Introducing the Legal and Mental Health Interlock in Internationally Recognised Standards of Practice

The Internationally Recognised Standards of Practice in the field of Parental Alienation will be introduced by the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners at the EAPAP 2018 Conference on August 30/31st.

EAPAP is established to regulate, protect and support practitioners in the field of parental alienation by providing them with a membership organisation which will offer training, mentoring and supervision.  It will also provide training and awareness raising across Europe to the Judiciary, Social Services and Court Welfare Officers, of the internationally recognised standards of intervention which are seen to be effective in treating the problem of a child’s rejection of a parent after family separation.

EAPAP recognises that the legal and mental Health interlock is a critical part of best practice in treating cases of parental alienation.  This post explains what we mean by this.

The problem with parental alienation is that it causes the child involved to enter into an infantile defence called psychological splitting.  Much research has been completed into the problem of splitting in children of divorce and separation, a lot of which can be seen in the data base of the Parental Alienation Study Group which can be accessed here.

Psychological splitting is the underlying problem faced by the child who refuses to see a parent after divorce and it produces the signs of alienation which are world recognised as heralding the problem of parental alienation.  You can read about these signs here.

A child can be alienated from a parent in many different ways and it is a fallacy to believe that all children are only ever alienated by a deliberate parent who has a personality disorder.  Parental alienation is recognised as a spectrum problem and you can read more about this here.

An argument is put forward for something called Attachment Based Parental Alienation, which suggests that all past research should be abandoned in favour of a use of attachment theory to analyse and treat the problem of a child’s rejection of a parent.  This is curated here.  This curation however has not been peer reviewed or tested and cannot be used in Europe as it relies upon DSM 5 diagnosis which is not used in the UK or in Europe where the ICD-11 is the diagnostic manual of choice.  AB-PA appears to focus solely upon pure and severe alienation with the presence of personality disorder and does not recognise that a child’s complete rejection can also be seen in situations where personality disorder is not present in either parent.

The internationally recognised standard of intervention in cases of parental alienation require that a family is properly assessed using a differentiation route to determine the presence of parental alienation – the use of a combination of tools is common in differentiation to determine PA and many such peer reviewed tools are in use.  A peer reviewed discussion about such a scale can be seen here.

An assessment of a family where a child is rejecting a parent should always include clinical observation of the child with the parent they are rejecting at the very start of the assessment.

Assessment and treatment of parental alienation are not two separate things and the best practice for triaging those cases which can be readily resolved from those which require more intervention, is to ensure that the aligned parent is asked to make the child available for clinical observation.   More discussion about this can be seen here.

A case of a parent upholding the child’s rejection of the other parent also contains elements of power and control over the child and other parent and so it is necessary to use the legal framework in any given country to create dynamic behavioural change. In doing so, it is essential to understand that different treatment protocols require adaptation to fit different legislative frameworks. This is what is referred to by EAPAP as the Legal and Mental Health Interlock, which is the partnership between the legal framework and the mental health intervention which is relied upon to enforce behavioural change in the most severe cases of PA.

It is internationally recognised that parental alienation, harms children, which is why the legal and mental health interlock matters.  This is not about a child’s relationship with a parent but about protecting the child from the psychologically split state of mind in the post separation landscape.  Psychological splitting harms children.  You can read about that here.

Case sample of the use of the legal and mental health interlock in treatment of PA 

Child A is 12 and has rejected his father for four years.  Father has been psychologically assessed along with mother. There are no concerns about personality disorder.

The route to the child’s rejection was documented and analysed by the legal team and it was recognised that the child was displaying lack of ambivalence, idealisation of mother and that father was denigrated in a campaign of hostility between mother and son.

A fact finding on all of the disputed issues between parents was held. A finding of alienation of the father by the mother was handed down.

A mental health intervention was sought. This utilised the finding of alienation and overrode the child’s rejection of the father by requiring the mother to make the child available for clinical observation.  Mother refused to make the child available citing wishes and feelings of the child as reasons why she would not bring him to clinical observation.  A further direction from the court was sought to put a suspended residence order in place should the child not be made available for clinical observation.

The child was made available and the trained assessor ensured that he was supported throughout a four hour observation with his father in clinical conditions. Therapy in situ was delivered and the child was taken through the six stage model used to reconfigure understanding in 8-15 year olds of their experience of past events.

The child showed a clear return to critical thinking skills within a four hour period.  Further therapeutic sessions were made available. The child returned to a planned schedule of time with his father within six weeks of intervention.

Notes: This intervention, like those where a parent has a personality disorder, relies upon the legal framework of any given country to achieve its aims.  The legal framework is the pressure placed upon the aligned parent to do what they do not wish to do.  In cases which do not contain personality disordered parents, this produces compliance with the requests of the mental health practitioner and therapeutic work AFTER the reintroduction is then possible.

This intervention is being researched currently at the Family Separation Clinic.

Please note that the Family Separation Clinic and EAPAP work to the internationally recognised standards of practice in severe cases including those with personality disorder present in a parent. The following diagram is that which is used by the Clinic and EAPAP in differential diagnosis and treatment.

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 11.20.09Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 11.20.21

Further information about the legal and mental health interlock and the role it plays in successful treatment of parental alienation can be heard at the EAPAP Conference.

Internationally recognised standards of practice will be discussed on both days of the Conference and EAPAP will curate, regulate, train, mentor and supervise, practitioners who work to these standards from the Autumn of 2018.

If you would like to join EAPAP please email


Tickets for the EAPAP Conference 2018 can be purchased here.



3 thoughts on “Introducing the Legal and Mental Health Interlock in Internationally Recognised Standards of Practice”

  1. A very good analysis and a manner of progress. Legally in England and Wales it does depend on the Courts and the parents involved. As there is no legal right to be a parent then the Court may or may not assume that PA is an effective abuse against a child/ren. Particularly when most Public Servants do not recognise this disorder.
    Until is it a legal right nothing will fundamentally change for the 4 million children whom since 1989 have been alienated across the spectrum in England and Wales.


  2. I see that weird clinical psychologist in California, who refers to himself in the third person and has ‘conversations’ with science, is stamping his feet again because his so-called ‘solution’ has been shown (again) to be complete nonsense. I used to think he had something to say but nowadays I wonder if he has ever met an alienated child, never mind restored an alienated relationship! Keep up the good work. These kind of professional standards are long overdue.


    1. Hi Stu, I am sure that Dr Childress means well, he is clearly as keen as I am to eradicate the problem of parental alienation as swiftly as possible. Dr Childress however believes that sweeping away all previous research and expertise and replacing it with a clinical psychological tick box model is the right way, I believe that drawing upon the experience and expertise and research from around the world to inform a relational model of work is the right way. Neither of us has a peer reviewed paper on our views and simply writing endless reams of words on blogs won’t change a thing. As well as writing this blog I have a research project underway and the Family Separation Clinic is preparing its model for evaluation – we are discussing this with Jennifer Harman who is coming to the conference. I also continue to work with the UK’s leading legal people and MPs and policy makers around Europe to bring about the changes we seek. Our conference brings all of these people together to launch the internationally recognised standards of practice which EAPAP will govern. I know that Dr Childress is doing his own thing in this respect too and so I look forward to seeing his work being evaluated and peer reviewed as well. In the meantime, when there are so many co-operative and collaborative people in this field, I see no point at all in doing anything other than keeping on keeping on as far as Dr Childress is concerned. I have no reason to doubt that he is doing his best and I have no wish to denigrate him in the manner in which he denigrates me. Far from it, I wish him well. I think he has something important in the sphere of pure and severe alienation and I am interested in the way he curates his thinking. I just wish he would have his work evaluated and produce peer reviewed papers so that we can use his work as part of the wider research and models which exist to treat the problem of parental alienation. Until he does however we can’t and so long as he references DSM 5 as his key diagnosis we will struggle to implement it in Europe even for pure and severe alienation, which is a shame.

      On a different front, our battle is really against the issues raised by the other faction in PA work – which is the Polak and Saini model coming out of Canada which essentially says that all parents are to blame in PA cases – now that is something to be concerned about because it is that which CAFCASS in the UK will run after in order to allow them to continue the idea that PA is always a he said/she said situation. Now that is where my concerns really lie right now. Dr Childress isn’t a major priority when this kind of thing is happening. K


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