This summer has seen an incredible level of coverage on the issue of parental alienation both in the mainstream and legal press in the UK. I have been delighted to be part of that highlighting of the issue and to share our expertise with journalists who appear to be finally recognising the issue as one which blights the lives of too many families in this country.
I have also been delighted to see the development of thinking amongst leading legal people in this field and to have worked alongside some of these people in bringing about better outcomes for children affected by alienation. When children emerge from an alienated stance because the dynamics around them have been properly changed, the outcome could not be better, because the health and well being of the children are properly protected this way.
Yesterday however, I worked with a father who had been unable to get our services introduced in his cases because, in his words, there was a belief that the Clinic has an ‘agenda’ and what the courts don’t like is a practitioner with an agenda.
To respond to that, which is something that is raised regularly with me, yes we do have an agenda at the Clinic and that agenda is the safety and protection of every child who is affected by alienation, we don’t hide it, we don’t apologise for it, it is the reason the Clinic exists. Just as you would ask for a specialist if you suffered from a particular physical problem, our services are for families where a child is rejecting a parent in an unjustified way. We are not generic, we are specialist and as specialists, we do not hide what we do, we advertise it, loudly.
We do so because we know that there are so few services to support parents where this problem exists. We do so because we are good at what we do and we do so because we know that one day very soon, the existence of a specialist clinic for families where children unjustifiably reject a parent, will be welcomed in the UK. And that day, from where I am looking is coming very soon.
At present, because parental alienation is sometimes still a difficult issue in the court process in terms of its acceptance, it will mean that some Judges or Guardians may not be willing to bring our services to your case until or unless you have been able to demonstrate, either alone or with the assistance of a part 25 expert, that this is a case of alienation. In some cases that means that we are the last port of call, used when every other possible intervention has been exhausted, in others we are involved earlier, if the court has ruled that alienation is present. When we come in to work in your case, we come in either as a part 25 expert or as the service that carries out the work deemed necessary by a part 25 expert. In the first scenario we are assessing to determine whether alienation is present and whether or not a family is suitable for our intervention, in the second we are delivering the intervention we assess to be most closely matched to the presenting issues. At all times when we come into a case we are doing so as specialists in working with children and their families who are affected by alienation. That means that there is a time to introduce us into your case and that is going to be later, rather than sooner.
That comes with a caveat however, which is that if your child is not alienated or your child is in a hybrid situation in which contributions from both parents are the cause of the withdrawal, we will say so. We do not, in any circumstances, assess a case of estrangement as alienation and we do not, in any circumstances, assess a case of hybrid or unconscious alienation as the deliberate actions of one parent against the other. There would be little point in doing that, It would not help the child and it would not help the parents either and helping, in the swiftest way possible, is what the Clinic is all about.
In helping families affected by alienation, we do not offer prolonged open ended therapy, we do not offer assessments in which generic family therapy is our recommendation and we do not offer either, any formulation which does not lead directly to the shift in power dynamics which are necessary to liberate the child in a severe alienation situation. In our most successful case outcomes, we assess, treat and free the children within a period of 12-26 weeks and we acknowledge that these outcomes depend upon the strongest case management in court. In fact we ask for that because we know that what makes our interventions potent, is the Judge in the role of super parent, coupled with our skill and interventions which are comparable to those being delivered in the US and Canada.
Since July 2015, we have helped 21 children to reconnect to a rejected parent, some of which has been achieved by transfer of residence and post transfer support, some of which have been achieved in situ, with children retaining healthy relationships on both sides of the family. I consider these cases to be major successes because in these, children are not losing a parent in order to regain one. That leaves however, many families that we cannot help and many who will not be able to get us involved in their cases for a long time. We cannot help that, we are a small and dedicated team who are focused on the very best outcomes for children. One day there will be so many more Clinics like ours, until then we keep doing what we do because we know that every successfully treated family builds our evidence base.
And to prove our evidence base, as part of our commitment to transparency, we offer the opportunity for anyone who is considering using our services to talk to parents of children we have helped and that includes those who are regarded as alienating as well as alienated. We do that because we are confident in our work and we can demonstrate our outcomes. We also know that when our work is open to scrutiny and external validation, parents are more confident about putting their faith in us. We know we are subject to criticism, it comes with the high conflict territory. In our view however, we are judged on the outcomes we provide for families and not on what some people say about us either having an agenda or other random claims which are routinely made by disgruntled parents and their supporters.
All that matters to us at the Clinic is getting help to children who need it and increasingly, as our work is recognised, that is what we are able to do. As more of our work is recognised and made public, more people will be encouraged to come and work in this field. As more work in the field it will become much less of a controversial subject and much more widely understood. All of this is about the journey we are on to bring the very best interventions to the UK which have been tried and tested around the world. And all of it is evidenced with our own successful outcomes.
The court process in the UK is a long and winding road in which individuals (who are in essence simply people who are subject to their own beliefs and view points), have to be shown the reality of what is happening to a child who is alienated. Helping people to see the reality is the first task for an alienated parent and it is no easy task to succeed in. Until you do succeed in that however, you cannot achieve change for your children and so putting your mind to that task first is essential. When the court is convinced that this is indeed an alienation case and is willing to listen, it becomes easier to bring the Clinic into the picture. Don’t expect us to be involved too soon is what I am saying and don’t fall for the belief either that just because we are unashamedly about helping alienated children, we will always be prohibited from working in your case. When the court is listening our services are easy to use and you can propose us. Our evidence based outcomes support our reputation for rapid intervention and increasingly we are used by Local Authorities and the Court based upon that.
As parental alienation becomes more recognised in the UK there will be an increasing need for services such as ours which are hugely over stretched. We are already talking with other service providers and we are training Social Workers and Guardians too to assist with expanding the knowledge base and skills set of those who work with this issue regularly. We will expand that in 2017 to meet what we know is a rapidly growing need, a need which is ever more highlighted by the media coverage we are seeing and a need which, if we have our way, will be met by the highest standards of interventions which are drawn from best practice from all of the key experts around the world.
As I sign off for the summer, I am already looking forward to sharing the launches of our new projects when we return from Zagreb in the autumn. Those of you who read regularly will know that we are going to Croatia to train Social Workers in our way of working, we are incredibly excited to be involved in this which we hope will lead to the formation of a European Network of Parental Alienation Practitioners, linking up those across Europe who are working with international best practice in achieving best outcomes for children and families affected by this problem. Another project which we will develop alongside all of our ongoing court based work and our coaching services.
Until September, take good care of yourselves.
Please note that our Coaching Service at the Family Separation Clinic will be closed from August 20th to September 12th this year. If you would like to book a coaching appointment for September, please try to do so before August 20th as we have an increasing demand for this service.
Please note also that I cannot take any instructions for court based work commencing before October 2016 as I am fully booked until then.
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