FAQ: Social Work and Separation

Find out the answers to frequently asked questions ("FAQs") with regard to family law and other legal issues.

Counselling for myself and/or my child because of stressors from my separation and divorce

Divorce involves a reorganization of the family system and it is normal for family members to feel some negative emotions as a result of this significant change.

There are several different types of professionals that you may wish to engage to support your family through this change:

1. Social workers have either a Master of Social Work or a Bachelor of Social Work. They are “concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being” (Canadian Association of Social Workers, What is Social Work?). Counselling from a social worker is not covered by OHIP but it may be covered by your employment benefit plan.

2. Psychologists are mental health professionals with a PhD in psychology. They focus on all forms of psychology – both normal and abnormal (Canadian Psychological Association, What is a Psychologist?). Psychologists can diagnose mental illness and administer tests such as an IQ test and different forms of personality tests. Counselling from a psychologist is not covered by OHIP but it may be covered by your employment benefit plan.

3. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who focus on abnormal psychology. Psychiatrists can diagnose mental illness and prescribe medication (Canadian Medical Association, Psychiatry Profile). A psychiatrist providing counselling is covered by OHIP.

Some organizations within the Greater Toronto Area that offer free, or low cost, counselling include:

1. Family Services York Region

2. Jewish Family and Child Services (you do not have to be a member of the Jewish faith to access these services); and,

3. Catholic Family Services of Toronto (you do not have to be a member of the Catholic faith to access these services).

These databases may assist you in finding a social worker or psychologist who provides counselling services:

1. Psychotherapy Referral Service: http://prstoronto.com/; and,

2. Canadian Register of Health Service Psychologists: http://www.findapsychologist.ca/wp-content/themes/crhspp/index_search.php.

If you are interested in pursuing counselling with a psychiatrist, you will need to ask for a referral from your family doctor

Separation and Divorce – will it harm my children?

Many separating parents are concerned about whether separation and divorce causes harm to their children. Specifically, does separation and divorce cause children to become less well-adjusted than children with parents who have not separated?

Separation and divorce itself does not harm children. Rather “inter-parental anger and conflict are strong predictors of, and risk factors for, child maladjustment regardless of the family type in which the child is living: intact, divorced or stepfamily” (Government of Canada, An Overview of the Risks and Protectors for Children of Separation and Divorce, 2015).

Children are resilient if properly supported by the loving adults in their life. A main protective factor for children whose parents are separating is a strong relationship between parent and child (Government of Canada, An Overview of the Risks and Protectors for Children of Separation and Divorce, 2015).  Therefore, a divorcing spouse should ensure that s/he continues to strengthen the children’s relationships with both parents, where possible.

As parents, consider that it may well be best protect children of separating spouses by:

1.separating in as amicable a manner as possible;

2. reducing inter-parental conflict throughout the child’s life; and,

3. never involving children in the adult issues between spouses.

Should you wish to reach a family lawyer at Krol & Krol, telephone 905.707.3370 today.