This post is part of the process of finishing off the book I am writing about parental alienation. Launching soon will be our therapeutic coaching services for alienated parents, using an approach which we have developed at the Family Separation Clinic. This approach is unique to us and is based upon almost ten years of work with parents who are alienated from their children. It is an approach we are having success with and, combined with our new handbook, it is an approach that we know will put power back into the hands of alienated parents. This approach is based upon what alienated parents don’t know and what alienating parents don’t tell them. This approach is, in our view, one of the secrets to resolving alienation in children and it puts power into the hands of the people who can do that most effectively of all. You.
The approach we have been developing is key to understanding how alienating parents get to alienate the other parent and how they get to maintain the dynamics which keeps the alienation in place and ongoing. Forget the courts, forget biased professionals, forget the gravy train, forget everything you have been told to believe by the parental rights based organisations. When alienation strikes your family it does so because there are some particular dynamics in place which have nothing to do with anyone or anything else and everything to do with you and your family. The courts, the biased professionals and all of the rest of the pantomime which surrounds your family when alienation strikes, are simply bit part players in a bigger drama. The leading roles in this drama are played by you and your children’s other parent, the person you once loved enough to conceive a child with. When you understand this, you are part way to understanding the secret to changing the dynamic in your family which creates and keeps creating the alienation dynamic. When you begin to learn more about yourself in this drama, you begin to understand the things that you can change which no longer maintain the tension in the dynamic which maintains the alienation. The approach we use is based upon the adage if you always do what you have always done…you will always get what you have always got…if you want something to change…do something different.
Doing something different is what our therapeutic coaching sessions aim to help you to do.
It never ceases to amaze me, when I meet alienated parents, that they are often completely unaware of what it is or was that led to the alienation in the first place. Parents talk to me about the last time they saw their children and the road to their child’s withdrawal without any awareness of the ways in which their children were giving them signals that something was wrong, long before the alienation reaction appeared. That’s possibly a little cruel of me, given that I spend my time with alienating and alienated parents and their children, something which has given me ample opportunity to notice, understand and analyse the ways in which children give off signals that something is wrong. (It has also given me plenty of time to talk with and therefore understand at a deeper level, those parents who alienate children, some consciously and some unconsciously). One of the reasons that I have written the handbook however, is to give alienated parents as many of the tools and strategies for being able to detect and therefore manage what is happening, long before alienation strikes. Prevention is always better than cure with alienation and getting to work with strategies to reverse the problem is always preferable to trying to deal with a child who is in full flight and full refusal to see you. Even so, we have had some interesting results in recent months, working with families where alienation is fully established, using techniques we have developed and which are discussed in the book.
But this post is not an advert for the book, the book is the book and you are free to buy it or not, just as you are free to have therapeutic sessions with us or not. I am not a believer in using my blog to persuade you to buy things from me. I give away as much as I can freely to help everyone who needs it and you are always welcome to take what I post and use it yourself in the way you feel is best for you.
What I cannot do however, in blog posts is tailor your individual treatement route. Every alienated parent has their own necessary treatment route because every alienation situation is uniquely individual to you. If you want to know more, the book will help you and if you want to develop your knowledge I will be picking out different elements over the coming weeks to focus your mind on the important aspects of developing a road map out of the current position you find yourself in.
For now though I am focusing on the key part of how alienation strikes and what you, as an alienated parent don’t know and what the alienating parent in your family system is definitely not going to tell you.
The alienation reaction is a continuation of the dynamic which existed between you, the adults, before your relationship ended, only now it is being played out through your children. In short, you are, quite literally, still in relationship with your ex through the conduit which is, your child.
Is that a shock?
Are you surprised, outraged, disgusted?
What do you feel when you read that reality?
A lot of you will, no doubt, in reaction to being asked how you feel about that statement, tell me the reasons why your ex is doing what he/she does, how she/he is being supported to do that by other people and how the family courts/professionals/government/social services/uncle tom cobbly and all, are to blame for that.
That’s not the question I asked you. The question I asked you is –
how do you feel about that statement?
Talking about feelings in an alienation situation can be terribly difficult for alienated parents. That is because they have gone through the most terrifying experience possible, they have watched their children being turned against them systematically and they have been powerless to stop it. Which is a little bit like watching someone break every bone in your child’s body and being unable to stop it or show anyone else what is happening. This removal of your ability to care for and protect your children, creates a process in which, in order to stop yourself losing your sanity, you have to remove yourself from the horrific emotional and psychological pain that this causes you. And so you go through a period of what is called distancing, in which you begin to intellectualise what is happening as a defence against the onslaught of suffering you are experiencing. When you do this consistently over a period of time you end up numb and unable to feel anything. Which allows you to function yes, but removes from you the normal reactions that creates a healthy and functioning mind body and soul. When you have arrived at a place which is numb, it is then a short step to disengagement, in which you take a very big step back and attempt to reorganise your world in a way which is protective of your health and well being.
In short, the formula which is followed is very like the power and abuse cycle so beloved of feminism –
Abuse (control of your children) – attempts to address the abuse (family courts and social services) – failure to address the abuse (bias in professionals and the court system, everyone looks the other way) – psychological distress (you fear for your sanity because no-one will listen) – repeated attempts (all fail because no-one understands) – numbing begins (you have to survive) – disengagement (in order to survive in the longer term).
Recognise anything in there?
Many alienated parents who come to us for help are numb and cannot feel, especially fathers who face the above cycle on repeat often for years and years and years without anyone listening.
Feelings therefore are a very important part of restoring the functioning parent within you, restoring the functioning parent within you is a big part of getting you ready to use the strategies that you can employ to make the dynamic change.
For so many of you, the knowledge that you can no longer feel the feelings that are related to what has happened to you will come as a revelation.
To the alienating parent however, it is knowledge that they hug to themselves like a secret. When alienating parents can get you to the point where you can no longer feel anything about what is happening to your child, they are almost home and dry in their attempt to rid themselves of you. Note the key word themselves. Not rid the children or rid the family, but rid themselves of you.
What alienating mothers don’t tell you is that their efforts are designed to rid them of you and any reminder of you (and in some cases to exact revenge).
What alienating fathers don’t tell you is that their efforts are designed to continue their control over you, thereby managing to eradicate you (and in some cases, to exact revenge).
What all alienating parents don’t tell you is that what they are doing to you now, is what they did to you before the relationship ended. They are just using your child as a conduit to keep doing it.
And yes, some are psychologically ill, in which case it is vital to remove the child from them and some are not but are nonetheless engaged in a familiar pattern of behaviour which they are unable to desist from.
All of which means that understand what is happening to your children means understanding what happened to you. It means withdrawing your projections of blame (seeing the other person as the sole cause of the problem) and thinking about how the two of you created the dance which is the dynamic which now captures your children and holds them fast.
What alienating parents don’t tell you, but which we freely WILL tell you, is that the power to change what is happening to your children lies as much in your own hands as it does in theirs. And alienating parents are afraid, very very afraid of you finding that out.
Which makes it all the more important, in my view, that you do.
Therapeutic Coaching sessions for alienated parents are available daily from the Family Separation Clinic, please email email@example.com for an appointment. Sessions cost £70 per hour and can be booked individually or in blocks of six at a cost of £300 (reducing the cost to £50 per session).
Therapeutic Coaching sessions with Karen Woodall can be booked at £90 per hour for individual sessions or can be tailored in packages which attract reduced costs, please ask for details.
Understanding Parental Alienation – Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal will be available shortly at a cost of £12.99. Pre-order here