In December, 2014 Psychological Services of St. Augustine was acquired by Comprehensive MedPsych Systems. For the benefit of our patients and referral sources, this has allowed for greatly expanded resources and staff to provide a much wider array of specialty services including full-time psychiatry and neuropsychology services. As Clinical Directors, Karen Selig LMFT and Dr. Jack Merwin continue to assure the same level of quality and caring which has been provided for more than 30 years.
Caring professionals you can trust…
CMPS/PSSA is a private interdisciplinary group practice that offers the broadest range of psychological services in Northeast Florida. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing the most effective and up-to-date counseling, management training and personal performance coaching available.
We have been in operation for over 30 years, growing from an initial staff of 2 to more than 14 clinical staff from the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, social work, mental health counseling, and marriage and family therapy.
Our recognition as leaders and innovators in the mental health field is evidenced by various members of our staff having been published in professional journals, previously appointed to the Governor’s Constituency for Children, honored as the state’s outstanding contributor in the field of criminal rehabilitation by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency and authorized to provide professional training to other licensed mental health professionals nationwide. But beyond our professional endeavors, members of our staff are also well represented in civic and cultural activities. Members of our staff either are or have been involved in the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Board of the American Cancer Society, and filled leadership roles in Sunrise Rotary, Rotary International, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Domestic Violence Shelter Care, Kiwanis, Drug Education and Prevention Programs, and Child Care Advisory Boards. Others are recognized in the areas of poetry, music, visual arts and performing arts.
Welcome to Stepping Stones…
The Family Courts in St. Johns County believe it is in the best interest of children of divorcing parents to attend an educational program specifically designed to help them cope with the divorce. The class runs for two hours and is available for children from ages six through seventeen. Participants are assigned to classes according to their age, grade and level of maturity. The typical class breakdown is as follows: 6-9 years, 10-13 years and 14-17 years. Requests for siblings to be together, or separate, depending on individual needs, will be considered.
During the class students will learn about positive coping strategies for the emotions they may experience as their family prepares for and engages in this often challenging life transition. Participation in group discussion will be encouraged, and students will be provided a supportive environment in which they are welcomed to express themselves, ask questions, and learn from their peers. All exercises are voluntary and confidentiality is stressed. This is not to imply, however, that information cannot be discussed with parents. In fact, we encourage your child to share with you what has been learned. We just encourage children to not discuss personal information that other children may share.
PSSA has several educational consultants who teach Stepping Stones. Feel free to contact (904) 824-7733 if you have any questions or concerns following your child’s participation.
Be aware that if your child exhibits acting out behaviors, regression in developmental milestones that have been previously acquired, excessive crying, somatic complaints or any other change which lasts longer than a couple of weeks, please contact your child’s physician, a school counselor, St. Johns County Mental Health Services, Psychological Services of St. Augustine, or any other counseling agency you may feel comfortable with for assistance.
Please arrive at 9:15 AM for check in. On a final note, you will be asked to leave the building (due to patient confidentiality issues at the facility) once your child/children has/have been taken back to class by the instructors (9:30 AM), but WE REQUEST THAT YOU BE BACK BY 11:15AM FOR PICK-UP IN CASE THE CLASS GETS FINISHED EARLY! If the front door is locked upon arrival for sign in or pick up, someone will be there shortly to unlock the door! Please be patient. We appreciate your cooperation.
Children between the ages of 6-17 whose parents have filed for divorce
A 2-hour class to assist in learning how to handle the impact of their parents’ divorce
Psychological Services of St. Augustine, 1100-01 S. Ponce de Leon BLVD, St. Augustine, FL 32084
2nd Saturday of each month / 9:30am – 11:30am (arrive at 9:15am for sign-in!) Call 904.824.7733 for specific date of next class
$30 per child in each age group (6-9; 10-13; 14-17)
For more information:
For more information or to order the program curriculum, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Anger Management
• Childrens’ Services
• Couples/Marital Counseling
• Family Therapy Services
• Geriatric Services
• Groups & Group Counseling
• Health & Wellness
• Individual Counseling
• Learning & School Related
- Neuropsychological Evaluation
- Psychoeducational Evaluation
- Psychological Evaluation
- Forensic Evaluation
- Social Investigations
- Business Consultation
- Health & Wellness
WHAT IT IS –
Parent Coordination is one of the newest developments in family law, with Florida being among the first group of states to enact legislation to implement this concept. The goal of Parent Coordination is to create a parenting plan that reduces parental/family conflict and supports each child’s emotional and developmental needs. The means to that end entails working with both parents to improve their co-parenting skills
WHAT IT DOES –
Parent Coordination offers parents in high-conflict divorces an independent third-party who works with both of them in a structured format to resolve conflicts or disputes over parenting issues without going back to court, if at all possible. The Parent Coordinator will work with both parents to:
Improve their problem-solving skills;
Improve their communication skills;
Improve their conflict resolution skills;
Increase their understanding of the negative impact of exposure to chronic and acute conflict on their children, as well as on themselves; and
Develop an atmosphere around the child that is nurturing, supportive, loving, harmonious and free of open conflict.
HOW IT WORKS –
Parent Coordinators are specially trained licensed mental health professionals who must be familiar with family law, family dynamics, child development, and conflict resolution, and they must hold certification from the Florida Supreme Court in Family Mediation. PCs are authorized by court order to assist parents in resolving parenting disputes as they arise and to schedule meetings to teach co-parenting skills and problem-solving skills and monitor compliance with the parenting plan. PCs are also authorized to report back to the court regarding each parent’s level of compliance and cooperation.
Parent Coordinators cannot arbitrarily change the fundamental orders established in your parenting plan such as child support, alimony, court-ordered supervision, number of overnight visits, restraining orders, etc. Should issues such as these arise, the Parent Coordinator will work with the parties to come up with an agreed upon solution to be presented to the presiding judge for approval. Or, if the parties are unable to agree on the modification, the Parent Coordinator will offer the court a recommendation on the issue.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
Although your PC is a licensed as a therapist, he/she will not be providing therapy to you or anyone in your family during the PC process. The role of the PC is more like that of a coach, assessing your natural abilities, teaching you ways to compensate for your weaknesses while maximizing your strengths, directing your activities to improve the team’s effectiveness and instilling in you a desire to accept nothing short of attainment of the goal of low-conflict co-parenting.
Our PC program is structured in such a way as to fall naturally into two distinct phases. Phase I (Assessment) is expected to be completed in 5 to 8 weeks. It includes completion of the parenting assessments of both parents, assessment of the child(ren), individual 2-hour meetings with each of the parents, and at least two co-parent meetings, each of 2 hours duration. It may also include meetings with the child(ren), if needed, and/or occasionally a meeting with the child(ren) and one or both parents.
Phase II is the “maintenance phase” of our program. It begins after the second co-parent meeting, or later in some cases, and continues through the term of the court order, which is ordinarily 6 months. Parents in this portion of the program are expected to have acquired adequate team decision-making skills and control over their personal behavior to need no more than one face-to-face meeting per month. In cases in which the co-parent team has demonstrated an ability to function independently, with minimal input / guidance from the PC between meetings, the monthly meetings may be considered to be optional, upon agreement of both parents and the PC.
Our Parent Coordination Team
CMPS/Psychological Services of St. Augustine offers you several choices in our efforts to assist parents who are struggling to find a way to work cooperatively with their co-parent and reduce tension and conflict in their family system. Parents may choose to work with either of our PC’s in the usual format (1 per family) or enlist the services of both PC’s, working together as a team. Not only does the team approach eliminate any potential for male/female or husband/wife bias in the consultation process, it doubles the knowledge/skill base of the PC’s and offers the unique opportunity for the PC’s to model effective ways of handling conflict or disagreements during sessions. Ms Selig and Dr. Merwin have been married for 40 years and for the bulk of that time they have worked together as family co-therapists and as business partners.
Karen Selig, M.A.
Karen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and is the co-owner/co-founder of Psychological Services with her husband/partner Jack Merwin, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and forensic specialist. Karen is certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Family Mediator and has completed additional training in the area of Parenting Coordination, as required by state statute. She is a former member of the District Four Child Abuse Task Force and a founding member of the St. Johns County Sexual Abuse Intervention Network. She has been recognized as St. Augustine’s best counselor for many years and has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations over the past 35 years. They include: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Betty Griffin House, Kids Bridge Family Visitation Center, American Cancer Society, Rotary International (Past President and Assistant District Governor), and St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Jack Merwin, Ph. D.
Dr. Merwin is a licensed psychologist who is also certified by Supreme Court of Florida, as a Parent Coordinator. He specializes in providing forensic consultation on court-related criminal and civil cases throughout Florida. He has been recognized as an expert witness in County, State, and Federal Courts and also holds, or has held, certifications in the areas of: Domestic Violence Training; Sexual Violence assessment; Assessment and treatment of abuse victims; Civil and Criminal competency and sanity assessment for adults as well as juveniles; Family Mediation; and Parenting Coordination. His community service activities include prior membership in Kiwanis International, ARC advisory board member, St. Francis House board member, and prior appointment to the Governor’s Council on Children. He is a present member and former officer of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, Chapter 26, and was the recipient of the FCCD statewide Distinguished Service Award for his innovative work in the area of pre-trial diversion in 1990.
PARENT COORDINATION FEES
Like attorneys and experts in many other fields, we work either on a retainer basis or with authorization to bill a credit card as services are provided. Individual PC services are charged at $200/hour, with the cost usually split equally between the parents. Our office staff will be happy to help you set up your personal account and explain the fee structure and payment options. Those who prefer to pay by check or cash will have an initial retainer fee of $1500 to bill against while those who authorize us to make credit card charges will simply pay as we go.
Those who choose to use the PC team approach will be charged $300 per hour (for both PC’s) when both PC’s are present in a meeting. Otherwise, the usual $200 per hour charge will apply when one or the other PC is meeting individually with a client or the co-parents, or is doing collateral case management work related to the case. Case management services that may be billed-for by the PC between meetings include things like consultation with a child’s teacher, therapist, or doctor, drafting special documents/forms, meeting with a parent’s new partner or spouse, documenting case management activities, and monitoring specific compliance issues.
Individual meetings – Each of you will have a meeting with the Parent Coordinator that will be a 2 hour session with you alone. In that meeting the PC will fully orient you to the PC process then focus on you: your view of the underlying issues that you believe to be causing an unusually high level of parenting conflict in your family; your thoughts on why your efforts to change things has continued to fail; your willingness to be flexible; your willingness to try new ways of communicating and problem-solving; and finally, your level of empathy and understanding of the effects of the divorce on your child. At the end of the meeting you may be given additional information and/or a plan for specific behavioral changes you may make to create and maintain a less conflicted family system. You may be asked to log your efforts between meetings and rate your own progress.
First Co-parent meeting – Before or after the PC has met with each of you individually, you and your co-parent will meet with the PC for a 120-minute session. This meeting will follow a highly structured format designed to avoid the common pitfalls in communication while giving each party an opportunity to be fully heard, but only on specific issues. You should leave this meeting with the full realization that, like it or not, you are on a team with your “ex”, and your success in learning to work together as a team will determine what type of emotional climate your child will grow up in, as a direct result of your efforts.
Subsequent meetings/other services – Your second co-parent meeting may be scheduled anytime within 30 days of the first co-parent meeting along with any psychological testing or parenting assessments that may be needed. It can be from 1-2 hours, as defined by the needs of the co-parent team. As every case presents a unique set of challenges, your PC will work with you at that time to develop a plan designed to meet your specific family needs. Teams needing more remedial work or training in how to manage their conflict and communicate effectively, will require more meetings than those who are better able to problem-solve together, despite their underlying personal feelings or differences. As co-parent teams become more adept at settling their disputes without PC intervention, they will require fewer services and ultimately spend less money on having someone else involved in their decision making process.