For Mental Health Professionals – “Why Choose Talk To Strangers”?

 Parents considering or involved in child-related litigation are exposed to a variety of materials designed to dissuade them from battles that are so damaging to children.  Talk to Strangers and its companion Parents Guide are meant to add a valuable new tool in that effort.

1.  Taking the focus off misbehaving parents.  Videos and other materials offered to parents litigating children’s issues often focus on parents behaving poorly.  Many in the audience quickly lose interest in parents acting worse than they believe they ever would.  Thus, many parents who need to hear the message aren’t listening.
Talk to Strangers’ perspective is that of the children, not their parents.  From that perspective viewers can experience in an intimate way how children in custody disputes are compromised and humiliated even where the adults “behave.”

2.  A more visceral approach.  Many appeals to parents bent on custody battles rely upon logic and statistics.#  We professionals may be jarred by emotional disorder statistics for children in high conflict families.  But for parents, the emotional pitch of custody battles too often drowns out the voice of reason.
Talk to Strangers was written with input from divorce lawyers (including the screenwriter), family services counselors and mental health professionals.  Yet it employs a visceral approach, told as a dramatic story enhanced by poignant details of two children’s lives and set to a powerful original score.

3.  Early intervention. Parenting education programs and courthouse presentations usually reach parents too late; often months after parents’ agendas have taken precedence over children’s best interests.  As divorce cases wear on, “bunker mentality” and thousands spent on lawyers’ and experts’ fees reduce chances for compromise.  And even in cases that eventually settle, the custody evaluation process has already taken its toll on the children.
An appeal to parents’ better instincts must occur earlier and in a more conducive setting.  Mental health professionals treating children and families have a unique opportunity to intervene.  That’s why we are making the film and its companion Parents Guide available to them.

4.    Show, don’t tell.  Film has a unique power to touch emotion.  Judging by focus group reactions, we believe Talk to Strangers does just that.   And once it does, its companion Parents Guide provides a nuts and bolts guide crafted by veteran divorce

* Some cases, of course, need to be adjudicated.  Where there is family abuse, uncontrolled substance abuse, or untreated mental disease or emotional disorder, a judge’s rulings may be the only way to adequately protect children.  Talk to Strangers is meant not for those situations but for the many high conflict divorces that can and should be resolved long before children are subjected to their destructive impact.
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