The plan to set standards of mental health policy and practice for those who work with children who reject a parent, which are recognised in the UK and European Legal Systems, continues apace and we are now beginning to shape the programme for the first annual conference of EAPAP which is the new governing body for practitioners in this field. As part of this work, our Conference in August is building up to be a place of dialogue and debate, not only with leading legal people and the Judiciary from around Europe but also with the UK and other European governments.
Our aim is that the conference will create both diagnostic and dialogic change, which basically means that those attending will learn about what is wrong and what needs to change but also about how change can be created by influencing systems and implementing new ways of working. In this emerging field of work, where it is increasingly recognised that a child’s complete rejection of a parent is a signal for help in the post separation landscape (and not evidence that a parent has done great harm), and in the crucible of expertise and capacity for creative dialogue with all stakeholders, this conference is designed to create and sustain a paradigm shift in thinking about parental alienation in Europe.
Here are some examples of what we will be doing over the two days.
Day one of the conference is Chaired by Sir Paul Coleridge who is a former High Court Judge and chair of Marriage Foundation. Sir Paul is a supporter of the Early Intervention Project in the UK and is credited with the use of the suspended order for transfer of residence to create the legal compulsion for the mental health interventions which work with alienated children. His presence signals a high level interest in this arena and we are incredibly pleased to have his steady hand at the helm.
The Conference will debate what we at the Family Separation Clinic call, ‘the Legal and Mental Health Interlock‘ which is the way that all successful interventions in cases of parental alienation must be held by the court and enacted by the mental health professionals who understand the nature of the counter intuitive approach necessary to bring successful outcomes for children.
In order to examine that relationship between the legal and mental health system we have a number of case studies from around Europe, specifically –
Dr Simona Maria Vladica – Bucharest, Romania who will speak on –
What difference does it make when PA is criminalised?
Judge Lana Peto Kujundžić – Association of Family Judges, Croatia and Professor Gordon Bhulan Flander of the Child Protection Centre of Zagreb –
What difference does it make when the Judge works with the Psychologist?
We are also hoping that a case study from Belgium of a unique way of working with parental alienation, when the Judge heads the intervention team, will be presented during the morning session – watch this space.
The legal facts and the scientific evidence will be presented by Dr Steve Miller who specialises in behavioural and forensic medicine in Cambridge, MA.
The way in which parental alienation is misrepresented around the world will be discussed by Professor William Bernet M.D Professor Emeritus, Vanderbilt University and Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association
The Legal and Mental Health Interlock will be further unpacked and discussed by Brian Ludmer a world leading attorney in managing cases of parental alienation.
A question and answer session will follow the presentations and key learning will be curated and showcased online on a rolling basis.
Later in the day we will hear from UK based leading legal and mental health people, headed by Francesca Wiley QC who will speak about parental alienation as significant emotional harm, the welfare threshold and the problems of managing cases of parental alienation in public law.
Standards of practice in expert witnessing and the particular requirements of being an expert witness in parental alienation cases will be discussed by Dr Hamish Cameron a very well known retired Child Psychiatrist.
Later in the afternoon, a panel dialogue on the topic of a standardised model of understanding and addressing cases of parental alienation in Europe will take place.
Day two of the conference is all about mental health and we are awaiting confirmation of a UK government representative who will open this day with an exploration of where the government is in relationship to understanding and managing the needs of families affected by parental alienation. Check back here for our announcement.
In the morning of day two we will hear from leading researcher Dr Amy J.L. Baker about the research evidence and the impact of parental alienation on children’s mental health
Lessons from practice with alienated children and families and how we use the legal and mental health interlock to make change for children and families happen will be unpacked by myself and Nick using cases studies from our successful interventions with families in the UK.
Later in the morning we will hear more from Croatia with Professor Gordana Bhulan Flander discussing the issue of parental alienation as a child protection issue.
We then head on to more cases studies of interventions from other countries in Europe and the USA.
Sietske Djistra from Holland will discuss the distinct markers in alienation of mothers from children.
Dr Eric Green and Rachel Stephens from the Better Options Initiative in the USA will speak about Professional Development and Consultation between Better Options Initiative and Child Protective Services: Educating Staff on Parental Alienation as Child Psychological Abuse
Darren Spooner from the UK will discuss the Clinical Psychologist and hearing the parental alienation narrative.
The afternoon progresses with case studies from reunification work using adapted Family Therapy models underpinned by strong legal case management with Linda Gottlieb.
Later in the day it is all about the needs for standards of practice which are transparent and which conform to internationally recognised interventions. These topics will be explored in dialogue between Nick Woodall of the Family Separation Clinic, an invited representative of parents, and invited members of social work and family support services.
That’s a fully packed conference which is designed to maximise impact and create significant learning opportunities for everyone interested in making change for children and families affected by parental alienation. With governments in England, Wales, Scotland and NI as well as around Europe listening and the UK media lining up to hear and tell this story, we are getting ready to make change happen.
And here is the good news. This conference is not just a talking shop. It has already created some important opportunities for the issue of parental alienation to be significantly heard around Europe. Alongside the work being done to hold the conference, we have a team of people working around Europe feeding into their respective governments, the voices of people who are working in this field AND the voices of families who are affected by this problem.
And we want those voices to be part of this conference too. And to ensure that this happens in the most effective way possible, we have agreed a limited number of tickets at reduced cost for parents, grandparents and other family members who want to be part of the change we are seeking in this field.
The purpose of holding this limited number of tickets is to ensure that we achieve maximum impact in our bringing together of expertise from around the world. The people who are researching, writing, coaching, providing therapy and assessing parental alienation want to create dialogue between those affected by this problem and those who make policy and practice changes. To do this we are creating a panel of parents who will be responsible for representing the needs of families. Those needs will feed directly into governments and the Judiciary around Europe.
The parent panel will be drawn from the group of parents who attend this conference.
Two day tickets for parents cost £150 inclusive of VAT
One day tickets for parents cost £99 inclusive of VAT
To join us as a parent at this conference please email firstname.lastname@example.org marking your email – Parent tickets for conference and indicate whether you would like a one or two day ticket. If you would like to attend for just one day, please tell us which day you would prefer. An invoice will be sent to you and your ticket will be confirmed on receipt of your payment.
Please note that parent representatives will be drawn from parents attending for both days as we will need your presence on both days in dialogue and representation. Please indicate when you email us, if you would like to be on the parent panel.
Tickets are available on a first come first served basis only. Whilst we will endeavour to ensure that everyone who wishes to attend can do so, we only have a limited number of parent tickets so please book early.
We are now preparing our media strategy and have a number of key media outlets interested in our work. Please indicate if you would be willing to be interviewed as part of this project when you book your tickets.