You heard it here first folks, the dumbing down of parental alienation has already begun in the UK, with the announcement in the Guardian yesterday that CAFCASS are trialling ‘intense therapy’ for parental alienation cases.  This ‘intense therapy’ is being proposed alongside punitive measures such as the ‘permanent loss of contact with a child’ and a training course is being flagged as the solution to the problem.  Sarah Parsons, assistant director of CAFCASS is quoted as saying “We are increasingly recognising that parental alienation is a feature in many of our cases and have realised that it’s absolutely vital that we take the initiative. Our new approach is groundbreaking.”

Groundbreaking.   I will let that word sink in for a moment.

This ground breaking initiative, which is based upon something called the high conflict child arrangements cases handbook, is little more than a cut and paste project in which CAFCASS have decided to claim the PA space for their own.

Statements such as these are ten a penny for the media but for parents who have lost their children through the lack of awareness and training of CAFCASS officers, they are likely to be sickening.  Ground breaking initiatives are too late for too many parents and children.  Ground breaking initiatives which are cobbled together on the basis of the belief that parental alienation is all about high conflict are likely to do far more harm to these families than good.  Sickening is a strong word, it is not strong enough in my view for the way in which this government funded body has consistently denied that a child can be alienated and which is now swinging right around to claim that they are experts in this incredibly complex field of work.

Equally sickening is the reality that this ‘groundbreaking’ initiative, in which alienating parents are to undergo therapy (which btw is completely contraindicated by all of the international research on PA around the world),  is based upon a training which includes the following statements about parental alienation.

From page one of the high conflict child arrangements handbook

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Not very promising start, it gets worse.

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And here’s the summary

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Those who want to scrutinise the cut and paste document which was produced in December last year, can find it here.

After years of denying its existence, after well over a decade of aiding and abetting the complete erasure of parents from a child’s life, here come CAFCASS, pronouncing that they are ‘increasingly recognising that parental alienation is a feature in some cases’ and waving their new project and their high conflict pathway training. A training which has all the features of the same kind of ingrained bias and lack of understanding that has been the fault-line in this government funded body from the start.

And worse than that, on the basis of absolutely no consultation with experts in this field, a cut and paste document produced in house, complete absence of the most up to date research, no mention of any of the expert evidence which exists, this ‘groundbreaking’ announcement is welcomed by Families need Fathers, who once again are seen to be appeasing a body with disproportionate power, which has made a misery of their members lives for far too long.

But wait.  Stop.  Don’t despair.  Remember I spoke of the antidote to all of this being on the rise?  It is.  It is coming.  The response to this (for me very familiar) state of affairs is on the way.  And for that I am thankful and reassured, because the nightmare of more parents and children being put through a trial of ‘intense therapy’ which is neither intense or therapeutic but which is wrapped up as the answer, will be averted.

The biggest risk to PA affected families in the UK right now is that their case will be deemed high conflict, they will be thrust into the hands of ‘trained’ CAFCASS staff and told that unless they sort out their conflict, one or both will no longer see their children.

But this can only happen if CAFCASS are allowed to go forward with these proposals and their high conflict pathway training unscrutinised and (as always) unaccountable.

Fortunately for the UK, there are more parents who are PA savvy than there are government funded CAFCASS officers and increasing numbers of practitioners in this field who are able to deliver successful outcomes for children captured by a parent’s mindset.  Fortunately there are enough of us who know that parental alienation is not about high conflict and those of us who know are able to do something about it.  Coming soon is the antidote to all of this false news.

Those of you ready to resist being shovelled down the pathway to being told that you are alienated from your children because you are involved in high conflict and need therapy, standby.  You will shortly find the support that you need to stay safe and stay sane in this world.

Watch this space for a very special announcement.  The battle for Britain’s alienated children is underway.


Special Note for parents 

When you are involved in a situation where your child is being alienated, you are especially vulnerable.  In order to avoid being pushed into a situation where you are told that you are contributing to the problem because you are in a high conflict situation, you must educate yourself to understand the ways in which family court professionals are trained to view you.  To understand how CAFCASS view parental alienation, read their high conflict child arrangements handbook – you can see it here.   And then watch these videos from the worldwide experts in the field on the way in which parental alienation is best addressed.  Notice the difference in quality and evidence.  Do your research. Read as much as you can.  Get help and guidance through the court process, build your strategy for court and do not be gaslighted by professionals who tell you that you have contributed to the problem.

Do not be passive. Act. Keep strong and healthy.  Watch this space.

Understanding Parental Alienation: learning to cope, helping to heal

by Karen Woodall and Nick Woodall

Published by Charles C Thomas

Available from Amazon

‘Understanding Parental Alienation is unique… a balance of scholarship and practical, hands-on experience.’William Bernet M.D., Professor (Emeritus) of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Vanderbilt University, TN.

‘Understanding Parental Alienation is… a highly valuable resource for parents, and a must-read book for every mental health professional, social worker or legal professional working with families in divorce.’Professor Gordana Buljan Flander, Ph.D. Psychologist and PsychotherapistDirector of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb