Susan Abercromby-Therapeutic Access

Susan Abercromby, Coordinator
Therapeutic Access Program TAP
What is Therapeutic Access (TAP)?
 A reintegration/reunification program designed to
restore/repair the relationship between children and the
estranged parent
 The program utilizes an attachment informed model
emphasizing emotional safety of the children and
 Contact between the estranged parent and the child(ren)
is facilitated by an experienced Mental Health
professional with knowledge of child development,
separation and divorce, high conflict families, domestic
violence, and parent/child conflict resolution.
Therapeutic Access Con’t
 A family works with a Master’s level Clinician
 An intensive parenting experience for family
 A safe and secure environment for children (birth to
18 years of age)
 Assistance to parents in developing ways to
understand their child’s behaviour with an
attachment focus
 A slow process…..may take several months
What it is not..
Not a Parenting Capacity Assessment
Not a Custody and Access
Not an Assessment for Court
It is a voluntary program
Who Refers?
 Office of the Children’s Lawyer
 Family Law Lawyers
 Children’s Aid Society (as per Ref. Pkg.)
 Family Court
What are the steps?
 Using an attachment framework, within the Adult Attachment and
Circle of Security models each family will be supported in reestablishing connection
 The parents agree that it IS meeting the needs of the child(ren) to
have healthy and meaningful relationships with both parents.
 When the relationship is supported and moving towards an
emotionally safe connection the Therapeutic Access program is
available for continued meetings, if required, or will refer
 It is important to recognize the individual needs for families and
each family member. Some children may only be able to connect
on a limited basis and others may be emotionally able to begin
regularly scheduled visitation over time. (Not a cookie-cutter
 1. Intake with each parent (custodial and non
custodial) after appropriate referral process
 *see referral package as Appendix A
 2. Follow up with each parent to set goals and begin
contracting next steps
 3. First meeting with the children will include the
custodial parent.
*Meet with children separately and as a family
grouping, stressing emotional, physical and
psychological safety. (Parents do not attend meetings
Protocol con’t
 4. Meet with both parents (separately) to set goals,
furthering parents understanding of TAP guidelines, child
development, attachment and their children's needs for
safety, comfort and exploration.
 5. Implement goals and visits- Each family may require a
different schedule and numbers of visits * (not a cookie
cutter formula). Plan with each family the number of
visits that they are able and willing to commit to.
 6. Assess and plan next steps for reintegration
Typical Case Demographic
 Referred by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and Family
Couple married 10 + years
Two children (ages 10 +)
One parent has not seen the child for over 2 years
Alleged /reported Domestic Violence
Both parents working outside of the home (educated)
One or both parties has legal representation
Continuous litigation
Alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness
Contact Information
 Susan Abercromby M. Ed (Counselling)
 Coordinator
 Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre
 (519) 434-6848