Therapeutic Visitation Program Effectiveness and Maintenance of Treatment Effects
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Child abuse/neglect and high conflict custody disputes are occurring at alarming rates. Given the significant impact these have on children’s social and emotional functioning, it is vital that effective services are identified and thoroughly evaluated. Therapeutic visitation is a service provided to children and families who experience abuse/neglect and/or high conflict custody battles, which allows for consistent contact between a child and a non-custodial parent as well as therapy related to attachment and trauma. However, there is a lack of research to support the effectiveness of this intervention. This longitudinal program evaluation assessed the effectiveness of therapeutic visitation in establishing permanency/custody stabilization and increasing emotional availability between children and parents. It also examined treatment components within therapeutic visitation that predicted treatment outcomes and maintenance of treatment effects six months post-intervention. Secondary data of 87 participants who received therapeutic visitation were analyzed using paired samples t-tests, point biserial correlations, and multiple linear and logistic regression. Participants in therapeutic visitation had higher rates of permanency established, increased emotional availability, fewer transitions, and less subsequent abuse after treatment compared to prior to treatment. Furthermore, pre-treatment emotional availability significantly predicted post-treatment emotional availability and number of DHS services attempted prior to being referred to TVP significantly predicted permanency/custody stabilization post-treatment. The results of this study have several implications for therapeutic visitation programs and the child welfare system as whole, including increasing the availability of therapeutic visitation.