consists of six individual parent counselling sessions and three parent-child counselling sessions. It focuses on "flexible thinking" and "managing emotions," Jones said.

"As these are high-conflict situations, it gives the children the opportunity to talk about some of the stresses they may be experiencing.

"And then it also provides the parent with the opportunity to say, 'Well you know what, going forward this is how your other parent and I are going to communicate, because we very much want things to go well for you guys.'"

The cost is $95 per session. It is covered by most private health-care plans, Jones said, and there is a subsidy program for families with low incomes.

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With files from Isabella Zavarise