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.


  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.


  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.


  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 .


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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


  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


  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!


    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


  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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