First, I would like to make a distinction between parent-child therapy during visitation and therapeutic supervised visitation, because they are two different things for two different purposes. I am able to provide both services, but I will not provide both services to the same family. If you are mandated by a court to have one of these services, it is important that you are clear about which of the services you are required to make use of and that you understand the differences between them.
Parent-child therapy during visitation is done for the purpose of helping to heal the relationship between parent and child and may include exploration of feelings and the thoughts and beliefs associated with them, with professional assistance to promote empathy and understanding, assist with new ways of looking at what is going on, and interventions to change the dynamics and behavior patterns that are standing in the way of having a healthy parent-child relationship that would be in the best interest of the child. Because it is therapy, what is said during the sessions is confidential except to the extent that the parent signs a release waiving confidentiality or information is subpoenaed by the court. Also because it is therapy is may be billable to your insurance company.
Although the term can be confusing, therapeutic supervised visitation is not therapy and cannot be billed to an insurance company. The purpose of supervised visitations is to enable an ongoing relationship between the non-custodial parent and child by impartially observing their contact in a safe and structured environment. Therapeutic supervised visitations do not in themselves heal an unhealthy or estranged relationship between the parent and child, but do provide the opportunity for the visitation to take place in a way that is not damaging to the child. Another purpose of supervised visitations is to allow a safe and educational learning experience for the non-custodial parent. Therapeutic supervised visitation professionals are able to intervene and correct the parent's behavior, thereby guiding the parent toward the use of appropriate parenting skills. My role as a mental health professional in supervising visitation includes assisting the parent to identify things they are saying or doing that could prevent them from having a healthy and productive relationship with their child.
Normally high-conflict families at risk for domestic violence, including physical or verbal abuse, and parents with a history of very poor parenting skills require the use of therapeutic supervised visitation. Parents who have previous allegations of sexual abuse, who have threatened to abscond with the child, or who have a history of severe parental alienation or restrictive gatekeeping are also generally good candidates for therapeutic supervised visitation.
Unlike therapy, what takes place during therapeutic supervised visitation is not confidential, and if it is court-mandated reports will be sent to the court describing what has been said and done during the visitation session as it may relate to whether it would be in the best interest of the child for therapeutic supervised visitation to continue and whether other services for the parent or child could be useful.