What is New Ways for Families®? Excerpted from The Future of Family Court

© 2012 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

NEW WAYS FOR FAMILIEs® is a new method developed by High Conflict Institute, which integrates many of the principles described in this book (The Future of Family Court). It is an interdisciplinary method that teaches and reinforces relationship conflict resolution skills for potentially high‑conflict parents. New Ways for Families emphasizes short-term counseling to reduce the impact of conflict on the children in potentially high-conflict cases. It can be used whenever a parent or the court believes one parent needs restricted parenting (supervised, no contact, limited time), at the start of a case or any time a parent requests restricted parenting – including post-judgment litigation.

This method emphasizes strengthening skills for positive future behavior (new ways), rather than focusing on past negative behavior – while still acknowledging it. It is designed to save courts time, to save parents money, and to protect children as their families re-organize in new ways after a separation or divorce, for married or never-married parents. This method can be used in family court, mediation, collaborative divorce, or even post-divorce with the assistance of a Parenting Coordinator.

Goals of New Ways for Families®

  1. To immunize families against becoming high-conflict families during the separation and the divorce process.

  2. To help parents teach their children resilience in this time of huge and rapid change in the foundation of their family life

  3. To strengthen both parent's abilities to make parenting decisions, while relying less on experts and the courts to make their decisions for them.

  4. To assist professionals and the courts in assessing both parent's potential to learn new, positive ways of problem-solving and organizing their family after a separation or divorce.

  5. To give parents a chance to change poor parenting behaviors (including abuse and alienation) before long-term decisions are made. This method emphasizes learning new skills for positive future behavior.

In reality, it’s easy to start ordering cases to use the New Ways for Families method. All you need are three therapists trained in the method (a 2-day training): one for the mother; one for the father; and one as the Parent-Child Counselor. Then they use the New Ways for Families workbooks to structure the counseling. If the court plays the role of follow-up, by quizzing the parents on what they have learned and on a new hypothetical parenting situation, then the parents may apply these skills to new problem situations. At the least, this method appears to slow down parents who are preoccupied with blaming their former partners, and many of them stop returning to court.

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.