Missing The Alienation – by Linda Kase-Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW

April 22, 2014
By Linda Kase-Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW-r

Why do mental health professionals and attorneys who evaluate or work with alienated children frequently mistake alienation for estrangement?

The main reason is that cases of parental alienation are counterintuitive.  That is, the brain is hardwired to misinterpret and misunderstand the family dynamics in these situations.  That leads to a number of common cognitive errors (thinking errors) that, in turn, lead to serious errors in professional reasoning and decision-making. In other words, The brain is tricked by alienation cases just as it is tricked by an optical illusion. Consequently, many professionals, including mental health professionals and attorneys, get these cases backwards. Often, the targeted parent is unfairly criticized for having allegedly contributed to his or her rejection, and the alienating parent is either absolved or believed to have made only a minor contribution. Thus, unless the professional has an in-depth understanding of alienation and estrangement, cases of severe alienation are frequently mistaken for estrangement.

This phenomenon has been described in some detail by Steven Miller, M.D., a physician who studies clinical reasoning and clinical decision-making. For an excellent summary, readers might wish to refer to a chapter that Dr. Miller wrote entitled, “Clinical Reasoning and Decision-Making in Cases of Child Alignment: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Issues,” in the book, Working with Alienated Children and Families, edited by Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. and Richard Sauber, Ph.D.  Dr. Miller examines the complexity of alienation cases, explains why such cases are so counterintuitive, even to professionals, and describes how even the most experienced mental health practitioner can succumb to a variety of cognitive and clinical errors.

I will subsequently specify some of the more common counterintuitive mistakes and biases that occur in alienation cases. But I wish first to discuss how an experienced mental health professional can be fooled in these cases and may be no better at diagnosing alienation than a layperson.

Why is that so?  For one thing, professionals who are assigned to conduct custody evaluations, provide reunification therapy, or represent a child in court are usually not experts in alienation and estrangement.  Parental alienation is a highly specialized area, a subspecialty within the field of family dynamics and family systems therapy.  It requires special knowledge and special skills. But most mental health professionals have received little or no specialized training in these areas.

For instance, most custody evaluations are performed by clinical psychologists. And yet, the usual doctoral degree in clinical psychology does not include even a single course in family dynamics. Although I collaborate with many knowledgeable PAS-aware psychologists — many of whom are excellent, superb clinicians — they have usually gained their expertise in parental alienation through extensive practice experience, not as part of their formal training.  A similar situation exists within the discipline of child psychiatry, which generally provides little or no specialized training in family dynamics. Although some degree programs in clinical social work offer the option of specializing in family dynamics and family therapy, that is only an option, and many clinical social workers have little or no background in this area. Among mental health professionals, one of the few degrees that actually require formal training in family dynamics is a degree in marriage and family systems therapy, and even those who hold that degree are not necessarily experts in alienation and estrangement.

The bottom line is that not all mental health practitioners have the required expertise to handle cases of parental alienation, and not all therapists are bona fide specialists, let alone subspecialists, in alienation and estrangement.

Thus, parental alienation is a complex subspecialty that requires special expertise.  To make this point, I sometimes use the following analogy: both a tax attorney and a divorce lawyer have gone to law school, and are presumably familiar with basic legal principles.  Nevertheless, each would probably be over his or her head — like a fish out of water — if he or she attempted to practice the other specialty.

The situation is even more problematic for attorneys who deal with parental alienation. As previously noted, such cases are highly-counterintuitive, and attorneys who do not have special expertise in this area can make a multitude of cognitive, legal and strategic errors — including serious errors when trying these cases in court. Although Dr. Miller has described more than 30 such errors, some are particularly important and are highlighted here.

  • Most professionals believe that if a child has rejected a parent, the parent must have done something to warrant it. Few people would even think of another explanation: namely that the child had been programmed or brainwashed, just like what occurs in a cult or in the well-known Stockholm syndrome. But if one were to compare alienated children to foster children — specifically, children who had been removed from their parents due to actual abuse and neglect — the difference would be obvious.  Children who have truly been abused crave a relationship with their parents.  Paradoxically — and this is what makes it so counterintuitive — with few exceptions, abused children protect their abusive parents.  They do not disparage, attack or reject them. I myself saw this consistently during my 24 years of working in New York State’s Child Welfare System.
  • Most professionals believe that it is unlikely that a child would align with an abusive, alienating parent. What is missed here is that the child is vulnerable to the manipulations of the alienating parent, such as bribery, abuse of authority and power, and permissiveness.  We know how it is generally the targeted/alienated parent who enforces the appropriate discipline to fill the parental vacuum vacated by the alienating parent.  By doing so, targeted/alienated parents are incredibly misunderstood and doubly victimized by the inexperienced professional, who then labels them as too harsh and not respectful of their children’s feelings and wishes.
  • Most professionals confuse pathological enmeshment with healthy bonding. To the naïve observer, the closeness and clinging seen with enmeshed parent-child relationships seems normal, even healthy. But it is not. As a result of this dysfunctional relationship, alienated children lose their individuality; must suppress their natural feelings of love and need for a parent; and are manipulated to do the bidding of the alienating parent. That is extremely dangerous and damaging to the child.

Having fallen prey to these and other cognitive errors, mental health professionals who lack expertise in alienation then succumb to other biases that lead them to conclude that the alienating parent is competent and the targeted parent is not — in other words, those professionals get it backwards.

For example, the targeted parent frequently presents with symptoms of anxiety, depression and fear. What PAS-unaware professionals fail to understand is that these symptoms are situational and maintained by the alienation and are not dispositional. As noted by Dr. Miller, this is called the fundamental attribution error. It is one of the most common and pernicious cognitive errors. Likewise, it is common for PAS-unaware professionals to conclude that a targeted parent’s anger is the result of a character flaw instead of the result of trauma caused by the alienation.  This may include:
Having been maltreated by the other parent and the child;
Being maltreated by the professionals in the mental health and/or judicial systems and who have been coopted by the alienating parent;

  • Being falsely accused of abusing his or her child;
  • Fearing incarceration due to false allegations; or
  • Being drained of financial resources or pushed into bankruptcy.

Even the most emotionally stable individual would become anxious and angry in the face of such attacks.

Another common error is to fail to adequately consider the baseline situation. If the primary problem is alienation, then, by definition, the targeted parent’s behavior was generally acceptable and there was no evidence of abuse or neglect. His or her functioning was adequate, and the relationship with the child was good or normal. Yet some professionals ignore these critical elements of the family’s history, placing too much emphasis on their personal observations and too little emphasis on the baseline relationships.

Other common cognitive errors in such cases include:

  • Anchoring.As used in cognitive science, anchoring refers to a phenomenon in which a judgment is unduly influenced by initial information, and there is inadequate adjustment when additional, contradictory information becomes available.
  • Confirmation bias. Once anchored to an opinion, the PAS-unaware professional can succumb to confirmation bias,which is a tendency to focus on evidence that might confirm a hypothesis while neglecting evidence that might refute it.
  • Premature closure. This cognitive error ensues when the evaluator arrives at a final conclusion or diagnosis before obtaining and considering sufficient information.  Factors that lead to premature closure in alienation cases include but are not limited to completing and submitting a custody evaluation without obtaining information from the targeted parent’s long-standing therapist; failing to interview all relevant collateral contacts, especially collateral contacts who have positive things to say about the targeted parent or from those who can confirm the alienation; and failure to properly assess intra-family relationships by doing semi-structured interviews not only with the family as a whole and with various sub-groups but with each individual member.

Given the immense responsibility of professionals who intervene in children’s lives, it behooves us to employ the highest standard of professional conduct and ethics. That means selecting only professionals who have adequate expertise and skill to handle such cases. Because they are so counterintuitive, many cases require a subspecialist in alienation and estrangementin order to reliably rule in, or rule out, alienation, and distinguish it from true estrangement.

Author’s notes: (1) The preceding comments about custody evaluators also apply to reunification therapists and other professionals.  I have written extensively about appropriate therapy in my 2012 book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration. I also contributed a chapter on treatment to Working With Alienated Children and Families: A Clinical Guidebook (2012), i.e., the book previously discussed in this article. I look forward to contributing an article summarizing treatment issues in cases of parental alienation to National Parents Organization. (2) I would like to thank Dr. Steven Miller for reviewing this manuscript and offering suggestions prior to publication.

 

Originally published: https://www.nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/16…/21679-missing-the-alienation

A New Start. A New Journey. A New You. How the right therapy, and the right therapist can help get you there by David Nutter, MA, LAMFT

New starts in life often happen when people decide to engage therapy. Whenever I meet new clients as individuals, couples, or even families, I ask them what their goals are in therapy. For some, they have not been asked about what they need, want, or even prefer in their lives for a long time. For others, it often feels that they have never been heard at all, let alone asked. What happens when you go to therapy? What type of model and style of therapy will the person you see provide? What is their level of formal training, how well attuned are they to meet your needs and do they rely on any other resources other than their self-perceived competency? Understanding how much someone knows about your particular issue(s) is a critical step in selecting the type of therapist and style of therapy you will engage.

For example, as I write this article I am thinking of the many different styles of therapy available. I can immediately think of 11 different styles: structural family therapy, strategic therapy, the Milan systemic approach, the Mental Research Institute (MRI) approach, Satir’s communication approach, symbolic-experiential family therapy, intergenerational family therapy, collaborative therapy, narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and solution-focused therapy. That’s a lot of different styles of therapy, all with empirical research associated with their model and experts in each field.

Added to this list of styles of therapy are the therapists themselves. Who are you going to see and what you are likely to experience is largely dependent on the type of education they have and the experience they have with others. There is a vast difference in the education requirements to become a life coach, mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist (MFT). There are differences in approaches and emphasis, even within the same style/model of therapy. You and the particular issues you bring to therapy may be weighing on you. The therapist fortunate enough to have you as a client should work as hard on your issues as you do.

There are resources such as books, workbooks, films, music and other sources that might resonate with you that are not particularly useful or preferred by others. You have decided to make a new start and that new start needs the support of the developing relationship of trust you are building with your therapist of choice. That relationship is essential for discussing what you want to achieve and the ways you plan to address the changes or goals you want for yourself and your relationships. Your new journey starts with a decision about what you want to experience in the future. Often this gets accomplished by a review of the past and current life experiences you have survived or thrived from. The therapist caring deeply about your experiences and your strengths will celebrate what you have achieved and where you are going. Aspects that you bring to the therapy effort are elements of the way you might describe yourself—the many facets of who you are. When people describe their experiences in therapy, I hope they include feeling heard, challenged, respected, validated, encouraged and celebrated. Their experience should feel welcomed like a friend, with a serious focus in a nurturing manner. Sometimes people cry, reflect and reconsider critical directions or attitudes they have adopted. Sometimes they laugh and release tension in a light-hearted way. New beginnings are often encouraged by a therapist going the extra mile along side of you, so you can keep going more miles, confidently forward. Welcome to your new start.

 

About the Author:

David Nutter is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at the St. George Center For Couples & Families. His career experience includes military service, management and executive positions and international business consulting. He received his undergraduate degree from BYU and his Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University, a COAMFTE approved program. David was inducted into two honor societies for academic and clinical excellence and is enrolled in NCU’s PhD/ MFT program. During his Master’s program he was mentored by Steve Allred, with a broad range of client ages and issues. He served as the SGPD Chaplain (board certified) to reduce the impact to personnel and citizens from significant trauma experiences. He is adjunct faculty at DSU. He has lived in every U.S. time zone and abroad, and appreciates diversity. David is married to his “girlfriend” Diane. Together, they call their 7 children, their spouses/partners and 5 grandchildren their immediate family.

Big (old) news from the NPO – way to go!

May 6, 2015
By Dan Deuel, Executive Committee Member, National Parents Organization of Utah

In March, National Parents Organization of Utah, successfully spearheaded passage of the state’s first shared parenting legislation! HB35 wasn’t the only success NPO Utah had, but it was the most significant. Headed by Dave Daniels and Janet Robins, NPO Utah is on a roll!

NPO Utah wants to thank Representative V. Lowry Snow for sponsoring HB35 and working so closely with NPO to help ensure its passage. He is an excellent legislator who practiced family law and saw up close many of the challenges parents and their children face when custody is considered. He understands these issues very well, and we appreciate his hard work on the bill. NPO also wants to acknowledge the Utah State Bar’s Family Law section that endorsed HB35.

Under current Utah law, a noncustodial parent is entitled to a minimum schedule of every other weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) and one week night per week for three hours. Additionally, noncustodial parents are entitled to one-half of the annual holidays and four weeks during the summer.

This schedule, often referred to as the “standard minimum,” when originally enacted, was intended to be the minimum a noncustodial parent and his/her children should spend together. All too often, however, litigants, attorneys, and judges forgot that this is intended to be the minimum, and instead consider it the maximum time arrangement.

This of course is bad for children as well as their noncustodial parents.

HB35, which takes effect on May 19, creates an optional schedule with a more equitable, shared parenting arrangement. It changes the weekly parent-time night to an overnighter, instead of merely a few hours after school, and also extends weekend time from returning the children Sunday night to returning them Monday morning. This arrangement can be especially beneficial in higher-conflict divorces, since pick-ups and drop-offs can be made at school or daycare, reducing the number of interactions between quarreling parents.

The new option provides an increased parent-time schedule from 80 overnights per year to 145. That’s about 40% of parenting time being awarded to the noncustodial parent. Noncustodial parents must first meet some fairly narrowly-defined criteria in order to qualify for the optional schedule, such as: 1) demonstrate that he or she has been actively involved in the child’s life, 2) communicate effectively regarding the child, and 3) any other factors the court considers relevant.

Utah NPO executive committeeman and legislative affairs expert Dan Deuel, who has six years of experience working on various pieces of legislation, including pro-family legislation, urged the 107-member legislature to pass this family-friendly bill. It ultimately passed both houses of the legislature with only one dissenting vote, and was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert on March 20, 2015.

NPO of Utah members Amanda Davis, Janet Robins, Michelle Troche, and others joined Deuel on Utah’s Capitol Hill in strong support of this timely piece of legislation. NPO of Utah also orchestrated a campaign of members statewide, urging them to contact their lawmakers in support of HB35.

While this bill is by no means perfect, it is a step in the right direction. NPO of Utah intends to work on refining the statute in future years to further improve Utah’s child custody law.

Well done Dan and all at NPO Utah!

 

Originally posted on: https://nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/22326-national-parents-organization-of-utah-passes-shared-parenting-legislation

Why Should Couples Consistently Set New Year’s Resolutions Together? By Dr. Matt Eschler, Ph.D, LMFT

I have counseled couples for twenty-five years. Panicking, anxiously pacing, wringing hands, couples have wandered into my office, hoping to find some peace in their relationships. In the counseling arena we explore some very principled foundation ingredients that, when mixed together, produce peaceful, passionate relationships.

There are three fundamental ingredients that all of us need to exercise for a shot at a sound relationship. My challenge to you is to sit with your lover and assess the following three principles, and set specific goals to learn a little more, stand a little more firm, and increase your skills in these three areas:

The first foundation principle is friendship. Friendship is unilateral. Increase your friendship with your lover every couple of hours. You do this by sharing information, being trustworthy, and being transparent—without conditions.

The second principle that relationships will not survive without is influence. You must accept your lover’s influence. Men seem to have a slightly more difficult time with this, but both partners will benefit from allowing influence. Think about a time when there was disagreement in direction of relationship or activity. Did you allow your lover to have influence? Did you argue until one of you gave in? Was their healthy negotiation until a mutually satisfying result occurred? The hope is always influence and no competition. Get a little better at this in 2018!

Finally, the third principle is generating a governing purpose for your marriage. This is the North Star that holds you both accountable to a result that is desirable and cherished. If you are seeking the same purpose, you won’t go after hostile results. For example, my wife and I want to travel the world. If I sneak out and spend our travel money on a new truck and lots of clothes, we won’t have resources available to travel. That causes issues. If I save and we put our travel fund together and watch it grow together, we will eventually accomplish our common goal.

I invite you all to accept this challenge: In 2018 be a little bit better in all three of these areas. Sit with your lover and map out a specific strategy to accomplish these three goals to improve your relationship.

 

About the Author: Matt lives in St. George, Utah where he and his wife Chris are enjoying their life with each other. Since their kids have grown and moved out perusing their dreams Matt and Chris travel the world. They want to visit 200 countries before the are done. Matt and Chris are active in their community and enjoy working out, training for marathons, and spending time participating in numerous activities with their adult children.  Matt has received his PhD in Psychology. He is focused on the arena of resolving personal conflicts and improving interpersonal relationships. In addition to his Doctorate Degree Matt has earned a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, studied Criminal Justice and received a category I licensure with Peace Officer Standard of Training along with a degree in the Arts of Business Management. Matt is a professor at Dixie State University and hopes to be part of the positive growth of Southern Utah.

Simple Ways to Improve Mood by Alberto Souza, MSN, APRN, FNP-C

We all have those days when it feels like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. For whatever reason we are just in a bad mood. Often times these bad mood feelings are associated with difficult or stressful events in our lives such as trouble at work, financial problems or disappointment. Sometimes these bad mood feelings last for only a few hours, but sometimes they might linger for days at a time. There are many simple strategies to improve one’s mood in spite of what it is that might be bringing us down.

Be With People

Often times when we are feeling low just being with a trusted friend or family member and talking about our feelings can make all the difference. Having a sympathetic listener or someone that can get us laughing or looking at the bright side of things can make all the difference. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about our mood or admit that we need help. In fact, many times isolating ourselves can be one of the biggest culprits in a lingering bad mood.

Get Out

Whether its a brisk walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the grocery store, getting out of the house can do wonders for improving our mood. Sometimes we just need a little sunshine or to breathe in some fresh air. The sights and sounds of everyday life can get our mind off of things and be a beautiful distraction.

Enjoy Yourself

When a bad mood strikes we might find ourselves not even wanting to do the things we normally enjoy, but doing them anyways can take our minds off of negative thoughts and often times will help us feel better overall. Think of simple pleasures like reading, exercising, cooking or baking, shopping or just watching a funny movie or show.

Talk to a Professional

Feeling sad or moody are normal human emotions that we all experience from time to time.  Depression is different from these emotions primarily because depression is a pervasive feeling of sadness that impacts our entire life and doesn’t just go away even when things in our lives are good. We should not hesitate to reach out to a professional to help us understand our feelings and deal with them appropriately.

Source: Psychology Today

About the Author:  Alberto has worked in healthcare for over 10 years. He began as a CNA and then worked as a registered nurse until completing his Master’s Degree in Nursing.  Alberto has been been working as a Nurse Practitioner since April of 2013.  In addition to his work as a Nurse Practitioner, he also teaches online classes for the Dixie State University Nursing Program.  He is currently working at the St. George Center For Couples & Families.

Michelle Jones – National Parents Organization Executive Committee member

This is a presentation that Michelle did for the NPO: 

April 10, 2014
By Michelle Jones, LCSW, Member, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Utah

View Michelle’s complete presentation given at a Utah Membership meeting: Parental Alienation: Understanding It — Strategies to Fight It.

We have wasted years caught in a distraction of controversy about whether or not parental alienation is a syndrome, or whether it exists at all. It is interesting how although there is a large body of research validating its existence, along with thousands of adults who attest to having suffered through it as children, and other parents who are currently traumatized, watching helplessly as their relationships with their children are being destroyed, there is still resistance and ignorance about what parental alienation really is and what to do about it.  What is parental alienation? It is a pathological family interaction pattern which unjustifiably requires children to align with one parent against a formerly loved parent, putting the children in a destructive loyalty bind. It is usually within the context of a high conflict divorce that parental alienation occurs. It is a horrific form of child abuse.

Because it is anti-instinctual to hate and reject a parent, the child must develop an elaborate delusional system consisting of spurious, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations to justify the hatred and rejection. Eventually, the child comes to believe all the absurdity. The double-bind situation of being unable to have, love, and to be loved by both parents can lead to psychosis. Remaining with hatred and anger is not healthy under any circumstances, let alone for a parent.

“The process of using a child to serve the emotional needs of the alienating parent and doing that parent’s appalling bidding is abuse in itself.  It is also a reversal of a healthy family hierarchy. The child is continually operating under a cloud of anxiety because the fear of a slip of the tongue and or a slip of behavior will reveal the child’s true loving feelings for and longing for the alienated parent.  This will inevitably lead to horrific consequences from the alienating parent.   The child suffers from depression because having a parent severed from her/his life is a loss…a loss of the most severe kind.” (Joan Kelly, PhD)

So, if the information and research is available to the public and professionals, why doesn’t the system, meaning the legal, therapeutic, and child protection agencies take a more proactive role and implement strategies and interventions that put a stop to such destructive behavior, especially when it is damaging our children?

We can learn a lot about human nature by studying our own history in respect to the resistance to new ideas and implementing change. This is illustrated in the history of surgery. Surgery today is considered a lifesaving procedure, but in the 1800’s the death rate from surgery was 50%. In those days this fact was accepted as just the way things went.   Joseph Lister, then a prominent surgeon, was disturbed by the death toll and became intrigued by the research of Louis Pasteur. Up until that time germ theory was not known, and Pasteur showed in his research that faulty fermentation of wine was caused by outside germs entering the wine. This was a bold new idea met with a lot of resistance.  In those days they believed that infections were caused by bad air or that they just happened spontaneously. In those days surgeons took no responsibility for causing infections because they felt they had no part in it.

Due to lack of understanding of how disease was spread,  the surgeons of the 1800’s did not  wash their hands between patients, and even took pride in wearing the same dirty lab coats they wore while operating on previous patients.  The coats were splattered with blood and pus, a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria. These filthy lab coats were worn as a badge of honor and prestige in the medical community, boasting of their accomplishments and experience. It is horrifying to imagine knowing what we know now.

In discovering Pasteur’s research, Lister applied it and developed a sterile technique that was highly successful in reducing infection. He had unheard of success in lowering the rate of infection and saving the lives of hundreds of patients. You would think that his excellent results and breakthroughs would be eagerly accepted. On the contrary, it was met with high resistance, taking another 10 years to adopt his techniques.

In the 1980’s there was another scientist/researcher, Richard Gardner, a child psychiatrist at Columbia University, who through much observation and study described a disturbing, pathological phenomenon which he defined as Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS.  He stated that PAS is “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.  Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.  It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent (1998).”

Much like Lister, when parental alienation was defined by Richard Gardner, there was great resistance to it, although he, again like Lister, was not the first to notice this pathological family dynamic.  In the 1950’s, the child psychiatrists who later founded the various schools of family therapy, initially identified a cross-generational coalition between a parent and a child to the deprecation of the other parent and which was observed occurring when their hospitalized patients were visiting with their families.  Murray Bowen labeled this the pathological triangle.

Empirical evidence for parental alienation has been further supported in a 12-year study of 700 families, published by the American Bar Association section of Florida Family Law. The study concluded that, “in divorce situations, parental alienation, the programming of a child against the other parent, occurs regularly, 60 percent of the time, and sporadically another 20 percent of the time.” (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991, pp. 174-180)

We are long overdue to put aside the disputes of whether germs or parental alienation exist and start implementing the interventions and strategies needed to stop this insidious child abuse.  National Parents Organization seeks to end parental alienation by making shared parenting and gender equality the norm in family law in every state.

 

Originally published at: https://nationalparentsorganization.org/component/content/article/16-latest-news/21661-parental-alienation-understanding-it-strategies-to-fight-it

AB-PA Certified Professionals – Dr. Craig Childress

AB-PA Certified Professionals

We are going to establish a standard of practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

We are then going to move toward professional expertise.  Mental health professionals who know what they’re doing – within standard and established constructs and principles.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

It begins with assessment.

Attachment-related pathology is always created by pathogenic parenting.  A child’s rejection of a parent (attachment-related pathology) is either being caused by the pathogenic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent (through hostile-aggressive child abuse), or it is being caused by the pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent (through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other spouse-and-parent).

A semi-structured six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol can identify the source of pathogenic parenting creating the attachment-related pathology.

The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

AB-PA Certification

There are four mental health professionals that I know of who are qualified to conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment related pathology surrounding divorce.  Each of these mental health professionals has trained with me personally, and each has direct access to me for consultation as needed.  These four mental health professionals are Certified in AB-PA, including administration and documentation of the six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol.

We are establishing a ground foundation of professional knowledge in the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology required for professional competence, and ultimately for professional expertise.

The Attachment System
Family Systems Therapy
Personality Disorder Pathology
Complex Trauma

Does a mental health professional need to be “certified” to conduct a treatment-focused assessment protocol?  No.  Absolutely not.  All mental health professionals should be conducting a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce right now.  It’s all standard and established professional psychology.

Can they?  I have no idea. I am appalled by the degree of professional ignorance and incompetence that’s out there.

I do know this.  There are four mental health professionals who can.  They are the certified mental health professionals I worked with across three days of seminars in November.  There are four mental health professionals who absolutely know how to conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

They have the knowledge, and they have my ear if they want consultation on a particularly troubling case.  What’s more they have each other.  They don’t realize this yet, but as things develop I’m planning to encourage a network of inter-professional consultation across AB-PA Certified mental health professionals; to use each other as resources of professional consultation.

What the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA provides is a shared common knowledge and language of professional psychology – cross-generational coalitions, emotional cutoffs, personality pathology, splitting, attachment trauma – all understood even before the consultation begins.  The constructs of established professional psychology (Bowlby, Bowen, Beck, Minuchin, Millon) can unravel the diagnostic complexities and treatment issues.

There are four mental health professionals who are certified in AB-PA, who understand the pathology, who know what to do, and who are part of a growing network of professional collaboration.

They are not advocates or friends on Facebook; they don’t offer “advice” on what parents should do.  They work with clients.  They bring solution to family pathology for their clients.  They are a verified source of high-level professional knowledge regarding attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce for families and the Courts.  These four mental health professionals are:

Jayna Haney, MS, LPC Intern:  Houston, Texas.
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Ms. Haney is in a leadership role in bringing professional knowledge and expertise to the solution for “parental alienation.” She has studied with Karen Woodall in Great Britain as well as becoming Advanced Certified in AB-PA with me in November.  Of additional note, Jayna is also trained in EMDR treatment for trauma and brings this additional trauma expertise to her work with the complex trauma of “parental alienation.”  Jayna Haney has my full support, and she has my ear.

Jayna Haney: jayna@thebridgeacross.com

Michelle Jones, LCSW: Provo, Utah.
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Michelle Jones, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who works with Concordia Families agency in Provo, Utah.  Ms. Jones brings her AB-PA Advanced Certification into a professional clinic already experienced with the family pathology of “parental alienation” and court-involved families.  Michelle Jones and the therapeutic team at Concordia Families has my full support, and they have my ear.

Michelle Jones: mjones@concordiafamilies.com
Concordia Families Website

Nadine Colgan, MS, NCC, LPCMH: Kennett Square, PA
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Ms. Colgan brings a wealth of experience to her work.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Relations, she is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, she is a National Board Certified Counselor and a Certified Mediator.  Ms. Colgan has extensive experience working with high-conflict divorce and is a strong resource in the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore area.

Nadine Colgan: nadinecr1@nadinecolgan.com
Nadine Colgan Website

Larken J. Sutherland MS, LPC: Corpus Christi, Texas

Larken Sutherland is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Parenting Coordinator/Facilitator in private practice in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Ms. Sutherland is experienced in working with high conflict families and she is Certified in AB-PA, she is a strong resource for families in the Corpus Christi area.  Ms. Sutherland has my full support, and she has my ear.

Additional Certification

Three others also received Certification in AB-PA, one is a legal professional, and two are parent-advocates.

JulieAnne Leonard
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

JulieAnne Leonard is an attorney who is completing her psychology degree in developmental psychology.  Of note is that developmental psychology is a particularly useful domain of knowledge for understanding the influence of parenting on child development.  Ms. Leonard has an extensive background serving as a Guardian ad Litem with high-conflict families.  Through her legal background as an attorney, her extensive experience as a GAL, and her AB-PA Certification, Ms. Leonard represents an exceptionally strong resource for the Court in assisting the Court to identify “parental alienation” pathology and in coordinating effective treatment services for the family.

Peter Knudsen
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Peter Knudsen is a parent-advocate located in the Netherlands.  He is active in bringing the knowledge and protocols of AB-PA to the European mental health system and family courts.  Peter and I are currently collaborating on several avenues for expanding AB-PA into the European mental health and family law systems.  Peter has my full support and he has my ear.

Bryan Hale
Advanced Certified in AB-PA

Bryan Hale is a theology student and parent-advocate completing his degree in theology with the goal of becoming an ordained minister.  I suspect the universe has designs for the life of Mr. Hale.  He brings a unique array of talents to the solution, including a strong background in business and in creating organization support structures for projects and endeavors.  Bryan Hale has my full support, and he has my ear.

Professional Expertise

Jayna Haney
Michelle Jones (Concordia)
Nadine Colgan
Larken Sutherland

I know that these four mental health professionals can conduct a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  These four mental health professionals are a verified resource for knowledge and professional skill sets for families, family law attorneys, and the Court.

As an attorney and Guardian ad Litem, JulieAnne Leonard also represents a strong resource for the Court in helping the Court to identify “parental alienation” and in coordinating the treatment.

Peter Knudsen, Bryan Hale, and I will be working behind the scenes on creating the support structures for change across the entire mental health and family court systems, for all children, everywhere.

As importantly… they are the core for a network of consultation support for each other, each bringing a different facet of knowledge, yet all with a common foundation of knowledge.

Change is Coming

This is not about me.  This is about you.  You are the change.  I am merely a catalyst.  I am simply the clarion call returning professional psychology to the ground foundations of professional psychology; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Millon, Bowen.  You are the agents of change.

We are establishing a ground foundation of knowledge and standards of practice for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  From this foundation, we then build professional expertise.

The ground foundation is not me.  It’s Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck and the established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

This is about you and your children.  This is about solving the family pathology of “parental alienation” for all children everywhere.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

 

Originally posted by Dr Childress at: https://drcraigchildressblog.com/2018/02/04/ab-pa-certified-professionals/