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Child Consultations for Family Dispute Resolution

Bringing your child's voice into the mediation process

Child Consultation is a process that supports parents in hearing their child’s “voice” either during or after a separation. It assists parents in conflict to understand separation from their child’s perspective and to make decisions that keep their child’s emotional and developmental needs at the forefront, whilst rebuilding a new parental alliance for the years ahead.

As an experienced Child Consultant and an impartial practitioner, Bianca Roche-Bolger provides children with a meaningful experience of reflecting on their changing family. Through engagement and assessment, Bianca identifies the impact of parental conflict on children, helps them explore the emotional environment between their parents, and encourages children to articulate their experience of the separation.

How does Child Consultation work?

Research has shown that when children are safely and meaningfully included in family mediation, they have more confidence in their parents working relationship and in the framework they create.

The consultant will use a variety of techniques to engage with your child such as drawing, using cards, building family sculptures and discussing key themes that the child may raise. The process of child consultation is not a full psychological assessment, but an assessment of how the child is experiencing their parent’s conflict and how their emotional environment is best supporting their growth and development.


At the subsequent family dispute resolution session, the child consultant will provide both parents with feedback from their session with your child. This feedback may include:
• The child’s experience of the separation and how they are coping
• How they might be experiencing parental conflict and possible strategies they may be using to manage.
• Any concerns or issues that need to be addressed.
• Whether your child has a strong wish about a particular decision you are making.
• Any questions your child may have for you.

Parents will then have the opportunity to ask the consultant questions to help clarify the feedback. Issues raised can be addressed during the session and the child consultant will support parents in reflecting on ways they can assist their child to manage any problems they may be experiencing. The child consultant does not provide a written report.


Your specialist in Child Consultation

Bianca is a specialist in Child Consultation having practiced extensively across different programs with Relationships Australia NSW and in private practice for the past 15 years. As an experienced Child Consultant and an impartial practitioner, Bianca provides children with a meaningful experience of reflecting on their changing family. Through both the processes of Family Dispute Resolution and Child Consultation, Bianca supports parents in conflict to hear their child’s “voice” and assists them in making decisions that keep their children’s emotional and developmental needs at the fore front, whilst building and maintaining a parental alliance for the years ahead.


Bianca has trained in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice and has provided Coaching and Child Consultation as part of the Relationships Australia NSW Collaborative Practice Team and is a sitting Board member of Collaborative Professionals NSW in 2024.

Bianca has experience as a coach for NMAS mediator accreditation with the College of Law and has co-facilitated the Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution with the Relationships Australia NSW (previously Australian Institute of Relationship Studies (AIRS).

Bianca has also completed clinical supervision training with Relationships Australia NSW and provides clinical supervision and mentoring to students and newly trained FDRP’s and Child Consultants.

At the end of 2023, Bianca was awarded her Master of Clinical Family Therapy from the Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University, and now offers therapy to families across the generations. She has also been rated by the Doyles Guide as a “Recommended Family Law Mediator” 2021-2024.


The benefits of child-inclusive mediation

Separation can be an extremely difficult and painful time, not only for the parents but especially for their children. During this challenging time children need support, love, certainty and contact with both their parents and other significant people. 


Child Consultation is a process within Family Dispute Resolution, that encourages parents to understand the impact of separation on their child and assists them in making parenting arrangements that will support their child’s growth and development.
Child Consultants are specially trained professionals who work therapeutically with children and young people, particularly in the area of separation and divorce. They have extensive experience and knowledge of the developmental and emotional needs of children and young people during separation.

Child consultation provides a meaningful experience to children whose parents are separated. It provides children with a “voice” within the process, and the opportunity to reflect on their family and the changes they have experienced. The Child Consultant will meet with your child for a private session and may talk with them about:
• Your child’s experience of your separation
• Their relationships with their parents and significant family members
• What their hopes and dreams might be for their family
• Their experience of current arrangements.
• Questions they may have for you as parents

Australian Association of Collaborative Professionals Podcast

How best to support and include your children following parental separation


Everyone wants to know about the impact separation has on kids and how they can lessen that impact. Child Consultant, Bianca Roche-Bolger explains how a child inclusive approach within the Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice framework assists families to ensure kids are heard and not forgotten during separation.

  • What is a child consultation?
    A child consultation provides children with a safe and supportive environment to express their thoughts, feelings, and preferences regarding family matters during the mediation process.
  • Why is child consultation important in family dispute resolution?
    Section 12 of the UN Rights of the Child states that children must be provided with the opportunity to be heard in processes where decisions will be made that effect them. Child consultation allows children to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives, promotes their emotional well-being, provides avenues for relational repair and ensures that their perspectives are considered in the resolution of family disputes.
  • Who can benefit from the child consultation service at BRB Mediation?
    Families going through separation, divorce, parenting disputes, or any other family conflict where children's interests are at stake can benefit from the child consultation service.
  • How does the child consultation process work at BRB Mediation?
    Our trained child consultants meet with children individually or in a sibling group setting to engage in age-appropriate discussions, activities, and exercises designed to explore their feelings, concerns, and needs regarding the family situation.
  • What age groups of children can participate in the child consultation service?
    Child consultation services at BRB Mediation are tailored to accommodate children of various ages, developmental stages, and communication abilities, ensuring that each child's unique perspective is valued and understood. The process is designed for children of school age (5 years and up) however younger children in a sibling group may still be able to participate. Adult siblings older than 18 years are also welcome to participate too.
  • Is child consultation confidential?
    Yes, child consultation sessions are confidential, and the information shared by children is not disclosed to parents or other parties without the child's consent, except in cases where there are concerns about the child's safety or well-being. The consultant will check with the child what information can be shared with their parents at the feedback session and explore with them how best to do this.
  • Who conducts the child consultation sessions at BRB Mediation?
    Bianca Roche-Bolger has trained in various models of child inclusive practice, and has many years experience in working clinically with children of all ages and their families.
  • How do parents participate in the child consultation process?
    While parents do not directly participate in the child consultation sessions, they will provide background information and consent for their child to participate. After the consultation, the child consultant will hold a feedback session with all parents and their mediator, to discuss key themes and specific needs, which in turn will inform the decisions reached in mediation.
  • Is a report written by the Child Consultant?
    No. As child consultation is a privileged process held under confidentiality of Family Dispute Resolution, feedback is given live to parents in session with the mediator. A report is not written, however, the mediator will take the child's issues and agenda back into the joint mediation session so agreements can then be formulated.
  • What happens if a child expresses concerns or disclosures during the consultation sessions?
    Bianca Roche-Bolger is equipped to handle sensitive issues and disclosures that may arise during the consultation process. They follow ethical guidelines and legal requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of the child while also providing appropriate support and referrals as needed.
  • How do I arrange a child consultation session at BRB Mediation?
    To schedule a child consultation session at BRB Mediation, simply contact us or The Mediation Collective to discuss your specific needs and concerns. Your family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator) may also have made a direct referral to Bianca Roche-Bolger for child consultation as part of your mediation process and Bianca will liaise with them to ensure that the process is comfortable and supportive for you and your child.
  • Additional Links & Resources
    Collaborative Professionals NSW Inc. is the professional body in NSW for practitioners in this space. If you're looking for people to build your team with head over to the link below:
  • What is collaborative coaching in the collaborative family law process?
    Collaborative Coaching is a specialised form of support provided to couples participating in the Collaborative Family Law Process. It involves working with a trained coach to prepare for and navigate the collaborative negotiation process effectively.
  • Why is Collaborative Coaching important in the Collaborative Family Law Process?
    Collaborative coaching helps individuals manage emotions, communicate effectively, and focus on their interests and priorities during negotiations. It promotes a collaborative mindset and enhances the likelihood of reaching mutually beneficial agreements.
  • Who can benefit from Collaborative Coaching?
    Any participant (parents / separating couples) and other team members (such as lawyers or financial experts) can benefit from working with the coach in the collaborative process.
  • What does a Collaborative Coach do?
    A Collaborative Coach provides guidance, support, and practical strategies to help clients prepare emotionally and psychologically for collaborative negotiations. They assist clients in clarifying their goals, managing conflict constructively, and maintaining open communication and strengthening the parental relationship into the future.
  • How does Collaborative Coaching differ from traditional therapy or counselling?
    Collaborative Coaching is focused specifically on preparing individuals for the collaborative negotiation process and does not delve into deep psychological issues or past traumas. It emphasises practical skills and strategies for effective communication and conflict resolution. It is time limited in that it is only necessary during the conflict resolution process.
  • Is Collaborative Coaching confidential?
    Collaborative Coaching does have some one on one sessions however the majority of the process is conducted in meetings with both of the participants and the members of their team present. Full and frank disclosure is a cornerstone of the process and clients should be prepared to discuss all aspects that arise as part of the resolution process. Everything should be able to be discussed on the agenda. The coach will help you prepare for these potentially difficult and uncomfortable discussions in the one on one sessions.
  • What happens if one party refuses to participate in Collaborative Coaching?
    While collaborative coaching is designed to facilitate productive negotiations, it is ultimately voluntary. If one any participant chooses to no longer continue then the collaboration stops and engagement with the coach and other team members will end. If a collaboration doesn't continue then participants will need to start all over again with a whole new team. Part of the agreement to participate includes agreement that they will continue until either a resolution is reached, or they end their relationship with their whole legal team. In respect to this, the Coach will spend significant time talking to you from the outset about whether or not the Collaborative Process is appropriate for you and your family, before you go down that path.
  • How do I get started with collaborative coaching at BRB Mediation?
    To begin collaborative coaching with BRB Mediation, simply reach out to Bianca or contact The Mediation Collective, to schedule an initial consultation.
  • What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?
    Family dispute resolution (FDR) is a process designed to help families resolve conflicts and disputes in a constructive manner, often with the assistance of a trained mediator or therapist.
  • Why should I consider family dispute resolution?
    FDR provides a safe and neutral environment for families to address issues such as divorce, parenting arrangements, property division, and communication breakdowns without resorting to lengthy court battles.
  • How does family dispute resolution work at BRB Mediation?
    At BRB Mediation, we work closely with families to facilitate productive conversations, identify common goals, and reach mutually beneficial agreements.
  • Who can benefit from family dispute resolution?
    Family dispute resolution is beneficial for divorcing couples, separated parents, extended families, and anyone facing conflicts related to family matters.
  • What are the advantages of choosing family dispute resolution over litigation?
    FDR is typically faster, less expensive, and less adversarial than going to court. It empowers families to maintain control over the decision-making process and fosters better communication and cooperation.
  • Is family dispute resolution confidential?
    Yes, confidentiality is a cornerstone of the family dispute resolution process. Discussions and agreements reached during mediation sessions are private and cannot be used against you in court.
  • How long does family dispute resolution take?
    The duration of family dispute resolution can vary depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the willingness of the parties to cooperate. Generally, it involves a series of sessions scheduled over several weeks or months.
  • What if we cannot reach an agreement through family dispute resolution?
    While the goal of FDR is to help families reach agreements, sometimes consensus cannot be reached on certain issues. In such cases, our mediators can provide guidance on alternative options, including further negotiation, support from lawyers, or the issuing of a section 60i certificate if court applications for parenting matters are needed.
  • Do children participate in family dispute resolution sessions?
    Depending on the circumstances and the children's ages, their input may be sought during mediation. However, their participation is voluntary and always conducted in a supportive and child-centered manner. Please see information child inclusive practice here >
  • How do I get started with family dispute resolution at BRB Mediation?
    To begin the family dispute resolution process with BRB Mediation, simply contact Bianca, or The Mediation Collective, to schedule an initial consultation. During this meeting, we will discuss your specific needs, explain our approach, and answer any questions you may have.
  • What is Family Therapy?
    Family therapy is a type of counseling or psychotherapy that helps families improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen relationships. It focuses on understanding and addressing the dynamics within the family system.
  • Why should my family consider family therapy?
    Family therapy can help families navigate challenges such as communication breakdowns, conflicts, parenting issues, divorce, grief, and transitions. It provides a safe and supportive space to address concerns and work towards positive change.
  • Who can benefit from family therapy?
    Families facing a variety of issues throughout the life cycle may benefit from participating in family therapy. Concerns may include marital conflicts, parent-child conflicts, blended family dynamics, and behavioural or emotional challenges during times of change and transition.
  • What happens during a family therapy session?
    In a family therapy session, a trained therapist facilitates discussions and activities designed to explore family dynamics, identify patterns of interaction, and develop healthier ways of relating to one another. Sessions may involve all family members or specific individuals depending on the goals of therapy.
  • How long does family therapy take?
    The duration of family therapy varies depending on the complexity of the issues, the goals of therapy, and the dynamics within the family. Some families may benefit from short-term intervention, while others may engage in therapy over a longer period.
  • Is family therapy confidential?
    Yes, confidentiality is an essential aspect of family therapy. Discussions and information shared within the therapy sessions are private and protected by confidentiality laws and ethical guidelines. For these reasons family therapy is usually not offered, nor appropriate for families that are actively engaged in court or litigated processes.
  • Do all family members need to participate in therapy?
    While the participation of all family members is ideal, it is not always necessary. Depending on the situation, the therapist may recommend sessions involving the entire family, specific subsets of family members, or individual therapy in addition to family sessions.
  • How do we know if family therapy is working?
    Progress in family therapy is often measured by improved communication, increased understanding, strengthened relationships, and the ability to navigate challenges more effectively. The therapist will regularly assess your progress and collaborate with the family to adjust treatment or change goals as needed.
  • What if there are conflicts or disagreements during family therapy sessions?
    Conflicts and disagreements are natural parts of the therapy process and provide opportunities for growth and resolution. The therapist serves as a neutral facilitator to help navigate conflicts constructively and promote understanding among family members.
  • How do we get started with family therapy at BRB Mediation?
    To begin family therapy at BRB Mediation, you can reach out to us to schedule an initial consultation or by contacting The Mediation Collective. For separated families, an initial individual consultation will usually be offered at the beginning, to discuss goals for therapy, any safety concerns and ensure it is the right process for you family at this time.
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