Children First: Avoiding the Split Narrative in Parental Alienation

Working with children affected by induced psychological splitting brings practitioners into contact with the split narrative.  This is seen when the issue of parental alienation is used as a personal and political football in a game of whether or not it is a real thing.

On one side we have the pro-alienation team and on the other side we have the anti-alienation team.  For the pro-team we have the argument that alienation always exists in cases where children reject a parent and that domestic abuse allegations are false and on the anti-side we have claims that parental alienation does not exist and that such claims always arise as a result of abusive parents making false allegations.

The split narrative is a nightmare in terms of assisting the outside world to understand the reality of what is happening to alienated children. This is because the pro versus anti teams mirror the he said/she said arguments making it very difficult to see or hear the problem as it affects children.  In recent days, I have seen CAFCASS being lambasted by the pro and anti parental alienation teams currently on the campaign field.   A similar fate which I have often suffered. Which would be funny if it were not such an indictment of the problem of the split narrative and its impact on consciousness raising.

The outside world needs to understand that the non accidental injury to the mind of the child, which is caused by induced psychological splitting in a child, is hidden child abuse.

The outside world also needs to understand the very complex ways in which this problem, which looks like a child being afraid of or disliking a parent, is actually a child’s mind being colonised by the wishes and feelings of a parent who has control over them.

The issue of induced psychological splitting in children is not one which is located in the rejection of a parent by a child.  It is located in the pathological alignment between the child and parent who has control.  That this is not yet fully understood or evidenced is clear. If it were, we would not have to educate, advocate and deal with the backlash around the issue from those concerned with parental rights.

When a pathological alignment looks like love, many people are fooled into following the pointing fingers and spend their time analysing the actions of the rejected parent to establish what they are doing to cause the rejection.

However, when the issue of induced psychological splitting in children looks like a fight between  pro/anti alienation groups, most people miss the reality that this is an issue about non accidental injury to the mind of a child completely.

The split narrative is therefore a god-send for those who want to fog the issue of parental alienation because it allows the impact on children to be overlooked in favour of a continued battle between parental rights campaigners. This has been the problem for five decades and that is why, in my view, very little progress is made in enabling the outside world to understand this hidden child abuse.

The problem of induced psychological splitting in children is where the split narrative arises from. In raising consciousness of this we have to do our very best to avoid replicating the heroes/villains story that obliterates the truth.

Because depending whether you are standing on the pro or anti side, you will see the other side as good or evil. And when the issue of parental alienation is boiled down to good and evil, the split narrative continues and nothing changes in the outside world.

Parental alienation is not about good and evil. It is about the pathological alignment between the child of divorce or separation who becomes entangled in parental decompensation and enmeshment. It is a story of a child trapped in an impossible situation and a parent who is powerless to help.  The true narrative is about non accidental injury to that child’s mind and the risks that continue into adulthood for that child.

Campaigns are to be welcomed when they avoid the split narrative because only careful articulation of the child’s experience and the risks to their wellbeing, is how this story will be properly heard.


Understanding Induced Psychological Splitting in Children of Divorce and Separation – A Two Hour Online Seminar With Karen  Woodall


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The underlying issue seen in parental alienation is the defence of psychological splitting. This is a reflexive defence in a child which comes into play when the dynamics around the child are impossible for the child to cope with.

Induced psychological splitting causes the child to become alienated first from their own control over their sense of self, the results of this are denial and projection onto the parents of the split sense of self.

Understanding how children behave when they are psychologically splitting is important because it enables you to understand how to respond to them. What seem like strange behaviours, are actually easy to recognise and respond to when the defence is recognised.

Helping children to integrate the parts of the self which they have split off and denied is a key part of their recovery.

Suitable for parents and practitioners, this introduction to understanding alienated children will cover –

  • The dynamic of induced psychological splitting, its presentation in children and the recovery process
  • A psychoanalytical analysis of the problem
  • Therapeutic treatment of the problem using trauma informed practice
  • An introduction to the benefits of therapeutic parenting for alienated children

August 6 2020 at 4pm GMT

£30 per place

This seminar will take place on ZOOM, you will be asked for your name and email address on booking.

A ZOOM link will be sent to you the day before the seminar takes place.

Book Here



6 thoughts on “Children First: Avoiding the Split Narrative in Parental Alienation

  1. I will add that it’s common for parents with Borderline Personality Disorder to suffer from splitting, or black and white thinking. And many of the same are undiagnosed and untreated for the same and there’s a resultant negative effect on the children. Suffering also from an incredible fear of abandonment and inseparable but abnormal attachment, these parents often push false abuse allegations and by extension alienation in high-conflict court cases.

    Dean Tong, MSc., CFC
    8321 Fox Hollow Drive
    Port Richey, Florida 34668
    727.819.3993., Phone/Fax
    813.417.5362., Cell


  2. It’s interesting that the court system is now finally beginning to accept coercive control among spouses and the damage that it causes but apparently children (Who are clearly more vulnerable) are immune? The courts are starting, on occasion, to except it under the age of 13 but wash their hands of it stating that the child is old enough to choose at 14? So………coercive control (splitting) happens up to the age of 13 but not between 14 and 18? It beggars belief that this is still so little understood within the courts and media. For the record I was the abused spouse, not the other way around. I have never raised a hand or even my voice to my children. I devoted my entire adult life to them. I have to watch in silence from the corner as I witness the horrendous damage this is doing to their lives and mental health. There is no help, no understanding, no care. Without the education revived from you Karen, and knowledge that someone who does understand is fighting for change I don’t think I would have bothered to go on. I have survived purely to be hear should they ever need an escape route. One has returned but without the knowledge you have given me Karen I wouldn’t have hung on to see it. God bless you. x


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