I am, as you know, always interested in what constitutes evidence based practice in the field of parental alienation. For me, the only evidence base necessary is what works to liberate children from the problem. If what someone is doing is not liberating the children from the problem then that is not, for me, evidence based. No matter how much anyone dresses up their practice in this field, if they cannot point you to someone they have helped previously, their work is not evidence based in my view. And helping in cases of parental alienation is about liberating children, not about fiddling about around the edges and hoping something will change.
The issue we have as practitioners of course is that we are breaking new ground in terms of establishing an evidence base, as such we are still in need of more research evidence based on established practice. This will come but for now, what does evidenced based practice, when it is stated by a practitioner, actually mean? For me it means being guided by the standards set by international practitioners and by those who have gone before us in the UK in this field. And there are enough of those whose practice it is possible to draw and build upon. Anyone not doing this is, in my view, not using evidence based practice but making it up as they go along. And making it up as you go along is what no-one in this field should be doing when it is the lives of children we are working with.
The internationally set standards for evidence based practice are very very clear. They are unequivocal in demonstrating that in pure and severe cases of parental alienation (pathogenic parenting), removal from the alienating parent is the gold standard intervention. In such cases it produces the immediate changes we seek in alienation recovery work and the task for us practitioners beyond that is supporting the child’s resilience building in order to re-enter the relationship with the alienating parent when recovery is complete. Such cases are safeguarding issues and that is the central message any practitioner should be preaching in their work in this field. In these situations, children have often been in the care of personality disordered parents and have to be freed from that psychopathology in order to achieve recovery. As practitioners it is incumbent upon us to identify it, say it and act upon it. I do all three of these things and I also carry out transfers of residence and post transfer therapeutic support. This is absolutely in line with international standards and it is the only evidence based practice in my view which should be used in determining pathways to health for children in these circumstances.
Reaching the point of making formulations about a case is also guided by international standards, those which have been carefully and consistently curated by all the well known names in the field. Those are the guidelines for differentiation, those are the evidence based practice we should be using in our work. Anything less is pretending, why reinvent the wheel when the wheel has given us such a powerful model for forward movement?
The best evidence based practice is based upon a portfolio of successful outcomes for children, being able to demonstrate that is key in my view for all practitioners in this field. Public Judgements which showcase the work done plus references from legal people, Guardians, parents who have been helped are the best way of determining whether someone is offering evidence based practice. For those starting out, working alongside a mentor or supervisor with experience in the field is the best way of achieving this evidence base. My work with Dr Hamish Cameron, who continues to supervise my work, enables me to continue to draw upon his expertise and my learning in this field, which was guided in mentorship and active work with him, is all the more powerful because of it. Humility is an important characteristic of a sound alienation practitioner, alongside courage to challenge accepted practice. Knowing that one is building upon the work of pioneers who have gone before and being willing to acknowledge that is a core value for me in my work in this field.
Evidence based practice is not about words it is about action, it is about understanding how to translate international expertise into action on the ground and it is about being able to challenge the boundaries of accepted practice. The very best evidence based practice cannot resolve every case, there are still too many we fail to help in for me to be happy that the evidence based practice we use is widely accepted enough, but that does not stop us trying our hardest in every case we work in to achieve the right thing for the child.
Evidence base practice in the field of alienation is the liberation of the children from the horrible experience of being alienated from one half of their own self. Anything less is simply timid practice which is asking families to adapt their problem to suit the rules. This problem requires us to work the other way around and make the rules fit the problem.
Doing that equals the very best evidenced based practice for alienated children everywhere in the world.
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