This week I recorded a clinical seminar for the Lighthouse Project. with five highly experienced practitioners in the field of relational trauma in divorce and separation working in different countries.

The title of this blog, which introduces this seminar to you, is taken from a picture, shown in the seminar, by Mia Roje Djapic, a psychologist from the Child and Youth Protection Centre of Zagreb. Bruises on my soul is the title of a picture drawn by a formerly alienated child, to depict the suffering of induced psychological splitting. In the seminar, Mia introduces us to the ways in which children who have been in abusive family situations depict themselves and how alienated children depict themselves. She further differentiates, children’s drawings of their experience of high conflict, to show the ways in which we can understand the difference in our work with families.

This is a seminar which is rich in clinical content, in which the big questions about this work are addressed with thought and grace and great care. Comparing how six clinicians, in six different countries in the world, are all working with the same phenomenon, Dr Benny Bailey, a social workers and psychotherapist in Israel, draws our attention back to the reality that these are families affected by dysregulated behaviours which impact upon children but that they are ultimately, ordinary families which with help can move on to healthier ways of living.

Dr Claire Francica from Malta, introduces the need for a unified understanding of this emerging discipline and how working in the consulting room requires a team approach in which everyone understands the assessment and treatments necessary. Joan Long, a Psychologist and Psychotherapist from the Republic of Ireland, speaks at length about the risks to children and the core realities of working with boundaries in families where these are not present or leaky, putting children at risk. Dr Kelly Baker from the USA, speaks eloquently about the special moments in reunification, when a child who has been fiercely rejecting, allow incoming care again from a parent and calls for training for all disciplines in understanding this hidden form of child abuse.

I am priviliged to work with these colleagues and to draw from them, inspiration, support and clinical learning to continue the development work of EAPAP so that our network of alienation aware practitioners can keep growing.

Thank you to these clinicians too, for their courage to undertake risky and difficult work, in a field which is not well understood and which itself is criss crossed with splits and divisions. I join with my colleagues in hoping that the next decade brings a more unified approach to this field so that children in the future get the help that too many children in the past decades have been deprived of.

On behalf of my colleagues, thank you for watching.

This video is free of charge, its purpose is educational and to raise awareness so please, feel free to share it widely.

Karen Woodall