Helping children and young people to heal from alienation is not a difficult task when one understands the process they need to go through in order to do that. For there is a clear and easily followed path to assisting children and young people in these circumstances. I know that because I have walked that path with eleven children so far this year and all are on the road to healing well. Last year I walked it with almost forty children and all of them are healing well, most well enough for me to not need to work with them any longer. Over my working life in this field I have walked with and helped many children, young people and adults heal from the impact of parental alienation. It is not a difficult task, especially if one has a healthy rejected parent to work alongside because this parent is the key to the balance the child (of whatever age) desperately needs in order to begin the journey to recovery.
Alienation is healed when the alienated child can hold three things in mind, heart, body and soul –
- They are not and were not to blame for the ‘decision’ to reject a parent and they are forgiven by that parent for doing so.
- They have two parents, one of whom is healthy and provides stability and balance, one of whom is not. This parent must be understood in order to manage the relationship with them without rejecting them.
- They have the right to seek congruence in their lives.
Helping the child, adolescent or adult in recovery from alienation to reach the above point is again not difficult. Alienation does not have to last a lifetime and if the right skills and understanding are learned, it will disappear never to return. Whilst the impact of alienation is significant, healing it means that the pattern dissolves and the struggle for the child is over for good. This is why understanding how to help a child in recovery (the subject of my current work), is an essential task for anyone professing to be proficient in this field.
I am not a fan of hand wringing tales of woe about parental alienation, I see little value in portraying the problem as being too difficult to resolve, too big to manage and too desperate for anyone to deal with. It is not. An alienation reaction in a child is caused by the infantile defense of psychological splitting, therapeutic work the task is to take the child/adolescent/adult back to the place of the original wound and to confront them with the reality which has been denied. This is why reunification work is so critical with alienated children and why transferring residence without such work will simply transfer the problem with the child.
Without the confrontation with the healthy parent, all reunification work is simply whispering in the wind and without the child being taken down the recovery road, all therapeutic intervention is merely words. It is only the combined confrontation with the split off and denied object which is the healthy parent, the management of the power dynamic around the child and the reorganisation of the child’s internalised belief and feeling system which brings alienation to an end. And when that work is done alienation is at an end, for good, because the resilience the child lacked in the first place, the understanding and the conscious acceptance of reality brings the child to balance. And that is true whatever the age of the alienated child.
The problem of parental alienation is not difficult to resolve when one knows what to do and has the courage to do it. There is a clear, step by step approach to resolving the outer and inner damage caused by alienation and anyone working in this field should know it and practice it. In reality, any practitioner who works with alienated children should be capable of healing the child using the known and proven steps and that should be possible within a twelve week period. A child who is caused to use psychological splitting as a defense must learn, when the outer circumstances are resolved and the relationship is with the rejected parent is healed, that their lifelong task is to understand cope with and manage the behaviours of the parent who caused the problem in the first place – without rejecting them completely. What is absolutely fascinating to me is the number of children who, when liberated from an alienating parent, are able to name exactly the behaviours in the alienating parent which caused the problem for them in the first place. Children liberated early enough can point to it and say it, children who have grown up psychologically split take longer and adults who have lived their lives in this state of mind longer still. But with the right intervention, delivered confidently and competently, every single one understands what was done and how it was done and in the end why it was done (although that is not something we focus upon in the early days of therapeutic work with children, transgenerational consciousness is part of the recovery process).
For young people healing the relationship with the rejected parent can feel like a dilemma in which they are constantly trapped because they cannot speak of this to the alienating parent. Which means that the task in therapy is to help them to accept the impossibility of living with a parent who is intensly hostile to the other and to bring them out of the childhood fantasy that they should be able to have two parents who are accepting of their relationship with each other. It is about bringing them out of their childhood where they are stuck with the primary wound of splitting and into their adulthood where perspective, integration and acceptance of ambivalence awaits.
Resilience building, in terms of bringing understanding, coherence and consistency to the lives of alienated children is assisted in their relationship with their healthy parent and as a therapist, I often work closely with this parent for a period to enable them to reinforce the stability within and without which has been lacking in the child’s life. This is intensive work but again, after a period of twelve weeks, there is little need to keep doing it because the benefit to the child of the reconnection with health is immense and with the steps of recovery having been completed, the forward motion towards resolution is continued.
Resilience building for recovery, it is the responsibility of all practitioners in this field to understand how to do it and do it. And when you know how, the difficulty, like the alienation in the child, is gone for good.
Our one day course for practitioners which will be held on June 28 2017 has one place left. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more or book that place. Cost £295 plus VAT. Venue. The Family Separation Clinic. 50 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7PY.
I will be writing the next article in the series which began with Alienation in Five Easy Steps for Parental Alienation Awareness Day on April 25th.
Readers in Northern Ireland may be interested to know that I am presenting at the Children Order Conference for the Law Society in Northern Ireland on May 18th 2017.