Emerging Minds
1hr 30mins

Child-focused practice with separating parents

About the course

Child-focused practice with separating parents focuses on four practice skills that will help you ensure children’s mental health and wellbeing is a central aspect of the conversations you have with parents who are going through separation or divorce. 

A key concept informing this course is that parents are highly influential in how children experience parental separation and its consequences for their everyday lives. Although difficult, parental separation doesn’t have to be distressing or traumatic for children. 

It follows on from Emerging Minds’ foundation course Supporting children’s mental health when working with separating parents, which outlines the potential impacts of relationship separation on parents and children, the common assumptions and messages about separation and divorce that circulate in the Australian context, and four key areas of practice for supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing. We recommend that you complete that course before continuing with this practice-based course. 

Family and domestic violence 

This course covers responding to separating parents where there is no history of family and domestic violence. See Emerging Minds’ foundation course Supporting children’s mental health when working with separating parents, which highlights the importance of engaging separating parents in conversations about the safety, wellbeing and support needs of their children when living with the ongoing effects of family violence.

Lived experience 

Parents with lived experience of separation and divorce were consulted about their experiences, and those of their children, to inform the development of this online course. 

Who is this course for?

Child-focused practice with separating parents will support a broad range of practitioners in health, social and community services who have contact with parents during separation and divorce, and who work outside of specialist family dispute resolution or counselling services. 

It recognises that practitioners who aren’t trained in family dispute resolution or counselling – including GPs, social workers, allied health professionals and teachers – often have contact with parents during separation. Sometimes, they’re the first or only impartial people that separating parents see during this period. These practitioners have an important role in supporting parents, the parent–child relationship, and children’s mental health and wellbeing. 

Learning outcomes

As you progress through this course, you’ll be invited to reflect upon your own practice and further develop skills in: 

  • supporting separating parents’ wellbeing
  • support parenting and the parent–child relationship
  • supporting separating parents to support children; and
  • responding to the unhelpful effects that common social expectations and messages surrounding separation and divorce can have on parents. 


It’s estimated that this course will take you approximately 90 minutes to complete, including reading material and watching videos. 

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in. 


As you work through the course, it’s important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow these self-care tips and seek help if needed: 

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course. 

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or SANE Australia on 1800 187 263. 


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.  

Social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.1 

In broad terms, SEWB is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2 

Social and emotional welbeing is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.3 

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to: 

  • identify and understand one’s feelings 
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people 
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed 
  • regulate behaviour 
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.4 

Family dispute resolution refers to a mediation process in which an independent family dispute resolution practitioner helps separating families come to their own agreements regarding separation-related issues, including parenting agreements. 

Separated refers to parental separation or divorce. It applies to parents who are/were married or in de facto relationships. 

Separating refers both to parents who are currently undergoing separation and those who have already separated but are still managing the consequences of separation. 

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses. 


  1. Ștefan, C. A., Dănilă, I., & Cristescu, D. (2022). Classroom-wide school interventions for preschoolers’ social-emotional learning: A systematic review of evidence-based programs. Educational Psychology Review, 34(4), 2971–3010.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing 2017-2023. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p. 6.
  3. Everymind. (n.d.). Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Newcastle, NSW: Everymind.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2012. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra, ACT: AIHW. 


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