I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Etienne de Grellet QUAKER MISSIONARY
Another year comes to a close at the Family Separation Clinic and I am reviewing the work I have done with families in 2021. It has been another year of in which complex family dynamics have been at the forefront of everything we do and one in which I have learned even more, about how to help alienated children to recover from the harm which has been done to them.
Looking ahead to 2022, we will be continuing to work with the independent university team who are evaluating our work over the past decade, part of this evaluation will be the testimony of children moved in residence transfer who are now over the age of eighteeen and their reflections upon an intervention which changed their lives. Often referred to as ‘draconian’, residence transfer would not be questioned by anyone for children who suffer physical harm at the hands of a parent. The fact that campaigners focus upon distorting the reality of why children who are emotionally and psychologically harmed are removed from a parent, is testament to the toxicity of the parental rights fight around this issue.
Children removed from a parent in residence transfer are not being placed with abusers, they are being removed from abusive parents, in order to free them from the defence of psychological splitting which causes so much harm across the lifespan. When parents are enmeshed with children, when they cause attachment disorder, when they terrorise their children in the inter-personal relationship and when they force a child to align and reject through this pressure, they are abusing their child. And whilst I accept that allegations of alienation are sometimes used in the same way as allegations of domestic abuse are used in the aftermath of relationships ending, I do not accept the lurid tales of children being snatched from their beds at night to be given to abusive parents. I do not accept it because I do the work of child protection in the High Court of England and Wales and the notion of children being removed this way, is outwith over a decade of experience in doing this work. In 2022, the testimony of children who experienced this intervention, will, I hope, balance what I consider to be a deliberate campaign to distort the reality of what is happening to abused children of divorce and family separation in the family courts.
Further development of the services of the Family Separation Clinic are planned in the coming year after investment has been made in our training programme. This has been a welcome input which will enable us to build content for training of social workers and other front line practitioners in this field. With a cohort of practitioners from around the world working closely with us, the International Academy of Practice with Alienated Children is now well developed and the fourth conference of this group will be held in Acre in Israel in June 2022. With a focus upon the impact of psychological splitting on children from the perspective of neuroscience, attachment, trauma based treatments and therapeutic intervention, this conference will provide a depth exploration of the harms caused to children of divorce and separation and the treatment routes which support recovery. An announcement about speakers, workshops, practice based online experiential groups and more will be made early in the New Year.
The workshop for parents entitled ‘Holding up a Healthy Mirror’ has been running recently and we have just added an additional session to ensure that all of the content is covered. What was a six hour course, has therefore turned into an eight hour course and I have so enjoyed working with what turned out to be a rather large group of parents. Focused entirely upon the principle of co-therapy, in which healthy alienated parents are taught the principles of therapeutic parenting, the development of adapted parenting skills for children with attachment disorders is the goal. This is based upon our learning over the past decade, that alienated children are more likely to already suffer from developmental trauma than those who do not fall into the use of the defence of psychological splitting. Once again, based upon our working experience of using therapeutic parenting for children in residence transfer, sharing skills which are proven to make recovery easier and more sustainable for children is our goal. We know that the only way to enable whole generations of children to recover from the trauma of psychological splitting, is to get this knowledge and skills base out across the world. This is another core focus for us in 2022 and I will announce further workshops alongside the publication of a handbook of therapeutic parenting for alienated children, which is being written in conjunction with recovered alienated children, early in the new year.
Our training programmes are now in development for wider roll out and we are writing the handbook of clinical practice, for publication in the coming months. The handbook is focused upon the psychoanalytic roots of the cause of alienation and the structural therapy treatment route which is based upon the evidence of our work over the past decade. Our aim in writing this is to provide for other practitioners, a proven route to recovery for alienated children and families. I will post more information about accredited training and publication of the handbook in the new year.
This year I have made continued progress in my research work, transferring to the final part of my PhD, in which I am examining the experience of adults who rejected a parent in childhood. This has been an immersive experience, which requires me to take a different approach to thinking about the problems I have worked with for so many years. Guided firmly and carefully by supervisors who keep me very focused, this is the work I am doing which will contribute academic knowledge. Whilst clinical practice is my committment to making a lasting contribution to the lives of the families I work with, this research aims to contribute to moving knowledge about these families forward.
I am ending this year with a most powerful reminder that a healthy alienated parent is the strongest assets a therapist can have in aiding the recovery of children from induced psychological splitting. In recent weeks I have been talking with parents who received their children in residence transfer over the past decade, and we have been documenting those elements of our work together which have brought change. In reviewing this work, I have been able to curate those qualities in parents which are regularly seen in successful interventions. One of those qualities is what I have come to call ‘living in grace’ which outside of any religious connotations, can be described as follows –
Grace is an enabling power” (“Grace”). It enables the recipient to do and to be what he or she cannot do and cannot be if left to his or her own means.
I understand living in grace as an alienated parent to mean, acceptance of what is, knowledge of what can be done and wisdom to know when and how to try to intervene to help your child. Living in grace seems to me to also be about kindness, to onself, to each other and to sustain a wise and loving presence in the world. All of which is the absolute antithesis of the negative narratives which are projected onto rejected parents by campaigners who believe in the split good/bad propaganda they are peddling.
After watching a year of this toxic transferential material in the campaign space, I have come to understand that the best way to help alienated children and their families is to not engage in any of that negativity, which is the projection from the shadows of the split off self, but to concentrate wholly and determinedly upon the kindness and grace which comes from living in truth.
I know the truth of what happens to alienated children and I know that their best hope for a healthy future is the parent they have had to reject, the parent, (as I was reminded yet again by a child I worked with this year), whose love is unconditional, sustaining and truly protective.
Let 2022 be the year of kindness and grace.
With love and gratitude to all parents everywhere, who live in this truth. It is recognised and it is not in vain.