There are several ways that the New Ways for Families® method can be used with potentially high-conflict families – or any family that wants to protect their children from conflict during or after their divorce.
This method is offered in five models, and can be used in family court, mediation, collaborative divorce, or even after the divorce. The focus is on parents practicing four key conflict-reducing skills before the big decisions are made, and teaching these same skills for resiliency to their children. The goal is to help parents make their own parenting decisions out-of-court.
Judges, lawyers, mediators and counselors receive training in the use of the method and the ways in which each professional can reinforce the New Ways skills with parents throughout the case.
The method includes several paradigm shifts that only work if all professionals involved understand and reinforce the parents’ skills at each step of the legal process.
Parents can be court-ordered to participate in the 12-week counseling model with a New Ways-trained therapist* in private practice or through a counseling agency before major decisions are made.
Parents can also participate voluntarily at the start of their case, without a court order, upon the recommendation of their lawyer, mediator, therapist or other family law professional.
Each parent participates in six weekly Individual Parent Counseling sessions, with his/her own confidential counselor. Using the Parent Workbook, each parent works with his/her counselor to learn and practice the four skills.
After completion of the individual sessions, each parent participates in three Parent-Child Counseling sessions. The parents share the same Parent-Child Counselor, alternating weeks (they do not attend sessions jointly). The Parent-Child Counselor guides the parent as he/she works through the workbook exercises with the child (or children together, depending on the age).
The purpose is for each parent to teach the child the same four skills for resilience and conflict resolution, and for the parent to address the child’s concerns about the future. After completing the program, parents should be able to use their skills to make their own agreements with the help of legal professionals, without returning to court.
Materials Needed: Professional Guidebook & Parent Workbook Set
Training Required: Two-Day Training
*Note: To offer New Ways counseling, the mental health professional must be licensed in their jurisdiction to offer counseling services (ie LCSW, MFT, PhD, LPC etc.). If you are a mental health professional who is not licensed to provide counseling services, you may still use New Ways in our coaching or class model.
Collaborative Divorce professionals can encourage or require their clients to participate in the Collaborative model of New Ways. This model follows the same basic steps as the counseling model, with three Individual Parent Coaching sessions (with the parents’ Collaborative coaches) and three Parent-Child Coaching sessions (with the Child Specialist). The sessions are structured using the Collaborative Divorce Workbook.
After completing New Ways, parents are better prepared to make decisions within the Collaborative Divorce framework. This may help parents stay in the collaborative process, who would otherwise drop out and go to court.
Training Required: Two-day Training
Decision Skills Class
The New Ways skills can also be taught and practiced in a class format. Parents can be court-ordered into the class or participate voluntarily. The class be can be taught as three class sessions (60-90 minutes each) or can be incorporated into any existing parenting class curriculum. The class sessions are structured using the Decision Skills Workbook. Parents are expected to work through the workbook during class, with the assistance of the instructor. An Instructor’s Manual is provided.
This is a shorter version of the 12 week counseling model, but the focus remains on learning and practicing the four skills. It is not intended to replace parenting classes that focus on other aspects of the parent-child relationship during divorce. There is no Parent-Child component in this model.
Training Required: Decision Skills Video Training OR 2-day Training
Mediators, lawyers or counselors can complete 1-2 coaching sessions with parents prior to mediation, using the Pre-Mediation Coaching Workbook. This is the shortest version of the method, but the focus remains on learning and practicing the four skills.
This model is particularly beneficial for potentially high-conflict parents who would benefit from learning the skills prior to mediation, but do not require intensive counseling. Learning the skills prior to mediation should make for a more effective mediation process. An Instructor’s Manual is provided.
Training Required: Pre-Mediation Coaching Video Training OR 2-day Training
New Ways Online: Parenting Without Conflict
High Conflict Institute has collaborated with Online Parenting Programs to offer the New Ways curriculum in an interactive, online format. Parents can be court-ordered, or referred by a legal or mental health professional to complete this online program. Parents can also voluntarily complete the course any time, pre or post-divorce. Ideally, parents should complete this course at the beginning of their case.
New Ways online follows the same structure, content and exercises as the other New Ways models. The online content is interactive and includes practice exercises, journal entries, videos, examples and commentary. The program is presented in a positive, “no blame, no shame” context and focuses on skills for successful co-parenting. Both parents should complete the course individually. A certificate is provided upon completion.
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*Note: the online course may not satisfy a court order in jurisdictions where one of the in-person models is available. Please check with your local court. See the Find a Professional page for current in-person program locations.