“Therapeutic visitation” is similar to “supervised visitation.” They are both supervised visits between a non-custodial parent and a child. In supervised visitation the parent is allowed to have contact with his or her child only when there is a supervisor present, usually to ensure safety. Therapeutic visitation is similar in that the supervisor’s most important objective is to keep the child safe. In therapeutic visitation, however, there is also an emphasis on developing parenting skills. The supervisor is a trained mental health professional who intervenes as needed to facilitate appropriate parent-child interactions, redirect conversations, or provide in-vivo parenting education. In my practice, I also debrief with parents after visits to talk about what went well, what to try differently next time, relevant child development issues, and what to expect down the road.
Therapeutic visitation is appropriate for parents with insufficient parenting skills, high-conflict families at risk for domestic violence, parents with previous allegations of sexual abuse, parents with a history of severe parental alienation, or those who have threatened to abscond with the child.