The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners is getting ready to welcome its first members, who are practitioners who want to demonstrate competence and adherence to the internationally recognised standards of practice in this emerging field. EAPAP is already receiving enquiries about membership and will soon launch the standards of practice it will be regulating, as well as details of how to join. With MPs in the UK and the Judiciary in the UK and around Europe, interested in how this new organisation will protect and promote best practice in this field, we are increasingly confident that what started out as a shared dream, with our Croatian colleagues at the Child Protection Centre in Zagreb, will soon be made reality.
EAPAP is an important step in this field because it is the first organisation in the world to offer protection as well as regulation, to practitioners who work in the field of parental alienation. For parents, having a regulatory body which not only recognises best practice in the field of parental alienation, but governs it and trains others to work to its standards, means that more practitioners will come and more will deliver the interventions we know are necessary in this notoriously difficult area.
For parents the effort to navigate the winding and often tortuous route of the family courts is one thing, to know who to trust and what to expect from that person is another. EAPAP will offer parents who are at the most vulnerable stages of their lives, the reassurance that a member of EAPAP both recognises the need to deliver interventions in ways that properly liberate children from alienation and has the capacity to do so. The days of the self proclaimed expert in parental alienation are coming to an end in Europe and a new era is being ushered in.
As a founding member of EAPAP this project is dear to my heart. It is a dream which began three years ago when I was sanctioned by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy in an out of court case in which I was not even working as a therapist but as an advisor to a family. The risks inherent in being a therapist in this field, (where therapy looks very different to what is recognised by existing membership bodies) became very clear to me throughout a three year period when I was waiting for BACP to hold its hearing. What happened afterwards, when the sanction was used by a newly qualified psychologist to try and damage my reputation further, left a scar in my life which at times I have wondered if I will ever recover from. It was the warmth, the sharing of experiences and the support and interest in our work at the Child Protection Centre of Zagreb, which encouraged the dream of a membership body for practitioners in this field. Now, as we prepare to welcome Professor Gordana Buljan Flander and her team to London for the first EAPAP conference, I can look back and recognise that from harm done to me, comes a wealth of positivity. And with that, I can also see, that the scar which caused such harm, is fading.
I do not want any other practitioner in the world to go through what I went through with BACP. Not only was it a horrifying experience, the damage it could have done to my work with alienated children and families is frightening. Even now, on occasion, the continued publication of the sanction on a now defunct internet site, is raised by people who believe that BACP hold the high ground in ethics. Given that BACP themselves have been subject to scathing attacks by the UK High Court and are currently waiting to hear whether their submissions to the Professional Standards Authority will be enough to allow them to keep their accreditation, their role in ethical governance, is, for me, defunct.
EAPAP offers practitioners working with families affected by parental alienation, a membership and governance body which will train them effectively, treat them fairly and support them to do this difficult work. Managed by people who have many years of experience in the field, the new body will seek endorsement at the highest level of the Judiciary around Europe as well as at EU governmental level. EAPAP already has the support of Sir Paul Coleridge, former High Court Judge and inventor of the suspended residence transfer in the UK. With support from Judges in Croatia, Romania, Belgium and Northern Ireland, we will continue to develop strong relationships across all sectors involved with parental alienation cases.
We will also develop relationships with parents throughout all of the EU countries governed by EAPAP and we will consult with and hear from parents who are affected by parental alienation, to recognise and meet their needs. We start this process with our interactive conference in August and our parent panel who will represent the needs of families affected by alienation.
We are driving up standards, improving outcomes for children and families and protecting practitioners so that more will come to do this work. At the same time we will continue to raise awareness of the reality of parental alienation, shift the narrative away from parental rights and into mental health where it belongs. EAPAP will challenge the ‘junk science’ labels which are lazily dished out by those who oppose the concept of parental alienation and we will demonstrate the reality that children who completely reject a parent in the post divorce and separation landscape are not making ‘choices’ but are signalling that something has gone very wrong in the family system.
EAPAP began as a defence against harm done and will go out into the world defending others from being harmed in the same way. We know that families need strong lawyers and mental health practitioners who really understand parental alienation, EAPAP will ensure that more of those who really understand, will come.
And when they do, whole new possibilities for pushing this issue right up into the light become possible.
One day soon we will look back and wonder how so many children were allowed to ‘choose’ to lose a parent after divorce and separation, when the reality for them was that there was no choice in the matter, they were forced into a maladaptive position in order to survive an intolerable experience of being put under pressure.
And one day soon, everyone will know where to go and how to get help when this happens.
And then finally, the post divorce and separation landscape will be less terrifying for children and they won’t have to find their own way through it by using infantile defences.
And children’s voices, will be properly heard and their needs will be properly met.
From great harm comes great good.
Membership of EAPAP will be open to all practitioners who work with alienated children and their families and will signify adherence to the curated standards of practice which are internationally recognised.
For details of membership please sign up to the EAPAP Newsletter at http://www.eapap.eu
Tickets for the EAPAP Conference are selling quickly now and so if you wish to attend, please book quickly to avoid disappointment. Book here if you are a professional
Please note that everyone who has booked via our online system will receive joining instructions in early August.
If you are a parent please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to attend as part of our parent panel.
Please note that all parents who have already emailed us are now registered and will be sent an invoice for payment. Your place is confirmed as soon as payment is made but please do not worry about emailing us to enquire about invoices, these will be sent out in the coming days.
Please note: Andrew Bridgen MP will join us on day one to talk about the principles of Early Intervention in the family courts, which was recently endorsed by the new President of the Family Division in the UK Sir Andrew McFarlane.