‘A guru gives you himself and then his system. A teacher gives us his subject and then ourselves.’ (Adam Gopnik in Through the Children’s Gate).
I am back now from our retreat in France where we worked with seven practitioners to help them to develop their leadership and message making skills about parental alienation. This work, which is part of our development of networks of skilled practitioners, is designed to increase the numbers of people who know about parental alienation and can conceptualise and speak about it confidently. Our aim in doing this is to raise to the collective consciousness, the issues facing children who are captured in the mind of a parent after separation. Our method in doing it is to share as much information and knowledge about the problem of parental alienation and how to resolve it as widely and as quickly as we possibly can.
In doing so we know that we must pass this knowledge on and bring others to the place where they are both able to understand and share the knowledge with others. Parental alienation is a problem with a human face, something I never tire of saying and it is one which requires the deepest understanding of children’s needs in the post separation landscape as possible. This problem will never be resolved with a one size fits all formula and those who peddle the myth that there are magic solutions to the problem are fooling no-one but the most vulnerable. What is required, to bring this problem to the consciousness of the outside world, are people with courage who are able to withstand the hostile and conflicted space within which this work takes place and an indefatigable nature in which the ego which is necessary to do this work, is healthy and contained. Those with messiah complex need not apply for this job. Those who can share the knowledge, behave well in teams and drive forward a collective agenda are welcomed with open arms. Here is why.
Surviving parental alienation is about the toughest task facing any parent, it is in fact tougher in physical emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual terms, than facing the death of a child. At least when a child dies there is a grieving route which is predictable, a route in which the death is mourned and the living memory of the child can be returned to the heart of the parents who grieve. In parental alienation, the physical separation is the same as in death but the grieving cannot be completed and is complicated by the lack of support from others and the confusion and blame which is sowed by the alienating parents. One of the saddest things I have ever borne witness to, was a father who told me that he envied those whose children had died for at least they got the support from the community that was utterly lacking for him in his suffering of endless loss. For this healthy parent, the reality of his children being trapped in their mother’s mindset is, like so many others, an unbearable suffering which must be borne in order to provide his children with the possibility of a better future. Witnessing the entrapment of children in the mind of a parent is something which corrodes to the bone and hollows out the heart and mind of a parent. It causes immense confusion, endless self doubt and renders parents vulnerable to being preyed upon by those who peddle quick fixes and costly interventions. Conversely, the condition lends itself to the pretensions of those who see all parents in such circumstances as being in need of expert help, those who are able to confidently propose that family therapy is the way forward when in fact all that does is prolong the agony further.
Vulnerable parents need help, they need direct services that work and they need ancillary services involved in their cases to be alienation aware. Alienated children need services which liberate them rapidly from the trap they are in so that they can return to the unconscious world of childhood. As the work continues to raise the issue of parental alienation to the collective consciousness of communities all around the world, the leaders, the message makers, the service providers are urgently needed because in the wake of the realisation of this horrible problem, will come the naysayers and the diluters who want to shape and change the necessary response to ensure that they do not move outside of their own comfort zone.
Too many people who say they do this work are unable to demonstrate success, which leaves vulnerable parents in the hands of practitioners who cannot prove that they do what they say they can do. With our work to establish the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners we are reducing this risk to parents, by ensuring that all parents in Europe who suffer rejection, can draw upon an accredited practitioner who can demonstrate their success. We know that too many practitioners rely upon the insulation of their governing body to protect them from scrutiny in this field. We also know that expertise in generic therapy or psychology, does not automatically translate into expertise in working with alienated children and their families. The European Association will ensure that people who work in this field are certified by their experience of success in delivering positive outcomes for children and their families. By August next year when Amy J.L. Baker will be in London for our conference at the Royal School of Medicine, membership will be open and training programmes will begin. It is our intention to take the knowledge of what works in supporting families affected by parental alienation and pass it on, which is the thread which runs through all of our work.
Parental alienation is an issue which can be resolved with the right interventions delivered in the right way. Matching treatment to assessment as closely as possible ensures that children’s needs are set at the heart of everything that we do. Using assessment protocols which are set out in the international literature, including those which denote pure and severe alienation, we are able to educate the court and ask for the interlocking orders which potentise the delivery of the mental health intervention. This skill, which is key to resolving a child’s resistance to a relationship with a parent after separation is one which must be passed on carefully. Knowing the limits of one’s own competency and working within that is a critical aspect of educating others.
Passing on knowledge and sharing skills is something I have been involved with for the whole of my working life, it comes naturally to me, it nourishes and nurtures me. which is why training, education and development of associations is a real pleasure in my working life. For I know that this knowledge is not mine and I know that the contribution I make in translating concepts for others to read is part of the process of passing it on. In doing so I do not ask that others lead or follow me but that in taking the knowledge that I can share, they find within themselves, the answer which has been with them all along.
Changing this very difficult landscape and helping others to heal is not about knowledge hoarding, it is not about status and it is not about believing that the problem can be resolved by Christmas. It is about sharing, supporting and helping others to find the key which unlocks the problem for their child in the unique relational space which is their own family history.
The secret to solving the problem of parental alienation is learning to use the tools that help, within the systems which influence families, with the power of the self made conscious.
And that is all it is.
Pass it on.
Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal is published by Charles Thomas (Illinois) and is now available from Amazon USA.
Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal workshops for parents begin in London in December 2017 and will be held throughout the year December 2017/2018 in Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast in the United Kingdom and in Europe in conjunction with member bodies of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners. Dates and costs will be published next week.
These workshops will assist you to –
Understand the behaviours in a child and how to describe them in ways which ensure that the core problem of unjustified rejection is clearly articulated to professionals working with you.
Understand the difference between a child’s transitional difficulties (in which a child is still able to see a parent but shows behaviours which demonstrate that there are underlying difficulties) and an alienation reaction and how to help the child in transition to prevent alienation from occurring.
Understand the ways in which professionals working with children’s resisting behaviours are likely to require education to understand how to work with the child and how to offer this educational input in ways that allow collaboration rather than judgement of a parent who is being rejected.
Build a strategy for short, mid and longer term management of a case of parental alienation.
Understand what to expect in the court process and how to manage that.
Coaching for parents in the USA and Australia is now available and can be booked through firstname.lastname@example.org. Delivery to suit your timezone.
The Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal workshop will run for parents in Boston USA on Friday 27th October – cost $75 per person with lunch provided. 45 places are available. Please email email@example.com to book a place.