‘Specifically, the expressed lack of ambivalence as manifested by the alienated child serves as an observable defining characteristic of the presence of parental alienation. The understanding of this phenomenon provides predictive criteria for clinicians and forensic experts to establish or rule out the existence of parental alienation in clinical and forensic settings with implications for treatment and custody recommendations.

Alan M. Jaffe, Melanie J. Thakkar, Pascale Piron & Peter Walla (2017) Denial of ambivalence as a hallmark of parental alienation, Cogent Psychology, 4:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311908.2017.1327144


The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, is aligned with the worldwide group of experts in the Parental Alienation Study Group.  As such, EAPAP follows the most up to date scientific research evidence in the world, to curate and codify standards of practice for those who work with alienated children and their families to follow.   When the membership of EAPAP opens, all  EU practitioners in the field of divorce and separation are invited to join to demonstrate their understanding of the internationally recognised standards and their adherence to them.  EAPAP will be open for new members from the Autumn of 2018 and will launch its new training scheme under which all practitioners can become accredited.  More details will follow the EAPAP Conference, where international standards of practice will be discussed and endorsed.

The need for international standards of practice is urgent.  Whilst PASG curates the scientific evidence and achieves a broad consensus of opinion about what parental alienation is and how it is recognised, direct practice with families is not currently codified or recognised anywhere in the world.  Thus, EAPAP aims to bring together a set of standards which are acknowledged as the recognised way to approach a case of parental alienation in the family court system across Europe.  Whilst each EU country has a legislative framework which is uniquely its own, the principles of how a case of parental alienation is recognised and treated are broadly the same. Thus the mental health and legal interlock is something which can be defined and detailed carefully across borders.

With the weight of available scientific evidence, it is not difficult to define how a case of parental alienation can be recognised.  Lack of ambivalence which gives away the fact that the child has entered into the psychological defence of splitting feelings into wholly good and wholly bad, is a core feature of all children who are alienated from a parent. When this is seen, the practitioner must begin a forensic investigation to determine how the psychologically split state of mind occurred and then from there, devise the treatment route which will relieve the pressure upon the child which is causing the defence to come into play.

Relieving the pressure upon the child by correcting the power dynamic in the family system, (using the powers available to the court to do so) is the first step in treatment and all practitioners should recognise that this is of paramount importance in the process of intervention.  Restoring the relationship between parent and child is the most urgent consideration and all efforts should be front loaded to achieve this FIRST.  In our FSC assessments, we always ensure that the child is seen with the rejected parent as part of our initial observations.  Our assessment is not complete without that happening.  This is the earliest opportunity for the restoration of the child/parent relationship and it is this which relieves the pressure which causes the psychological defence.

When the family courts understand what the core problem in parental alienation is, they are more easily able to do what is necessary to support the mental health intervention.  When the mental health professionals understand that the intervention requires the court to hold the power dynamic in place long enough to shift the power over the child away from the aligned parent, then parental alienation is swiftly treated.  EAPAP will launch a training scheme for all professionals working in the family courts with children who reject a parent, so that the knowledge base is widened and key people are educated.

The work of EAPAP is directly descended from the Parental Alienation Study Group and is designed to ensure that parents and practitioners who work with them are properly helped and protected.  EAPAP is designed to shift the focus away from parental rights and generic therapy onto the specialist mental health interventions which are shown to work in these cases.

Children do not reject a parent without justification, unless there is pressure on them to do so from somewhere.  This pressure, which can arise from the deliberate actions of one parent against the other, the lack of knowledge amongst practitioners about parental alienation, leading to alignment with the child’s maladaptation to divorce and separation and the concentric circles of conflict which can arise around families in times of crisis, puts the child in a damaging place in the family hierarchy.  Failure to act in ways which are properly aligned with internationally recognised standards of practice, simply prolongs the pain of the child and the suffering of the whole family.  EAPAP is created to ensure that this horrible scenario is avoided in the future.

EAPAP Conference tickets are available here

EAPAP Parent Panel tickets are close to selling out, please email office@eapap.eu to book yours.

If you have been sent an invoice for your Parent Panel ticket, please pay it now to ensure that your place is confirmed.  These tickets are on a first come, first served basis only.

The EAPAP Conference programme will be launched shortly.  The Conference is interactive and starts with a survey which all parents are encouraged to complete. I will post the survey here next week.

Parents and Practitioners will be offered the opportunity to vote on the standards of practice which are discussed throughout the conference.  Outcomes of these debates and votes will be curated for endorsement by delegates during the two day event.