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Monday, October 18, 2010

THE PEACE PROGRAM

One program lawyers, custody evaluators, GAL's often recommend in the face of high conflict divorce is The Peace Program in Avon (or the equivalent). This program is not counseling and is not covered by insurance because it is not treatment. You have to pay for it in cash, around $200.00 a session, I believe, and who the heck can afford that. It is intended to alert you to addictive behavior patterns which keep you in conflict with your ex, and also to assist you on negotiating visitation issues in regard to your children. It represents a kind of mediation.

I would not recommend this program. And I have yet to meet anyone else who would recommend this program either.

The counselors in The Peace Program know absolutely nothing (are clueless) about domestic violence--verbal, physical, or economic--and they are unable to handle it. I have spoken to women whose ex husbands threatened them in the waiting room of The Peace Program in advance of a session and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Also, mediation is not recommended in situations of domestic violence because of the automatic power imbalance.

There are also problems with how The Peace Program works. What you do in The Peace Program is discuss an issue with the counselor. Then the counselor reports the results of the session to the GAL and also to the Parties' respective lawyers. You are not supposed to be in litigation when these sessions take place, but people often are. The result is that if anything happens during the session or if the counselor observes mental health issues regarding you that concern her, she could end up on the stand testifying against you, or her report could be used against you. Trust me, this is something you don't want.

Every time you see another therapist, that is another layer of often confusing documentation regarding who you are and what you have done, all of which has to be sorted out and interpreted at the expense of thousands of dollars, and you simply don't need it. All you need is your own therapist who will (I assume you will make sure of this) always speak well of you.

If, for some reason, you are not able to avoid The Peace Program, tape record or write detailed notes about every session. After you leave, write up a quick summary of your version of what went on in the session and send it to your lawyer for documentation purposes only, so your lawyer doesn't charge you for reading it. Then if the counselor shows up with an unacceptable version of what went on during the session, you have a tape recording to prove her wrong, or your detailed notes of the session.

I think the real problem with these people is that they are burned out and have had enough. After all, how much of this marital conflict can you stand! I totally get that, actually. Plus, the counselors simply have no skills or maturity.

On a positive note, the program has a book "The Co-Parenting Survival Guide" which I think they make available, or else you can order it through a bookstore or amazon.com. Ask them about it. It is a really good book--the contents are valuable and I'd definitely recommend reading it. Yes, you can become addicted to arguing and fighting with your ex the same way you get addicted to alcohol or drugs. So deal with it for the sake of the children.

14 comments:

  1. So true, and well written. In our case the Peace Program Therapist was yelling, yes I said that yelling at my x. It didn'tmake me feel good to see her do that.. What it did do is tell me she couldn't control my x, or get a handle on the therapy session at all! Also, on another note, in my case the GAL "picked the therapist" and oh no we had no choice of other therapists it was as she wanted it.... Our therapist would "threaten" to call her while during a meeting with us, fully aware that her conversation would start the ticking timebomb of the hourly rate of GAL of whom thinks she has a thankless job... o.k. give me 250 an hour and I'll pick who gets the kids... that's what she's called in for... a custody battle.
    Our GAL NEVER HAD KIDS! If you don't have your own kids you don't know what it's like to be a parent. One needs to be persistent and diligent. I did all that Cathy recommended. I taped and took notes and quoted back to the therapist verbatim. She didn't like that....if you cannot afford the peace program their are alternatives on sliding scale. AND DEMAND THAT! MAKE IT WELL KNOWN THAT YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO HAND SOMEONE 200 A WEEK TO LISTEN TO GARBAGE AND NO RESOLUTIONS UNTIL WHEN THE THERAPIST SAYS SO... IN OUR CASE MY X SAID WHEN ARE WE DONE HERE.. SHE SAID "WHEN YOU COME IN AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER". REALLY? SPEND ANOTHER 200 THE LAST OF IT ON THE WEATHER?!!!!!

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  2. Thanks for posting. Sometimes I make comments and I know there are folks saying to themselves, no, it can't be true what Cathy is saying, but as anyone can see reading the comment right above, my remarks are often the tip of the iceburg regarding what is actually happening.

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  3. That's that book can work if both parents can regard their children respectfully. If they could we wouldn't need that book. Some parents can read that book and continue on their original abusive path. Might I add with full support of the judicial system :(

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  4. I'm glad but upset to read this because our GAL ordered us to go to this as part of the divorce decree. Argh. She also does not have children and I was emotionally abused by my husband for a long time before separation and even worse afterwards. I communicate with him in detail about the kids. He only gives me yes and no answers for them, offers hardly any insights except to disagree with me, and offers snitty remarks. Suggestions?

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  5. I think the big flaw to this program is that health insurance will not reimburse the work that they do so you have to pay for it in cash. I think you can reasonably argue that you cannot afford to do that and request family therapy instead which is covered by insurance. I think that the computer program "Family Wizard" could be an excellent tool to reduce conflict and strengthen your position if used wisely. You have to take a look at the program and see if it might meet your needs.

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  6. Of course, I must say, when it comes to abuse and the pervasive influence of father's rights extremists, you are unlikely to obtain a fair shake from any family therapist in a divorce situation, so what you might do is suggest the family wizard computer program in the place of the Peace Program. What the court needs is some concrete solution, so if you aren't doing one thing, then what are you going to do instead. What you have to do is present the court with an alternative solution that has a reasonable chance of working out.

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  7. Good post! Thanks for sharing this information I appreciate it. God bless!

    Divorce and mediation Nassau County

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  8. I totally disagree. The program teaches both parents how to deal the conflict so the children are not affected. No computer program can do that. Is it expensive, yes, but it is highly successful.

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    1. No, there is no way these people can be effective because they are idiots. I'm sorry about that, but every time Dr. Thayer opens her mouth she says something more that is so ridiculous as to make my eyeballs roll. As for highly successful--absolutely no. I have heard tape recordings of sessions and they are absolutely outrageous. But, what can I say, this is your experience and I am not arguing with your experience. You know, if you shake an eight ball, every once in a while it is right.

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  9. when it doesn't work...due to dealing with a cocaine addict and alcholic ex husband after three years...then what>>>>>the exwife has no money to take him to court and keep him from getting his children......

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  10. Wow this is an eye opener. My X is extremely abusive, controlling, and a manipulator to say the least. We are divorced because I needed to get out before I lost my mind. Yet, the PEACE counselor always takes his side - I don't get it - it blows my mind every single time. I really don't see how this is supposed to help. Maybe because it truly is not for abusive situations - but it is so hard to prove verbal and mental abuse - so hard - so they get away with it, again and again - and in the peace counseling, they get to ignore it. This sucks, I was really hopeful to get some resolution but I'm just constantly banging my head against the wall.

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    1. No, don't expect to get any relief from abuse out of The Peace Program. I feel badly for you that you are stuck in this situation and then they so called report back to the attorneys for both sides with the outcome of the sessions. What a joke!

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  11. I was part and am still part of a high conflict divorce . We had seen four therapists to work out our differences at least that was one of the primary reasons why were not getting along this was based on the opinion of the court officers and attorneys . I agreed and thought that the therapist we were seeing was of course going to be that voice who was able to see through the conflict and give us the tools and strategies we so desperately needed . I was optimistic at best constantly hoping praying and in essence trying to avoid further conflict . In all of the sessions I was verbally assaulted not only by the counselor but by my former spouse as well . He would yell at me call me a whore but in a politically correct way accuse me of stealing, lying , being a pathological liar , someone who used the system to their advantage . The counselor added to this by saying she saw all of that in the behavior and actions that I had taken . Let me begin by saying I am highly educated and upstanding member of the community . I have never been known to do any of the things that were mentioned . What I did do was raise children without the input of my spouse this went on for over two years . I was given the sole responsibility to make important decisions always asking begging for my spouse's input the answers were given . Abd that was the problem according to the counselor I never included him . I have emails letter and conversations that all say the contrary I have sworn testimony that all supports what I am saying and yet the Peace Program still said it was all my fault I was not allowing my former spouse to be part of their lives . I need to ask his forgiveness, to thank him ? to allow him to call me these name and make these accusation after all they are frustrated . I am a remarkably condescending person , unsympathetic , mean , nasty and I am so lucky that they ( my former spouse did not bring this to the court's attention .

    The PEACE program is not that it is merely a place where your former spouse can continue the cycle of abuse and do it with the blessing of the counselor .

    They have no idea what is going on and while they might be educated they choose sides immediately and base their judgements of the lies that the other party provides .

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    1. Totally hearing you and they have no science behind their so called special program to reduce conflict. If I were you, I would immediately write down the content of every session you go to and keep absolute track of all that is said in a meticulous way so you can protect yourself at least a little bit.

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