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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Parenting, Joint custody of children, Divorced parents-Services for, Separated parents-Services for, Dysfunctional families-Services for, Family counseling, Dispute resolution (Law), Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Coordination, High-conflict, Divorce, Psychodynamic, Parenting coordination


Using a semi-structured interview, this qualitative study explored the experiences of 16 separated/divorced parents (10 fathers and 6 mothers; only one member of the coparenting dyad) that used parenting coordination, an ADR process provided by mental health and family law professionals with other training and licensing requirements as stipulated state-by-state. Major findings include: 1) more than half (n = 9) of parents found parenting coordination positive overall and provided detailed examples of thoughtful and innovative approaches used by some parenting coordinators; 2) those parents who deemed the experience as negative or ambivalent were also able to identify aspects of the process that were helpful; 3) only one parent, a father, co-parents with his former spouse today; 3) the parents' interactions are characterized by splitting, blaming and projective identification illustrating a "doer/done to" (Benjamin, 2004) paradigm; 4) six parents described "moments" of empathy toward their ex-partner or child/children; 5) parents' disputes involve parenting time access and financial matters that put their children in the middle, including exposure to violence; 6) all of the parents' struggled to describe a coherent narrative regarding their parents' relationships, how conflict was resolved and what they, as parents, think their children have seen modeled regarding closeness and conflict, indicating an absence of a co-parenting and conflict resolution internal working model.




vi, 195 pages. Dissertation (Ph.D.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-173)