Boundaries With Others – How To Set Them

When you’re trying to create boundaries with people they will be tested. It’s like when cows enter a new pasture, they will knock their shoulder against the perimeter a few times to check out where their boundaries are and how strong they are. Cows are strong enough to take down barbed wire if they really wanted to, but they aren’t really testing if they can get out, they are testing if they are safe from the external world. Once they know that the boundaries are consistent and stable they feel safe and they graze in the middle. If the cows don’t have that consistent boundary they will rely on the cowboy to tell them when they have gone too far. The cowboy, however, doesn’t have consistent boundaries, they will only correct the cow when they notice the cow has gone too far, which doesn’t create a feeling of safety. People are the same when they have never experienced consistent boundaries, or they are experiencing new boundaries. People will test boundaries, not enough to break them but enough to trust that they are there to stay and to trust that they are there to keep them safe.

A lot of young adults who never experienced boundaries, because their parents wanted to be their friend. They have a great relationship with their parents, but they will tell me that they feel like they grew up as an orphan because they don’t have a secure home base. but they will tell me that they are afraid to explore and take risks as an adult because they can’t trust that they have parents who are watching out for them, to make sure they don’t make a mistake big enough to ruin their entire life.

It’s important that people are given the space to grow and find their own solutions within appropriate limits. When your setting limits the goal is not to get a specific outcome, rather the goal is to prevent a specific outcome. It is quite spectacular what people can come up with when their possibilities aren’t limited, but just the same we don’t want anyone hurting themselves or others in the process. Limits are set to prevent irreversible and/or irreplaceable damage, while still allowing people to learn how to cope with and improve from mistakes.

When cattle are being herded they have the instinct to turn around when they feel blocked, which can be disruptive to the flow and requires more work to redirect them back into the flow. To redirect a cow, you want them to feel pressure on their shoulder. If you are in front of them when you apply this pressure they feel blocked, if you are beside them when you apply this pressure they will simply turn a bit from where they shouldn’t be. People are the same, when they are told to stop doing what they are doing (and they don’t continue trampling over you) they will do a complete turnaround, even if this wasn’t your intention. If you’re only wanting a slight redirection from a no-go zone you want to adjust your approach to let them know that you understand that they want to move forward, and you want that too, but you want them going forward in a slightly different direction.

Written by Madison Price, MA, LAMFT – therapist at the Holladay Center for Couples and Families

 

Self Care When Experiencing Parental Alienation

Though almost half of marriages in the US end in divorce, most people who divorce successfully transition to their new life within two years. However, about 15% of divorces experience continued litigation. These cases exhibit a high degree of hostility and distrust between the spouses, making it difficult for them to communicate about the care of their children without involving the court. Often in high conflict divorce, it only takes one high conflict person to keep the dispute from resolving. If one spouse is noncompliant with the parenting plan and unwarrantedly denies the other parent access to the children, it compels the blocked parent to fight to not only see their children, but often to defend themselves against false allegations of abuse. The accused parent has two choices: either engage in conflict, or be separated from their precious children. 

If you are experiencing denied visitations and an unwarranted campaign of denigration, you are most likely going through parental alienation. Those who have experienced it say it is one of the hardest things they have ever gone through. It requires developing advanced skills in order to cope. Parents who have been successful in dealing with parental alienation have developed the following skills: 

  1. They sought knowledge. They read about parental alienation in order to understand why it happens, and what they could do to make it less difficult for their children. “Intellectually understanding parental alienation provides an emotional anchor to help make good decisions for yourself and your children.”1
  2. Reframe the meaning of your child’s behavior. For example, based on your current situation you may constantly tell yourself, “My child doesn’t love me anymore and never wants to see me again.” Try altering that statement to, “My child still loves me and wants to see me, but he is painted into a corner and is doing what he thinks he has to do in order to survive an experience that is as painful for him as it is for me.”2
  3. Stay even-tempered and never retaliate. “A person who reacts in anger is proving the alienator’s point that he or she is unstable.”3 Avoid falling into this trap.
  4. Don’t live a victim’s life. Although you are experiencing victimization, don’t live asif you have no power or worth.Deliberately take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods, stay socially connected, do something spiritual daily, exercise and get out in nature. Do things that you enjoy and that rejuvenate you. 
  5. Be proactive. Always show up to pick up your kids even if you know they won’t be there. Keep a journal, and document what happens.
  6. Take a parenting class. Learn how to understand your children developmentally and respond empathetically.Develop superior parenting skills. 
  7. Reduce your children’s anxiety. Find ways to reduce their anxiety when they are with you by picking your battles and not engaging in conflict. 
  8. Never talk bad about your ex to your children.This forces them to align with the other parent against you, and paints you in a bad light. 
  9. Try to make what little time you have with them positive and fun. It is through having fun that you gain connection and preserve your attachment. 
  10. Find an alienation-aware therapist, and get the appropriate support and treatment you need.

Each time you board a plane you are reminded that if the oxygen masks drop, you need to put the mask on yourself first, before helping others. The same is true of parental alienation. You must deliberately take good care of yourself first if you are going to survive emotionally. 

1,2 Http://www.womansdivorce.com/alienated-parent.html 

3 http://www.majorfamilyservices.com/parents-who-have-successfully-fought-parental-alienation-syndrome-by-jayne-a-major-phd.html 

Shared Parenting Myths: Woozles and Zombies

Custody and parent-time decisions are usually made by using what is called “The Best Interest of the Child” standard. This standard is intended to guard children from conflict and abuse, and to promote stability, but because it is vague, and not based on empirical evidence, it is susceptible to influences of what Edward Kruk, a social work researcher, describes as “judicial biases and preferences, professional self-interest, gender politics, the desire of a parent to remove the other parent from the child’s life, and the wishes of a parent who is found to be a danger to the child.”He argues that “a more child-focused approach to child custody determination is needed to reduce harm to children in the divorce transition and ensure their well-being.”2

What does the research show about the well-being of children of divorce? That shared physical parenting is the best custody determination for children. (This excludes cases of abuse, neglect, and parents with no prior relationship.) So why isn’t this the norm in most cases? It is because of Woozles and ZombiesWoozles are myths and misrepresentations of research that are not supported by evidence, but because they keep being repeated, they are believed to be true.3  Linda Nielsen, psychologist, and expert on shared parenting, explains,

To summarize briefly, the words “woozling” and “woozles” come from the children’s story, “Winnie the Pooh.” In the story the little bear, Winnie, dupes himself and his friends into believing that they are being followed by a scary beast – a beast he calls a woozle. Although they never actually see the woozle, they convince themselves it exists because they see its footprints next to theirs as they walk in circles around a tree. The footprints are, of course, their own. But Pooh and his friends are confident that they are onto something really big. Their foolish behavior is based on faulty “data” – and a woozle is born.4

Nielsen continues, “Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (2014) wrote about a similar concept that he called a ‘zombie,’—a belief that ‘everyone important knows must be true, because everyone they know says it’s true. It’s a prime example of a zombie idea—an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die. And it does a lot of harm.’”5

Some common Woozles and Zombies of shared parenting, followed by what research actually shows, include:

 

  1. Children want to live with only one parent and to have one home. Shared parenting is not worth the hassle.

When adult children of divorce were asked, they said having a relationship with both parents was worth any hassle they experienced in moving between homes.6

  1. Young children have one primary attachment figure, the mother, with whom they bond more strongly. Given this, it is hurtful for infants to spend any overnights with the other parent in the first year of life.7

The truth is that infants form different, but strong attachments to both parents and that “there is no evidence to support postponing the introduction of regular and frequent involvement, including overnights, of both parents with their babies and toddlers.”8  

  1. Where there is high conflict between the parents, children do better with sole custody. Shared parenting only increases the conflict and puts the children in the middle.9

Conflict remains higher in sole- than in shared-custody families. Most children are not exposed to more conflict in shared-parenting families. Maintaining strong relationships with both parents helps diminish the negative impact of the parents’ conflict.10

  1. Shared parenting only works with those who agree to it, and is only successful for a small, cooperative group of parents who have little conflict.

The research shows that even if shared parenting was originally mandated, it leads to better adjustment for the children and less long-term conflict between the parents.11

Sadly, Woozles and Zombies can distort the facts about best practices for custody arrangements,  but the research evidence is clear and irrefutable that a shared parenting model is truly optimal for families and “traditional visiting patterns . . . are . . . outdated, unnecessarily rigid, and restrictive, and fail in both the short and long term to address [the child’s] best interests (Kelly 2007).”12

1,2,12 Kruk, E. (2012). Arguments for an Equal Parental Responsibility Presumption in Contested Child Custody. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 40(1), 33-55.  DOI:10.1080/01926187.2011.575344 

 5 Nielsen, L. (2015). Pop Goes the Woozle: Being Misled by Research on Child Custody and Parenting Plans, Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 56:8, 595-633, DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2015.1092349    

 3, 4,8,10 Nielsen, L. (2015). Shared Physical Custody: Does It Benefit Most Children? Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 28, 79-138. 

 6,7,9,11 Nielsen, L. (2013, Jan. & feb.). Parenting Time & Shared Residential Custody: Ten Common Myths.  https://issuu.com/nebraskabar/docs/janfeb_2013/1 

WRITTEN BY MICHELLE JONES, LCSW

Michelle is the director of Concordia Families – a treatment center offering services for reunification, court involved therapy, parent education classes, treatment needs assessments and professional education seminars and classes.

Originally published in Utah Valley Wellness Magazine

The Multiple Sides of Child Abuse

Each branch of the mental health profession, including psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers, has a code of ethics which outlines the values and standards which should guide the treatment they offer. For example, according to the Social Work Code of Ethics, “social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people (Code of Ethics, 2017).”1 Further, most exceptions to confidentiality are also based on the values of protecting the vulnerable in the population, meaning children and the elderly.  

Within the arena of high-conflict divorce, there are children who are truly being subject to physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological abuse, and at the same time, there are also parents who make false allegations of child abuse in order to gain an advantage in court. When a professional becomes involved with these families, they need to explore multiple possibilities, and see the bigger picture of protecting the children against all forms of abuse.  Reflexively denying contact between a parent and child in order to err on the “safe” side is not always the “safe” thing to do. Unnecessarily disrupting a healthy parent-child relationship actually enables psychological abuse.  

First of all, therapists should take all claims of abuse seriously. Their obligation is to report it to the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). This agency will determine whether an investigation will be made, based on an assessment of risk factors.  DCFS should be able to determine if the claim should be substantiated, whether it is a chronic problem or a one-time incident, or whether there is no evidence for the claim at all.   

But when a parent makes false claims of abuse and unwarrantedly induces symptoms of anxiety or hatred in the child in order to destroy the child’s relationship with the ex-spouse, this is also an abuse known as parental alienation. It has been recognized as a form of psychological abuse, and is severely damaging to the child. A research article published in 2014, called, “Unseen Wounds: The Contribution of Psychological Maltreatment to Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Risk Outcomes,”2 examined the effects of psychological abuse. The lead author, Joseph Spinazzola, Ph.D., of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts stated, 

“Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training,” (APA, 2014).3 

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)4 defines psychological abuse as five parental behaviors, as measured by the PMM and CAPM-CV scales: 

  1. Spurning(In parental alienation, a parent withdraws love from the child to punish them when they connect to the other parent.) 
  2. Terrorizing(In parental alienation, one parent induces fear of the other parent in the child.) 
  3. Isolating(In parental alienation the child is cut off from the other parent and most likely the whole side of the family.) 
  4. Corrupting/Exploiting(In parental alienation the child is encouraged to engage in behaviors that are cruel, disrespectful, and immoral in order to benefit the “favored” parent.) 
  5. Denying Emotional Responsiveness(In parental alienation, the child is punished for accepting love from the other parent.) 

In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical manual, psychological abuse is defined as:  

“…non-accidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child’s parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child.” (DSM 5, pg 719)5 

If our fundamental value is to truly protect children, who are the most vulnerable in the population, then we need to raise the level of therapeutic competency through education and training, and do assessments which consider all forms of abuse, including parental alienation.  Children should never be weaponized, and intervening systems should never enable it.  

 

  1. 1.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

2 Spinazzola, J., Hodgdon, H., Liang, L., Ford, J. D., Layne, C. M., Pynoos, R., . . . Kisiel, C. (2014). Unseen wounds: The contribution of psychological maltreatment to child and adolescent mental health and risk outcomes. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy,6(Suppl 1), S18-S28. doi:10.1037/a0037766 

3 Childhood Psychological Abuse as Harmful as Sexual or Physical Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/10/psychological-abuse.aspx 

4American Professional Society Abuse Children | APSAC. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://www.apsac.org/ 

5Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM-5. (2013). Washington: American Psychiatric Publ. 

 

Originally published in Utah Valley Wellness Magazine

Missing The Alienation – by Linda Kase-Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW

April 22, 2014
By Linda Kase-Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW-r

Why do mental health professionals and attorneys who evaluate or work with alienated children frequently mistake alienation for estrangement?

The main reason is that cases of parental alienation are counterintuitive.  That is, the brain is hardwired to misinterpret and misunderstand the family dynamics in these situations.  That leads to a number of common cognitive errors (thinking errors) that, in turn, lead to serious errors in professional reasoning and decision-making. In other words, The brain is tricked by alienation cases just as it is tricked by an optical illusion. Consequently, many professionals, including mental health professionals and attorneys, get these cases backwards. Often, the targeted parent is unfairly criticized for having allegedly contributed to his or her rejection, and the alienating parent is either absolved or believed to have made only a minor contribution. Thus, unless the professional has an in-depth understanding of alienation and estrangement, cases of severe alienation are frequently mistaken for estrangement.

This phenomenon has been described in some detail by Steven Miller, M.D., a physician who studies clinical reasoning and clinical decision-making. For an excellent summary, readers might wish to refer to a chapter that Dr. Miller wrote entitled, “Clinical Reasoning and Decision-Making in Cases of Child Alignment: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Issues,” in the book, Working with Alienated Children and Families, edited by Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. and Richard Sauber, Ph.D.  Dr. Miller examines the complexity of alienation cases, explains why such cases are so counterintuitive, even to professionals, and describes how even the most experienced mental health practitioner can succumb to a variety of cognitive and clinical errors.

I will subsequently specify some of the more common counterintuitive mistakes and biases that occur in alienation cases. But I wish first to discuss how an experienced mental health professional can be fooled in these cases and may be no better at diagnosing alienation than a layperson.

Why is that so?  For one thing, professionals who are assigned to conduct custody evaluations, provide reunification therapy, or represent a child in court are usually not experts in alienation and estrangement.  Parental alienation is a highly specialized area, a subspecialty within the field of family dynamics and family systems therapy.  It requires special knowledge and special skills. But most mental health professionals have received little or no specialized training in these areas.

For instance, most custody evaluations are performed by clinical psychologists. And yet, the usual doctoral degree in clinical psychology does not include even a single course in family dynamics. Although I collaborate with many knowledgeable PAS-aware psychologists — many of whom are excellent, superb clinicians — they have usually gained their expertise in parental alienation through extensive practice experience, not as part of their formal training.  A similar situation exists within the discipline of child psychiatry, which generally provides little or no specialized training in family dynamics. Although some degree programs in clinical social work offer the option of specializing in family dynamics and family therapy, that is only an option, and many clinical social workers have little or no background in this area. Among mental health professionals, one of the few degrees that actually require formal training in family dynamics is a degree in marriage and family systems therapy, and even those who hold that degree are not necessarily experts in alienation and estrangement.

The bottom line is that not all mental health practitioners have the required expertise to handle cases of parental alienation, and not all therapists are bona fide specialists, let alone subspecialists, in alienation and estrangement.

Thus, parental alienation is a complex subspecialty that requires special expertise.  To make this point, I sometimes use the following analogy: both a tax attorney and a divorce lawyer have gone to law school, and are presumably familiar with basic legal principles.  Nevertheless, each would probably be over his or her head — like a fish out of water — if he or she attempted to practice the other specialty.

The situation is even more problematic for attorneys who deal with parental alienation. As previously noted, such cases are highly-counterintuitive, and attorneys who do not have special expertise in this area can make a multitude of cognitive, legal and strategic errors — including serious errors when trying these cases in court. Although Dr. Miller has described more than 30 such errors, some are particularly important and are highlighted here.

  • Most professionals believe that if a child has rejected a parent, the parent must have done something to warrant it. Few people would even think of another explanation: namely that the child had been programmed or brainwashed, just like what occurs in a cult or in the well-known Stockholm syndrome. But if one were to compare alienated children to foster children — specifically, children who had been removed from their parents due to actual abuse and neglect — the difference would be obvious.  Children who have truly been abused crave a relationship with their parents.  Paradoxically — and this is what makes it so counterintuitive — with few exceptions, abused children protect their abusive parents.  They do not disparage, attack or reject them. I myself saw this consistently during my 24 years of working in New York State’s Child Welfare System.
  • Most professionals believe that it is unlikely that a child would align with an abusive, alienating parent. What is missed here is that the child is vulnerable to the manipulations of the alienating parent, such as bribery, abuse of authority and power, and permissiveness.  We know how it is generally the targeted/alienated parent who enforces the appropriate discipline to fill the parental vacuum vacated by the alienating parent.  By doing so, targeted/alienated parents are incredibly misunderstood and doubly victimized by the inexperienced professional, who then labels them as too harsh and not respectful of their children’s feelings and wishes.
  • Most professionals confuse pathological enmeshment with healthy bonding. To the naïve observer, the closeness and clinging seen with enmeshed parent-child relationships seems normal, even healthy. But it is not. As a result of this dysfunctional relationship, alienated children lose their individuality; must suppress their natural feelings of love and need for a parent; and are manipulated to do the bidding of the alienating parent. That is extremely dangerous and damaging to the child.

Having fallen prey to these and other cognitive errors, mental health professionals who lack expertise in alienation then succumb to other biases that lead them to conclude that the alienating parent is competent and the targeted parent is not — in other words, those professionals get it backwards.

For example, the targeted parent frequently presents with symptoms of anxiety, depression and fear. What PAS-unaware professionals fail to understand is that these symptoms are situational and maintained by the alienation and are not dispositional. As noted by Dr. Miller, this is called the fundamental attribution error. It is one of the most common and pernicious cognitive errors. Likewise, it is common for PAS-unaware professionals to conclude that a targeted parent’s anger is the result of a character flaw instead of the result of trauma caused by the alienation.  This may include:
Having been maltreated by the other parent and the child;
Being maltreated by the professionals in the mental health and/or judicial systems and who have been coopted by the alienating parent;

  • Being falsely accused of abusing his or her child;
  • Fearing incarceration due to false allegations; or
  • Being drained of financial resources or pushed into bankruptcy.

Even the most emotionally stable individual would become anxious and angry in the face of such attacks.

Another common error is to fail to adequately consider the baseline situation. If the primary problem is alienation, then, by definition, the targeted parent’s behavior was generally acceptable and there was no evidence of abuse or neglect. His or her functioning was adequate, and the relationship with the child was good or normal. Yet some professionals ignore these critical elements of the family’s history, placing too much emphasis on their personal observations and too little emphasis on the baseline relationships.

Other common cognitive errors in such cases include:

  • Anchoring.As used in cognitive science, anchoring refers to a phenomenon in which a judgment is unduly influenced by initial information, and there is inadequate adjustment when additional, contradictory information becomes available.
  • Confirmation bias. Once anchored to an opinion, the PAS-unaware professional can succumb to confirmation bias,which is a tendency to focus on evidence that might confirm a hypothesis while neglecting evidence that might refute it.
  • Premature closure. This cognitive error ensues when the evaluator arrives at a final conclusion or diagnosis before obtaining and considering sufficient information.  Factors that lead to premature closure in alienation cases include but are not limited to completing and submitting a custody evaluation without obtaining information from the targeted parent’s long-standing therapist; failing to interview all relevant collateral contacts, especially collateral contacts who have positive things to say about the targeted parent or from those who can confirm the alienation; and failure to properly assess intra-family relationships by doing semi-structured interviews not only with the family as a whole and with various sub-groups but with each individual member.

Given the immense responsibility of professionals who intervene in children’s lives, it behooves us to employ the highest standard of professional conduct and ethics. That means selecting only professionals who have adequate expertise and skill to handle such cases. Because they are so counterintuitive, many cases require a subspecialist in alienation and estrangementin order to reliably rule in, or rule out, alienation, and distinguish it from true estrangement.

Author’s notes: (1) The preceding comments about custody evaluators also apply to reunification therapists and other professionals.  I have written extensively about appropriate therapy in my 2012 book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration. I also contributed a chapter on treatment to Working With Alienated Children and Families: A Clinical Guidebook (2012), i.e., the book previously discussed in this article. I look forward to contributing an article summarizing treatment issues in cases of parental alienation to National Parents Organization. (2) I would like to thank Dr. Steven Miller for reviewing this manuscript and offering suggestions prior to publication.

 

Originally published: https://www.nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/16…/21679-missing-the-alienation

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/

How do I Get My Husband to Come to Counseling?

Counseling, if done right, is husband friendly! Find the right therapist and you’ll understand. The problem is that many husbands worry that the therapist is going to take their wife’s side and gang up on him, or that therapy will be uncomfortable. While the latter may be true, the former isn’t. A good therapist doesn’t take sides or act as a referee. I have had many couples want to hash out an argument in front of me in counseling so that I can tell them who is right. I stop them, and explain that even if one of them ended up right, that they would be so wrong in their rightness – their marriage would suffer because they insisted on being right instead of compassionate and forgiving. A good therapist, rather, is able to foster healthy interactions between spouses so that they both feel safe and are able to be vulnerable and genuine with each other. When husbands understand that what they feel and think is important, then they are more willing to make this uncomfortable leap with their spouse. Women are more likely than men to initiate therapy, but without buy-in from the man, it is difficult to be successful in therapy. My suggestion to women who want to initiate counseling, but have a reluctant spouse is to recognize that this is scary for your spouse. They may feel as if they will be attacked, or worse yet, that they will lose you. Help them understand that your desire for counseling is because you love him and because you want this to work – but aren’t sure how to make fix it. Ask him to give therapy at least 3 sessions – after that, if he still feels reluctant there might be another counselor or approach that you could try. Most men feel better about therapy after at least 3 sessions if you have the right therapist for you.

 

Originally published on www.tristonmorgan.com