International Standards of Practice with Families Affected by Parental Alienation

There is a more than a little bit of disarray in the UK at the moment around the subject of parental alienation.  From CAFCASS and Nagalro who are busy peddling the idea that the science of parental alienation is controversial and that PA is used to override issues of domestic abuse and children’s voices, to the pomposity of those who believe they know better than everyone else about the best way to progress this emerging scientific field.  Watching this from the sidelines makes me chuckle, not least because I have seen it all before, in 2008 when I worked for the UK government on reform of the child maintenance system and 2011 when I was involved with the reform of the children act.  In both of those eras, as change loomed over the horizon, people who felt they knew best got hot under the collar as they wheeled out their studies and their evidence bases in an effort to get things to go their way.

Watching everyone trying to find their own wriggle room in order to claim their space in this changing landscape,  I am reminded that the most powerful change management strategy of all is to build the new to make the old obsolete.  It was when I learned this in 2011, that I left working for the UK government and the requirement to continuously fight the resistance to change in the field of family separation and set up with Nick, the Family Separation Clinic which was a new model of work with parental alienation based upon the established research evidence and proven strategies of intervention.

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When we set up the Family Separation Clinic we were told that we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) refer to parental alienation at all because it would make us appear to lack impartiality.  Ignoring that advice and continuing with our strategic approach of raising the profile of the harm done to children who are forced to choose to lose a parent in order to cope with the post separation landscape, today we are recognised as a leading authority in the world in practice with alienated children and their families.

Our success is focused upon treatment of the pathologically split state of mind in children and through doing that, restoring relationships with key people in their lives.  Note the order in which I write that.  We do not consider success to be about dealing with ‘entrenched families’ as some conceptualise this work and we do not consider success to be about contact issues as others do.  Our one and only focus is the treatment of the pathologically split state of mind and our one and only measure of success is the capacity of the child to integrate this and through this restore the relationship with a rejected parent and wider family members.

In order to evidence our success we have a guarantee for all parents who work with us -which is that they can speak to at least three other parents whose children we have helped.  In speaking to those parents they can ask any questions they wish about the process we use and the outcomes we have achieved for children.  Some of the parents we whose children we have helped, contribute to our training work, bringing alive the way we teach and guide others to do this work.  In a field in which so many claim so much, we believe that families should have, at the very least, the evidence that we do what we say we do.  Nothing less will do in a field which is so clouded with personal ego and so dominated by people with disproportionate power to their skill set.

We have just held a conference in London in which eighteen of the world’s leading authorities on parental alienation presented their research and practice based evidence. Shortly after this, CAFCASS, who did not attend the conference, claimed that the science in the field was controversial, putting forward an A level standard piece of research as evidence that they know the field of parental alienation better than anyone in the world. Anyone who attended the conference in London could not have been left in any doubt about the meaning of evidence based practice and the existence of the research which supports this and yet, barely six weeks later, we see opinion pieces and more conference presentations which call this into question.  The motives are clear, the self awareness less so.  The motive is to fog the field in order to ensure that the key concepts promulgated by the PA deniers are continued, the self awareness which is lacking is the honesty to recognise that the power and control which is seen in PA is being replicated in the denial that there are objective standards of practice in this field which are incontrovertible.

I’m with Childress on this one – loath though I might be to say it given the considerable vitriol he has spewed in my direction for the past year – but where there are clear standards of practice which lead to replicable outcomes for children and families, why would anyone want to cloud that reality?  Why would anyone feel that they are above those standards of practice or that they can somehow navigate their way around them in order to keep their ego or self proclaimed position intact? Beats me.  I may not agree that Childress’s way is the only way but I am darned sure that I understand that it is rooted in reality, seeking the swiftest route to the integration of the child’s pathologically split state of mind.

And it is the swiftest route to restoration of the child’s pathologically split state of mind which is set down in research and practice evidence which is core to the practice standards in this field.  We are not talking about high conflict or two parents arguing, we are not dealing with systemic family therapy and desensitisation.  We are not concerned with filming people and deconstructing their actions, or using thousands of words to convince others that our forensic assessment is the best way or the right way.  Who cares about Ph.D’s when it comes to practice with alienated children and their families, what counts is doing it the right way and the right way is not my way, it is not Childress’s way or any other practitioner’s individual way,  it is the objectively proven and evidenced way which was presented at the conference in London and which was set down in the first parental alienation congress in 2002 in Germany.

A way which has been used by the Family Separation Clinic in London and  Turning Points for Families in the USA  (as well as others in the world),  in successful treatment of the pathologically split state of mind in children for many years.

This way –

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And this way

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Which lead to the practice standards which are set down by the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners –

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Given the evidence base which rests upon the research, which stretches back in time to established practice standards which are proven to work repeatedly in cases of parental alienation, the only reason for someone to argue with this is if they –

a) do not understand parental alienation

or

b) believe they somehow know better than everyone else in the world.

We know which category CAFCASS fit into, I truly wonder about the rest.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Hi Karen,

    Is a child’s age a significant factor in the outcome of a transfer of residence (of an alienated child)? Is there an age after which evidence suggests a transfer of residence is inadvisable?

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    1. There is no evidence in the research literature which suggests a cut off age in the child for transfer of residence. What you have to do is ensure that you understand all of the different dynamics in a case to be able to make a decision about whether to try a transfer route.

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