Skip to comments.The Dark Side of 'Christian' Family Counselors
Posted on 04/22/2018 11:48:52 AM PDT by Hostage
A male friend from my community has a shared custody arrangement of his son who at 10 years old is similar in age to my own son. The father and I have known each other for seven years and we have developed a friendship.
This is a summary of events the father has shared with me over the past several years. He is pretty closed lip but knows I can be trusted to keep his personal matters private. We share a lot as our boys are often in the same activities together like baseball, karate, biking. I try to be helpful where I can.
As a Christian, he was distressed by a long divorce process that left him shaken by the court system and by the power of Child Protective Services (CPS) which at one time his ex-wife had called in to investigate him on false charges as a ploy to get full custody. This is I think a fairly typical story but later circumstances involving a counseling network and CPS appear unique or at least not part of my knowledge base.
He seemed particularly fearful of CPS and the damage they could do to innocent parents. He survived CPS but came away wanting to avoid them in any way possible. He said they have no duty to families or to truth-seeking, only to the state statutes that govern them. I would not expect it to be different.
He had wanted to relocate but the joint custody order would not allow either parent to have the child removed from the county, even temporarily for visitation, without the court's permission. He was as fearful of the family court system as he was of CPS. He felt he had received a good deal in comparison to other fathers and didn't wish to press his luck. So he was stuck.
His ex-wife found a boyfriend that she moved in with. During initial periods of visitation with the mother, the child appeared to be fine with the arrangement, happy to have attention showered on him in both households.
After a time, the mother's boyfriend became hostile toward the child leaving the child not wanting to go see his mother. This left the father in a crisis because he could not violate the parenting court order and yet his child was begging to not go see the mother.
The father who is a capable individual and fairly strong in demeanor becomes cowed at the prospect of going to family court. He becomes a different sort of man when matters of family court occupy his thoughts. He changes from a strong male to a cowering wimp. He will not directly talk to his ex-wife. He communicates with her only by email so as to leave a record should it ever be necessary to appear in family court. In each email response, he says he measures every word he writes knowing that the emails can appear as exhibits in court motions. To that, I have to say he is smart. From his private conversations with me, I heard he at one time had a very capable attorney which I imagine helped him stay out of trouble.
He persuaded his son to visit his mother if he could somehow shorten the visits. The father says he was able to shorten the visits by agreement with the mother based on the child's activity schedule; sports, camps, etc.
But over the course of about a year, the hostility of the ex-wife's boyfriend turned to abuse. The abuse was both psychological and physical. For example, the father says his son was told to stay in his room an entire day with nothing to read or look at because he had apparently not shown the proper level of respect to the mother's boyfriend. The father says at one point the boyfriend allegedly lifted him up by his neck to tell him eye-to-eye that if he ever looked showed disrespect again, that the boyfriend would kill him. But no visible marks remained after alleged incidents of physical abuse. According to the father, his son trembled with fear at the prospect of returning to his mother's for visitation. At one point there was an argument between the mother and the boyfriend that resulted in a 911 call. This was, according to the father, hard evidence that he could use in court to show an unsafe environment existed at the residence of the mother.
But this story is not so much about problems in a divorced family as it is about how family counseling and the state can make a bad situation worse.
My friend felt strongly but reluctantly that he had to go to court and bring this to the court's attention but he was still fearful. I admired his facing the responsibility to stand up for his son. He asked me for feedback. I told him he might need to consider a third-party evaluation of his son to obtain objective evidence for the court to weigh. He said that was what he would do.
A few weeks later I saw him at baseball practice where our sons were on the same team. I asked him how things were going and he told me that things were awful and that he was keeping a low profile everywhere he went. He wouldn't answer his phone, he wouldn't answer his door, he had to screen most everything. He said he was fearful even to bring his son to baseball practice.
He had a hired a 'Christian Family Counselor' to hear his son give testimony about the mother's boyfriend. He wanted to have a record for the court of the counseling testimony and if necessary, he might need the counselor to appear in court to testify. According to him, things started out very well with the family counselor as a clear understanding was reached for the purpose of the counseling (court case evidence). He told me the counselor was young but very positive and seemingly competent. He said his son was very happy with the counselor and was thankful to his father for bringing him to the counseling sessions.
The clinic was a part of a Christian counseling network. The father told me he thought that a Christian clinic would be less inclined to heighten conflicts like some attorney firms would do in order to churn out more billable hours. Using a Christian network, he thought the process would somehow be more gentle.
On the second visit to the counselor, he told me the counselor concluded the session with his son and came to the lobby to tell the father to meet him in his office. In the office, the father was told that the counselor had obtained from his son a record of alleged abuse and that he had a duty, that he was required by the state to report to the state's CPS that child abuse was occurring in the mother's home. The counselor said he would need the child's social security number and his date of birth. The father said he didn't know his son's SSN off hand. The father hurriedly left the counseling clinic after promising he would email that information.
Then the father went quiet. He never emailed the information to the counselor and left an after-hours message to the counselor that he wasn't happy with the counseling rendered and would be seeking a different counselor.
He told me that CPS has no duty to God, their only duty is to the State. He said he was appalled that a HIPAA regulated service such as family counseling would inflame a family conflict thereby possibly rendering a delicate situation into a monstrous spectacle. All he wanted was an evaluation letter from the counselor, not an intervention by CPS.
I asked him why he thought CPS could not be trusted to investigate the mother's boyfriend.
Apparently, CPS interviews all parties during an investigation and treats all parties as suspects.
The father told me he simply couldn't take the risk. He said the risk was high that CPS would turn his life and the life of his son upside down. Unlike dealing with law enforcement, there is not a clear right to have an attorney present when talking with CPS investigators. Actually, there is a means for legal representation, but it's not generally known or manageable as CPS has authority beyond law enforcement to take a child in the 'interest' of the child, without a clear warrant.
I know more than one non Catholic who as availed himself of the confessional.
Family lawyers are of limited use in the family court system? News to me.
I spent over 2 years in family Court (over $225k!!). I’ve been through just about every facet of a contested custody case. Without a good attorney (who in my case it also a brother in Christ) who knows what would have happened. People who see my Decree would wonder at what I was awarded despite not having primary custody.
An experienced attorney will know rules of evidence, what motions to file, will know at least some of the Judges, and will have a Rolodex of reliable counsellors, psychologists and mediators. So far, from what you have described, it sounds to me like your friend is doing things which could put his son’s life at risk. I hope not. I wish him well.
Having been through the system, there is merit to many of the things you write.
My question is, why do we allow the local bar association to write the rules government legal practice?? The system claims to look out for “best interest of the child”, but truly they have a cookie cutter formula which ignores faith and family practice. Thankfully, in my jurisdiction, the default position is that there will be a geographic restriction of the child’s residence, so that both parents can have a meaningful relationship with the child(ren). There is a legal mountain to climb for the custodial parent to try to run off with the child. This is very, very good. But most other jurisdictions just let Mom run off and deprive Dad of that relationship.
What a story! Your “friend” knows that his son is being abused but doesn’t want it reported! And you think that it’s the counselor’s fault.
I was actually able to get custody of the 10 year old when she reached 15, and even represented myself in court. My ex’s attorney was desperately trying to get me to act out in court. The result was that she was threatened with contempt twice.
I was coached my a men’s advocacy paralegal. It worked.
I see the courts, not as a place to get justice, but as a place to play a game. And once you learn the rules of the game, you have a good chance of winning. Looking back, I kinda wish I’d pursued a career as a trial attorney. I felt like I was in my element even at age 49.
"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan
Any licensed counselor or medical professional has a duty to report immediately any suspected case of abuse or face loss of license. Period. It has nothing to do with Christian counseling
Would be great for all men to seek men’s advisory paralegal or mediator prior to any court involvement when it comes to divorce.
Good things turned out well for you and yours..
Would be great for all men to seek men’s advisory paralegal or mediator prior to any court involvement when it comes to divorce.
Good things turned out well for you and yours..
I don’t know about your jurisdiction, but where I live, mediation is a mandatory step ordered by Family Court.
Our mediator called an impasse after about 30 seconds. OK, maybe it was 30 minutes. The parenting plan proposed by the other side (ridiculous by my now ex-wife), which was consistent with the impasse, was used by the ad litem attorney (a biological female) to propose to the jury that I get custody.
So yeah, mediation is good, but if the custody is contested, and one has ANY inkling that one’s spouse is about to do scorched Earth (usually Mom), get a good lawyer, even to arrange mediation. It is simply too risky to deal with an ex-spouse whose real goal is to destroy the other parent.
If you’re an MD, you should be smart enough to have read through the thread to glean the points which you apparently did not do.
Of course, licensing by the state makes those licensees beholden to state mandates. That is not the point.
See #78, #79, #80, and OTHERS for what the thread points are.
That you didn’t read through the thread and get the points is either because you’re lazy, mouthy, sassy, reasoning-impaired, poorly educated, or a combination thereof. You can’t be an MD unless you were educated in Zimbabwe or some hell-hole and came by the 5th pathway. Else we’re all at risk of politically clueless, subgrade McCabe-wife type MD tar babies.
Take some advice, get a complete picture before spouting off or stay out of politics.
Good grief, another mouthy viewer who doesn’t bother to get the complete picture.
The kid is fine and in good hands. See #58 above.
See #78, #79, #80 and others above and then come back and show some class by making an apology.
Thank goodness, a poster with a brain.
And a pleasant good evening to you. Bless your heart!
I have higher credentials than ‘MD’ but feel no compunction to list them by my moniker or even in personal emails.
That said, I have worked alongside many MDs in research studies and one would think their education would make them tend to be more like philosophers but in reality, that is not always the case, Some are like automatons incapable to think of what it means to be an American, to question authority, to examine legalism and see where it is detrimental and what needs to be done to improve it. It’s a pity that some MDs are limited in this sense.
The child in this story is in the safest, most competent and compassionate hands that could be, a loving and responsible parent, but one who faces a predicament that is in process of finding the best resolution.
But it’s perturbing to see people spout off when it comes to the best interest of a child as if they have some virtuous view of the matter which they don’t. It’s called ‘Virtue Signaling’ and it is baseless ‘for the children’ Pavlovian behavior. It is disgusting because there is no wisdom in it, no benefit to listening to it, no light shed by it, like garbage.
This story is not about a child and his loving parent, it is about so-called Christian Services allowing themselves to be subjugated to the state, doing the state’s bidding even when that bidding is wrong on its face. State involvement is accepted by some shallow minded Americans as something that is not to be reviewed, challenged, reformed, or questioned.
I have been around a long, long time, have witnessed the evolution of American society dumbed down and afraid to take part to make improvements in their laws and their lives, to band together and get a political agenda in place to improve conditions and society in general. Instead, some Americans would like to be led around like immature stunted pseudo-adults who desire an ‘authority’ to tell them what to do. Such beings shun the responsibility of thinking for themselves.
The advent of this thing called CPS is not an improvement to society. It is a wrong step. Society has not improved under this form of legalism. It’s detrimental to health. It needs reform.
The people that are professionally trained in dealing with family conflicts such as social workers, school counselors, family counselors, psychologists have acquiesced as agents to the state when they are in fact superior to any state agency because they know what is happening on the ground whereas the state is clueless and takes harsh action that in many if not most cases does more damage than good to the helpless.
Professionally trained people can take responsibility and liability by taking out malpractice insurance to cover cases where their instructions fell short of what was needed to prevent conflicts from escalating. In other words, these professional people should have the decision authority to call in law enforcement or courts to intervene. They should not be required to call in the harsh clueless badged guns at the drop of one allegation of abuse. They are better informed and better suited to make decisions.
The class that is superior to the professionally trained counselors is the rabbinical, priest and clergy class because they are lifelong students and confessors of wisdom. They are the traditional and natural mitigators of family and social conflicts. Yet, they are threatened by and forced to subjugate themselves to the state.
This thread has generated some inputs that are excellent which is the hoped-for purpose of these discussion threads, that may be feed discussions of political reforms.
An example political agenda for reform for improving the situation for children and their adult caregivers and parents would look something like this:
1. The statute that MANDATES CPS be called at the slightest mention of abuse should be stricken WHEN the family is under the care of a certified counselor, certified under groups such as the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), and many others.
2. A recognized and approved credentialed counseling certification is sufficient to allow the counselor holding such credential to make decisions where harsh measures are called for.
3. Certified credentialed counselors are mandated to carry malpractice insurance at a level determined to cover incidents exposing families to harm and stress, just as is done by legal and medical professionals.
4. CPS or law enforcement must respond to a certified counselor’s report and must follow guidelines and instructions of the counselor such as:
a. As directed by the certified credentialed counselor, temporary custody is to be given to listed relatives or known listed persons of the family.
b. Intervention by clergy and rabbinical persons from the family’s temple, synagogue, shul or Church are to be given priority if requested by at least one parent or guardian of the family under duress.
c. Reports by Clergy, Rabbis, Certified Credentialed Counselors shall be recognized by courts and government offices.
And so on. These are the types of serious discussions that take place that aim for improvement and reform.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.