Starting as We Mean to Go On: Setting the Scene 2018

This is a going to be a big year in terms of the raising to consciousness of parental alienation around the world.  In the UK, where we will hold the first conference of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, this is the year in which  we will certify and standardise practice in this field, not just for Europe but worldwide.  Starting as we mean to go on then, let’s switch on the beam at the Family Separation Clinic for 2018.

The Family Separation Clinic is a group of associate psychotherapists, psychologists, independent social workers, coaches and trainers.  Working together we provide expert witness services, assessments with therapeutic trial, multi modal team interventions, coaching for rejected parents and reunification programmes for families affected by post separation difficulties and parental alienation.  When we first began this work we were told that we shouldn’t emphasise our focus on parental alienation but we ignored that advice.  We did so because we knew that our work would raise awareness of the issue and that one day, parental alienation in the UK would be fully and properly recognised by the family courts. That day is here.  Our work is properly focused upon the problem and we have significant success in delivering healthy outcomes for children and families affected by the problem.

We deliver successful outcomes based upon internationally recognised standards of practice.  We do not offer generic therapy, we do not consider hybrid cases of parental alienation (where there are no personality disorders present) to be the fault of both parents and we regularly carry out reunification programmes in which the child concerned is transferred to live with the parent they are rejecting.

Our work is showcased in our book and our theoretical framework is drawn from the international research in the field.  Our assessment and therapeutic trial intervention is currently being rolled out, this is the dynamic interaction with a family where the child displays outright rejection of a parent, which was presented at the Parental Alienation Studies Group Conference  in Washington, you can see that presentation here.

Our experience, in working with children of all age groups, is sharpened by the supervision provided by Dr Hamish Cameron, a well known (now retired) UK child adolescent psychiatrist with extensive experience in this field of work.  In turn, we supervise others involved in this work around the world, including in the USA where a successful reunification of a sixteen year old has just been completed with our guidance and supervision.

Our model of reunification is therapeutic and like all reunification programmes, is based upon the exchange of power between the aligned and rejected parent.  In line with all reunification programmes around the world, the exchange of power is created in the court room, held by the Judge and enacted by our intervention.  Supporting the family through this however, is achieved by a therapeutic programme which takes the child from rejection to acceptance and through to recovery of healthy perspective.  Our work in this respect does not end until the child is reintroduced to the previously aligned parent in clinical conditions and resilience building with the child is complete.

Resilience building with recovering alienated children is supported by our post reunification programme. In this programme, alienated children are taken through the eight steps to resilience which have been developed through observation of 29 severely alienated children in the year post recovery.  We will be publishing more about this programme during 2018.

During 2018 we will be delivering workshops for parents around Europe and the USA and Australia alongside professional trainings.  We continue to work with our USA training group and will be convening another in 2018 and we have extensive trainings planned for Europe which we will be announcing shortly.

The highlight of the year will be the first conference of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, which is being held at the Royal Society of Medicine in central London in August.  This conference brings together the major researchers, thinkers and writers from North America and Europe as well as pioneering practitioners in the legal and mental health management of parental alienation.  Designed to offer legal and mental practitioners in Europe a deep immersion in the most up to date research and knowledge in the field of parental alienation, this two day conference will drive up standards in policy and practice and ensure that anyone doing this work is properly educated.  For parents, this conference provides the opportunity to hear directly from experts all around the world and to have their needs properly represented.  This conference is already attracting huge attention and we will be writing and sharing more about it in the coming weeks and months.

All of this work is based upon our knowledge that in cases of parental alienation, there is no one size fits all response.  Despite the conflict around the issue which was generated in 2017 in some quarters, and regardless of the claims that the concept of parental alienation is dead, everyone who does this work continues to use the term parental alienation.  That is because the label parental alienation, along with the eight signs which are universally displayed by alienated children, have stood the test of time.  Now widely recognised as a mental health issue, parental alienation education and training is what we will be concentrating upon in 2018.  Our aim is to educate from the top down and to showcase best evidenced practice in this field.  Gone are the days when parents are to be subjected to never ending therapy or failed interventions which locate the blame in the rejected parent’s inability to change.  The team around the child however, remains only as strong as the weakest link, which means that until all ancillary services are fully aware that a child’s complete rejection of a once loved and loving parent is a maladaptive response to the family separation, our work to educate will not be done.

Contrary to what you might read elsewhere  the eight signs are not the basis of our diagnosis, they are the external cluster of symptoms which alert us to the need for further assessment.  Our assessment takes around thirty hours of our time, includes the psychological evaluation of parents, clinical observations of parents and children and therapeutic testing.

In my view we can call parental alienation what we like, the problem at the heart of it is that a child is driven to completely reject a parent as a defence against the psychological problems which lie hidden in the family.  This psychological defence mechanism lies at the heart of the eight signs of alienation and no matter what diagnostic procedure we use, it is this which has been researched and peer reviewed as a test for alienation versus justified rejection.

In 2018, the conversations I will be having, will be with those with whom I can collaborate in bringing to bear the most effective interventions which produce rapid dynamic change for children.  I am interested in supporting healthy family life and protecting children from the transmission of generational trauma haunting.  That and only that is my focus for the coming year.  As always, for me, it is all about children and their need for healthy parenting and how we achieve that around the world will continue to be that which gets me up in the morning.  I spend a great deal of time having conversations with colleagues about the problem of parental alienation and the ways in which we can best help families affected by it.  All of which are creative, collaborative and respectful.  Those are the conversations I will continue to give my time to.

On the first day of 2018 I want to take this time to make a promise to all families affected by parental alienation everywhere.

No more generic therapy, no more mischaracterisation of parental alienation as being about high conflict and no more misrepresentation of rejected parents as being to blame.

Instead, internationally recognised standards of practice which are based upon peer reviewed research and education of ancillary staff to protect parents and children from the entrenchment of the problem by institutionalised ignorance.

Collaboration, creativity and interconnectedness between those who truly wish to make better outcomes for children and families is here.

This is the year that we will be the change we want to see in the world.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Well done Karen and in combination with the Human Legal right to be a parent (in England and Wales) and globally then a revolution in family reconnection and balance for all our children will be forthcoming.
    Good work and keep it up; we need all the empirical evidence to ensure our legislators know the empirical realities.

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  2. Hi Karen,
    Thank you for writing your blog. It has been over four months since I have seen my children and your words are often all that keeps me going. Is it possible to provide more information on parent workshops that will take place in Australia in 2018?
    Thank you
    Sue

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    1. Hi Sue, I am so sorry to hear that you have not seen your children in four months, I am glad that we can help you, we will be packing in much much more in the coming months, here and on PADirect. We will be in Australia in October this year and will be running workshops for parents and trainings for professionals, I will post details up here in the coming weeks. In the meantime, that we deliver coaching and guidance all over the world at the Family Separation Clinic including in Australia and New Zealand. Sending you my warmest wishes and support. Karen

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      1. Thank you so much for your response Karen. I have read so much of your work and have been basing my approach to addressing this terrible situation on your recommendations. As I enter the Australian family court system next week, if need be, am I able to access the services of the Family Separation Clinic on line?
        Thank you again,
        Sue

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  3. Karen, in a response to Amy in your post ‘Living with the Alienator, PA as coercive control in 5 easy steps, 27 April 2017, you wrote….
    “The differentiation has to be absolutely right Amy and in hybrid cases where it can look like a child is justifiably rejecting it is vital to spend a lot of time examining the behaviours of the parent who is being rejected as well as the behaviours of the child. I usually have the child and parent they are rejecting in the same room as part of the assessment, as it becomes very clear from observation whether or not there is any justification in the child’s statements. It is also becomes clear in the relationship the parent has with me whether or not there is any justification, I put parents through a lot of different observations and tasks and work intensively, spending a lot of time with a parent in order to arrive at a decision if I think it is a case of parental alienation. We use a combination of psychological testing if we think there are personality disorders at play plus projective tests, combined interviews and situational assessment and observations. Nothing beats differentiating between justified and unjustified rejection however than the manner in which the child displays the eight signs of alienation. To this day those signs are incredibly clear in true cases of parental alienation and where the rejection has a justified basis those signs just are not there in the same way. As a gateway to decision making about justified/unjustified I think those eight signs are still the place to begin.”

    As you know the issue of justifiable versus unjustified rejection is a subject close to my heart. To this day despite volumes of reports etc I still couldn’t tell you on what basis or how social workers decided (very quickly) that it was unjustified rejection. If it truly was unjustified, then I was desperate for someone to explain, with justification, why and how they had reached that conclusion. And yet no one did. And so I was left to flounder alone. Obviously every action they then took flowed from that one key point of view.

    Surely as a parent I deserved to be so informed? You say you look at the behaviours etc of the ‘rejected parent’ as part of your investigation. Such assessment was blatantly missing from my case, instead it was simply attack after attack on the parent who had understood from the child(ten) that their stance was justified.

    The sooner there is a clear, comprehensive, visible, procedure for analysing whether rejection is justified or not, and which must be followed by any professional taking a stand on this either way, the better. Subjective opinion cannot be allowed to decide such a critical aspect in children’s lives and of the parents who love them.

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  4. “No more generic therapy, no more mischaracterisation of parental alienation as being about high conflict and no more misrepresentation of rejected parents as being to blame.

    Instead, internationally recognised standards of practice which are based upon peer reviewed research and education of ancillary staff to protect parents and children from the entrenchment of the problem by institutionalised ignorance.

    Collaboration, creativity and interconnectedness between those who truly wish to make better outcomes for children and families is here.

    This is the year that we will be the change we want to see in the world.”

    Amen…….I’ve waited a lonnnnng time to hear language like that on this subject – words that the self-serving frauds out there couldn’t have initiated themselves. No doubt a few of theses pirates will attempt to hijack them some time soon

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  5. Thank you for being so passionate about this and making things happen. Having a bad night and overwhelmed with grief at the loss of a child we see but who has had the love brainwashed out of him. That’s after a good week where suddenly everything went back to how it used to be – and next week he will be brainwashed again – it’s so upsetting to feel you can’t help with love when that love is rejected. And so heartbreaking to see a child you love seeming damaged. We had a little miracle for a week and can only hope for more of them.

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