The DRC of Thurston County helps a vet with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) communicate to his wife how much he wants to have a relationship with his children. Read the story.


Working out child visitation at the end of a marriage

“Brooke” and “Jim” are married but living separately a few blocks away from each other. Since Jim’s return from active duty four years ago he’s suffered from PTSD and had a tough time communicating with his family.

Brooke and Jim have two daughters aged 12 and 14, and an eight-year-old son. The girls told their mom that they don’t want to go over to dad’s house anymore because there are too many people coming and going and dad’s pretty checked out most of the time. Brooke wants an amicable divorce, so she can move on with her life, and she definitely wants the kids to have regular, supervised contact with their dad—if she and Jim can work out the details. So far, Jim hasn’t been willing or able to do that.

DRC of Thurston County arranges mediation

Brooke decided to call the DRC for help. After a phone intake conversation, the DRC got Jim to agree to try mediation. The intake process is an underappreciated and easily overlooked part of mediation services. It’s a critical part of the process that prepares clients for a productive mediation session. The intake conversation confirms for the DRC that both parties are able and ready to do the difficult work of good-faith negotiating.

“Baby steps” lead to a transformation

At the first mediation session, Jim was very slow to talk. He spoke quietly with few words. The mediators worked hard to slow things down and be attentive to Jim so that he could respond and participate actively. With their help, Jim was able to make it very clear that he needed to see his kids regularly. Both Jim and Brooke were able to take small steps toward two important agreements. These initial agreements may seem minor, but they are often extremely significant in turning around relationships. Brooke and Jim reached an agreement to have the girls visit him in a neutral place with Brooke present. They also agreed to come back to mediation for a second session.

At the end of the session, Brooke told the mediators that it was the first time she and Jim had been able to talk in four years.

Are you in need of a patient and compassionate listener?

The mediators at DRC of Thurston County can help. Call us at (360) 956-1155.