Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Purpose of the Counselling and Psychological Services

The Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) was established in 2002 with the aim of providing psychological support and counselling to parties, their children and youths who have legal proceedings at the Family Justice Courts (FJC) in matters of divorce and separation, protection from family violence and for vulnerable adults, or in matters of child protection, beyond parental control and youth probation.

The Courts are not merely places of complex legal problems but also crucibles of complex human interactions. As such the work of CAPS is guided by philosophy of transformative and restorative justice for individuals and families, to ensure the best interest of children during and after court proceedings.

Services Provided by CAPS

CAPS provides the following services:

In family cases where parents and their children needing longer term or specialised support, CAPS can refer these individuals and families to social services and community agencies.

Besides providing direct therapeutic for individuals and families, and forensic assessment for FJC, CAPS also advises FJC senior management and Judges on recommendations and research findings from the fields of counselling, psychology and social work related to family law. CAPS represents the social science arm of FJC to coordinate services and policies with other government agencies and community stakeholders for the welfare of families, children and youths in Singapore.

CAPS constantly reviews its services and engages in various areas of research to meet the changing needs of families and society in Singapore, as well as provides training within FJC to enhance knowledge and expertise in helping families in conflict.

CAPS Team

CAPS comprises a diverse team of experienced counsellors, psychologists, and social workers, collectively known as Court Family Specialist (CFS). The CFSs are trained in areas of counselling, crisis and risk assessment, mental health, children and adolescent development, mediation and conflict resolution, and how families can be impacted by conflict and trauma.         

Counselling in Divorce Cases

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events for families and the individuals involved.  Research has shown that divorce can have an adverse impact on the children’s, especially young children’s, overall wellbeing.  Therapeutic support for divorcing parents is one way of cushioning this impact.  Parents, who are able to manage their own life changes, will be in a better position to support their children cope with the divorce.     

The uncertainty over future living and caregiving arrangements for the children are some common issues that surface when there is a divorce. Parents may have different ideas of what is best for their children, and come to the Family Justice Courts (FJC) to resolve disagreements over the children and other matters pertaining to their divorce. In the FJC, we work extensively with families to help them focus on making decisions that is helpful for their children.

Parents undergoing divorce proceedings in Singapore, with at least one child under age of 21, are required to attend mediation and counselling at the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Division. This is where parties and their lawyers meet with a Court-appointed mediator for mediation and a Court Family Specialist (CFS) from the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS), for counselling to resolve any disagreement over their divorce and related matters such as children’s living arrangements. maintenance and division of matrimonial property / assets.

Counselling in divorce cases at the FJC offers parents a less adversarial option to resolve their disputes regarding the children matters without bringing the issues to litigation. With the support of the CFS, parents can iron out details of their parenting plan at the counselling sessions. Plans that are designed for the children by their own parents through joint agreement are likely to meet the needs of their children.

A Child-Centric Approach

Counselling in divorce cases adopts a child-centric approach. Specifically, the Child Focused or Child Inclusive approach is adopted during such counselling sessions.

Child Focused counselling works in tandem with court mediation to provide emotional support, address underlying concerns of parties, facilitate a commitment to action, and assist with immediate decision making. The process helps divorcing parents focus on current and future needs of their child, and explore a workable parenting plan that would be beneficial to their child.

Counselling can help parents deal with their personal struggles of having to continue their relationship with each other for the sake of their children. It can help parents identify new ways of transacting with each other whenever the needs arise to communicate regarding their children or arrangements for them. Counselling also seeks to help parents understand the needs of their children and gain insights into the benefits of harmonious co-parenting.

Key advantages of court counselling for parties

  • Confidential safe place to deal with difficult emotions and underlying concerns.
  • Lessens further acrimony between parties.
  • Empowers parties to work collaboratively toward more constructive solutions.
  • Help parties with parenting plans that allow children to develop meaningful relationships with both parents.

The Counselling Process in Divorce Cases



Court-directed Forensic Assessment for Divorce cases


Counselling and Family Conferencing for Family Protection cases

No one deserves to suffer from family violence. However, family violence could happen in some families and it is hurtful to the victims and the relationship between family members. If left unresolved, family violence may result in serious injuries, mental stresses and/or breakdown of families. Help and support are often required for families who are experiencing family violence. Victims of family violence may want to approach community agencies such as Family Service Centres (FSC) or Family Violence Specialist Centres (FVSC) for help. If there is a need to seek an order for protection, an application for Personal Protection Order (PPO) is to be made with the Family Justice Courts (FJC).



Counselling and Family Conferencing for Youth Court cases

The Youth Courts deal mainly with 3 types of cases namely Youth Arrest Cases (YAC), Beyond Parental Control (BPC) and Care and Protection Order (CPO). Whether it is a case of a young offender, a child / youth requiring the State’s intervention or a child in need of protection, the Youth Courts’ take a multi-disciplinary approach to deal and manage with the issues relating to the cases. The Youth Courts would take into account the various factors of the youth’s or child’s life when an order is made.


Resources