I have just moved house for about the twentieth time in my life and boy oh boy I hope I only have to do it once more before I die.  Moving house, even for a natural nomad like me is no fun. For some it is an absolute nightmare to leave everything they know behind. There is a reason why moving house is very high up on the stress scale.

Imagine then the experience of children who not only had to move house but they had to leave the family and the location in which they lived. The child evacuees of the second world war, are known to have suffered attachment disruption after being forced to leave London and other major Cities.  Other studies have shown that children who are removed from a parent into foster care are similarly impacted and it has been apparent to me since 2013, that alienated children suffer from a form of attachment disorder.

In Philadelphia in September of this year I had the good fortune to work with a group of highly skilled clinicians for whom the protocols and principles we were teaching in our training, were immediately translated into considerations of practice with families affected by parental alienation.  It was during that training, which echoed for me the earlier excitement of having worked with a highly skilled group of clinicians at the Western College of Galilee in Israel, that I really began to think seriously about the links between adoption and alienation. It was then that I moved even closer to an understanding that what we are seeing in alienated children is the induced defence of psychological splitting which is co-existent with a form of attachment disorder.

As all of the elements of parental alienation come into sharper focus, it is all the more apparent that what we are doing when we are working with children of parental alienation is untangling a multi-layered family dynamic.  As we differentiate each case into its separate elements, it then becomes stunningly clear that to treat this problem we need a set of principles and protocols that allow us to adapt existing therapeutic skills to meet the needs of this lost generation.

These children need our help.  These children need their lost parents to help them. These children need a paradigm change in the way that we deal with this issue and they need it now.

From the perspective of our work at the Family Separation Clinic, assessing and treating  parental alienation is not about proving whether or not one parent is doing something to the other in Court.  It is not about whether or not one parent is to blame and the other is not and it is not about whether two parents are causing the problem.

Assessment for parental alienation at the Family Separation Clinic begins and ends with an understanding of whether a child is suffering from induced psychological splitting and then undertaking careful assessment in each of the following categories to build a clear case profile of how the child arrived at the point at which they utilised the defence of psychological splitting.

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Fig.1 Assessment and Differentiation Model – Family Separation Clinic (2018)

This is not an assessment process which focuses upon only one of the areas shown above, it is a process which encompasses observation, analysis and differentiation in each section. Only when this work is complete can a treatment route be designed. Only when the treatment route is designed can the Court be asked to hold the framework for delivery in place.

What is clear to us at the Clinic is that we need a range of treatment routes to treat different assessment outcomes. What works for one family, will not work for another. Where one child has a parent with a personality disorder and there is a shared psychotic delusion, the next might have a parent with a normal personality and there may be no shared psychotic delusion and yet the child is still suffering from induced psychological splitting.

What is clear from all of our work over the past thirteen years is that there is no one size fits all  intervention to resolve parental alienation but there is a clear set of principles and protocols which must be used to deliver successful outcomes for children.

As clinicians it is incumbent upon us to develop the right interventions for the right presentation in the child and family and to ensure that we are using the correct principles and protocols for treatment.  Alongside this, we must, when our differentiation and assessment is complete,  recruit the parent who is being rejected to the role of co-therapist to the recovery route of the children.

A co-therapy role for the rejected parent requires the practitioner delivering the work to enable and empower the rejected parent to step into the role of receiving parent in a therapeutic framework for recovery work. This takes place in structured interventions at the Family Separation Clinic which has pioneered the use of therapeutic parenting, most often used by the adoption community, to assist rejected parents to support the integration of the split state of mind in their child during intervention.

In all of the interventions developed by the Clinic, the rejected parent is regarded as a valuable resource whose capacity for parenting the child must be developed and supported to maximise the child’s chances of full recovery.  Therapeutic parenting is the tool we equip the rejected parent with in the work done during this phase.

2020 is the year in which Clinicians from all over the world will come together at the EAPAP2020 conference to discuss and further develop interventions for families affected by parental alienation. No more the lost generations, children of divorce and separation are recognised as being in need of our assistance and the dismissed and disregarded parents who have lost their children to this pernicious problem are being seen and heard.

The Family Separation Clinic, with the Child Protection Centre of Zagreb had a big vision in 2017, to develop a network of practitioners equipped to work with internationally curated standards of practice. We wanted to bring successful resolution to families in Europe affected by this problem.

In 2020 that vision becomes real as EAPAP launches principles and protocols of practice which are demonstrated to be successful in cases of parental alienation. Standards for practitioners to work with which will protect parents and generations of children who will no longer be lost, but finally found, helped and healed.

Therapeutic Parenting Workshop –  Central London – 7 March 2020

The UK Courts are increasingly using residence transfer as a remedy for a child’s induced psychological splitting after divorce and separation (aka parental alienation). Whilst this is welcome, it can also cause difficulties if children who are suffering from induced psychological splitting do not get the treatment that they need during and after residence transfer.

The Family Separation Clinic is a pioneer in residence transfer support and therapeutic bridging for severely alienated children. Using therapeutic parenting protocols, support is provided for parents who have been rejected to help them to parent their children in ways that produce swift resolution of the split state of mind.

The split state of mind arises when a child cannot hold two realities in mind and is a defence mechanism which comes into play when the child has experience an intolerable dilemma. Whilst residence transfer can integrate the split state of mind, it can also be enacted without doing so, leaving the child being cared for physically by the once rejected parent but still emotionally and psychologically captured by the influencing parent.

The UK courts are shifting in their understanding of the therapeutic needs of this group of families but they are powerless to order therapy or to force behavioural change in influencing parents and their children. This can leave any rejected parent vulnerable to ongoing alienation reactions in their children which is draining, frightening and ultimately not beneficial to child or wider family.

Therapeutic parenting is an approach to parenting children with attachment disruption, it is based upon Daniel Hughes’ work of PACE (Playful, Acceptance, Curious, Empathy). Alienated children respond extremely well to this way of parenting and as children who have suffered attachment disruption, their needs are well met using these strategies.

The Family Separation Clinic has adapted therapeutic parenting strategies to meet the needs of alienated children and this workshop is designed to teach you to become confident in parenting your children therapeutically. It has long been said that the best therapist for alienated children is their own healthy parent and this workshop enables you to become skilled in all aspects of parenting therapeutically to bring your children back to health.

What you will learn

  • How children become alienated
  • The impact on children of alienation
  • How psychological splitting affects perception and memory
  • What the psychologically split state of mind does to you
  • How to change yourself to change your child
  • How to communicate with a psychologically split child
  • How to build the antidote to psychological splitting into everyday parenting
  • Setting boundaries
  • Developing new moral guidelines for family life
  • Trouble shooting with recovering children

Featuring co-trainers who are parents who have received their severely alienated child back into their life and used therapeutic parenting to heal the split state of mind, this is an interactive workshop for all rejected parents and those at risk of rejection.

Whilst this workshop is primarily aimed at parents whose children have been reunified with them, it will also be highly relevant for any parent who still retains some relationship with a resisting child and for parents whose children are at risk of developing an alienation reaction.

40 Places available

Cost £95 per person plus VAT

Book here

Please note that the Family Separation Clinic is a not for profit enterprise and that all of the proceeds from training and workshops for parents is put into research and development of services from the Clinic.  The Clinic is also a major contributor to the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners which receives no independent funding from any source.

There is little in the way of financial support for this work around the world and our commitment in all of our work is to further understanding and development of best practice with families. As such the whole of what we do around the world is funded via the training we deliver to other practitioners and to parents.

We hope that one day, these kinds of services will be available at low cost around the world. Until then, our recycling of funding approach, is how we continue to deliver services to families and develop a skilled workforce.

We think this is a powerful model for development of this challenging field of work and we think it is the best way to invest funds spent by parents who suffer this horrible problem so that future generations get the help that they need on a much wider scale.