We are just back from Holland where we training another group of practitioners to work with the differentiation model of the Family Separation Clinic in parental alienation cases. This brings the total of practitioners trained this year to just over seventy. During our training in Holland, which involved lawyers and mental health practitioners, we examined the core concepts of the differentiation model and appropriate treatment routes. We also examined the way in which these models interlocked currently with the Dutch legal system.
The mental health and legal interlock is a critical element of any treatment route for parental alienation. This is internationally recognised and was discussed at length in Washington this year at the Parental Alienation Study Group Conference, by Brian Ludmer. You can see his discussion of the model which properly supports intervention in parental alienation cases here. The Family Separation Clinic works with this approach and trains others to do the same. In doing so we know that any practitioner who does this work, must understand the legal framework and the orders which support the mental health intervention. This work cannot be done in a vacuum and anyone who is attempting to it outside of the legal system where there is no compulsion for behavioural change, will soon find themselves in deep water. Alternatively, they will find themselves watering down the intervention to suit the behaviours of the aligned parent, which slows down progress and moves to fixing the rejected parent to appease the child/parent resistant coalition. Neither of which are helpful to alienated children or their parents.
The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners is well on the way in its development and by the summer of 2018 will be open for membership. In August the landmark conference Moving Upstream will be held in London where international experts from around the world will gather to consider the international standards of practice in this field in different EU countries. Some of these experts will be fresh from the PASG Conference in Stockholm 2018 and many practitioners are heading to Europe for a deep immersion in the subject by attending both events. By Autumn 2018, we expect that the European Association will be protecting and promoting the interests of its members and through that rolling out interventions for families around Europe.
We have some powerful people working together to bring the European Association to life and we are confident that as we build the internal structure of this new governing body, we will draw upon the best of European expertise in psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy and the legal system. Working with leaders in the subject of child abuse, coercive control, judicial training and more, what we are creating is truly representative of the needs of practitioners in this field.
2018 is shaping up to be the year in which the issue of parental alienation finally emerges into the public consciousness and the terrible trauma of a child being forcibly separated from a parent through psychological manipulation will be recognised. A child does not choose to lose a parent. The only circumstances where one sees the complete rejection of a parent which is accompanied by a campaign of denigration and a set of false beliefs that the parent being rejected is dangerous or harmful is in parental alienation. Children who are actually abused by a parent do not reject in this manner. Children who are removed from the influence which is causing the vehement rejection, are shown, when they are made fully cognisant of the change in the dynamics around them, to move from the psychologically split state of mind to integration, acceptance and healthy relationships.
There are serious issues to consider in the process of assessment and intervention and the European Association will enable collaborative research and evaluation. It will enable the occupation of the scientific space in which practice and research can be critically evaluated, through provision of a research council and related journal. It will also provide training programmes from basic awareness to a fully accredited certification of practice. A core training in reunification work which uses internationally recognised standards of intervention is being curated now. supervision for those in training will be provided by experts in the field.
We ended our training trip in Holland this week, with a workshop for parents in which we experienced all over again, a desperate need for education, training and practitioner development to bring urgent support to families. Working with parents is always a moving and humbling experience in which I find myself confronted with the deep feelings of confusion fear, shame and despair that being rejected by a loved child brings to parents and grandparents. These families have suffered enough. It is not good enough that they must carry these burdens and it is not good enough that their children are not being parented properly because of what is happening. Placed at distance these parents and grandparents know what is happening but are helpless to do anything about it. Their children at the same time, are in the care of a parent whose capacity to place the needs of the child before their own is questionable. It is not good enough to give the child a choice, it is not good enough to turn a blind eye. Children who reject a parent in this way are signalling that something is terribly wrong. We know what the answer is, it is time to apply the remedy and liberally.
This is such a difficult field of work and, having been in it for a long time, I am at the point now where I do not want any other practitioner to have to suffer the personal and professional attacks that I and so many others who do this work properly, have suffered. When I work with my colleagues around the world and we share our experiences of doing this work, I feel supported and safe. This is what keeps us going and what supports us through the really difficult times. This is what the European Association will provide for all who wish to do this work properly.
The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners comes at a time of awakening consciousness of the harm that parental alienation does to families and their children. Coming too is another form of protection and promotion of the needs of families and you will hear about this here too, soon. Very soon.
In all, I am ending 2017, in a frame of mind where I know that the risks to families posed by the lack of diligence in the CAFCASS plans are being ameliorated by the work being done behind the scenes and the attacks on me by another and his followers, do little to hamper progress. That brings me a great deal of satisfaction, because I know that the collaborative practice and co-operative spirit have pushed this project over the tipping point.
‘Aint no stopping us now,’ as the song goes.
Here comes 2018.
Our workshop for parents in London on December 2nd is now completely full and we cannot accept anymore bookings. We have squeezed some more places in but we cannot offer anymore. For those making late bookings, the details of the venue will be sent to you in the next couple of days, the nearest tube is Angel Islington after which a short walk will take you there.
The next workshop in London will be in March and in the new year, all of our workshops for parents and practitioner trainings in Europe will be advertised on the Family Separation Clinic website in early January.