Dr. Judith D. Bertoia, Registered Psychologist, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor


Following a separation or divorce, all family members will have individual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting in the new family structures that unfold. Children are usually adjusting to routines in two different households and changing patterns of contact with their parents. Parents are struggling with the issues that led them to end the marriage as well as all the new challenges they face as a result of this major change. Extended family members are also adjusting to new circumstances.

For parents, key issues often arise around finances and children. For children, key issues usually relate to their security, contact with friends and family, and (erroneously perceived) role or responsibility in causing the situation. As well, children often worry about one or both parents. Extended family members may have strong biases about what happened as well as fears about limited contact with members of the former family.

Effective co-parenting can be a difficult challenge. We do not have a long tradition for these family units, and often families struggle to create a unique version for themselves. We do know that the best outcome for children is based on clear, harmonious communication patterns between the parents. There are many reasons why such communication can be difficult, and there will be times as the children mature when even effective parents feel sorely tested.

My work in this area varies with the situation, and the number of sessions varies by our goals. I may meet with a couple only once to provide education in telling the children about the intended separation and offer general information about co-parenting. I may help a couple, over a few sessions, create a detailed co-parenting plan, working with both parents. Sometimes I work primarily with one child or all the children in a family to help parents understand the needs and hopes the children are experiencing but are unable to articulate because they don't want to hurt anyone. At other times I work with one parent only, helping with emotional issues and communication skills that arise with the other parent who prefers not to seek outside help.

With a divorce rate close to 40% in Canada, an increasing number of families find short term guidance for restructuring the family composition very helpful.

The answers lie within. The challenge is listening to their wisdom and then creating change.

We are all on a spiral path. No growth takes place in a straight line. There will be setbacks along the way... There will be shadows, but they will be balanced by patches of light... Awareness of the pattern is all you need to sustain you along the way.
— Kristin Zambucka

Love joins our present with the past and the future.
— Kahlil Gibran