G. Andrew H. Benjamin, J.D., Ph.D., ABPP
Parenting Evaluation Training Program
William H. Gates Hall, Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98195-3020
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Visit this page to see recent articles by Dr. Benjamin.
Dr. Benjamin provides intensive tutorial consultation for those who would like to become certified by PETP as an evaluator for high conflict family law cases. Please forward a copy of your license, and a resume or curriculum vitae.
Workshop: How to Build A Successful Practice in Psychology at the Crossroads of Law and Behavioral Health
Workshop Brochure Template (.pdf)
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View this page for a list of evaluators conducting parenting evaluations in the Puget Sound area.
Book: Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice
(Benjamin & Gollan, 2003, American Psychological Association Press)
The following information will help you know what will happen during co-parent psychotherapy. There are also some steps that you will be asked to follow. This step-by-step plan will help PETP to work with you to develop a plan, and to work with your co-parent and you. The plan will help you reduce conflict and effectively co-parent your child (children).
You will be asked to provide information about your family. You will be given forms to fill out about your concerns about your child (children). You will be asked to provide information to PETP. The documents might include the parenting plan, parenting evaluations, reports for the court, or reports about you and your child (children). PETP will use the documents to help understand your familys needs.
You will be asked to be in contact with your co-parent only through e-mail. You will also be asked to copy your co-parent psychotherapist on all e-mail contact. The e-mail rules below have been developed to guide the communication process between you and your co-parent. Please adhere to these rules each and every time you e-mail your co-parent. Also, please be aware that due to the nature of e-mail contact, all e-mail interactions fall outside the privacy contract outlined in the stipulated agreement.
Program Information on this page:
Reasons for Co-Parent Psychotherapy
Studies show that children do better after divorce when parents reduce conflict and work together. Children who are distracted, torn, scared, or confused by their parents conflicts tend to have trouble. Their energies are diverted from key tasks that other children their age are working on. These tasks might be things like learning, making friends, and being part of their family. PETP works with co-parents to find non-conflictual solutions. Co-parents are encouraged to find ways to build their relationship with their child (children).
The Goals of Co-Parent Psychotherapy
Reduce parental conflict and enhance cooperation
Quickly resolve disputes between parents about the children
Assist child's (children's) coping with their parents conflict
Reduce post-divorce litigation
Enhance parenting skills
Privacy in Co-Parent Psychotherapy
PETP always will act on what will be best for your child (children). When you start the co-parent psychotherapy process you understand that what you say in co-parent psychotherapy is not confidential from the other parent. All e-mail sent to your co-parent psychotherapist is not confidential. If you send e-mail addressed only to the co-parent psychotherapist, it will be forwarded to your co-parent.
Co-parent psychotherapy is most effective when both parties are assured that the co-parent psychotherapist is not aligning with one parent over the other. This is achieved through open communication, equitable treatment of both parties, and consistent enforcement of the e-mail rules.
All communications among the parents, their children, and the co-parent psychotherapist will be confidential and privileged from disclosure to parties outside the co-parent psychotherapy process. Both parents agree and sign agreements stipulating that PETP and the co-parent psychotherapist will not be required to testify at or to produce for any proceeding or in any court opinions, records, documents, or recordings formed or created as part of the co-parent psychotherapy process. It is in the best interests of the child (children) and the parents that no one feels influenced by any impending legal action when involved in the co-parent psychotherapy process.
PETP co-parent psychotherapists comply with Washington state mandatory reporting laws. This means that your information will not be kept confidential if:
A dependent adult is being harmed.
A child is being harmed.
You make statements that lead us to believe you will harm yourself or another person.
A person is incapacitated and unable to make decisions about his or her own care.
E-mail Rules for Co-Parent Psychotherapy
From now on, co-parents are not to have any physical or verbal contact. Communication is to occur by e-mail only.
A copy of every e-mail message is to be sent to the PETP co-parent psychotherapist.
Only one e-mail message can be sent per day pertaining to one issue.
E-mail messages are to be no longer 100 words per message.
If a response is not received to e-mail within 24 hours, the same e-mail must be sent again.
The content of the e-mail message must follow the rules of common courtesy. This means no accusatory language, no harsh tone, and no rude behavior. The parent receiving the message is to suggest solutions to the other parents concern in the next e-mail message.
Before sending your e-mail, you should review it to ensure that it meets the courtesy standard described under rule number six.
Do not complain about the other parents behavior. Instead, send an e-mail message that requests an explanation of the behavior.
Inquiries concerning your co-parents behavior must be sent by e-mail within 4 hours of the event.
No new e-mail inquiries about the other parent's assumed behavior can occur until the other parent has responded to the initial inquiry.
Inquiries should include seeking more details of an alleged event.
All e-mail sent to your co-parent psychotherapist is not confidential. If you send e-mail addressed only to the co-parent psychotherapist, it will be forwarded to your co-parent.
What Co-Parent Psychotherapy Is Not
- The co-parent psychotherapist is not an investigator and is not part of the legal decision-making process.
The co-parent psychotherapist does not provide information to lawyers, guardians ad litem (GALs), or the court. The exceptions, of course, are in the area of mandatory reporting described above.
Co-parent psychotherapy is not case management.
Co-parent psychotherapy is not parenting skills training for one parent.
Co-parent psychotherapy is not an appropriate approach to use in cases with on-going family violence, untreated sexual abuse, or on-going substance abuse.
Co-parent psychotherapy is not psychological evaluation or treatment for one party. Each party's parenting and communication skills are evaluated and both parents will improve interaction styles and change negative patterns for the benefit of the child(ren).
Before Co-Parent Psychotherapy Begins
Each parent must agree to co-parent psychotherapy. There must be a signed stipulated agreement.Review the e-mail rules, and begin having contact with the other parent only through e-mail. Send an e-mail message to PETP at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
A statement that you have read the e-mail rules and intend to comply.
Your address and phone numbers.
Your net worth and net annual income so that a sliding fee can be set.
The evaluation fee is split into three payments. The first of the two payments is required before the evaluation can begin. This first fee of $100 per parent is for the first contact with the PETP process. It covers sending the Co-Parent Psychotherapy Information forms, E-mail Rules, and the Stipulated Agreement Form. Return the signed Stipulated Agreement form to the PETP address listed above. Also send the $100 processing fee.
Once PETP receives a signed stipulated agreement and processing fee form from both parents, the treatment-planning phase of co-parent psychotherapy begins.
Once phase one is completed, PETP will assign the sliding fee and send the Allegation forms and the Release of Information forms. The second fee covers the evaluation and creation of the treatment plan in Phase Two. In this phase, your co-parent psychotherapist will review documents, interview your co-parent and you, conduct parent-child observations, contact other professionals, all of which will contribute to the development of the treatment plan.
You will present your concerns in the Allegation forms. Please fill out a form for each concern you have. Provide the two most recent examples and the worst example of each concern.
The fee for this phase will be based on the sliding fee scale. Send the fee to PETP with completed allegation forms, prior parenting evaluations, guardian ad litem (GAL) reports, psychotherapy reports, educational reports, and any documents that will help your co-parent psychotherapist understand your child (children)s needs.
Release of Information forms should be completed and returned for all therapy and educational providers working with your co-parent, your child (children), and you. Return these with the other forms listed in number eight.
The co-parent psychotherapist will use the information to create a treatment plan. This will be discussed with your co-parent and you in separate, individual meetings with the co-parent psychotherapist. This happens in phase three.
The Co-Parent Psychotherapy Process
Your co-parent psychotherapist will contact you to set up a meeting. During your first meeting with your co-parent psychotherapist, you will discuss what was learned from reviewing your paperwork. You and the co-parent psychotherapist will discuss the treatment plan and come to an agreement about the next steps.
Once the plan is agreed upon, the co-parent psychotherapist and you will begin following the treatment plan.
Your treatment could include:
Sessions with your child
Observation sessions of your child and you
Assignments to complete outside of co-parent psychotherapy
Review of all e-mail contacts
Responses and interventions in e-mail contact
Recommendations for additional assessment or treatment services
The fee for co-parent psychotherapy is paid in advance. This is based on the sliding fee scale. Before your first meeting, the co-parent psychotherapist will let you and your co-parent know the fee. You will bring your half of the fee to your first meeting with your co-parent psychotherapist. The fee will cover the first 20 hours of service. At the end of the 20 hours, services will be reassessed and a new plan developed as needed.
During all phases of co-parent psychotherapy you will contact your co-parent only through e-mail. Review of your e-mail messages is provided as part of the 20 hours of co-parent psychotherapy. Each e-mail message reviewed is charged at $5. Any e-mail message reviewed that requires a response from the co-parent psychotherapist is charged at $20 per e-mail message.
An Impasse in Co-Parent Psychotherapy
If an issue cannot be resolved through the co-parent psychotherapy process the co-parent psychotherapist can declare an impasse.
The co-parent psychotherapy process will be determined to be at an impasse if:
A party or their child may declare an impasse and the psychotherapist agrees (because of one of the preceding reasons).
Three co-parent psychotherapy sessions with parties have produced no substantial progress.
Mutual agreement of the parties.
An impasse will be handled in one or more of the following ways as designated by the psychotherapist:
Ending treatment by the psychotherapist without any prejudice.
Starting a party or a child in other psychological evaluation or treatment as specified above.
Resuming the psychotherapy process after a sufficient period of time, not to exceed 90 days, and the parties have followed the interim recommendations of the psychotherapist during this period of time.
Arbitrating the impasse through the services of one of three qualified arbitrators. PETP will provide three options.
Any arbitration decision shall remain mandatory on the parties. If either party appeals an arbitration decision to the Court, the party who files the appeal must pay the retainer fees of the other party. Unless the legal position of the appealing party is significantly improved, the appealing party must pay the entire fees and costs of the action in the Court.
Termination of Co-Parent Psychotherapy
Termination of co-parent psychotherapy is based upon the parents and co-parent psychotherapists assessment and decision about the degree to which therapy goals have been met. Co-parent psychotherapy may also terminate if the parents reach a sustained impasse or violate the terms of the treatment contract, at which time their dispute resolution process shall be initiated.