Introduction to Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice
This 2-day workshop will teach the basics of Collaborative Practice: How to work in interdisciplinary teams to help separating couples reach agreement. In the Collaborative process, Collaborative Lawyers act as legal advisors while facilitating an interest-based negotiation. The Collaborative lawyers work on a team which can include other collaboratively trained experts in the field of mental health, finance and child development The lawyers remain the facilitators of the negotiation towards a legal settlement. The other collaborative professionals play an important role in helping the client’s achieve settlement. The Mental Health Professional is a registered mental health practitioner who helps the parties deal with the emotions that underlie the separation process, work out parenting arrangements and improve the separating couples' communication. The mental health professional has the parties’ consent to provide input to the other members of the interdisciplinary team. In some cases, the mental health professional meets with the parties alone and brings feedback to the lawyers. In other cases, the mental health professional participates with the parties and the other Collaborative professionals in meetings. The Child Specialist may become involved when parties are finding it hard to make parenting decisions. The Child Specialist is a neutral professional who gives voice to the children’s interests and helps the parents develop a workable parenting plan that addresses these interests. The Child Specialist works with the parents and the mental health professional to create a parenting plan and is integrated with the whole team to provide input into the negotiation, as appropriate. The Financial Professional is a neutral expert retained to assist both parties in gathering financial information and to explain financial information in an unbiased manner. The financial provides a balanced perspective on financial issues and can help parties develop realistic budgets and projections, examine tax implications and demonstrate the long-term consequences of the settlement options. While the lawyers primarily handle the negotiation which leads to the final, legal settlement, the involvement of the other professionals, working as a team, completes the interdisciplinary process and assists the parties in reaching more creative and lasting solutions. It also tends to save money, as each professional is working with his or her strongest skill-set to help the separating couple move forward in the negotiation.