Big (old) news from the NPO – way to go!

May 6, 2015
By Dan Deuel, Executive Committee Member, National Parents Organization of Utah

In March, National Parents Organization of Utah, successfully spearheaded passage of the state’s first shared parenting legislation! HB35 wasn’t the only success NPO Utah had, but it was the most significant. Headed by Dave Daniels and Janet Robins, NPO Utah is on a roll!

NPO Utah wants to thank Representative V. Lowry Snow for sponsoring HB35 and working so closely with NPO to help ensure its passage. He is an excellent legislator who practiced family law and saw up close many of the challenges parents and their children face when custody is considered. He understands these issues very well, and we appreciate his hard work on the bill. NPO also wants to acknowledge the Utah State Bar’s Family Law section that endorsed HB35.

Under current Utah law, a noncustodial parent is entitled to a minimum schedule of every other weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) and one week night per week for three hours. Additionally, noncustodial parents are entitled to one-half of the annual holidays and four weeks during the summer.

This schedule, often referred to as the “standard minimum,” when originally enacted, was intended to be the minimum a noncustodial parent and his/her children should spend together. All too often, however, litigants, attorneys, and judges forgot that this is intended to be the minimum, and instead consider it the maximum time arrangement.

This of course is bad for children as well as their noncustodial parents.

HB35, which takes effect on May 19, creates an optional schedule with a more equitable, shared parenting arrangement. It changes the weekly parent-time night to an overnighter, instead of merely a few hours after school, and also extends weekend time from returning the children Sunday night to returning them Monday morning. This arrangement can be especially beneficial in higher-conflict divorces, since pick-ups and drop-offs can be made at school or daycare, reducing the number of interactions between quarreling parents.

The new option provides an increased parent-time schedule from 80 overnights per year to 145. That’s about 40% of parenting time being awarded to the noncustodial parent. Noncustodial parents must first meet some fairly narrowly-defined criteria in order to qualify for the optional schedule, such as: 1) demonstrate that he or she has been actively involved in the child’s life, 2) communicate effectively regarding the child, and 3) any other factors the court considers relevant.

Utah NPO executive committeeman and legislative affairs expert Dan Deuel, who has six years of experience working on various pieces of legislation, including pro-family legislation, urged the 107-member legislature to pass this family-friendly bill. It ultimately passed both houses of the legislature with only one dissenting vote, and was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert on March 20, 2015.

NPO of Utah members Amanda Davis, Janet Robins, Michelle Troche, and others joined Deuel on Utah’s Capitol Hill in strong support of this timely piece of legislation. NPO of Utah also orchestrated a campaign of members statewide, urging them to contact their lawmakers in support of HB35.

While this bill is by no means perfect, it is a step in the right direction. NPO of Utah intends to work on refining the statute in future years to further improve Utah’s child custody law.

Well done Dan and all at NPO Utah!

 

Originally posted on: https://nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/22326-national-parents-organization-of-utah-passes-shared-parenting-legislation

Michelle Jones – National Parents Organization Executive Committee member

This is a presentation that Michelle did for the NPO: 

April 10, 2014
By Michelle Jones, LCSW, Member, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Utah

View Michelle’s complete presentation given at a Utah Membership meeting: Parental Alienation: Understanding It — Strategies to Fight It.

We have wasted years caught in a distraction of controversy about whether or not parental alienation is a syndrome, or whether it exists at all. It is interesting how although there is a large body of research validating its existence, along with thousands of adults who attest to having suffered through it as children, and other parents who are currently traumatized, watching helplessly as their relationships with their children are being destroyed, there is still resistance and ignorance about what parental alienation really is and what to do about it.  What is parental alienation? It is a pathological family interaction pattern which unjustifiably requires children to align with one parent against a formerly loved parent, putting the children in a destructive loyalty bind. It is usually within the context of a high conflict divorce that parental alienation occurs. It is a horrific form of child abuse.

Because it is anti-instinctual to hate and reject a parent, the child must develop an elaborate delusional system consisting of spurious, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations to justify the hatred and rejection. Eventually, the child comes to believe all the absurdity. The double-bind situation of being unable to have, love, and to be loved by both parents can lead to psychosis. Remaining with hatred and anger is not healthy under any circumstances, let alone for a parent.

“The process of using a child to serve the emotional needs of the alienating parent and doing that parent’s appalling bidding is abuse in itself.  It is also a reversal of a healthy family hierarchy. The child is continually operating under a cloud of anxiety because the fear of a slip of the tongue and or a slip of behavior will reveal the child’s true loving feelings for and longing for the alienated parent.  This will inevitably lead to horrific consequences from the alienating parent.   The child suffers from depression because having a parent severed from her/his life is a loss…a loss of the most severe kind.” (Joan Kelly, PhD)

So, if the information and research is available to the public and professionals, why doesn’t the system, meaning the legal, therapeutic, and child protection agencies take a more proactive role and implement strategies and interventions that put a stop to such destructive behavior, especially when it is damaging our children?

We can learn a lot about human nature by studying our own history in respect to the resistance to new ideas and implementing change. This is illustrated in the history of surgery. Surgery today is considered a lifesaving procedure, but in the 1800’s the death rate from surgery was 50%. In those days this fact was accepted as just the way things went.   Joseph Lister, then a prominent surgeon, was disturbed by the death toll and became intrigued by the research of Louis Pasteur. Up until that time germ theory was not known, and Pasteur showed in his research that faulty fermentation of wine was caused by outside germs entering the wine. This was a bold new idea met with a lot of resistance.  In those days they believed that infections were caused by bad air or that they just happened spontaneously. In those days surgeons took no responsibility for causing infections because they felt they had no part in it.

Due to lack of understanding of how disease was spread,  the surgeons of the 1800’s did not  wash their hands between patients, and even took pride in wearing the same dirty lab coats they wore while operating on previous patients.  The coats were splattered with blood and pus, a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria. These filthy lab coats were worn as a badge of honor and prestige in the medical community, boasting of their accomplishments and experience. It is horrifying to imagine knowing what we know now.

In discovering Pasteur’s research, Lister applied it and developed a sterile technique that was highly successful in reducing infection. He had unheard of success in lowering the rate of infection and saving the lives of hundreds of patients. You would think that his excellent results and breakthroughs would be eagerly accepted. On the contrary, it was met with high resistance, taking another 10 years to adopt his techniques.

In the 1980’s there was another scientist/researcher, Richard Gardner, a child psychiatrist at Columbia University, who through much observation and study described a disturbing, pathological phenomenon which he defined as Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS.  He stated that PAS is “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.  Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.  It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent (1998).”

Much like Lister, when parental alienation was defined by Richard Gardner, there was great resistance to it, although he, again like Lister, was not the first to notice this pathological family dynamic.  In the 1950’s, the child psychiatrists who later founded the various schools of family therapy, initially identified a cross-generational coalition between a parent and a child to the deprecation of the other parent and which was observed occurring when their hospitalized patients were visiting with their families.  Murray Bowen labeled this the pathological triangle.

Empirical evidence for parental alienation has been further supported in a 12-year study of 700 families, published by the American Bar Association section of Florida Family Law. The study concluded that, “in divorce situations, parental alienation, the programming of a child against the other parent, occurs regularly, 60 percent of the time, and sporadically another 20 percent of the time.” (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991, pp. 174-180)

We are long overdue to put aside the disputes of whether germs or parental alienation exist and start implementing the interventions and strategies needed to stop this insidious child abuse.  National Parents Organization seeks to end parental alienation by making shared parenting and gender equality the norm in family law in every state.

 

Originally published at: https://nationalparentsorganization.org/component/content/article/16-latest-news/21661-parental-alienation-understanding-it-strategies-to-fight-it

AB-PA Certified Professionals – Dr. Craig Childress

AB-PA Certified Professionals

We are going to establish a standard of practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

We are then going to move toward professional expertise.  Mental health professionals who know what they’re doing – within standard and established constructs and principles.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

It begins with assessment.

Attachment-related pathology is always created by pathogenic parenting.  A child’s rejection of a parent (attachment-related pathology) is either being caused by the pathogenic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent (through hostile-aggressive child abuse), or it is being caused by the pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent (through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other spouse-and-parent).

A semi-structured six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol can identify the source of pathogenic parenting creating the attachment-related pathology.

The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

AB-PA Certification

There are four mental health professionals that I know of who are qualified to conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment related pathology surrounding divorce.  Each of these mental health professionals has trained with me personally, and each has direct access to me for consultation as needed.  These four mental health professionals are Certified in AB-PA, including administration and documentation of the six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol.

We are establishing a ground foundation of professional knowledge in the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology required for professional competence, and ultimately for professional expertise.

The Attachment System
Family Systems Therapy
Personality Disorder Pathology
Complex Trauma

Does a mental health professional need to be “certified” to conduct a treatment-focused assessment protocol?  No.  Absolutely not.  All mental health professionals should be conducting a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce right now.  It’s all standard and established professional psychology.

Can they?  I have no idea. I am appalled by the degree of professional ignorance and incompetence that’s out there.

I do know this.  There are four mental health professionals who can.  They are the certified mental health professionals I worked with across three days of seminars in November.  There are four mental health professionals who absolutely know how to conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

They have the knowledge, and they have my ear if they want consultation on a particularly troubling case.  What’s more they have each other.  They don’t realize this yet, but as things develop I’m planning to encourage a network of inter-professional consultation across AB-PA Certified mental health professionals; to use each other as resources of professional consultation.

What the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA provides is a shared common knowledge and language of professional psychology – cross-generational coalitions, emotional cutoffs, personality pathology, splitting, attachment trauma – all understood even before the consultation begins.  The constructs of established professional psychology (Bowlby, Bowen, Beck, Minuchin, Millon) can unravel the diagnostic complexities and treatment issues.

There are four mental health professionals who are certified in AB-PA, who understand the pathology, who know what to do, and who are part of a growing network of professional collaboration.

They are not advocates or friends on Facebook; they don’t offer “advice” on what parents should do.  They work with clients.  They bring solution to family pathology for their clients.  They are a verified source of high-level professional knowledge regarding attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce for families and the Courts.  These four mental health professionals are:

Jayna Haney, MS, LPC Intern:  Houston, Texas.
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Ms. Haney is in a leadership role in bringing professional knowledge and expertise to the solution for “parental alienation.” She has studied with Karen Woodall in Great Britain as well as becoming Advanced Certified in AB-PA with me in November.  Of additional note, Jayna is also trained in EMDR treatment for trauma and brings this additional trauma expertise to her work with the complex trauma of “parental alienation.”  Jayna Haney has my full support, and she has my ear.

Jayna Haney: jayna@thebridgeacross.com

Michelle Jones, LCSW: Provo, Utah.
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Michelle Jones, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who works with Concordia Families agency in Provo, Utah.  Ms. Jones brings her AB-PA Advanced Certification into a professional clinic already experienced with the family pathology of “parental alienation” and court-involved families.  Michelle Jones and the therapeutic team at Concordia Families has my full support, and they have my ear.

Michelle Jones: mjones@concordiafamilies.com
Concordia Families Website

Nadine Colgan, MS, NCC, LPCMH: Kennett Square, PA
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Ms. Colgan brings a wealth of experience to her work.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Relations, she is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, she is a National Board Certified Counselor and a Certified Mediator.  Ms. Colgan has extensive experience working with high-conflict divorce and is a strong resource in the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore area.

Nadine Colgan: nadinecr1@nadinecolgan.com
Nadine Colgan Website

Larken J. Sutherland MS, LPC: Corpus Christi, Texas

Larken Sutherland is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Parenting Coordinator/Facilitator in private practice in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Ms. Sutherland is experienced in working with high conflict families and she is Certified in AB-PA, she is a strong resource for families in the Corpus Christi area.  Ms. Sutherland has my full support, and she has my ear.

Additional Certification

Three others also received Certification in AB-PA, one is a legal professional, and two are parent-advocates.

JulieAnne Leonard
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

JulieAnne Leonard is an attorney who is completing her psychology degree in developmental psychology.  Of note is that developmental psychology is a particularly useful domain of knowledge for understanding the influence of parenting on child development.  Ms. Leonard has an extensive background serving as a Guardian ad Litem with high-conflict families.  Through her legal background as an attorney, her extensive experience as a GAL, and her AB-PA Certification, Ms. Leonard represents an exceptionally strong resource for the Court in assisting the Court to identify “parental alienation” pathology and in coordinating effective treatment services for the family.

Peter Knudsen
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Peter Knudsen is a parent-advocate located in the Netherlands.  He is active in bringing the knowledge and protocols of AB-PA to the European mental health system and family courts.  Peter and I are currently collaborating on several avenues for expanding AB-PA into the European mental health and family law systems.  Peter has my full support and he has my ear.

Bryan Hale
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Bryan Hale is a theology student and parent-advocate completing his degree in theology with the goal of becoming an ordained minister.  I suspect the universe has designs for the life of Mr. Hale.  He brings a unique array of talents to the solution, including a strong background in business and in creating organization support structures for projects and endeavors.  Bryan Hale has my full support, and he has my ear.

Professional Expertise

Jayna Haney
Michelle Jones (Concordia)
Nadine Colgan
Larken Sutherland

I know that these four mental health professionals can conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  These four mental health professionals are a verified resource for knowledge and professional skill sets for families, family law attorneys, and the Court.

As an attorney and Guardian ad Litem, JulieAnne Leonard also represents a strong resource for the Court in helping the Court to identify “parental alienation” and in coordinating the treatment.

Peter Knudsen, Bryan Hale, and I will be working behind the scenes on creating the support structures for change across the entire mental health and family court systems, for all children, everywhere.

As importantly… they are the core for a network of consultation support for each other, each bringing a different facet of knowledge, yet all with a common foundation of knowledge.

Change is Coming

This is not about me.  This is about you.  You are the change.  I am merely a catalyst.  I am simply the clarion call returning professional psychology to the ground foundations of professional psychology; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Millon, Bowen.  You are the agents of change.

We are establishing a ground foundation of knowledge and standards of practice for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  From this foundation, we then build professional expertise.

The ground foundation is not me.  It’s Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck and the established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

This is about you and your children.  This is about solving the family pathology of “parental alienation” for all children everywhere.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

 

Originally posted by Dr Childress at: https://drcraigchildressblog.com/2018/02/04/ab-pa-certified-professionals/

Coming Out – Part 2 Parental Self-Care

When he told me he only had crushes on boys and thats why he never dated, I started crying. 

My son told me not to tell his father that he really feels like a girl. Did I let him play with girls too much? 

I asked my daughter why her best friend identifies as lesbian, and she told me she thinks she may be one too. Im sure she is not. 

When teens come out, the world shifts. Some parents respond with denial, wanting to diminish the news. Others feel anger and want to find out who is responsible. Some parents feel sadness, anticipating a loss of shared values, a loss of future. Denial, anger and sadness are all important aspects of grief processing, and for many parents, responding to a child’s coming out is a grief experience. 

Most children talk with their parents only after years of trying to figure out what is really happening inside, and when they finally tell parents, those years are condensed into a moment that – to a parent – may feel like a dropped bomb. 

After listening to hundreds of stories of parents responding to their children’s expressions of attraction and identity, I’ve seen how important it is for parents to take care of their own emotional health afterward.*  

Here are some valuable principles to keep in mind: 

  1. Take a break to figure yourself out. Denial, anger, and grief are expected. However, if your child feels overwhelmed by your denial, anger and grief, then healthy connecting may be more difficult. Many children “take on” their parents’ reactions and become more isolated. You may want to find another place and time to express and explore your genuine reactions. One mother told her child she loved him and needed some time to figure out her own feelings, and then she spent the afternoon at her sister’s home. Another father immediately called a counselor, reassuring his son that the counseling was intended to help the father provide healthy support for his son.  
  2. Remind yourself, “This is not a crisis.” One mother described feeling completely numb. Because Christmas was only a few days away, she felt both the pressure of the family’s expectation and the heaviness of the news. She found that repeating aloud the words, “This is not a crisis” reminded her that their family would still survive despite the new information.  
  3. It’s normal to feel more upset, even though your child may seem happier. While children often feel relief after sharing feelings with parents, your feelings may begin to resemble a roller-coaster. It may seem unfair that your child has just given you the burden to carry. Breathe through these feelings and recognize that this is normal.  
  4. Find safe people to share what you are feeling. Your child may insist that you tell no one. And although it’s important to honor your child’s sense of privacy, it’s OK to let your child know that you need to talk with someone. Perhaps you and your child can agree on a trusted family member, friend, or counselor.  
  5. Limit your contact with others who are uninformed. Sometimes well-meaning friends and family have advice that is not helpful, or that undermines your confidence in yourself and your child. It’s OK to limit your contact with these people for a period of time. Plan what you will say. “We are working hard to support each other right now and I need to focus on that,” may be helpful to repeat. 

 

And finally, when you ask “Why me?” try switching to the question, “Why not me?” and see what strengths you find in yourself. Chances are you are being called to a deeper way of loving your child and yourself. 

SIDEBAR MATERIAL — Find a Parent Support Group in Utah County 

Find a parent support group. Meeting with other parents in similar situations has been a positive emotional turning point for many. Here are a few in Utah Valley: 

  1. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meets weekly at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in downtown Provo (provopflag@gmail.com) 
  2. Encircle Parents’ Meeting (Third Sunday of each month at Encircle in Provo) https://encircletogether.org/supportgroups 
  3. Northstar Parents’ Meeting (Quarterly meeting at a parent’s home in Lehi) 

https://www.lds.org/blog/navigating-family-differences-with-love-and-trust?lang=eng  

Next time:  Coming Out Part 3 – What do we do now?