The Lighthouse Project is my name for the work we are doing in this next decade to bring a clear understanding of the harm that parental alienation does to the consciousness of the world, along with the interventions that can prevent it and heal it.
The Lighthouse Project involves many people around the world who are working together to bring this awareness into light.
In Croatia, where more than 800 professionals signed a statement concerned with protecting children of divorce and separation from emotional and psychological abuse, the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre leads the way in embedding standards of practice into everyday work with families. Headed up by Professor Gordana Bujlan Flander, this team provides an extraordinarily powerful template for positive change in working with families affected by parental alienation. Inspiring many professionals in the Western Balkan Region, the Child and Youth Protection Centre demonstrates what happens when a pebble of change hits the pool.
In Romania where work is being done by Dr Simona Vladicka to bring parental alienation into mainstream consciousness as shown at the two day conference in Bucharest last year entitled Interdisciplinary Approach to Disputes Involving Juveniles in Cases of Parental Alienation at the Bucharest Tribunal in Romania.
The Bucharest Tribunal – the central court in the capital – together with the APISET Association, organised for the first time in Romania an international congress devoted exclusively to the issues of children affected by parental alienation. It was also the first international congress organised by a public authority in the field, that is, the biggest court in Romania that handles juvenile cases. The Tribunal, who understand the gravity of the phenomenon of parental alienation, are committed to providing knowledge and training around the issue of children’s post separation rejection of a parent.
The audience was made up of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers and other working with families. In Romania prosecutors are treating as criminal offences cases of non-observance of measures concerning the custody of minors, harassment and ill-treatment of minors. Professional specialists from Romania and abroad met for two days to listen to a varied programme including presentations on understanding parental alienation from legal, cross boarder, forensic, psychological and therapeutic perspectives.
In the UK where development of new routes for treatment of parental alienation via structured therapeutic interventions which are held by the Court is underway. Last year, also saw the start of training to the Family Mediators Association, ensuring that triage work with families affected by parental alienation is embedded in front line work with divorcing and separating families. In addition, I was invited to give the John Cornwell lecture to the FMA Annual Conference, an honour which was made all the more enjoyable by the warmth of the welcome I received and the interest that was shown in parental alienation.
In Poland where we delivered the key note presentation to a conference organised by Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę in cooperation with the City Hall of Warsaw, Department of Public Health of Warsaw Medical University, under the auspices of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Minister of Health and Ombudsman on Children’s Rights. Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę is Poland’s largest NGO working to protect children from abuse.
The conference was held in Warsaw on 12 June 2019 and was attended by around 400 professionals including social workers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, day carers, probation officers, NGO employees. It focused on early prevention of child abuse and neglect and the Family Separation Clinic talked about distinguishing between parental alienation and rejection due to abuse.
The Clinic was also invited to deliver a workshop for professionals which was aimed at psychologists from across of Poland.
In the USA where we trained a group of highly skilled clinicians in the field of parental alienation and where we not only ‘met our match’ in terms of the drive to understand the deepest layers of dysfunction in families affected by parental alienation, we joined forces to begin the building of a network of practitioners who will take this work forward.
In Israel, where our wonderful training group headed by Inbal Kiveson Baron and Benny Baileyfrom the Western College of Galilee, grappled for three days with the principles and protocols of working with parental alienation, the outcome of which was a strategic plan of action for embedding this work in the Israeli Family Courts. With ongoing supervision partnership, this work continues apace and we will hear more from successful practice in Israel at the EAPAP conference in June this year.
In Malta where professionals joined us for training in May last year and where ongoing supervision supports development of practice with the principles and protocols of therapeutic work with families is being utilised.
In Ireland where the staff at Caidreamh are preparing to take on the principles and protocols of practice in parental alienation to develop their already significant understanding and translate this into immediate practice with families. This partnership work is supported by supervision and is planned for further development across the coming year.
In Iceland, where we will be delivering a lecture to professionals in the Icelandic Family Court System at the invitation of Foreldrajafnrétti and a workshop to parents and wider family members affected by parental alienation.
And in Zagreb, Croatia, where in June this year we will hold the third conference of the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners, a conference for clinicians and legal practitioners which will focus upon practice and standards of practice to provide the first regulation of interventions with families in Europe.
Ten years ago in Europe the term parental alienation was considered to be controversial. In the UK it was not a phrase which was not allowed in the court room. Today, it is not only welcome it is mainstream. It is recognised and understood as a form of child abuse.
Around Europe there remains much work to be done in education and awareness raising. In the USA, where expertise in this field has focused largely upon studying the problem, interventions which are based upon the principles and protocols drawn from that research work, are now increasingly available.
Clinical partnerships around the world are now bringing the subject to consciousness and treatment routes are being developed for sharing widely. The work I have listed today is not the only work going on in this field, there is of course, so much more and we learn from every serious clinician we come into contact with, because that is how a scientific field progresses.
In this beam of light you can see what we are doing to change the world for the better for families affected by parental alienation.
In ten years time I fully expect those of us doing this work to have made ourselves finally and thankfully redundant.
In the meantime, I give my grateful thanks for the dedication, warmth and support of all those who keep the lighthouse beam shining bright. Selfless people who give hours of their lives to help bring this terrible problem in families to light.
May 2020 bring the fair winds that propel our efforts into safe harbour.