Therapeutic Visitation

AFS Therapeutic Visitations are only available by county referrals.

Foster Care Visitation

Skilled AFS family therapists structure supportive, non-judgmental visits between parents and their children after the removal of a child due to abuse or neglect.

What are Therapeutic Supervised Visitations?

The goal for any youth in foster care is "permanency." When appropriate, family reunification is always the first choice. Highly skilled AFS staff facilitate therapeutic sessions between biological parents and their child who is residing in foster care. These sessions are called, "Therapeutic Visitations." During these visits, clinicians work to assess, address and teach the family how to work through a variety of situations. Upon completion of the required number of visits, the family will have learned essential family and life skills to more effectively resolve conflicts and avoid escalation to violence or abuse.

Therapeutic Visitation for Foster Children: FAQs

Where do Therapeutic Visitation visits take place?

They can take place in any location deemed safe and appropriate, including a family home or community center. Visitations can take place in AFS offices too. In Alameda County specifically, therapeutic visits often take place at The Gathering Place. For information on The Gathering Place and all other AFS locations, please visit our Locations page.

Who leads these visits?

All visits are led by certified and trained mental health professionals with experience and knowledge on mental illness, parenting skills development, foster care and high conflict situations. All visits are designed to benefit both visiting parents and their biological children and are ultimately in the interests of the child or children. The ultimate goal of mental health professionals leading supervised visitations is to improve the parent-child relationship.

Who decides if therapeutic visitation is needed?

Visits are often determined or mandated by the court or county. In family court, a child welfare agency may recommend that this family service is completed before reunification can be considered.

Can anyone participate in a therapeutic visitation session with AFS?

The referring county caseworker works in conjunction with AFS staff to determine what families will participate in therapeutic visitation at AFS. The case goal for biological parents whose children are placed in foster care is family reunification.


  • Studies show that ongoing visitation is the best predictor of reunification.
  • AFS hopes to accelerate the reunification process by addressing fundamental issues that led to the foster care placement including parenting skills, anger management and family communication.
  • Therapeutic visitation demonstrates to the Court the parents’ commitment to family reunification.
  • The AFS dedication to community-based services allows therapeutic visitation to take place in the family’s home or other community settings. Often AFS staff members transport children to and from these sessions.