By Carie Silvestri

While a therapist and a child specialist are both mental health professionals dedicated to the emotional well-being of the children affected by a divorce, there are some significant differences in their roles during the divorce process.


 Therapist Child Specialist
Role is to create a mental health treatment plan Role is defined by the collaborative divorce process and the collaborative divorce team
Ongoing relationship with child Relationship is limited to the collaborative divorce process, specifically in gathering information for the parenting plan
Confidential treatment process unless HIPAA release is signed allowing communication with collaborative divorce team Confidentiality within the collaborative divorce process, but a HIPAA release is not needed to speak to a member of the collaborative divorce team
One-way communication Open communication with the collaborative divorce team
Provides supportive work for the child Provides feedback to the parents and the collaborative divorce team to give the child a voice
Issues may include all aspects of the child’s lives; not limited to divorce Issues with child are limited to divorce (or relevant legal process)
May diagnose child, if appropriate, and suggest treatment plan No diagnoses, but may identify issues and educate parents about concerns, if appropriate
Goal: Support child, provide long-term solutions, and share child’s perspective and needs about divorce/family-conflict if asked Goal: Provide child’s voice in the collaborative divorce process and help parents make decisions that are in the child’s best interest by educating the parents on the child’s needs and concerns


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