News from the Family Separation Clinic

Last year the Family Separation Clinic contributed to some major awareness raising events on the issue of parental alienation, most recently the Victoria Derbyshire Show which ran a feature on the issue alongside a sensitively made film which you can see here.  The programme was made with the input of parents who have been helped by the Family Separation Clinic over the years and raised a significant interest amongst parents and practitioner groups on the subject. Speaking on the programme, Anthony Douglas, head of CAFCASS said that the issue of parental alienation is now accepted, signalling perhaps to those of us who have worked with the issue for many years, a turning point in efforts to raise awareness.  As I watched the programme I felt a sense of relief that at long last the efforts put in by so many we have worked with, to bring attention to this problem have started to pay off. Although our focus remains in the UK, we can now more confidently look across borders in the development of our next projects which take us far beyond the UK.

This year we will be developing delivery of our services in the UK and beyond and will be holding the inaugral meeting of the European Network of Alienation Practitioners in Prague in July.  We are also continuing the development of our global coaching service which currently delivers to parents in Europe as well as to the USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore. With the upcoming publication of our handbook for parents and practitioners by Charles C Thomas,we will be expanding our team at the Clinic in London as well as adding a new research facility. This year is when we will take a giant leap into worldwide practice with families affected by parental alienation.

The inaugral meeting of the European Network of Alienation Practitioners is being held to coincide with the 35th International Congress on Law and Mental Health in Prague at which William Bernet M.D will be speaking about the scientific basis of parental alienation. We are delighted that Bill will be able to join us for the inagural meeting of the Network which we aim to link up with the international Parental Alienation Studies Group (PASG) of which Bill is also president. We will also be welcoming colleagues from all over Europe who are working with families affected by parental alienation, to form a network of support, share best practice and develop shared research interests. This meeting is a key step in our development of cross border thinking and practice and we hope will assist colleages across Europe to build strong approaches to educating our respective family courts, family practitioners and governments. We are stronger together and whilst the UK is entering a time of separation from Europe, we aim to bring ourselves closer to our european colleages who are working in this field.

Later this year we will also be touring the US and Canada to help get our book to the parents who need it most. We will be holding seminars and events for parents and practitioners as part of this visit. We are very much looking forward to developing our work in the US and Canada and are looking forward to meeting esteemed colleagues in the field as part of our trip. We will post news of dates for events and seminars as we get them.

Our coaching service continues to be available across the world, meeting the needs of parent in different time zones as closely as possible. Please email for more details or to book an appointment.  All of our coaches are trained and supervised by either Nick Woodall who runs the service or by me. We aim to offer a personal and tailored service to meet your needs.

In the UK we will be focusing upon three things this year, the first are our seminars for the Judiciary and family law practitioners in Scotland and England (more news on those very soon) and the second is our research facility which will commence a countrywide survey of separated parents. Other thematic research follows to join up our current projects into a programme of research, all of which is funded by the work that we do with families at the Clinic. Funding our own research is incredibly important to us because we are acutely aware of the ideologically driven outcomes of research in the field of family separation from our experience of working with the UK government. When research is funded without an underlying agenda, it is more reliable and gives clearer outcomes which can be depended upon. Our research is focused upon the needs of children affected by parental alienation and additionally looks at outcomes from our work over the past ten years. We will be contributing to journals and publishing papers in the coming year from all of this work.

The third focus in the UK this year is our training to social workers and family practitioners which we have been testing through pathfinder projects in the north of England. These pathfinder projects have demonstrated to us that social work training lacks focus upon the needs of children affected by high conflict divorce and places social workers charged with responsibility for undertaking section 7 reports, at a disadvantaged because of this. Additionally, higher level social workers are also disadvantaged by the lack of training in mental health and parental alienation awareness and those charged with undertaking section 37 and 47 reports are unable to differentiate between those cases of high conflict and those where parental alienation is the underlying cause of a child’s withdrawal. Working with a Clinical Psychologist I have been writing a training manual based upon training delivered in our pathfinder projects and this will be ready for delivery this year bringing to the family practitioner workforce a comprehensive training that enables all family practitioners (including CAFCASS staff), the in-depth awareness necessary to recognise and respond to cases of alienation.

This is the year in which all of our combined expertise, skills and knowledge will be available to the wider world. We are already sharing with our new staff team, we look forward to sharing across the world as the year unfolds.

6 thoughts on “News from the Family Separation Clinic

  1. Please can you target some of your research on very early stage signs? The extremes of PA where there has been no contact for 3 years are obvious, but contact that is intermittent and a child that goes to and fro in their psychology, is much much harder for professionals to spot. If early stage intervention is so important, we need to make it easy for it to be acted upon! The “Early Signs” list here has proved useful but as it includes things that are happening in the alienating household, it’s not ideal, as of course the alienated parent can’t see them and may suspect, but has little proof. For early-stage alienated parents, they need a long list of what to look for – I can provide some ideas if required! Or this may already be in your forthcoming book?


    1. I agree with you Ally – you know you previously you had two loving children (grandchildren), who are now being alienated. One has gone already as ‘he has the worst dad ever’, but oddly enough loved him twelve months ago. Th second is slowly being poisoned, now criticisms of dad, wanting a ‘break’ from the shared care order, rudeness, where before dad was the best dad ever. Christmas presents he had asked for and was delighted with, when he comes back from mum he doesn’t like any more. Just small things, but you can witness slowly over time the change in the child, the loving child slowly submerging beneath attitudes which seem to have come from somewhere else. What can you do about it, nothing I suspect. My son asked for a face to face meeting with his ex. which was refused. My ex dil thinks of herself as ‘a good mum’, who wouldn’t send a child somewhere they did not want to go, as she wouldn’t be a good mum if she did that. It is is though she thinks my son doesn’t deserve to be a father. You can see it, suspect it, but you can’t prove it. I long for my lovely grandchildren back again, but are they taking on a persona of a damaged person, I don’t know but I think that they could be.


  2. Hi Ally

    Karen has spoken extensively about how target parents can manage the difficult job of co-parenting where one of the parents is prone to default to alienation type tactics. Her sowing seeds and dandlebear bridge concepts are essential reading for parents who feel they are succumbing to an overwhelming personal attack on their worthiness as a parent.
    Importantly as well as saving the children from the splitting process these counter-manipulation tactics go some way to re-assuring the alienator that effective co-parenting is possible and desirable.

    I like your website it’s great at highlighting awareness of parental alienation. Most of the alienated parents reading it will be wondering what they can do about it. In order to do that it would be beneficial to list some positive healing action.

    e.g. Especially for the Target parent

    1 Trauma counselling to help boost self-esteem and self-worth
    2 Emotionally intelligent parenting techniques to help the children cope with their day to day dealings with the alienating tactics of the other parent.
    3 Non-confrontational pro-active assertiveness for parents in support of the family.

    There is extensive literature available now that equips target parents to deal better with their situation. I feel sure your website would benefit from this kind of advertisement.
    If you dwell too much on the faults and sins of the “alienator” it looks more like a one-sided alarming complaint, and a confrontation in itself. We all understand what the alienator is up to and the various reasons they might do what they do but solutions will come from the changing behaviours of the target parent, not the other way around. The target parent is the catalyst of change. Alienating parents will have their fair share of emotional insecurities and trying to force them to account or pay penance for their actions is not going to encourage them to relinquish their psychological grip.
    Karen mostly talks about extreme cases, correct me if I am wrong, but she usually comes in after all else has failed, complete meltdown. Alienation in the early stages can be managed effectively. It is possible to live in an adult relationship and respect each other’s parenting technique without having to resort to emotional violence, put egos to one side, and concentrate on the children.
    Ref: D Warshak. Divorce poison
    Ref: Amy Baker, Co-parenting with a toxic Ex
    Ref: J Gottman. The Heart of Parenting
    Ref: W Dyer. Your Erroneous Zones

    Kind regards


  3. It is so interesting that the work of some pretty excellent people have made it across the pond to the UK. The work of Dr Warshak and of Wayne Dyer is well known in Canadian circles as well. A third, though not referenced here is one whos work is so engaging and provocative, Mr. Bill Eddy, California. A pioneer in his observations of mental health in the family court system which are rampant and overrun by way of alienation. I just wanted to write in and thank you for your post,


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