On March 26 2009, I wrote my first blog. It was Mother’s Day and I wrote for alienated mothers around the world and my understanding of their hidden suffering. Since then, I have written thousands of words about the undeniable pain experienced by families affected by alienation of children. The wordpress stats which were presented to me yesterday on the twelfth anniversary of my first blog post, tell the story of that anguish.
This blog began as a diary of the work I was doing with families affected by children’s outright rejection after divorce and separation. This work was inspired by meeting Thomas Moore who writes about his experience of alienation in book Please Let Me See My Son. My work with Thomas led me into working with other alienated children and families in the family courts in England. Since that time, I have worked in the family courts in the UK and around the world helping children who are being harmed by induced psychological splitting to recover an integrated state of mind via their relationship with the parent they have split off and rejected.
When I began doing this work, the words parental alienation were not readily admissable in the court process. The phrase ‘intractable hostility’ was used instead to describe the parent who would not or could not allow a child to have a relationship with the other parent. Whilst parental alienation became a more readily used phrase in the court process, it is not used in our assessment and differentiation work and it is not used in treatment because it is simply not necessary. Trends in language come and go but the overall reality that some parents cause their children harm by inducing psychological splitting as a defence, remains. This is well established in case law and it is now well recognised by the High Courts in England and Wales.
These days, I only work in cases of induced psychological splitting in children after fact finding. This means that when I begin work with a family, the facts of a case have been heard and judged. This is a necessary condition for rapid treatment of children suffering from induced psychological splitting because it means that there can be no continuing argument about the facts of a case. Using contracts requiring behavioural change and structured contact trials, the re-introduction of a loved parent, assists the integration of the split state of mind. Rolling scrutiny of behaviours ensures that compliance with the Court’s rulings on the best interest of the child is achieved.
In 2009, I was pretty much a lone voice in this area of work and I was ridiculed in some arenas for writing about the work that I do and the underlying dynamics which allowed alienation of children to become so normalised over many decades. Having understood how the construction of social policy in the years after the divorce laws changed in the UK, had been with an intent to transfer power and control over children to mothers after family separation, my work with the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme, led me to further understand why there was such a focus on fathers. The idea that the family did not need fathers was prevelant in the nineties, led by Anna Coote, Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman, which meant that by the time I began this work with families in 2009, this was a routine assumption and conclusion in the family courts.
Through the years this blog has been a place where I have charted by journey of understanding of how children become alienated and why that hidden harm must be recognised. In doing so I have encountered angry people who do not like what I write, as well as the warmest of welcomes from those whose experience I am articulating. There have been some days when I think I will never pick up my bloggers pen again, because the aggro isn’t worth it and others when I know that until this hidden harm is fully understood around the world, I will not stop.
And each time I swing between frustration and despair to the deepest sense of satisfaction when I see the recovery of alienated children, I come back to this blog. I read the comments and the emails that are sent and I look at these statistics and I know that what I started in 2009, will not stop now. I look at the work that I am doing with senior clinical colleagues around the world, the evaluation of the work of the Clinic which is underway and the increasing development of treatment routes for families and I know there is no going back to how things were when I began this blog.
The hidden harm to children in divorce and separation and the appalling suffering of families around the world is exposed by the statistics produced by wordpress yesterday. From a readership of 14 people to a regular readership of over 20K each month, the experience of alienated children and their families is charted here.
To those whose experience I am articulating, those who want to find out more and yes, even those of you reading this who loathe what I do (the very fact that you come here means that what I write has meaning), thank you for listening.