High Conflict Relationship

Counselling Services

Resolving High Conflict in Relationships:
The Safety and Repair Approach

The Safety and Repair approach is effective when dealing with high conflict relationships, whether between partners or ex-partners, or between siblings, friends, adult children and their parents, or colleagues. Some of the issues that create conflict are:

  1. Co-parenting after separation and divorce
  2. Dating abuse
  3. Unwanted sexual comments or touching in families or social groups. 
  4. Abuse in intimate relationships
  5. Extramarital affairs
  6. Siblings settling a parent’s estate/ will
  7. Sexual harassment in the workplace
  8. Co-parenting with a step-parent

 “I see him in a different light when he is telling the practitioners how he sees how I feel. I see him as a person. I tend to take him at face value. Rather than feeling accused and alone, I feel compassion. The practitioner asks the right questions, nobody butts in when you’re talking and you are even asked to elaborate, something that would never happen at home. I’ve learned so much about myself. The atmosphere is calm – non-threatening. I feel heard. I feel cared about!”  – woman who was abused

High Conflict Relationship Therapy Halifax

“I feel safer knowing my partner is working towards understanding and controlling his abuse…. the sessions make us more aware of each other’s feelings…. It gives us an opportunity to share and express our feelings. I know it makes him a better listener and allows me to express past hurts and to work on healing those wounds…. it allows for honesty between us … It allows me to see my partner taking responsibility for his actions and thoughts.” – woman who was abused

People  often don’t know how to talk about these issues in a way that will repair the harm. Sometimes they feel paralyzed because they are afraid of creating more harm. Often people want to participate in repairing the harm even if the relationship does not continue.  

Tod Scott and his associates at Tod A. Scott Family Therapy have experience supporting people to repair the harm in relationships that are experiencing high conflict. We use an approach to high conflict called Safety and Repair.  With the Safety and Repair approach, both people in the relationship are provided with their own counsellor.  Both people move through a 3-Phase process with their own counsellor to ensure that harm can be repaired without creating more harm. 


Phase 1: The practitioners ensure that both people are feeling safe and are clear about what’s important to them.

Phase 2: Practitioners prepare people to repair harm with the other person. This includes reviewing the 4 components of repair:

  1. Acknowledging the details of what happened
  2. Creating a plan to ensure the harm stops
  3. Acknowledging the effects of what happened
  4. Creating a follow up plan to repair the effects

Phase 2 is very important to ensuring that neither party or their relationship is harmed further in Phase 3.  

Phase 3: When people feel safe and are prepared to repair harm, phase 3 of the Safety and Repair Approach begins. They are supported by practitioners to share what they have considered regarding the 4 components of repair. The practitioners help determine which method of communication is  appropriate to the  situation: either face-to-face contact, email exchanges, video, letters or through  the  practitioners, themselves. Often this process begins with the practitioners helping both people write letters to each other. The practitioners ensure that the letters will repair harm rather than create more harm. Some people may resolve issues without talking with the other person. Alternatively, with both practitioners present, some people may decide to move the conversation to video or in person.  

The process can be initiated by one or both people. Practitioners can assist one person to contact the other person to see if they want to engage in the repair process. 

“Safe: having a practitioner for each party gave us 2 levels of initial separation and protection. One practitioner would have been good; two was amazing. I felt comfortable with you sharing information as professionals and advocates for the process.  It was reassuring for the two counsellors to work with each other.” – man who abused his partner


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Cancellation Policy: Appointments missed or cancelled without 24 hours' notice will be subject to billing.

Our booking administrator will respond on the same business day to book your appointment and gather all relevant details needed to connect you with the right therapist. Please note that our services are currently only available to residents of Ontario & Nova Scotia.

The Safety and Repair Approach in Action

A Better Man documents co-director Attiya Khan’s restorative process with Steve, the man who abused her for two years. Attiya engaged Tod Augusta Scott to support the conversations between the two of the them to achieve justice for herself. In Canada, A Better Man can be viewed without cost on TV Ontario’s website.

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