This week CAFCASS have released their High Conflict Pathway, which is guidance for practitioners which includes what to do when children reject a parent. Originally entitled the High Conflict Pathway, it is now the Child Impact Assessment Framework or something akin to that – if I am honest, the name matters little, the intention within is just the same – make it all about parental conflict, hide the reality of the existing evidence and maintain the control invested in practitioners with disproportionate power to their skill set.
This piece of guidance is everything I expected to be and nothing more. It is a classic CAFCASS obfuscation of the issue of parental alienation, using all the tactics this organisation have deployed over the years I have been doing this work. As such it is a simple piece of fogging in an effort to take control of the issue of parental alienation so that business can be continued as usual.
I could take it apart paragraph by paragraph but if I am honest, I neither have the time, interest or inclination. What I will do however, is flag for you, those things which in time (and not too much time in my opinion), will provide for those children whose future lives have been absolutely scarred by the ineptitude of CAFCASS, the evidence they need that this government body, which is charged with upholding the safety and wellbeing of children, took deliberate action in 2018 to avoid the duties they are charged with.
Let’s begin with the analysis section –
Here is the little trap which is set for parents in the instructions and analysis.
- When alienation is a feature, because of the polarised nature of the debate about matters as fundamental as its definition and identification, allegations tend to increase in an adversarial court system. This can lead to high levels of blaming and mistrust, which in themselves contribute to the harmful impact on the child.
Is there a polarised debate about matters as fundamental as the definition of and identification of parental alienation? No there is not. But CAFCASS want you and others to believe there is because that enables them to claim the control and continue their position as decision makers between two parents who they believe are in conflict with each other. Parental alienation is not about high conflict. By relying on this myth CAFCASS enable alienation to continue and harm to children be accepted.
Notes for Children of the future: The reality is that in 2018, 18 world leading authorities met in London and discussed the definition and identification of parental alienation. They discussed the reality that parental alienation is not about conflict between parents and they discussed the treatment routes to resolve the pathological splitting which is at the heart of what you have suffered. These experts demonstrated to the world that what you have suffered can be treated in a systematic and replicable way. They also demonstrated that the treatment routes have been available since 2002 but have been ignored. In 2018 CAFCASS, who are charged with assisting you, did not attend this conference and ignored and misrepresented the existing evidence in order to continue to not help you as you should have been helped.
Moving on to the outcomes section
- Where a child has been taught by a parent that contact with their other parent would be unsafe or undesirable, this can be very difficult to change.
- A parent not addressing this potentially involves a collusion with an emotionally abusive situation and a distorted world view. It reinforces avoidant behaviour and may disproportionately empower a child in a negative way. In any other circumstances a parent would be expected to help the child overcome something they were avoiding, for example if a child was unjustifiably resistant to attending school, the parent or carer would be expected to make every effort to understand the resistance and help the child overcome it.
- Despite these risks to the emotional wellbeing of the child, the risk of forcing them into time with the other parent may be higher. This assessment of competing risks needs to be carried out on a case-by-case basis, based on the individual needs of each child and the family situation.
- It can, very understandably, feel wholly unjust to a rejected parent. However, regardless of how they were formed, a child’s wishes and feelings may be so entrenched against time spent with the other parent (and a change of where they live is also not viable), that time with that parent is not possible.
Is there any evidence in the world in 2018 that moving an abused child from the abuser to the healthy parent is more harmful to them than leaving them with the abuser? No there is not.
The idea that a child who is being abused may have to be left with the abusive parent because the child’s wishes and feelings may be so entrenched is nonsensical and utterly appalling.
Let’s apply the same logic to a sexually abused child, or a physically abused child shall we. Would we allow a child’s ‘entrenched’ wishes and feelings to prevail if the abusive parent had been sexually molesting them or breaking their arms and legs? No we would not. So why, when the child is being emotionally and psychologically abused, do CAFCASS believe that the entrenchment of the child’s wishes and feelings should take precedence in some situations? Because CAFCASS do not understand the reality of what parental alienation is and they have chosen to ignore the harm that it does.
Children of the future: Your decision to reject your mother or father is due to a psychological defence called pathological splitting. CAFCASS were told about the impact on a child of pathological splitting in 2018 and chose to ignore the level of harm it does to a child. Instead CAFCASS cherry picked the research evidence, once again ignoring the world leading authorities on the matter and decided that leaving some of you with the parent who was inducing the psychologically split state of mind, was the best outcome for you. That left you with the lifetime legacy you now face. If you had been sexually or physically abused you would not have been left to suffer, your emotional and psychological suffering however, was not regarded by the body charged with safeguarding you, as being sufficiently serious to take the proper action.
The guidance ends with information about therapeutic interventions, which in reality is simply another shifting about of cherry picked evidence in order to maintain the CAFCASS position.
Children of the future: In 2018 it was clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that therapy in any of its generic forms, is contraindicated in treatment of parental alienation. The following standards were launched to guide practitioners and a new governing body was established to protect children and families.
CAFCASS did not attend this conference and ignored the evidence presented from world leading authorities, choosing instead to rely upon their own in house research and cherry picking thoughts from people who they are using to maintain the status quo.
And that, is pretty much that. Some call it a wasted opportunity, some think it may have merit, some even think that they know better than the existing research evidence from world leading authorities – little do they know how much of a patsy that makes them….
None of it really matters in my view other than those things which the children of the future can use to demonstrate that their long term suffering is caused by the failure of a body which should have protected them, from using the knowledge and research evidence which was freely available to them.
This is the next child abuse scandal in Britain in my view and finally, I think I may well live long enough to see it uncovered.
Working with a young woman whose ‘decision’ to reject her mother was upheld by CAFCASS ten years ago, who is reunited with her mother now but still suffering the impact of psychological splitting, I hear her ask the same questions over and over again.
‘I thought they would help me, all they did was ask me what I wanted and then behaved as if my mother was a monster. I couldn’t understand why they could not see that I was in a place where I couldn’t say anything other than what my father wanted me to say. They were adults, they had the power to help me, even though I was saying I didn’t want to see my mum, I was desperate for someone to see what the problem was. And they didn’t. I still remember that woman (CAFCASS officer) telling me that she would protect me from my mother, which made me feel as if I were a monster myself. I still do feel like a monster. I don’t know how they could have left me to rot in that way.‘
Parental alienation is not about contact, it is not about high conflict, it is not about the child’s wishes and feelings other than how the expression of those give evidence of the abuse the child is suffering. Parental alienation is not controversial, research evidence and practice standards exist and are demonstrated to provide replicable outcomes for abused children. Inducing and maintaining the psychologically split state of mind in a child is abuse. There is no evidence in the world that therapy in any of its generic forms can help.
The evidence of what works is known and shown to work.
in 2018, this government body chose to ignore it all.