Looking at PA Through a Different Lens

I was sent a copy of some research on parental alienation which was undertaken recently for CAFCASS Cymru.  A quick read through confirmed that this is not research written by a curious mind, but one which likely has an agenda to manage the rapid growth of interest in parental alienation as a real concept affecting real children in the UK.  Given that organisations such as Families need Fathers have been campaigning on the issue of parental alienation in Wales, it is unsurprising that the flavour of the research is feminist and designed to undermine the reality of parental alienation.  I have long said that if we allow PA to remain as a political game of parental rights ping pong, all we will see is assertion and counter assertion and the truth of the matter which is that parental alienation is emotional and psychological child abuse, will be lost.  This piece of research, commissioned for CAFCASS Cymru, is, in my view, simply part of that ongoing process and as such takes us nowhere other than back round to the beginning, where false assertions are made and no corrective measures to properly establish the reality are taken.

It doesn’t take very long to find the intention in this research.  Turning to page 17, where we see the heading – A rapid review of empirical evidence on parental alienation – the following is asserted without any referencing and without any evidence whatsoever to uphold the claim.

Parental alignment or parental alienation can also be a normal reaction to parental separation.

Which is rapidly followed by a confusing jumble of statements –

However, the extent to which this is a minor, time-limited phenomenon or a more serious issue is controversial (Hands and Warshak, 2011). Such controversy also surrounds the notion of PAS, postulated by Gardner as a sub-category of parental alienation referring to the mental condition experienced by the alienated child, due to its lack of scientific credibility (Rueda, 2004).

Presumably, the authors, in writing this, are leading unaware readers to believe their underlying meaning, which I interpret as –

Parental alienation is something that happens to children, controversy exists in regard to whether this is something that will just pass and anyway PAS is controversial in itself because it lacks scientific credibility.

So that neatly disposes of parental alienation as a real thing even before the ‘rapid review’ is unpacked. So keen are the authors to do this that their next paragraph is even more packed full of assertions and errors.

Referring to the DSM-5 and ICD-10, which are the diagnostic tools used in the USA and Europe for mental health and other problems, the authors have this to say.

‘It is important to note that neither the DSM-V nor the ICD-10 specifically identify parental alienation or PAS. Both include broad definitions of child psychological abuse (DSM-V 995.53 and ICD-10 T74.3) that may include many of the attributes often identified as being characteristics of PAS but do not identify it as a specific sub-type. The ICD-10 also includes additional classifications that touch on some of the different dimensions described by advocates of PAS, for example: Z62.1 Parental overprotection; Z62.4 Emotional neglect of child; Z62.8 Inappropriate parental pressure and other abnormal qualities of upbringing. None of these classifications specifically identify PAS and the examples given are generally much broader than those used in the wider literature of PAS. The Beta version of the forthcoming ICD-11, at the time of writing, includes a proposal to include parental alienation under the broader grouping of caregiver-child relationship problems. It is not clear if this will be included in the final version, nor is it clear how this might be defined. The inclusion of parental alienation in either the DSM or the ICD classifications has been, and continues to be, contentious (Bernet et al., 2010; Bernet and Baker, 2013; Pepiton et al., 2012).’

Continuing the theme of misinformation, the authors use the terms PA and PAS interchangeably, having at no time distinguished between the two.  There is no mention of the concept of ‘Child Affected by Relationship Distress‘ which is in the DSM-5 and which is used in assessment in the UK to determine the potential presence of PA and there is scant regard paid to the fact that parental alienation will be included in the ICD-11.  The reference to Professor William Bernet and Dr Amy Baker in the assertion that the inclusion of parental alienation in these diagnostic manuals is controversial, is simply misplaced.

The opening paragraphs of this section of the report set the scene for what follows, which is a series of claims which are made to establish the argument that parental alienation is not really a real thing and that too much fuss is being made about it.  And anyway, claim the authors, all of this is going on in the USA and so it is not really anything for us to worry about because when we look at the UK (page 23)- the research by Liz Trinder shows us the reality – which is that implacable hostility is rare –

All of the studies identified thus far relate to research outside the UK. Trinder et al’s (2013), study of enforcement applications in England constitutes a rare example of domestic research. While the focus of this study was on court outcomes, the study drew on Cafcass (England) records. The findings from this study identified that implacable hostility is a rare phenomenon:

Contrary to public perceptions and our own expectations, very few of the cases involved implacably hostile parents who unreasonably refused all contact. Instead the majority of cases involved two parents involved in mutual conflict over their children, followed by cases where there were significant safeguarding concerns that were impacting upon contact and by cases where older children wished to stop or reduce contact.

(Trinder et al., 2013:36)

So there you have it.  The underlying meaning of this research is that all of this PA nonsense is going on elsewhere and when we look at the UK, the problem of implacable hostility is rare and when children refuse to see a parent, it is really about ‘significant safeguarding’ concerns.

There is therefore, no real need to go any further into evaluating this research because the purpose of it in claiming ownership of the debate around parental alienation is very clear.  This is a similar approach to that taken by CAFCASS England, in which the issue of PA is first embraced publicly, leading everyone to heave a sigh of relief that something is being done, so that what is then done, (which is something more or less opposite of what is needed), can be pointed to as being ‘the CAFCASS solution’ to the problem of parental alienation.

 This is a well worn path used by CAFCASS for managing difficult issues and claiming ownership of the space in which they are debated.  Those of us who were around in 2002 will recognise the switching technique technique as that which was used to scupper the Early Interventions project back then.  A switch which led to a project which had been endorsed by the Judiciary at the highest level, being replaced by a project which looked the same but which was vastly different.  This piece of research for CAFCASS Cymru is exactly the same technique. The strategy is to commission research which has an underlying agenda  and then claim that this is the definitive research so that the space is owned and dominated and can be pointed to over and over again when campaigners attempt to say otherwise.   It is a clever trick which shuts up parents and practitioners and anyone who seeks to say other than what the CAFCASS party line is, which is very clear from this report, PA doesn’t really exist and if it does it is not scientifically credible because it is dominated by the same handful of researchers.

 Unfortunately the people it really shuts up are the children who reject their parents unjustifiably and the parents who remain rejected.  In this respect it is just another tool in the generational merry go round of state funded lack of interest in what is really happening to children in divorce and separation in the UK.  Something I have grown used to in over two decades of this work but which I will never stop caring about or working to make different.

The review concludes thus –

There is a paucity of empirical research into parental alienation, and what exists is dominated by a few key authors. Hence, there is no definitive definition of parental alienation within the research literature.

Which makes me smile and grimace all at the same time.

No mention of the 500 plus peer reviewed research articles held by Vanderbilt University on the matter, which can be readily accessed by anyone, including these researchers – here.

No mention of the wide range of researchers and practitioners who work on the issue tirelessly around the world in the Parental Alienation Study Group.

And no mention of the work done to raise the issue to public consciousness in Wales. In fact in opposition to that, the closing recommendation for practice is –

There appears to be some mis-information in the media and amongst pressure groups on this topic, which suggests that it would be helpful to promote awareness of the evidence base for parental alienation amongst Cafcass Cymru staff, children’s services and mental health services generally.

Which roughly translated means – to counter the awareness raising which is going on in Wales, please point people to this research for the real evidence about parental alienation.

If I were campaigning in Wales I would be livid about this research because it is full of holes, it spreads misinformation and it seeks to control the space with a half baked narrative based on a rapid review through a self interested lens.

A response to this report comes soon however in the form of a robust and detailed catalogue of case law. Watch this space.

In addition the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners holds its first conference in London on August 30/31st which will be chaired by Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court Judge and which will be attended by world experts in the field.  A chance to hear the reality for legal and mental health practitioners and for the Judiciary across Europe to share with the UK their experience in managing the reality of these cases.

All of which makes this piece of research from CAFCASS Cymru appear to be what it really is.  A take on PA through a particular lens, which is designed to give control over the space back to CAFCASS Cymru.  A very similar approach taken by CAFCASS England last year (although it somewhat blew up for them) and one which has been seen to be used by this body previously.

It is an approach which allows and enables CAFCASS practitioners to ignore the real evidence in favour of their own.

Which will continue the schism in the attendance to the real issue of parental alienation in the UK for a bit longer because in effect this research buys CAFCASS Cymru just a bit more time.

But the clock is ticking on the issue of a child’s unjustified rejection of a parent in the post separation landscape, because new generations of children are now becoming adults. And those adults are integrating the split state of mind and seeking out the parent they once rejected. And in doing so the dawning reality that the state invested services which could have helped, but didn’t, will grow.

And so this research is simply closing the door after the horse has bolted.

The truth about parental alienation is becoming known and will be known because it is held not by a group of researchers with a particular view of the world, but by the children affected by the past decisions made about their lives which were based upon stand point research such as this.

It is too late to turn back the tide, the reality is already known and will become more strongly articulated and curated and publicly known about.

And those who worked to switch the truth and hide the evidence and mislead the families affected will be recognised.

It is only a matter of time.


Making the Right Decisions: Advice for Rejected Parents in the UK

Parental alienation is a terrifying experience and one which can drive you insane as you struggle to cope with the grief of watching beloved children sink further into the rejecting behaviours which herald the psychologically split state of mind.  As we press on at the Family Separation Clinic with the job of raising the issue to the wider public consciousness, I am aware that around me there is a mushrooming of people who say they are expert in parental alienation and reunification work.

Whilst we welcome all who have the courage to come and do this work, we also recognise that unless this work is done in the way that produces successful outcomes for children, there is a risk that unaware practitioners can make things worse for children not better.  We are also aware that there is increasing evidence that there are some people in the field who say they are experienced, when in fact what they are anything but.

I have been in this field for a long time.  I have, as many of you will know, been attacked by other practitioners, complained about by parents, sanctioned by a governing body and denigrated relentlessly by a psychologist in the USA. I have been labelled, blamed, scapegoated and shunned, I have been damned, dismissed and demonised.  I have seen it all and then some.  And because of that I am not going to waste my time doing the same to others.

But what I am going to do, because I feel it is important at this juncture, is provide a guide to parents who are seeking assistance with their case of parental alienation in the United Kingdom.  I am doing this as someone who is leading a working group for the Parental Alienation Study Group, the worldwide group of experts in this field and as a co-founder of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, which will, from later in 2018, provide a new governing body for everyone who comes to do this work.  I am doing it not because I want to draw any further work my way, I have more than enough to do, but because I want to help parents to avoid the nightmare scenario of believing that they have found someone who is experienced in parental alienation, when in fact they are not.

And this happens unfortunately.  It happens because alienated parents are extremely vulnerable, they are thrust into a world which they do not understand and they are seeking knowledge and support from people they believe can help them.  When those people cannot or do not help them, because either they are not the experienced people they say they are OR, they believe they are experienced when in fact they are not, parents are left doubly devastated.

And so, without attacking anyone at all, I am going to set out the steps which will help you to make the right choices at a critical time in your life.  In doing so I am going to be very clear about the essential aspects of managing your case.  (If you want more information about how to make choices about managing your case you can read our book Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope Helping to Heal which is published by Charles Thomas.  We wrote it as a guide to help parents to find their way through the maze.  Unfortunately, the maze is full of dead ends and wrong turnings and people shouting abuse through megaphones at each other.)

Ten Steps to Managing Parental Alienation

  1.  Understand that there is no single ‘solution’ to the problem of parental alienation but there are many similar routes to recovery for the child. ( I will set out the basic routes further down this blog post.)
  2. Parental alienation is a spectrum problem which affects some children but not all children.  The alienation reaction is in the child, the dynamics which cause it are around the child.
  3. All practitioners who work to internationally recognised standards of practice will seek to differentiate the route the child took into the alienation reaction as the first step in their assessment. The route the child takes into alienation gives the practitioner the information needed to determine the treatment route out.
  4. All aware practitioners who work in this field know that the mental health and legal interlock – that is the way in which the court holds the framework for the mental health intervention in place is essential to the proper treatment of such cases.  Aware practitioners recognise that the Judge is the super parent in the case and that restoration of the attachment hierarchy – which is necessary to treat the psychological splitting – depends upon the Judge holding the framework steady.
  5. A full assessment of a case of alienation is not complete until the child has been observed with the parent they are rejecting.  Whilst a paper based assessment (which is commonly given in the first stages of consideration of a case) offers a view on whether alienation is present, a full assessment includes the observation of the child with the parent they are rejecting.  There are several routes that can be taken to achieve this but the most common one is for the practitioner to seek the direction of the court for the alienating parent to make the child available for such observation.  A practitioner who does not do this routinely, is not delivering an internationally recognised standard of practice.
  6. Practitioners should give a clear outline of the work they are doing and the path they expect to take.
  7. Parents should not be asked to adjourn a case or handover decision making power to practitioners.  Neither should parents be asked to apologise for anything that they have not done. It is not the role of the practitioner to seek to fix the rejected parent to suit the aligned parent but to assist the rejected parent to understand how their behaviours may contribute to problems seen.
  8. Mediation and therapeutic work outside of a planned programme which is endorsed by the court and which has set milestones for reporting and permission to return the case to court if there is slippage or disengagement should not be delivered.
  9. All practitioners should, as a matter of courtesy and transparency, offer references and opportunities for parents to speak to other parents who have been helped.
  10. Practitioners should not use their position of power over parents but should seek to empower and inform, educate and support as well as scrutinise, observe and report to the court.

The basic route to treatment of parental alienation which conforms to internationally recognised practice looks like this.   Links to some of research work which underpins these assessments are shown in the stages.

  1. First stage assessment identifies Child in Relationship Distress
  2. Differentiation route identifies that the child is exhibiting psychological splitting.
  3. Assessment of the history of the case identifies use of alienation behaviours in parent.
  4. Assessment of the child’s presentation demonstrates the eight signs of alienation.
  5. Testing of the child’s responses to the rejected parent through observed contact sessions.
  6. Application of a rolling assessment, therapeutic trial and observation in which the attachment relationship between parents and children is observed and recorded and the child’s response to the rejected parent is observed and detailed. Any signs of Shared Delusional Disorder or Idee Fixe in aligned parent and child are noted.
  7. Psychological evaluation of the aligned parent if pure alienation is suspected.  If personality disorder is determined, separation of child from parent through transfer of residence is recommended.
  8. Hybrid cases which do not respond to assessment and therapeutic trial –  further psychological evaluation and possible transfer of residence.
  9. Transfer of residence cases are supported by residence transfer intervention to support the child to integrate the split state of mind.
  10. Post transfer intervention to support the restoration of normal relationships and testing of contact with the previously aligned parent under clinical conditions for a period of up to six months.

In a world in which we are rapidly bringing the issue of parental alienation to worldwide consciousness, it pays to be educated as a parent.  Being educated about what to expect in treatment, how to obtain that treatment and what such treatment costs is the minimum standards you should expect from people who say they are expert in this field.  To protect yourself as a parent it is vital to be vigilant and discriminating in the information you read and to find out more about the person who is claiming expertise.

At the very least do not believe everything that you read online.

Do not believe that someone is an expert in parental alienation just because they say they are.  If they are expert in this field they will be able to give you the names of parents they have helped, the names of legal people who will recommend them and examples of how and why they are recognised as being expert.

(There is nothing wrong with claiming expertise in this field by the way, despite what you are told by some.  Those of us who do this work do it in a dedicated manner, we work with others collaboratively and we seek to build the scientific knowledge base together.  You would expect expertise from your electrician, your plumber or your surgeon, why would you not expect the same from someone who works with families affected by parental alienation?)

There is however, something wrong with claiming expertise in this field when there is no substantive evidence of successful work and no capacity to offer the references which demonstrate this.

When you are faced with the choice of which door to go through, don’t leave it to chance, to hearsay or to the claims of people who say they are expert.  Those who you can trust will listen to your request and provide you with what you ask for. Those who you cannot trust will treat your request as evidence that you are somehow the problem. Leave the latter far behind you, you have enough to deal with in being alienated without your legitimate requests being inveigled into the picture.

Parental alienation is a horrible, life changing experience and it is made more so by the mushrooming of unsubstantiated claims of expertise in the field.  Be smart, be aware, these are your children, keep your eyes firmly on the road ahead and pick and choose the people who make up the team which assists you carefully.

The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners is being set up to provide parents and practitioners who work with divorce and separation and parental alienation with a training, supervisory, regulating and membership body which will properly represent the issues facing families across Europe.  It is being set up to ensure that practitioners who work in this space are protected from unnecessary sanction by governing bodies which do not recognise the issue of parental alienation and from the harm that can be done to parents by unscrupulous practitioners.    This is an emerging field of work which we predict will become increasingly populated by people who say they understand and work with parental alienation when in fact they do not.  The Family Separation Clinic is working with the Parental Alienation Study Group to review and codify internationally recognised practice in this field. Everyone who uses the Clinic for court based services, is offered the opportunity to speak to parents and legal professionals with whom we have worked.  We have worked with many families over the years, some of whom we have not been able to help, most of whom we have.  We continue in our quest to ensure that what are delivered in the UK is the very best services that parents affected by family separation can expect.

Sowing and Growing Seeds of Change in the UK

2018 is a year of great change in terms of consciousness raising around parental alienation.  Here is our UK contribution to global change.

Alienated Mother’s Retreat – June 11 -15 Somerset UK

Our retreat is now full and we are looking forward to a packed programme in the beautiful surroundings of the Quantock Hills.  We have a number of workshops planned including legal strategies, self representation, the coping journey and disentangling the self from abuse and shame.  Spread over four nights, this retreat is a balance of nurture and care as well as support to strengthen the self and soul.  We will share some of the learning from it later in June.

Parents Workshop Saturday July 14th

This one day workshop for parents is packed full of advice, guidance and education and develops themes in our book –  Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal (Charles C Thomas, 2017).

Conveniently located in Russell Square our workshop will unpack the detailed strategies and approaches all parents need to have at their fingertips in cases of parental alienation.  Part of the day is devoted to helping you cope with the pressures of parental alienation and to understand what to expect and how to deal with the unexpected.

This is our only UK workshop for this year with 40 places available with 15 places left.

The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners – London Conference

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This conference is shaping up to be the landmark conference we knew it could be. New additions to our speaker list are Dr Janine Braier from the UK who will chair day two and Dr Eric Green from the USA who is Director of the Better Options Initiative, dedicated to parenting education and support in difficult relational circumstances.

Four key debates are planned over two days with key legal and mental health people taking part.  Subjects include criminalisation of parental alienation, the child protection debate, the scientific evidence and internationally recognised standards of intervention.

The conference is the launch event of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, a new regulating membership body for everyone working in this emerging field.  EAPAP is designed to protect parents as well as practitioners by clarifying the standards of practice one should expect from anyone who is practicing in this field. In recent months, with a mushrooming of people in the UK who say they are experts in this field causing some concerns for parents,  EAPAP will provide the reassurance that a member is trained and supervised using the internationally recognised standards of practice in this field.  For practitioners, the training, supervision and certification will offer both the security and the reassurance to the outside world that their work meets the standards of practice necessary to achieve successful outcomes.  For the wider legal and mental health communities, EAPAP will provide information, education, consultancy and guidance as the awareness in the UK of this problem grows.

Tickets are on sale now and selling fast, buy now to guarantee a place.

Buy tickets here.

This is our schedule for the UK in 2018.  In addition to this we are consulting and working with the media on awareness raising and writing and influencing in several areas.  Whilst our work is taking us around the world now and we are involved in several conferences and initiatives which are raising awareness of parental alienation around the globe, our roots in London mean that we maintain our focus and interest in the UK and Europe.

We are already planning our 2019 Calendar which includes a new publication as well as information sharing via a range of media platforms.  We press on until the day that parental alienation is fully recognised as a child’s signal of distress in the post separation landscape.  We firmly believe that this time is not far away now.


Homecoming: The Paths and Pitfalls of Reunification With Lost Loved Ones

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between the two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Little Gidding V,
Four Quartets.
— T.S. Eliot (1943)

A wave of reunifications between now adult children and their lost loved ones has been happening recently in the UK and in the midst of this I have been helping families to understand the paths and pitfalls which occur in this momentous occasion in their lives.

Whilst so many long to be reunited with the children they have lost through parental alienation and the failure of the family courts to resolve the difficulties the family has in making the transition from together to apart, the reality of that process is often shocking as well as or instead of it being wonderful.  For when the longing of the years gives way to the encounter with reality, the buried feelings of the past, which have often been held in emotional aspic, come rushing up like ghosts demanding to be attended to.  Again and again I am asked by parents and children and wider family members –

why, when I have reconnected to the person that I love, do I feel so bad?’

The answer of course lies in the way in which estrangement or alienation from loved ones causes the stultification of normal feelings of attachment and the way in which loss of a loved one who is still alive cannot be mourned fully.  This causes a traumatic wounding pattern in which feelings of anger, fear, dread and terror plus sadness, grief and despair become fused into one overwhelming feeling of helplessness.  When the child returns, this fused ball of helplessness begins to unwind itself and so with it the disparate feelings which have been too traumatic to be processed properly.  Entering into a depression shortly after reunification is a common issue faced by reunited families, in my view this is about the overwhelming negative feelings which are now emerging to be properly processed.  This is why, in my experience, no reunification programme is complete without therapeutic aftercare.  To leave a reunited family alone too soon is to abandon them to their capacity to cope with the feelings which emerge.  Feelings which the reunited children often do not experience in the same way (because the loss for them is different and their lives are all in front of them) but which the parents and wider family members definitely do suffer from.

Reunited children experience different feelings which are very much based upon their need for the neglected parts of themselves to be attended to.  Of course as those parts which are unattended to are now demanding attention right at the time when the newly reunited adults are coping with emerging unprocessed feelings, there is the very real possibility of a perfect storm of misunderstandings to arise.  For onlookers, the confusion about why the reunification which was so longed for is less a happy ending and more an emotional and psychological jumble sale, can become both frustrating and bewildering.  Understanding what is going on under the surface helps to steer a steady course through the ruins of the past and into the building of a new future.

The point of reunification is both the ending and beginning and within that moment is contained all of the hopes, fears, dreams and determinations of everyone involved.  This is a rebirth of a child/adult relationship and unless it is recognised as being both a point of possibility and of despair, disappointment will surely follow.  For the parent the end of a long wait is here, for the child a point at which a new start is signified, two paths which diverged have now come together again and falling into step requires time, patience and a willingness to understand and hear the voice of each other.  Those who achieve this are those who will walk on together in life and who will be seen in years to come to be in healthy relationship with each other.  Those who do not achieve it will find the estrangement more comfortable than the reunited relationship.  And there are many more of these relationships which foundered on the rocks of reunification, than you would ordinarily imagine.

The work of receiving a lost child into your emotional and psychological life is incredibly difficult and for some the fear of failing leads to a preference for the status quo than for change.  When someone has not been in your life for many years, welcoming them back takes courage and sometimes the willingness to allow them to bring a little bit of chaos with them. I often liken reunifications to aircraft landings, some are smooth and we barely know that the wheels have touched the ground, others are turbulent, bumping their way onto the ground in fits and starts before coming to a screeching halt or careering to a halt in the long grass.  Being able to remain open to that process requires psychological strength and the capacity to be able to maintain perspective.  In each reunification process we counsel people to recognise that this is a process not an event, it  will bring tears as well as laughter and being open to letting our world be enriched by the people who live within our relational systems is what life is all about.

Sometimes reunifications do not go well. These are the those in which the rigidity of mind in one or both people concerned prevents the resurrection of the warm attachment bonds.  For children who encounter this in a parent they have sought out, this is tragedy in their lives twice over.  Because not only do they have to deal with the split off and denied feelings of guilt and shame for having pushed a parent away in the first place, they now have to deal with a block to their seeking of health through the restoration of that relationship.  It is cruel blow to children and one which in my experience is amongst the most damaging things that can happen in reunification.  Why it happens is not difficult to understand. Parents become bitter, enraged by having been denied for so long and fixed in their belief that their views must now hold sway.  Fear populates this relational system too, the fear of the parent that they can no longer bring influence in their adult child’s life and fear that there is no other role for them if that influence is no longer theirs to exercise.  What these parents fail to realise is that their own fear is what maintains the barrier to their child’s longer term health.  Those who cannot shift beyond fear based reality will cast their children back out into the wilderness and whilst that may be difficult for many who are alienated from their children now to believe, trust me, it is a far more common outcome for families who attempt to reunite, than the popular narrative would have us believe.

Because at the end of the time apart the beginning of the time apart is also present. The end is in the beginning and the beginning is always in the end.  This is because ultimately, alienation, like estrangement, like all of the reasons why people disappear out of each other’s lives, is a human relational issue. And in all that we do we are all, always still human.  What we find in reunification work is that which caused the splitting in the first place and being able to hold that with the families we work with is our greatest responsibility of all.  Bringing families to the place of dynamic change is what reunification is about, entering into that liminal space on the threshold of the past, present and future, is to be human in relationship to families.  It is both an art, a privilege and a time of great fear as well as rejoicing.  Nothing can be predicted in a reunification, which is not based upon how life was to the point where the two paths diverged. And that is the simple truth of the matter. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  Reunification depends upon the openness of heart and spirit and the capacity to take risks. If it was not there in the beginning, it won’t be there in the end which is also a new beginning.  Drawing upon those strengths and helping families not to be tripped up by the inherent weaknesses is what reunification work is all about.

My top five tips for reuniting families?

  1. See this in perspective, it is not a fairy story and this is not a happy ending, reunification is a process not a one off event and you have to work at it.
  2. Recognise that the dynamics which were present at the point where the paths diverged are going to come howling into the present at the point at which the paths converge again.
  3. If you are a parent get help to deal with the reactive shock that encountering long buried feelings brings.
  4. If you are an adult child recognise that your parent/other adult relations need time to adjust.
  5. For wider family members, keep boundaries and know your limitations in terms of being able to make things different.

Above all be patient, let time and proximity do the work of reigniting buried feelings of family, warmth and attachment. Do not expect too much too soon and always always keep in touch, however hard it is, this is what will ultimately oil the wheels and make the vehicle of your relational system work again.

Homecoming can be happy ever after but just like all families, it will take work to make it turn out that way.


Mainstream Portrayal of Parental Alienation and the Turning of the Tide

News of reunifications comes in thick and fast this week with some of the UK’s high profile campaigners being reunited with their loved ones.  As the UK family court system begins to look somewhat frayed around the edges in the face of the lived experience of the children involved (not to mention their rejected love ones), parental alienation as a popularly recognised phenomenon in divorce, is showcased on mainstream UK TV.  It seems whichever way we look right now, the prevention of children’s relationship with families after divorce and separation, is rising to the surface of public consciousness.  Coming next, (you heard it here first folks) will be the wide-scale scrutiny of the failures of the family courts to understand why children enter an alienation reaction in the first place.  I firmly believe that this hidden child abuse scandal, the responsibility for which, in my view, lies in the hands of those who have dismissed parental alienation as a reality for far too long, is starting now to unravel.  In the hands of the children who have been so badly let down by the family courts, change will, without doubt now come.  I hope and pray I can live and work long enough to finally see the reality of what I have long known to be systemic abuse of children, exposed.

The Split, currently showing on BBC One, is a largely frothy drama which has a needle sharp thread of reality running all the way through it.  Last night, as the three sisters at the heart of the drama, discovered that their mother had intercepted thirty years worth of letters and presents from their father after their divorce, we were able to watch what I have been witness to many times over in the past decades or more of my working life.  The dawning, sickening, realisation that the life that has been lived has been constructed by a parent hell bent on revenge and control.  The grief of knowing that the love that was been portrayed as deficient and/or absent, had been there all of the time.  The pain was well portrayed by lead sister Nicola Walker (pictured).  What comes next, if it is as true to life as last night’s final scene reveal was, will be the roller coaster of confusion, anger, hatred and bewilderment that children feel when they are reunited in such circumstances with a parent they have been coerced to reject.

If parental alienation is showing on mainstream TV, it is not going to be long before the issue is widely discussed and debated. The tide is most definitely turning and now is the time for those of us who know this work to speak and to demand and yes, to point the finger.  For it is not only the sour faced parent hell bent on revenge who is to blame for these generational tragedies, it is the government, the services it funds and the manner in which it has been bullied into believing a one sided narrative about family separation for over four decades which is equally responsible.

In the UK, for well over four decades now, a political ideology called women’s rights, has dominated the post separation landscape and prevented the reality of why children reject a parent after separation from being understood and known about.  Children do not choose to lose a loved parent after separation, they are forced to do so, either coercively by controlling behaviours from one parent or from the abject failure of the services which are supposed to support families, to recognise the problem and properly intervene.  So much of what has been done wrong in this landscape has been upon the basis that the reality for children of divorce and separation has been ignored in favour of supporting their mothers (and to a far lesser extent, their fathers).  The government, weak in will and dependent upon the echo chamber of the charities it financially supports, has simply caved in to the bullies who demand that women’s needs come before those of children and fathers.  In this environment, no child wins the right to a freedom of mind and the outcome has been generations of children becoming trauma bonded to one parent and rejecting the other.

Being bullied is no excuse however.   Now is the time for our failure to protect children of divorce and separation to be put right.  I firmly believe that the children who are now emerging from the harm that has befallen them at the hands of the family justice system and its surrounding services, will demand it on behalf of those coming after.

Because when these children start to ask why, ( their protestations of not wanting to see daddy or mummy were not questioned further but accepted and taken as face value), the curtain will be pulled back and we will see the ugly reality.   An ugly reality which is  that we, as a society, have routinely and consciously, prioritised the needs of the mothers of children in divorce and separation. And that the ‘unintended consequences’ of this system and slavish adherence to this code of practice of prioritising the rights of women, has also been the routine exclusion of some mothers from the lives of their children (on the basis that they were being rejected by their children and must therefore be very very bad indeed and therefore unworthy of support).

It is no accident that there is now a generation of children emerging from the psychologically split state of mind and seeking the parent they were forced to choose to lose.  The coercive control of children by a parent, can only last as long as the child is controllable.  When the children come to the place where they are able to recognise the sentence uttered by Nicola Walker in the closing scene of last night’s episode of The Split  ‘he left you, he didn’t leave us‘, the control of the child’s mind and experience begins to slip away and the critical thinking skills, long suppressed by the control behaviours, begin to emerge again.  Alongside that, the warmth and power of the attachment bonds, (the reality of which many professionals still dismiss as being not present in children who reject parents) bring the children back strongly into relationship with the rejected parent.

And here in lies the truth of the failure of the family courts and the services which surround it.  CAFCASS, Social Work, Family Relationship Services, all of whom have, for far too long, either dismissed the reality that children can be forced into choosing to lose a parent OR, have burdened children with that ‘choice’ in their slavish adherence to the ‘voice of the child’ doctrine.  (As an aside, whoever originally dreamed up the idea that children are the people we should rely upon to tell us what they think should happen during and after their parents divorce or separation, is in my view culpable for the damage done to generations of children).  As I have repeatedly said, asking a child to decide upon relational arrangements between their parents after separation is like breaking their legs and then asking them which shoes they would like to wear. It is cruel, it is an abdication of societal as well as parental responsibility and it is a supreme failure to protect children when they are at their most vulnerable in life.

This must change.  This will change.  This is changing.  Mainstream TV is telling the story of parental alienation and even CAFCASS appear to have recognised the problem (perhaps someone saw the way the wind is blowing) and whilst social workers are still so mired in the voice of the child many are only able to contemplate reunification programmes  if the alienated child signs their consent to see a rejected parent in triplicate (and preferably their own blood), that tide will change too.  It has to, because when the children who said with great vehemence that they would not see a parent, begin to tell the story of why they were forced to say that, a widespread recognition of how abusive it is to a child in a vulnerable and impossible position to place such weight of choice upon their shoulders, will grow.

And those who participated in this widespread abuse of children will be recognised for their failure to protect.  And those who looked the other way and argued that it was a ‘he said/she said’ situation, will be recognised for their lack of interest and lazy practice and those of us who were ridiculed, attacked, shamed and blamed for speaking up about the reality of what a child faces in the post separation landscape, will finally be heard.

It is the children who suffered this scandalous abuse and theft of their right to an unconscious childhood who will bring the failures of our family justice system into the full glare of public consciousness.

The children whose rights and needs have been, for too long, seen as indivisible from the rights of their mothers.

A women’s rights approach which has captured almost as many mothers  in its tortuous net as it is has fathers.  A one sided, lop sided, narrow minded dependence on a political ideology which has no place in the life of the family and no place whatsoever in the state response to the breakdown of the family.

When parents bind their children into revenge against their other parent they need psychological intervention not political ideology to support them.

Children’s lives matter, except in the landscape of divorce and separation when they are still routinely and systemically abused.

But with the return of children who have been so badly let down by our family courts, a new possibility for significant change  emerges.

Those of us who know, stand ready to assist.



Living in the House of Creeping Dread

One of the things which face practitioners who work with families affected by parental alienation is the reality that they will risk drawing the negative transference, not only from the alienating parent, but also from the rejected parent at times AND the professional teams around the family.  I call this phenomenon, ‘living in the house of creeping dread’ and it is something I have become used to dealing with over the years.

The sense of creeping dread is that feeling one gets when working in trauma filled spaces with psychologically  unwell people.  It is heightened by the lack of knowledge of parental alienation in the helping therapies and it is sharpened by having to work in what can, at times, be an extremely emotional and  psychologically violent space.  In some cases I have worked in, the professionals such as social workers have become personally inveigled into the story which is unfolding, in others the legal teams become avid supporters of their client, to the degree where the wellbeing of the children is completely overlooked.  In one instance, a professional took it upon herself to write to me to tell me that she had concerns about my practice, in that she disapproved of me  undertaking assessment and therapeutic work in a rolling programme of intervention (which is the global gold standard approach to treating parental alienation in families).  This same person then lied and denied what she had done when confronted with it, leaving me feeling that the truth for her was whatever she felt it to be at the time (a perfect mirror of many of the parents I work with).  Over the past year, with missiles aplenty heading my way from over the pond, life in the house of creeping dread is not easy at times.

Understanding why people in this space become psychologically split and dedicated not to healing but to attempting to destroy the work of others, is about understanding the dynamics of the problem of parental alienation and learning how to manage them.  Parental alienation is one of the most damaging behavioural adaptations a child can be forced to endure in childhood and in its largely accepted presence in our society it is, I believe, a child abuse scandal which will one day be fully recognised all over the world.

Surviving in the house of creeping dread as a practitioner, I fully understand the manner in which children have to adapt and then maladapt in order to survive this inter psychic world of secrets and lies.  Being forced to experience in the intersubjective world, the attempt by a parent to destroy the reality of the other or to have to survive the all out war between parents in a race to dominate the subjective experience of each other, must feel bleak and cold.

Therefore, beyond the maladaptive flip over into psychological splitting, as one parent relaxes at having won the child and the other is placed at physical as well as psychological distance, that bleak and cold place must feel like going on holiday for a child after a winter of wall to wall snow.  My question to myself in doing this work, is not why do children become alienated, but why don’t more children become alienated after separation when the conditions in the family and the wider society are ripe in terms of triggering the reaction.

At present, across the pond, in one small corner of the internet, the belief that parental alienation is only one thing – a personality disordered parent binding a child into cross generational coalition in a repetition of generational trauma is a powerful influence on a group of parents.

For these parents,  the reality that a child can become alienated without such a configuration of dynamics is completely denied, despite the abundance of evidence and the reams of peer reviewed literature which shows that alienation in children, (which is widely defined as being the unjustifiable and complete rejection by a child of a once loved parent) is a spectrum problem which requires a clear route to differentiation in order to develop a properly  responsive treatment route.

The rage against the others (personified largely by me)  and the belief that these others are preventing the only solution to the problem of alienation in children, is profoundly demonstrated by the leader of this corner of the internet himself.  Here is another example of life in the house of creeping dread, the manner in which one becomes influenced by the very behaviours one sees in the families we work in.

In this meta drama, which is in itself a mirror of the very behaviours seen in families where children become alienated,  the ‘evils’ of Richard Gardner are extrapolated as being the cause of thousands of children worldwide being left without the proper intervention.  The reality, that Gardner’s eight signs of alienation are simply part of the building blocks of how a case of alienation is properly differentiated in order to respond to it, is completely ignored.  Words are twisted and omitted as they are transferred from this page to that and sleight of hand is used to maintain the defence, which is to drive the subjective experience of anyone who thinks differently into complete oblivion. Thus the complexities of the alienation dynamic are boiled down into either/or, good/bad, alienator/alienated, guilty/innocent. And anyone who doesn’t play by the rules of this game is either a troll, a flying monkey, a representative of evil or reaping the financial rewards of refusing to accept the ‘solution’ to the problem of parental alienation.

Such is the way that parental alienation scissors its way through the perspective and balance of the minds of those affected.  In this house of creeping dread one cannot hold a balanced view and one most certainly is not supposed to be ambiguous about anything.  In this house you are either for or against, in or out, black or white and nothing in between.  Little wonder that alienated children struggle so hard to integrate their sense of themselves as a whole person even through the recovery process when all who touch their lives are busy dividing their belief systems into one thing or the other.

I have lived in the house of creeping dread for a very long time and I am used to the way that people behave here.  I am attuned to the drama repetitions and the efforts people make to dig underneath the foundations of the house to attempt to dismantle it.  I am used to the sabre rattling of the legal teams as they gear up to go into battle on behalf of the parents and I am never surprised by the manner in which anything goes in the witness box in an effort to undermine my credibility.  What I have hung on to throughout all of this and what I will continue to hang on to for so long as I do this work, is that in the midst of all of this, are the lives of children who are being used as cannon fodder for the battle of the previous generation and often the generation before that too.  Those are the lives that matter, that is the right to unconscious childhood which is being stolen from right under our noses and their wellbeing, throughout all of this, is what matters more than anything.

In my deepening of my understanding through my life in the house of creeping dread I have come to understand this.

Children’s lives matter.

Generational trauma or cross projection of blame with a dash of fixed thinking, the alienation reaction in a child is the same, the route to recovery is always very different.

There is no need to destroy other people’s fine work in order to ensure that one’s own voice is heard on this matter.

Many roads to resolution.

Many hands on deck.

Love thy neighbour as thyself.

To love the other is only possible if narcissism has been overcome.

And then

I am thou.



We Are Always Still Children

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I wrote the above as part of a small book of thoughts about parental alienation which I write as part of my observation of what is happening in the world around me.  Parental alienation is such a powerful phenomenon, which affects not just the families involved and those they interact with, but the practitioners and professionals who become involved in working with them.

As my interest is always to untangle the threads which have become knotted and twisted as the family attempts to deal with the issues, I am constantly confronted by the psychological defences which are at play in parental alienation.  From my perspective, this is why this work should only be done by those who are trained in the helping therapies.  To attempt to do this work without a deep immersion not only in the theoretical modalities which govern this work but the lifelong commitment to the understanding of the self, becoming trapped within the myriad threads of defences within the family is too great a risk.

I trained as a humanist psychotherapist back in the nineties and built upon my work and understanding along the past twenty years through continuous practice in a supervised setting.  My own personal therapy, which continues to this day, enables me to remain psychologically separate from the families I work with.  As I am now shifting from coal face practice to complete my doctoral thesis, I am also moving towards training others to do what we do. All the while I do this I am aware that throughout the whole process of this work, we are all, always, still children.

The psychological defences which come into play in parental alienation are very clearly described by Gardner in his curation of the eight signs of alienation.  Whilst there appears to be a campaign to denigrate Gardner for having listed these signs, they remain the cluster of symptoms in the child which alerts us to the fact that an alienation reaction is present.  If those signs were not present, how would we know that a child is alienated?  The short answer is, we wouldn’t.  Show me a child who is alienated who doesn’t exhibit those signs of splitting, self righteous cruelty, use of weak reasons for rejecting a parent and the rest and I might consider that Gardner’s work is pointless.  But the truth is that all children who are unjustifiably rejecting a parent show that cluster of symptoms and therefore it is unnecessary to ditch, denigrate or dismiss them.

One of the big psychological pairings of defences is projection and transference, both of which are extremely powerful and incredibly emotionally and psychologically entangling if one is not able to recognise them.  When projection and transference come into play, the descent into playground punch ups can be really sudden, leaving everyone concerned wondering where the eruption came from.  Because of the risk of projection and transference issues, anyone working in reunification of children and families must be skilled in both the psychological therapies as well as protected by their own supervision and therapy.  Being at the heart of changing the familial dynamics can mean triggering projection and transference in families as well as the practitioners who work with them.  Being unconscious of what is projection and what is transference and counter transference can put one in harms way.

Projection is the inability to see in the self those things which one abhors in others.  The projection is quite literally a defence which comes into play to protect the self from awareness of the uncomfortable and often split off parts of the self.  Those who project spend a lot of their time blaming and shaming others, this is a powerful pattern of behaviour in alienating parents which can trigger the same in response from the rejected parent.

Another form of projection in alienation cases is the ‘fix it’ projection, in which a parent who feels powerless, seeks to elevate the practitioner to the role of fixer. This projection is always risky for the practitioner because if they accept it, their role literally becomes the fixer, which means that if they cannot fix it, they are doomed to denigration and dismissal by the parent for being unable to do so.  Working with the ‘fix it’ projection means helping the parent to connect with their own role in the drama and to their own ‘fix it’ power.  This is a far healthier route to recovery of children’s relationships with the parent they have split off, but it is one which some rejected parents find it very difficult to follow.

Transference is the transferring of feelings about someone onto the practitioner and counter transference is the responses of the practitioner to that.  In the transferential relationship it becomes possible to understand the true dynamics at play in the scenario and those defences which were raised, often in childhood, which have configured to bring about the present day situation.  In this respect, being capable of working within a transferential space, puts the practitioner right into the liminal space in the parental alienation dynamic, which is both powerful and dangerous all at the same time.

That liminal space I refer to is the boundary or threshold between the child’s use of the defence of psychological splitting and integration.  Liminal space in parental alienation is the point at which the alienation reaction is reversed and the healthy child re-emerges.   To get to that liminal space in any given family, the practitioner has to get a very deep and very close understanding of how the child came to use the defence of psychological splitting in the first place.   I call it walking in the woods with the family, in clinical terms it is sifting and evaluating the history of the family to understand how the convergence of behavioural dynamics caused the problem for the child in the first place.  What it feels like when we set off on this journey, is a walk into the tangled undergrowth of two dynasties, both with their narratives said and unsaid, both with their fears and anxieties, hopes and dreams, all invested in a child who is now using a defence of psychological splitting.

The threshold, the boundary, the liminal space is a place where not many practitioners are willing to go and where none should be going without healing their own inner child first.  Here in the clearing, deep in the woods, line up the unhealed children from both sides of the family, ready to fight sometimes, pleading for healing at others, one side more traumatised sometimes, both sides grappling with the present day child’s inexplicable allegiance and dismissal behaviours.   Here in this clearing, any child who is unhealed will find themselves pounced upon, persuaded and pushed into side taking. In the liminal space the archetypal battle for family dominance and identity takes place.  To assist in the transmogrification of this from trauma to healing, requires a steady hand, a deep focus and a clear trail of breadcrumbs to follow.  Any practitioner who does not carry a bag of breadcrumbs made of their own knowledge, healing and self awareness, is not going to find their way out of the woods and is, without doubt, going to succumb to the seductive power of splitting themselves.

We are always, still children.  And we are nowhere more still children than when we enter into the liminal space with families affected by parental alienation.  In doing so we have a duty to ourselves as well as others to be the wounded healer who has healed the wounds of our own childhood drama.

In the piece above I speak about a place where no child should have to go. That place is beyond the boundary of generations, across the divisions of relational space and into the palace of demons in which the unhealed ancestors seek to wreak their revenge upon the present day family.  That is the place where practitioners go to retrieve the child, to go there without knowledge of self and soul is to place not only the child in danger but the self too.

And there is one final place where practitioners work in which unhealed trauma reveals itself. That is the relational space with other practitioners, professionals and those who hold disproportionate power in these trauma filled spaces.  Because so many of those who work in this space are not healed and are not aware of their own childhood woundings, the defences are high and are heightened further by the systems in which parental alienation cases are managed.  There are many times in my experience, when a case has descended into the cross projection of blame amongst professionals and where personal meets professional in a perfect storm of unhealed childhood trauma.  This is the meaning of we are all, always, still children.  Without attendance to childhood trauma, the neglected child within the legal and mental health professionals will jump out of the box and surprise the unaware practitioner.

When you are watching the drama of a parental alienation situation, look for the surprises which jump out of the box.  Watch the parent figures and observe their responses and reactions, listen to the words for those things said and unsaid.  Anyone who is consumed by their determination to be right and obsessed with destroying the other, is not healed in themselves but reacting to hurt and fear within.  That is not passion at play but a deep wound which hides shame. Shame at not being good enough, shame at not being listened to.  The playground bully who demands things his own way is always an unhealed child.

Playing nicely requires healing on the inside as well as knowledge on the outside.

Holding power in the liminal space of parental alienation requires a deep and enduring knowledge of self and the capacity to keep on healing.

We are always, still children.  Our goal is to heal the self in the present so that the demons in the archetypal family chambers are dispelled.

When we do that, peace comes and our work with others grows ever more powerful.

As above, so below.

As within, so without.

The bridge to healing begins with listening to the child within.

When the child is healed on the inner, the outside children are assisted to cross the bridge back to health.

And then playing in the sandbox becomes fun again.

Moving Upstream In PA Work in Europe

The EAPAP conference is starting to look like a game changer in the UK and Europe with key people in legal and mental health heading to London on August 30/31st to discuss and debate the issues involved in understanding and working with children who resist or refuse a relationship with a once loved parent.

From North America we have Dr Amy J.L. Baker, one of the most well known researcher in the field around the world, along with Dr Steve Miller and Linda Gottlieb who will share with us their most up to date experiences of working with the problem of parental alienation.  For anyone who has not seen these three experts discussing their work, this conference is an ideal opportunity to immerse yourself in their expertise.

Professor William Bernet who is the head of the worldwide Parental Alienation Studies Group will share with conference the scientific evidence from his and other research in this arena.  Brian Ludmer from Canada will outline his work in this field and his success in managing the legal aspect of case management.

Not to be left behind, the UK offers significant expertise in Clinical Psychology and in the very best legal management of such cases from Darren Spooner of the St Giles Clinic and from Fran Wiley QC of 1 Garden Court and Anna McKenna QC from 1KBW.  Dr Hamish Cameron, who is a pioneer in this field will share his knowledge and skill which stretches back many years.

From Europe we have key expertise from Dr Simona Vladica from Romania where PA has been criminalised and Professor Gordana Buhjlan Flander from the Child Protection Centre of Zagreb on the issue of PA as child abuse.

On the evening of day one we will be showing a special screening of the film Resilience about adverse childhood experiences and hosting a panel debate with key people in the legal and mental health arena.

The aim of the conference is to bring to Europe an opportunity to learn, share and grow new practice and understanding of how to manage these very complex cases.  The conference launches the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, which will be open to all who wish to train and practice in this field.

Sir Paul Coleridge, a powerful advocate for strong case management in the legal arena, will open the conference and each presentation throughout each day will be followed by a question and answer session allowing for maximum development of knowledge and sharing of thoughts and information.

The Cavendish Centre in Central London is a comfortable conference space and delegates will have the opportunity to browse events tables with resources, books and information from services available to parents and families.

Lunch and refreshments are provided throughout what will be an intensive day.

Bookings are open now and places are limited to 150 each day and it is clear that there is much interest in this landmark conference,  early booking is therefore now recommended.

Book tickets here.

For information about events stalls please contact office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk

Conference sponsorship opportunities are now available, please email in the first instance – office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk


For Parents

This is primarily a conference for professionals working in this field, however, a limited number of reduced price tickets will be available closer to August for parents as we know that many will wish to see key researchers and practitioners to hear about the latest work being done in the field.  We have reserved a number of tickets for parents and we will alert you when those tickets are going to be on sale.



Be Still

This work we do is tough stuff.  We work in the messy, dirty, darkest parts of life and in doing so we have to find ways of keeping the self safe and sane.  sometimes that thing which comes in the midst of chaos, is exactly that which is needed.

Just like the parent who finds themselves subjected to a campaign of denigration, as a professional I have repeatedly drawn attack from parents, professionals and others in the field for whom I appear to represent some kind of personal threat.  When this dynamic occurs I have found it best to take my own advice and remain absolutely silent and absolutely still in response.

When others project blame, the temptation is to respond with a counter attack, which simply means that the outside world looks on and believes that it is a simple fight between parents.  Therefore, when the temperature rises, the best way to keep cool is to say nothing, do nothing and contemplate the meaning of the actions one is observing in the other.  For the actions often reveal the vulnerability which is being covered by the rage.  And in understanding the vulnerability, one is able to remain compassionate instead of being drawn into the counter attack.

Yesterday as I was getting on a train home I bumped into someone I worked with many years ago, someone whose children I had worked with in reunification all the way through to success and beyond.  Those same children are adults now and healthy and well and happy in their own lives. They also understand the issues that their once alienating parent had and has and have managed to deal with them without counter rejecting.  Children who are in relationship to both of their parents is always our goal after reunification, because these are children whose own children will not need to carry a trans-generational narrative into their own parenthood.  As we rattled along catching up, I heard all about those now grown up children and I knew again that what we are doing with the FSC reunification model is without doubt right in every way.

I stepped off the train with gratitude for the ‘co-incidental’ meeting, because it restored my faith in our work on what had been a somewhat unpleasant day.

When the going gets tough, listening is better than talking and observing is better than doing.

And when you stand still in the face of an onslaught, the gift that comes first is the still, small, voice of truth.

Be still and listen, the answer will come.

And for that I am enduringly grateful.



FSC WorldWide – Change Making Calendar 2018

We are now into the change making phase at FSC in terms of learning opportunities around the world in the emerging field of parental alienation.  This is a big year, here’s what and where you can learn and share.

California – 21-25 June 2018   A comprehensive training programme for professionals delivered in three formats.  One day introduction.  Two day differentiation, formulation and planning treatment routes. Three day full reunification training using the FSC model.

Colorado – Simply Parent Conference 30th June 2018  Hear Jennifer Harman, Brian Ludmer, Karen and Nick Woodall and key others, speaking about the work being done in the field to challenge and change global consciousness of parental alienation.  Plus, much more from a formidable  group determined to clear the way towards significant change in global awareness and response to the problem of parental alienation in 2018

London – Saturday July 14th 2018 – For Parents.  A one day intensive – Managing your own case of parental alienation, understanding the legal and mental health interlock and  self representation.  10 places left.

London – Starting July 2017 – Practitioner Development and Supervision Group – Check back for more details.

Stockholm August 24/25th  2018 Hear world leading experts Amy J.L. Baker, Bill Bernet, Steve Miller, Linda Gottlieb and key others, speaking about parental alienation and the routes to treatment known to bring change for children and families.  This is the second conference of the worldwide experts PASG.

London August 30/31st 2018 This conference is for everyone working with children and families affected by parental alienation and brings together world leading experts in the field with leading legal experts in Europe to examine the legal and mental health interlock which is necessary to ensure successful outcomes for families.

Hobart – Tasmania October 17-19th 2018 This conference brings together key researchers and practitioners to examine the most up to date interventions and thinking in the field of parental alienation.  The conference looks at parental alienation as family violence and the impact upon children and families of ongoing coercive control.

Sydney Australia  Early October 2018 – Location and details being firmed up now.  A three day training for professionals which can be accessed in one, two or three day format. A one day training for parents is also being arranged. More Details and bookings open shortly.

Brisbane Australia Late October 2018 – Location and details being firmed up now.  A three day training for professionals which can be accessed in one, two or three day format. A one day training for parents is also being arranged. More Details and bookings open shortly.