Dear Dr Childress…..

Given that Dr Childress wrote openly to me on his blog yesterday I thought my readers would be interested to know that I responded with this comment on his blog in response.  As far as I am aware Dr Childress has not allowed the comment through and so, in the spirit of synthesis, which he himself argues so powerfully for, here is my response to his challenge to me.

Dear Craig, I would be happy to talk, I am not a Gardenarian and I don’t know what that means even but I would be happy to talk. But wouldn’t you and I be better talking together than arguing in public over what is right and wrong? The people who depend on us to help them want us to talk, they want us to work together and I am sure that we can, even though I cannot advocate the approach you are setting out because I am too acutely aware of the issues in the UK which cause parents to be at such risk of losing their children for good. We have a deeply problematic system here, rigid with judgement and subjectivity, our mental health community hasn’t even begun to grasp the basics of alienation awareness yet. I take an approach which is eclectic and integrative, whatever works to free the child is what we do at the Clinic, yes it is hand to hand combat but it is building an evidence base for our judiciary to show them the truth of alienation and how removal can liberate the child.

I did not write the critique of Foundations to undermine your fine work, I wrote it because I wanted to set out work in the UK out to show the PASG that there is much that chimes with us in your work but some of it which doesn’t because of structural problems. And I still do not believe that those structural problems can be resolved using your approach. But I didn’t write on my blog because I have far too much respect for you to want to critique your work publicly.

But look, I am 53 years old and I too want to see an end to this scourge in my lifetime. You and I are of similar character, we are both fighters, why don’t we fight together, finding the strengths in our similarities and the power of our differences to forge ahead. I believe this field could benefit from such an alliance, showing that even though we may not completely agree on everything, we can still work together for change. Better to be aligned around our strengths than alienated from each other I say. What do you say? Shall we give it a go?

On behalf of all of the families we work so hard for I hope that this can be the end of the matter. I feel that arguments of this nature help no-one and I did not ever intend there to be this outcome when I wrote for the PASG newsletter.

The work of the Parental Alienation Studies Group is very important across the world and brings together people with skills and expertise who are working incredibly hard to further understanding and better outcomes for everyone who is affected by this horrible problem. I see no purpose whatsoever in a battle amongst experts who are already under immense pressure and attack for their work in the field of parental alienation. Neither do I see any purpose in throwing out decades of excellent work to further new constructs. All ways of working with alienated families, all ways of bringing relief from suffering and all ways of liberating children should be made available to as many practitioners across the world as possible.

I never stop drawing on the best practice I can find.  Dr Childress’s work is amongst that best practice. I welcome debate and the PASG is furthering that as well as research and support for experts in the field.  It is incumbent, I believe, on all of us who know the truth of parental alienation and its toxic impact through the generations, to find our common strengths and build upon our ability to tolerate difference.

‘Whatever works’ should be our motto and liberating children should be our common goal.

23 Comments

  1. Excellent response Karen. I think Dr Childress work and book is very important, but I also agree that it is not THE solution to all alienation problems and most certainly not a book to bring along to your appointment with CAFCASS. Applying for a child arrangement order in the court system in the UK, you are lucky to get a full section 7 report, let alone ever having an “expert” look at the case.
    Academic discussion is very important in any field that wants to move forward. It brings together different experiences and different perspectives into something that is more than the sum of the individual parts. I don’t think this public airing of opinions is necessarily the best way forward and hope Dr Childress and you can find a way to communicate for the benefit of all the families that both of you help.

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  2. I am in awe of the work you do both through your very privileged position to lobby for chance where it matters , with Cafcass and the echelons of power whose lives have not been touched by the cancer on a family that is parental alienation.

    Your bravery , insightful blog and my personal attribute to the advice Nick has given me , will see others attack your integrity,, professionalism and deep heartfelt desire to see children’s right to know and love both parents preserved , for their short , medium and long term ‘best interest ‘.

    I have read Dr Childress and your work avidly , searching for pointers to help enact a chance to have a relationship with my beloved daughter who is ‘hostage’. I implore you to fight for family , for basic human rights , for change to enable protection for children. Fight knowing you act with a pure heart and it matters not to readers or clients in UK what is said in a forum. It’s too late for my daughter and the toxic attacks on every area of my life and relationships I hold dear – fight on.

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  3. You have articulated the reservations I have had from the beginning Karen. Bravo. And thank you for taking the time . I have admired your thoughtfulness and measured writing. Hopefully PA can get through all of these differences without any further public divisions. It serves nothing when we are working hard to eradicate parent alienation .

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  4. Dear Eddie,

    I am not posting your comment on my blog because I am absolutely NOT going to be part of this manufactured war between what Dr Childress calls Gardenarians and whatever he calls his construct.

    I did not publish a letter for public consumption, if I had wanted a public fight I would have published it on my blog – go and find it on my blog – you won’t because it isn’t there.

    Dr Childress decided to have a public fight and published it on his blog.

    I am disappointed at the deep lack of respect shown to those who work in this field in your comment, you have been brainwashed yourself I fear, into believing that there is only one answer, there absolutely is not and I am NOT going to be bullied by you or anyone else into doing things Dr Childress’s way simply because you think he has the answer.

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  5. Alas, the delusion of absolutes at work again where someone or something must always either be right or wrong – both of which is NEVER the case in reality. Life is transient and, in my opinion, the biggest challenge we face in today’s society……the inability to know what we can control and what we can’t – the real source of the mental illness the underlies PA. To reduce/minimise the pain of those suffering PA today (where possible) has to be a separate issue from that of pursuing uncertain, albeit commendable, future objectives that involve the co-operation of those in authority who don’t wish to change the status quo. If, indeed, Dr Childress has the “silver bullet” to PA you can bet your life the US model will find its way to the UK’s shore, regardless of anyone’s views (we know that when the US sneezes……) Karen, you are a help and inspiration to so many in the here and the now…..that has to be a sound strategy in building the “critical mass” necessary for the systemic changes needed in future. I understand and agree with most of Dr C’s views, however, the “converted” are not those most requiring education and understanding in the real harm that PA does to real lives

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  6. II am from Amsterdam trying to change things here. Doing research on NPD and admin of several groups on Facebook, I decided to start a Foundation for all victimized parents and children. BUT I have the same problem you have: There is no interest in working together, II’ve tried all groups, coaches and sites to form a movement, but they just refuse to cooperate and see you as a kind of rival and a threat to their own business/practise . I find this very wrong, so I’m glad you brought this up, I feel we need to work together to make our voice heard. Everywhere! I find Childress’ response to your blog very disappointing. Didn’t know he was so into himself that he cannot stomach a different perspective, I’m sorry for the work you put in it. But I refuse to give up and my group is about ACTION. Things here are worse than in the UK, we hardly have any rights. It’s awful, this should be different concerning complex divorces with either bordrline or narcissistic parents and parenting. I haven’t seen my little girl for more than two years now, all because of my narcisistic ex sabotaging and going to court all the time about custody. Please don’t give up, I did find some people to work with in the end who also want to make this an issue. Here it’s basically, if you speak about the other parents pathology, you lose. This cannot go on, it’s a carcinome in society. Keep up the good work, and remember your post wil go to one or more groups in the Netherlands, so you have an audience here, too. Respect, Lotte Hendriks

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  7. At THIS POINT in my pain of ANOTHER YEAR of my daughter and I having no contact after 4 YEARS that we only saw each other a couple supervised hours with a biased judge who called me up to her bench in an empty court room and told me, “YOU and YOUR DAUGHTER HAVE WASTED ENOUGH OF MY TIME…..” Who has never allowed me my rights to a fair trial STILL… I REALLY DONT CARE WHICH ONE OF YOU WHO IS RIGHT… ALL I care about is for one of two to just TELL ME THE WORDS I NEED TO WRITE IN AN AFFADIVT TO MAKE A COURT CASE and THE WORDS TO CROSS EXAMINE THIS ABUSIVE FATHER to SHOW THIS JUDGE full severe parental alienation of complete removal of this little girl’s Mother into non-extience as he promised more than 4 years ago. TELL US PARENTS WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SAY TO GET OUR CHILDREN BACK!!! Specifically state WHAT WORDS IN COURT DOCUMENTS TO USE or WHAT TO SAY IN COURT being pro-se! I’m sorry for lashing out…. I am BEYOND traumatized for my daughter and I am angry listening to 2 professionals fight trying to prove public that is a PRIVATE FIGHT! I don’t care WHO IS RIGHT… Just tell me HOW TO GET MY DAUGHTER BACK!!! . I follow BOTH YOUR BLOGS for ANYTHING to help me and both of you have explained PA/PAS well… What lacks is INSTRUCTIONS! No where on the internet tell me as a Mother WHAT TO DO LEGALLY! Please HELP ME AND OTHER PARENTS AND GIVE US WHAT WE NEED ON YOUR BLOGS instead of wasting our time in a battle that between the two of you! If this is what has delayed your new website launch, it angers me even more as I NEED ANY NEW INFO TO GRAB ONTO FOR HOPE!

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    1. MM333, where are you in the world? I will send you what you need. As for fighting, I don’t think it was I who was fighting at all but that I guess is just a mirror of how people react to parents who are fighting – I am a mental health professional not a legal person, as is Dr Childress. If you need legal help and words to write to cross examine then you need legal help not mental health help. Legal help comes from legal people. There are several layers of dynamic that you have to be able to understand and work with as an alienated parent – legal issues are one of them and many many parents lose their children not because of mental health professionals but because of legal technicalities. The best people to give you legal advice are legal people, on our new site we will have legal people giving such advice. But for now, as a mental health professional you won’t find legal advice on here and so the argument between professionals is really not affecting that fact. If you tell me where you are in the world I will try to direct you to someone who can help you. Remember this – you need to think about the layers of issues that have to be dealt with. 1. Your own mental and emotional health comes first, you have to find someone to talk to and help you through this, someone who believes and understands, do not waste time on anyone who doubts you. 2. You have to be able to construct your legal case, including evidence and including chronology, position statement and case law. 3. You have to be able to construct a path for the court to follow and argue for that using the law. 4. You have to be able to follow your strategic plan all the way through and keep going. 5. You have to know mental health professionals who can assist the court. 6. You have to be able to argue to get the court to accept the intervention of mental health professionals (UK). Whilst things may be different in other countries the same rules apply – 1.keep well and healthy, 2. Set out your plan and follow it. 3. Engage legal help from people who understand. 4. Find your mental health professional. 5. Use the technicality of the law to argue for the route you set out. I will send you our briefing on managing your case in court if you send me your email address to office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk

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  8. Dear Karen, I sympathise with you in the sense that somehow most workers in the field just don’t want to share and cooperate. I’m trying to get people to work together here in The Netherlands, but I have the same experience: Everybody seems to just want to tend their own business and reputation, instead of putting all efforts together and make it an issue in society. Parental Alienation is legal in this country, for crying out loud. But I won’t give up and neither hope that you will. Thanks for all your good work and your efforts to make a change. Lotte Hendriks

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  9. Thank you. It’s about time. I promise that after both of your awkward beggining in this discussion, others will join and this scurge of child abuse will come to a screeching halt. Thank you.

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    1. Not really sure what this refers to Ken, the post you are commenting on was written in 2015. As far as I am concerned, Dr Childress has burned all of his boats in terms of professional relationships and there is absolutely no possibility that I or any other professional in this field will engage with him in any manner whatsoever. Courtesy, regard for the hard work of others and mutual concern for the children and families we care for are seen right across the PA world – apart from Dr Childress who appears only focused upon the destruction of mine and any other work done by any professional who disagrees with him.

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  10. Karen, The situation with Craig Childress is very saddening and disappointing. I found his diagnostic approach to be the clearest description of the extreme alienation I experienced with a child in an intact family for 15 years. But his behavior towards colleagues is beyond unprofessional. I understand your position.

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    1. Thanks Rusty, I agree, he describes the diagnostic process for pure and severe alienation very well, you will also find it described more or less the same way by Dr Lowenstein in 2006 in the UK and by Dr Cameron in the UK before that and by many others around the world who worked with Richard Gardner. Childress has linked his work back to attachment theory and told the world that this is something he has invented, it is not. None of what he says is ‘the solution’ is anything other than what has been done for decades in the UK for pure and severe alienation, I have said it many times and I continue to say it because it is the truth. I have pointed out many times over where all of this stuff was written by others, including me. His work to root it in attachment theory is interesting, it is however not the perfect solution he says it is because it cannot be enacted for example in the UK family court system. HIs behaviour towards me and his writings about me are frankly a breach of the APA code of ethics on several counts, aside from them being quite simply offensive, untrue and a little bizarre in their intensity. A very sad situation all around, doing nothing to help children and families and everything to further misery and discord amongst parents. I wish it were different but I am not going to enter into any kind of discussion with a man who behaves in this manner because it is futile.

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  11. My personal opinion after reading yours and Dr. Childress’ work is that you both are fighting to end the same horrific form of child abuse with little to no help from those in your own field or those in the family court system which could put the breaks on th8s epidemic if they were involved or really even cared. I am not taking sides because everyone’s alienation experience is not the same and their c9ukd be different variables at play for different cases. From looking at Dr, Childress’ work his is simplified hoping that creating a simple binary form or where the red flags should be raised in the court and then the mental health system takes over to solve or diagnose a psychological problem. As I read your work which is very informative as well as Childress’ work I see two very good people who hear our horror stories constantly and see the innocent children trapped in an emotionally unstable world. As you are well aware you and Dr. Childress have given us the #erased parents answers , comfort, and an understanding that you understand us and the daily emotional struggles As I know you both want the same end game and sometimes two talented professionals need to let the past be thge past and then we can all stop the pathogen until it is extinct. I feel that it is something that when we all start joining forces together professionals and parents we wil be able to put an end to alienation.

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    1. Dear Lynn, Dr Childress is having an argument but it is not with me, I am simply not engaged or interested in it. Very best Karen

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      1. I wasn’t to engage in an argument but as a alienated parent from my 2 children 1 an adult and my youngest just celebrated her 16th birthday. I was kept out of my son’s high school graduation by the alienator and the school district who told me “maybe I should take a hint where I am not wanted”. I have been involved in a high conflict custody case with an individual who fits many of the “cluster b behaviors “. Yes there was DV once during our marriage and one after we divorced both times protection orders were issued for 6mos or longer along with the DV charges he was charged with 2cts of child endangerment as he pushed me while I was holding our 3mo old while the 3yr old watched. He had a prior DV charge from a previous girlfriend in which he threw down the steps. I tired to rebuild our marriage for our children so about 2yrs after the first DV I decided my children deserved to be raised in a healthier environment so I told him I wanted a divorce. He didn’t start the insidious and malicious abuse until he was released from his 14mo sentence of incarceration which was from 3DUIs. I have never k3pt the children from him not even when he was in jail. I used to provide all the diapers, clothes, food, and drinks for his weekend visits .I never knew evil like this walked amongst us and was hard to detect. His motjernis a piece of the equation his abuser she did the same thing go his father who he gas been alienated for the better part of 45yrs and they live 5m away from each other, The courts promote alternation and should be held accountable for the child abuse they commit. As a mother watching your 5yo and your 8yo put on the stand in court in front of their parents and be asked who they love more infuriated me and broke my heart. This is when he started his campaign to destroy me by only asking for custody of our oldest separating biological siblings and the court did as he asked he wasn’t out of jail for more than 6mos. I have no record mpnever asked for money (support), tried to swallow my pride for my children and co-parent with him but it’s difficult with someone who is constantly trying to destroy you and was your abuser. So mid-july of 2016 I was laid-off from my CFO job not that they have a reason worked many hours never reprimanded or had a n negative review except when the CEO of our parent company told me the court b.s. was interfereing with my work and crossing professional boundaries. Wyat thyevvourt had me fo was embarrassing I and my daughter’s behavior became strange a 180 turn. I tried to be patient, understanding, loving it , gave her space, and asked her in various different ways what was wrong. New school yr started and she got on the bus one day and that was it she was gone from my life and the whole maternal family. The only way I know she is still alive is the attendance records from school. Yes I am heartbroken, yes I take medication, no I don’t know how I survive one day to the next. I goto therapy weekly but lately my psychologist seems to be on the wrong page. Telling me that I need to get along with alienator and forget about my kids and when they are adults they will come back. I have seen too many stories that it doesn’t work like thaf for the majority of the cases. Which is why I support you both in your wealth of professional knowledge and your professional experiences. Until I found Dr Childress’ YouTube videos I thought I was alone since I was treated like I was the only one when I started questioning my own sanity at times. The alienation starts at birth bc I can now look back and see the red flags. Even though it starts at birth most of the severe alienation symptoms appear around the divorce when the ego of the narcissist becomes injured rehashing the unresolved trauma in their own lives. My ex and his mother have always lived together or right nexr to each other and have moved 63x together. Currently they all live in a compound together A 4BR house with his mother, his step-father, his wife, their 2 kids (2yo and 12yo) and my 2kids (19yo and 16yo). I have been told that he will make sure my grandchildren hate me and never know me and I have been told by my children and ex to do the world a favor and kill myself bc I am a worthless piece of trash and tha5s all I will ever be. I just don’t know how the courts and therapists are so blind to it.

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      2. I will write more to you later you are worth so much more than a few words can ever convey – the point I am making is I am not arguing with Childress, he’s having the fight on his own with his own shadows. Like all alienating parents he is trying to drag me into a punch up based on nonsense. It’s his issue not mine I have no problem with his model it’s just not THE model . But I hear you I will write more to you xx

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