Karen Woodall

Psychotherapist, Writer, Trainer, Researcher

Understanding Parental Alienation – The Handbook for Parents

Our  book for parents and practitioners is called Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal.  It is published by Charles C Thomas Illinois (2017) and can be ordered from Amazon.


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28 thoughts on “Understanding Parental Alienation – The Handbook for Parents

  1. Hi Karen
    My name is Jim- not sure where to say thanks but your blogs and analysis of what is going on in family services and the courts was a huge inspiration to carry on in my attempts to see my kids. After numerous allegations of domestic violence, which were all disposed of in court and four years of utter heart break, 27 court hearings, 5 investigations by social services and 3 by cafcass with one commital for prison (as a consequence of the police overruling the court on account of issues the children made known to them and them returning to my home and me then being deemed to be in contempt) our children were finally allowed to move back their home with me in November 2012 having been wrongfully removed in January 2009. Ultimatley they were the ones who fought hard to have me back in their lives – my daughter recently saying to me that I didnt get them back – they got me back. I am desperate to try to be as inclusive asI can be with mum despite everything but that is difficult with mum refusing to acknowledge or work with me towards a more shared parenting arrangement. Much of her time is spent trying to continue to undermine the childrens relationship with me, my partner and her children (our four children being very close). I have read much of your book on seperated families but wonder if there is anything more I can do vis a vis getting mum back on board such that the hurt of the past can be put behind us and the needs of our children become the predominant focus.
    I remember recalling a dark moment having been told by Social services that I should, for the sake of the children step out of their lives – all in a report based on an ‘interview’ with me that had never happened, and it was the knowledge that others such as you knew differently that kept me going.

    Again thanks so much for the inspiration

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim your story personifies others who have suffered likewise. I am researching this more locally in West Cornwall and daily I receive as a trained Samaritan issues which you write about in variation.

    Most of my clients when asked what they feel about their family situation want two fundamental realities.

    1. The return of the children into a caring and loving family where they know that they are
    then doubly loved, supported and protected. Where both parents have to act to themselves with parental responsibility.
    2. To have the current legislation changed to include the repeal of the Children’s Act 1989 and to incorporate the protection schedules/sections into a new and all encompassing legislation to fundamentally include responsible parity or equality of cooperative parenting…(not just shared parenting). They want both parents to be examined for their ability to be parents which is the most important job ever, and if incapable train to do this and it would (through the like with associated therapy) provide for greatly improved parents and weed out those with personality and narcissistic personality disorders to provide relevant therapy before becoming an engaging and balanced parent.

    Not much really when you think of the benefits to 1/3 children currently being abused and the savings on unnecessary Court cased would be incalculable!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One more point brought to my attention in regards to Jim’s position above. Re, Local Authority; use any means to bring them morally and legally to their knees. Use all methods available re: Data Protection Act and Court Transcripts.If LA knew that they were going to be sued by up to 20% of all households in their jurisdiction then they would soon join Karen Woodall’s classes to retrain all their Children Services Offices…who are public servants and who similarly don’t like the national press knowing that they are aiding and abetting domestic violence (including that of associated parental alienation) due to polarised actions of parents who are effecting this (cryptically) as well as overt criminals of the opposite extreme who are quite rightly charged criminally as those who act abusively as parental alienators.


  4. Hello Karen

    I am a children’s guardian (please do not hate me) involved with my partner in his own private law proceedings which are now in their 5th year! It’s ironic because I act as a public and private law guardian yet I am powerless in terms of our own private law case. I now truly know what it feels like when no ones believes you even the guardian who simply states the children must be telling the truth.

    When I met my partner three years ago his children ran into his arms and told them they loved him they now say ‘all we won’t for Christmas is you dead’ he has endured as have they 5 Cafcass officers, 32 court hearings, play and family therapy 78 positive contact sessions, positive report from independent social worker and no findings at finding of fact. 3 years in magistrates court and 9 judges! And get again as contact progresses to overnight for the third time more allegations. I’ve seen three beautiful children destroyed emotionally, confused and so full of anger. Yet the Gaussian believes every word the children says even in light of all the evidence.
    I am at breaking point and can only imagine how these poor children must be feeling. To have feelings of such hatred for a man that adores them is heart breaking.

    I feel how an innocent person must feel in death row, desperately wanting to prove ones innocence when nobody is listening. Trying to protest and being scutinised. I genuinely have a pain in my heart, I feel such loss and sadness for these children whose childhood has been stolen and who have had positive childhood memories replaced poison and mistrusted.
    We are still in the process contact will be cancelled again no doubt another hearing more trying to defend ourselves for something we have not done. I have no doubt the damage has been done.

    The saddest lies in the fact that my partner is a great man and father and without his children he is not whole and I am not sure what lies ahead for us with a gap that can never be filed.

    J x


    1. J, I don’t hate children’s Guardians please don’t think that I am simply hating on them as a group I am not, I work with some fantastic Guardians who have helped to save children in the situation you describe, the Guardians I fear and reserve my contempt for are those who faced with the suffering of children, the complexity of their withdrawal and the reality that the rejected parent has done nothing wrong, still act in a manner in which their political ideology drives their decisions. Those people are despicable in my view, but Guardians per se are not.

      My heart goes out to you for you are someone who works in that post and who is watching the power that another Guardian has to damage your partner and his beloved children. This is a position not unlike the one I find myself in sometimes, because in some people’s cases you can do so much good but in your others you are a helpless bystander. It is a ghastly thing to understand what needs to be done but be powerless to make it happen on a wide scale.

      I hope you will find on here and on our new site coming as soon as we get downtime from our too busy working schedule, the help you need. If you want more help or assistance you can contact us at the Family Separation Clinic. Very best Karen

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Jayne,
      I can relate to what you are going through. I am a lawyer, and had the same story play out with my partner within the first 6 months of us getting together. He had no contact with his youngest child for 6 months until contact centre visits commenced. He had no interaction, contact or communication with his older children for over 2.5 years. We decided not to pursue a legal solution. Instead we choose the “high road” of paying as much child support as possible always saying yes to the mother’s requests and giving gifts. For us it worked, and he now has all of 3 children back in his life. What I wanted to say to you is to be mindful about how much of the emotional weight you are carrying. Because from this view point, looking back, I can see that I carried far too much of the guilt, shame and pain of the rejection. I see now that my partner was a player in the alienation, that he is responsible for much of what occurred, and that through negativity, depression and passivity he also allowed me to become the driver in trying to resolve the situation. As a result, I carried the responsibility for every intervention towards reconciliation. If you are a capable rescuer, beware of falling into this trap! In some ways its important to accept, on emotional level that this is a drama he is playing out with his first family, and you don’t really need to join in. I also want to mention be careful about making the other parent, the alienating parent “a baddy” It is so difficult, when you live with the anguish alienation causes, but any negativity towards the other party prevents reconciliation. I practiced continually loving and forgiving the children’s mother so much, that I eventually fully understood and accepted her decision, even though I could also see how cruel it was. we are now friends! One final thing, things do change… especially when we change ourselves. 😀


      1. thank you for this. As a father going through the same – this is exactly my approach..love, forgive and understand your partner. Pay child support and be a faultless parent but expect nothing and expect your children to say no and no again. Expect your partner to deny or become angry at the idea of parental alienation. Take the high road and don’t go to court as a custody order is worth nothing if the child/children are saying no, The court system will eventually reform to a gender neutral system. It is reassuring oneself knows what is happening even if professionals are unable to reach that insight,


      2. My god..I can’t believe what I’m reading..Isn’t it ironic a women and a SW making pots of money from the destruction, evil, child abuse and human rights abuses perpetrated by a corrupt family court system, the ultra feminist SW and of course the wonderful ex…Until alienated Fathers (ALL) Alienated Fathers come together to form a force to have Parental Alienation made a criminal offence, there will be more such books filling amazon baskets with readers thanking the authors for such riveting advice regardless if the author is part of the problem..My advice to any Alienated Father is, before you purchase such a piece of literature genius ask yourself why the author hasn’t or won’t advocate for 50/50 parenting..The reason being “MONEY” . The very thing which keeps the wheels of the family courts, bent psychologists, men and children hating SW and many crooked family court lawyers in the opulent lifestyle they have been accustomed to – off the backs of Alienated Father’s and children!!


  5. Hi Karen, I read the posts and cried. So like the struggle I and my two little children have endured over the past 5 years. Guernsey is so corrupt with the Family Courts, lawyers and Child Services etc all joined together to destroy the targeted parent. Ive see my two children’s happy faces slowly being turned to misery and I’m powerless to do anything. I’ve seen the fear in my little Princesses eyes when I dropped her off and my ex wife’s partner was there…the abuse my little boys endured but still nothing done. The false allegations of sexual abuse I have endured and my daughter aged 3 subsequently being examined invasively on two occasions with no charges being brought against the mother for false allegations or child abuse re examinations. I could go on…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Karen, I am a parent of 5, and have been alienated from my chidren by their mother. Please tell me, what is your plan for solving “parental alienation” using the Gardernian PAS model?


    1. If you would like to speak to people for whom we have resolved the problem of alienation in their child, please do ask me for a list of names of those with whom I have worked. There are many of them willing to speak about my reunification work. I have absolutely no idea what you mean when you talk about a ‘Gardnerian PAS model’, I use the concept of the alienated child as opposed to parental alienation in my work and PAS was long ago discarded as a label. If you would like details of all of the concepts, assessment protocols and other details of how we work, our book will be published shortly by Charles C Thomas.


  7. I have stumbled across this after trying to undertake some research on this matter. I’m a children’s social worker, but more importantly a mother to a nearly 6yr old boy. Myself and his father are happily married and he has two much older siblings (18 &20). I’m really struggling with the relationship between myself and my son. He has always favoured his father but over the last year this has escalated to a point whereby if I touch him he acts revoluted, he shuns any affection and rejects my attempts of communication. I’m at a bit of a loss and I feel because of my profession i should know how to handle this, but clearly don’t. I’m trying not to take this personally, but finding it quite difficult. I’ve just ordered your book, but from what I have seen this focuses on separated families?! Is that right?


    1. Hi Karla, it sounds as if your son is going through one of those alignment phases that some children go through naturally. I cannot give you generic advice but I do work with children who behave like this in families which live together. Six/seven is a critical age for a boy, his relationship with his mother changes naturally as he starts to see himself as an older child and begins to identify with men more. It would depend on how you and your husband work together but now is the time of your boy to learn respect for women and girls and through seeing his father and you in relationship together and for his father to assist him to understand that he does not have to reject you just because he feels himself to be a bigger boy now. I would want to investigate attitudes in your family to men and women too and also take a look at how your son is being schooled to understand the full picture. If he is completely rejecting you then it would be important to really dig underneath and see if anything has occurred in recent weeks/months. You can email me at office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk and send me some more details and I will advise if I can, if I think there is more information needed I will ask for it and advise you on how we can help. You might want to take a look at some of the child development literature, I can send you details of good books to read if you email me. Very best Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Karen

    I am a children’s social worker, more and more I am coming across what appears to be parental alienation. I have encountered mother and fathers being targeted, interestingly it appears more so in my experience that it is mothers being targeted.

    I would like to know if you can signpost me to resources to support both targeted parents and the parent alienating and also any advice around reunification.

    I am currently working with children who are subject to ongoing and lengthy proceedings both private and public law.

    Any advice would be greatly received.

    Many Thanks.


  9. Thank you sharing such a accurate reflection on the pain and anguish I’m feeling right now.

    For the last two years I’ve noticed a difference in my two children both 14 – it was always hard to articulate but I noticed no matter what I did there was no gratitude and a lack of interest – even empathy at times (which has increased significantly this year) both would return from the alienators almost pumped up with rehearsed things to challenge me on or ridicule my plans, hopes and beliefs. This has resulted in a child who is suffering with mental health issues and one who is completely indifferent to me.

    The children left me just over a month ago ( planned and carried out without my knowledge whilst I was at work) they have been exposed to messages to me which completely obliterate my love for them as a mother accusations of emotional abuse and portraying me as a narcissist who they need protection from. When I try to make plans these are overuled and controlled by their father. Every disagreement I have ever had with the children has been completely embellished to me not caring, respecting them and not being capable of love. Which sadly my children seem to believe. All I have tried to do guide and put in place boundaries which will serve them well as young adults.

    I can’t get help anywhere social services tell me to see a solicitor, mental health service are supporting the alienation even more and I’m no longer involved in my daughters care as I suspect they are in the belief there has been emotional abuse in her life. My ex is refusing mediation which I have tried to set up and has told the children it’s ridiculous and will not work as not legally binding which they have both parroted back to me.

    I feel like I’m just existing through this – my work is affected and I cannot make social plans as I’m completely consumed by this. I feel
    Exhausted and starting to become ill from the loss of the children I have nutured up and till now.

    My children are suffering and they believe this is due to my ‘behaviour’

    I feel helpless


    1. Reading all these accounts is very sad. My experience is that if the other party wont take anything on board in terms of co-parenting its makes the other parent lost in the dark with very little they can do about it. At certain ages children can make their own minds up, but legal/court intervention will involve talking to those children, if said children already have an alienation point of view it makes a legal battle pointless in my view (hence I have not tried). Sometimes as hard as it is, and we know its hard you have to wait it out and just keep loving them in whatever way you can.


  10. Dear Karen
    I see this book is available via a library, but I cannot access it. I would like to buy it on Kindle.
    Is it possible, please, that your publisher can do it?
    Kind regards


  11. Hello Karen,
    I have just ordered your book. I am in the middle of a custody modification case where the Guardian ad Litem is accusing me of parent alienation. I have only met with her twice…the first time for the standard meeting and again per my 13 year old son’s request. This GAL wrote an absolutely emotionally bias recommendation against me accusing me of alienation. I have never kept my son from his dad and I am dumbfounded. In addition, she made both of us take a PEth blood alcohol test , which tests back 4 weeks. I do not drink therefore my results were 0 (neg). The father’s results were a 175. Anything greater than 20 is considered alcohol abuse, heavy binge drinking, or alcohol dependency. The GAL left that completely out of her report and yet bashed me and recommends my son to go and live with his father…which he does not want to live there. My son has even signed an election of parental preference. He is 13…will be 14 in a couple of months. I have been his primary caregiver for 7 years now and we have a great relationship. He and his father have had many relationship issues. His had disowned him verbally at the age of 6, telling him f*** you, I don’t want you I have another son, I’m done…etc…etc.. It was damaging to say the least. How can I prove I am not alienating his dad…I truly never have. I have always worked around his dad’s work/personal schedule, which has been complicated to say the least. Needless to say, I do not know how I can defend myself against a GAL recommendation. This has been emotionally taxing to say the least on my son and myself as well. FYI, this custody modification came about due to a job offered to me that was an out of state job (5 hours away) thereby requiring us to modify…I never asked for child support from our original custody agreement because he had 2 DUIs at the time 7 years ago and I knew he could not afford it.
    Please, if you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it. I am looking forward to reading your book.



  12. Can’t put in simpler. This book provided me with the understanding, framework and tools to resolve chronic parental alienation.
    After multiple child protection agency & police investigations over 2 years and limited contact with our children who would walk past me in the street without a glance, in 2020
    Family court decided it was in our children’s interests to grant their Dad joint custody & majority access. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with our children for the 1st time in 2016.
    Thank you Karen Woodall


    1. Kevin, I’m so pleased you and your children are now released from the hell of PA orchestrated by your ex, the corrupt practices of SW, lawyers and the family court. These enablers of child abuse need to be held accountable. Unfortunately, this will never happen due to the denial PA exists and the cooperation of government.. For me, a book is just a book. I don’t need words i need action. Again it seems the majority of alienated parents are pacified very easily when direct action ww is what is required..Make NO mistake we are in a PA PANDEMIC..more innocent lives have been lost to PA then some fake covid pandemic – but who gives a dam?? I will not take solice in a book..I need retribution against a system where child abuse is the norm. Where male suicide is ignored and the norm. Where hundreds of thousands of lives are destroyed but that is the norm..where corrupt SW, magistrates, psychologists and lawyers are the biggest cabal to ever permit, engage and enable child abuse for financial and professional gain..


      1. Hi Pete,
        I suggest you read this book, if you haven’t already.
        It discusses the system in depth, all its pitfalls & most importantly how to navigate your family through those.
        Taking on the system as you suggested is classically the wrong war to engage your scarce family resources with.
        The solution provided to me by the Woodalls book is possibly the most unpalatable for an alienated parent.
        We have to look not at others or the system but inwards at ourselves as “alienated” parents. The resolution for our children is found there.
        Of course, I’m only speaking for my own family experience & everyone’s is different.


  13. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for your book. It’s the most important book I have ever read. I am from Holland where nothing is being done to parental alienation. Children who suffer from it are neglected through the ignorance on the subject by the healthcare workers, lawers and judges. The narratives of the alienated parents are all the same in Holland. Our gouvernment knows that foremost it’s a bad strategy to wait. Yet you’ll have to wait for help and when you finally receive it, they make it all worse. The manipulative parent gets enormously facilitated and the chance to reconceile with your child gets further away… till it’s unattainable.

    I hope someday your book will be translated in dutch. If all alienated parents read it, then there has to be a change of coping with parental alienation in our country.

    Kind regards,


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