In this second post on the launch of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, I thought it would be helpful to write a short piece on what EAPAP will mean to parents. The third in the series, will be for lawyers and family service workers.
EAPAP signifies a change for families affected by parental alienation because it will provide for you, the confirmation and reassurance that the services you are receiving from your mental health practitioner, are fully in line with the internationally recognised standards of practice known to help alienated children and their families. This means that when you go into court on the basis of parental alienation, you will have more choice and more control over the interventions provided to help you.
We know that many parents know more about parental alienation than practitioners, this is true of all of the member countries in EAPAP. It was recognised by the group which met in Prague that ensuring that there is workforce which is properly trained and accredited is an essential step in meeting the needs of families affected by parental alienation. Currently, there are many practitioners across Europe who say that they are professional in this field but who are delivering therapies which are not recognised as being in line with international standards. This means that parents and children are being subjected to interventions which do not work, do not fully address the alienation reaction in children and leave rejected parents in the place where they are expected to change in order to placate the alienating parent. This is not good enough. It is abusive to rejected parents, it is harmful to children and it is simply unacceptable in terms of ethical practice.
And yet, those practitioners are enabled to deliver on these terms because they can safely be protected by their governing body, leaving rejected parents as helpless and dependent upon the practitioner as they are on the alienating parent. Some are told that it can take up to two years to rectify the problem of parental alienation. Two years! A lifetime in childhood, too long a loss for the rejected parent and child.
International standards of practice demonstrate that a child who is in relationship distress should be released from that position quickly. Liberating the child from the dynamic is the primary goal and this must be achieved at least within a twelve week period of time. Liberation of the child from the alienation reaction alongside the restoration of the relationship with the parent is an additional primary goal and this too should be accomplished within a twelve week period. (In actual fact, with really skilled practitioners, a child can be released in seconds, the issue being how the practitioner is able to reconfigure the legal framework to enable that to happen). Nevertheless, none of this work takes years or even months and anyone who says that it does is not delivering ethical practice in treating parental alienation.
International standards which are curated from the research evidence, show that the work to be done in parental alienation has to be held within a legal framework. Additionally it must be clear within that framework how the practitioner has differentiated the case in order to recommend a treatment route. Experts who recommend treatment routes must be able to present a formulation which properly reasons the path they set out and they must be able to clearly show why that path will work. Experts should not claim evidence based practice without being able to give references to successful outcomes. Anyone who claims expertise should be able to show how they are properly trained, mentored and supervised by someone who has a higher level of skill than they in the field.
All of these things will be curated and codified in the coming months by members of EAPAP and the result will be a membership body which offers parents affected by parental alienation in Europe, the guarantee that the practitioner they are working with is recognised and accredited in the use of international standards of practice. Because EAPAP will offer members training and supervision as well as accreditation, you can be certain that the service you will receive from an EAPAP member will be that which is evidenced based and in line with international standards of practice. This means that you can be sure that what you are doing in choosing an EAPAP member to work with your family, is giving you and your child the very best chance possible of recovery.
EAPAP is not created simply to protect practitioners, it is created to protect and serve families across Europe who for too long have had to be dependent upon mental health practice which is not properly informed and which is not properly evidenced. We know that many people call themselves parental alienation experts or practitioners without any evidence to show success. EAPAP will set and maintain standards of practice across Europe, ensuring that this kind of claim is challenged and improvements in services to parents and children are made at a systemic level.
EAPAP will additionally educate ancillary services, providing standardised training to the police, the judiciary and family services in every member country, ensuring that the internationally curated research is properly embedded into those systems which work around the alienated child and family. A leader in each member country will champion this delivery through funding secured from Europe.
We aim to drive through these changes swiftly so that by the time we arrive at our European conference in London next year, the membership and accreditation scheme will be live.
This work is active now. As practitioners, we are going to create change for your children from today onwards so that you are more in control, more informed and more able to make the best choices for your children in the years to come.
My next blog on EAPAP will be about what the new association means to the legal systems in member countries. After that I will regularly update you on our work but the bulk of the information about EAPAP will be found on the website which is being developed as a hub for all member countries. We will be busy on social media too and we will be engaging with the media in all member countries to tell the story of parental alienation and our response to it. Our voices are stronger when we shout about it together and there is a determined and very vocal group of people involved in this project who will make enough noise to raise the roof.
On behalf of you and your children, we have come to the coal face to work with you, to show you that we understand, we care and to ensure that what you get from us is what you really need, not what you are told you need.
Make no mistake, what happened in Prague this week has already changed the world. By working together with you and for you, we will make this change real and lasting for every child and family affected by parental alienation, everywhere in Europe.
The Family Separation Clinic in conjunction with the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners will hold a major two day conference in London in summer 2018 which is headlined by Amy J.L. Baker PhD, along with key European practitioners. For legal and mental health professionals and entitled ‘Moving Upstream (to tackle the problem of parental alienation),’ parts of this conference will be streamed live around the world.
And hot off the press – the news that our book, Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal (Charles C Thomas – Illinois), is about to go into print.