This week I have been working in Wales where it is said by some that parental alienation is not recognised. Far from not being recognised, my experience of working with families affected by the problem in Wales, is that in some courts the problem is acknowledged far more readily than in parts of England. Just like in England and now Northern Ireland and in small incremental steps, Scotland too, change in Wales is coming in patches. Having done a lot of work in Wales in 2014/15, including residence transfer, I found that understanding of parental alienation in CAFCASS Cymru was far ahead of its English counterpart. Fortunately England is catching up now and hopefully, with some more work, we will see a more uniform understanding emerging across the UK.
As I move around the UK and now Europe, it is very clear that where we are successful in our interventions, we are also educating the court system on the effectiveness of the internationally recognised standards of intervention in parental alienation cases. This increases the importance as well as the power of an association like the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners and makes it all the more necessary to focus on getting the standards, training, supervision, membership and accreditation elements of this right. As our working group comes together, this is what we are focused on right now.
And it is vital that we are focused because there are still those who believe that all cases of parental alienation are caused in the main by either high conflict or two parents contributing to the dynamic. Reading and responding to comments on a great blog by one of the participants at the meeting in Prague last week, I am ever more aware that the problem of understanding parental alienation in terms of effective practice, is wide reaching.
Fortunately there are some people who are long established in this field who know the truth of how to deal with problem. Reading this blog this week, about how traditional therapy will not work in cases of parental alienation sharpened my understanding of the mental health and legal interlock which is necessary to create rapid and effective change. This is what our work with EAPAP is focused on and what the work of the Family Separation Clinic has always been about.
The greatest danger to alienated children is, in my view, the belief that parental alienation can be treated via therapeutic means and that both parents contribute to the problems seen. Nothing could be further from the truth in my view and the two year timescale given in some services to successfully treat a case of parental alienation is appalling. Two years in a child’s life is too long to wait for restoration of a relationship and the often used approach of placating the alienating parent by attempting to fix the rejected parent is harmful to the child and parent concerned. As we develop EAPAP we will be working on awareness campaigns and providing information and guidance on the internationally recognised standards in working with children and families affected by parental alienation, to drive up standards and protect families from being subjected to this kind of practice.
As part of this work, The Family Separation Clinic in conjunction with the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners will be holding a major conference in London on 30/31st August 2018 with Amy J. L. Baker and many other key figures in the field of parental alienation. The conference will be held at the Royal Society of Medicine in Wimpole Street, London which is central and very easily accessible from all over Europe. The conference is for legal and mental health professionals and will provide a unique learning opportunity, offering access to the most up to date research in the field and a chance to hear key people speaking about their work. Discussion seminars and education workshops will be available and attendance will attract CPD points. We will additionally, stream parts of the conference around the world for parents and practitioners who are unable to attend in person. We will be announcing the full programme of events in August and you will be able to book places at early bird prices from August 30th 2017. We are incredibly grateful to a key supporter of our work for his financial investment in this conference which we see as a game changer in terms of understanding and treatment of parental alienation in Europe.
Great news arrived this week on top of plans for the conference. The book is now entering the printing process which means that we are now very close to seeing it published. As soon as we get news that it is available from Amazon we will alert you. Those of you who pre-ordered it will now finally receive your package directly. Thank you for your patience, I know that the wait has been too long for some. Unfortunately we have had to work on this during holidays and other spare moments as we cannot stop our other work in order to write and so it has taken longer than we hoped. We also had to reduce the word count from 110,000 to 90,000, to make it financially viable. This process of reducing words took almost as long as writing the original 110,000! At least though we have a good start on the next book with 30,000 words already down on paper.
As we enter into the busiest phase of development work we have ever seen at the Family Separation Clinic I am conscious always that driving change in understanding and practice around parental alienation is key to changing the lives of parents and children affected by it. With many people now coming together around the internationally recognised standards of practice which we know make the difference, it is time to change gear into fast forward. Getting more successful outcomes to more families is our goal, bringing in a new generation of expert practitioners to assist in doing that is our methodology. We are scaling up the efforts and using all of our expertise and our evidence base of successful outcomes to increase the pressure.
We are working towards a tomorrow where parental alienation is both universally understood and helped to heal so that it no longer has to be coped with by anyone.
Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal will shortly be available, published 2017 by Charles C Thomas Illinois.