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.