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Abuse Under the Radar: Pressure, Power, and Perceptions

Abuse Under the Radar: Pressure, Power, and Perceptions: By Monika Littau Logan

April is acknowledged, by most counselors and helping professionals, around the world, as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  It is a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, as well as to create strong communities to support families and children.  There is a form of child abuse, unfortunately, that often goes unrecognized.  It is not easily detected due to the absence of physical manifestations.  The abuse is psychological in nature leading to anxiety, depression, and despair – to name just a few negative sequealae.  This under the radar type of abuse begs for recognition by counselors.  Awareness leads to education and education leads to empathy and intervention.  The abuse is known as Parental Alienation (PA).  In most situations, PA occurs in high-conflict custody cases.  Children are placed in the middle of parental wars and as a result of the conflict, children are forced to choose a “side.”  A formal definition of parental alienation, provided by Dr. Bernet, a psychiatrist from Vanderbelt University is, “when a child allies himself or herself strongly with one parent (the preferred or favored parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated or rejected parent).  The rejection does not have legitimate justification.”  Stated another way, if a child rejects a parent because the parent has physically abused the child, this is not parental alienation.

In cases of PA, the rejection of the parent is irrational.  The rejection is perpetuated and primarily maintained by favored parents; they want to turn the child against the other parent.  Some research indicates that the method is akin to inculcating prejudice.  As one example, African-Americans throughout history have been treated as less than human.  There was no justifiable reason for the overt or covert prejudice.  Instead, the hatred was taught, adopted, accepted as truth, and manifested as discrimination.  It took awareness, education, and legislation to shed light on the injustice.  In cases of PA, one parent teaches the child to disrespect and denigrate the other parent.  Minor parental flaws, which once were overlooked before the divorce, are now considered major defects.  As one illustration, an eight year old may report that she hates the other parent, because the parent smacks too loud while he eats.  When the child verbalizes her trivial reasons, she is rewarded by the favored parent.  The child may receive a new toy, or a simple hug.  If it is an adolescent, she may receive a new cell phone or a new car.

 Regardless of the type of reinforcement, children’s undesirable behavior toward the rejected parent is rewarded with tenacious consistency.  When PA is left unchecked, unrecognized, and overlooked as a serious form of emotional abuse, children may refuse visitation.  As a consequence, rejected parents are cut off from their children.  They grieve the loving relationship they once had.  The children feel torn.  They are not permitted to openly love the rejected parent.  Ideally children should feel free to love both parents without suffering guilt.  Those who are unfamiliar with PA may wonder how visitation schedules could be ignored, and communication could cease to exist, especially with divorce decrees and custody plans in place.  However, in cases of PA, favored parents violate orders.  Favored parents may trash gifts that are mailed to the children, they may not be home for pick-up times, some will change their phone numbers, and in extreme cases, the parent flees the state or country.

It should be recognized not only for children, but also acknowledged for the agony that rejected parents face.  Rejected parents cope with grief, loss, shame, blame, and systemic injustice.  One study, by Dr. Amy J.L. Baker (2010), who is the director of research at The Vincent J Fontana Center for Child Protection, highlights the injustice that rejected parents endure.  Dr. Baker’s findings indicate that even when rejected parents had the resources to pursue legal action, such as to enforce previously ignored orders, favored parents did not respect the courts.  She noted that once favored parents realized they can discard legal mandates, noncompliance became the norm.  Unfortunately, this lesson is passed down to children.  Consequently, with disregard for authority modeled by the favored parent, children are raised to believe they do not have to follow rules, respect adults, or obey laws.

As studies show, rejected parents are frequently left without legal options.  They are attempting to enforce orders that should be upheld in the first place.  Surprisingly, as noted by Dr. Joan B. Kelly (2010), a significant number of favored parents, through prolonged litigation, have come to believe that non-compliance with court orders has little to no negative consequences.  Unfortunately, in some instances, rejected parents have wiped out their savings, or taken out a second mortgage, due to legal fees.  Clearly, many rejected parents simply lack funding to pursue legal action.  Given the fact that parenting plans are placed aside, and court orders are mocked, counselors should be cognizant about the “blame game.”  When a child is bullied, most do not blame the child that is the victim of bullying.  Dr. Richard Warshak, a clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, an internationally renowned lecturer and authority on alienated children, points out that helping professionals should be cautious, as not to blame an already hurting parent and his or her child.  According to Dr. Warshak (2011) “In some cases, when professionals see gray they are expressing a necessary and nuanced view of family problems.  In other cases though, attributing a parent-child problem to both parents, when one parent is clearly more responsible for destructive behavior, is a misguided effort to appear balanced and avoid blame.  Unfortunately, this sometimes results in blaming the victim, and leads to inadequate remedies that prolong rather than relieve a child’s suffering.”  

Common vernacular used for PA is “high-conflict” cases.  However, high-conflict does not accurately depict PA.  Certainly, there are divorces in which both parents would benefit from parenting education.  And with education, the parents will eventually co-parent amicably.  With guidance, parents learn to cooperate so that the child will not be placed in the middle of disputes.  However, through no fault of their own, rejected parents are often categorized as high-conflict.  As Dr. Warshak notes, the system often labels these parents as a “high-conflict couple,” and assumes that both contribute equally to their disputes.  Common advice is to inform parents to stop fighting.  This assumes that it is equally within each parent’s power to cease fire.  Studies indicate it does not always take two to tango.  Jaffee, Ashbourne, & Mamo (2010) describes how favored parents may not always play fair, “A minority of parents who suffer from personality and mental disorders may ignore the court and spend their waking hours finding ways to exhaust the other parent emotionally and financially.”  These authors’ findings are consistent with other research.  It is clear; some favored parents blatantly ignore court orders.  The concept that one parent may be at fault, goes against our balanced, attempting to remain objective, therapeutic grain.  If one parent ignores the court, teaches his or her child to disrespect and demean the other parent, one could infer that the rejected parent require an empathetic ear.  As counselors, beneficence is an ethical imperative.  To help off-set further harm requires an insightful and historical understanding of alienating nuances.

Parental Alienation was depicted in the literature as early as 1949 by Wilhelm Reich; he wrote Character Analysis.  Reich explained that some divorced parents enact revenge, on their ex-partners, by depriving them of a relationship with their children.  In order to alienate the child from the partner, lies are told without any reality to the statements .Unfortunately, for rejected parents and their children, PA is often surrounded by controversy.  According to literature, the controversy is multifaceted.  Some posit the phenomenon was “invented.”  Forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Gardner (1985) coined and defined the term, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).  While Dr. Gardner coined the term, he did not invent this horrific form of abuse.  To claim that he invented parental alienation is comparable to stating Freud invented anxiety.  Dr. Gardner, observed children’s behavioral patterns, which resulted in eight manifestations.  Depending on the severity of alienation, behaviors of PAS can be mild, moderate, or severe.  He postulated that PAS is a result of one parent indoctrinating his or her child.  Consequently, the child contributes by vilifying his or her rejected parent.  As some dislike the medical model, the word syndrome also leads to debate.  Furthermore, Dr. Gardner observed the phenomenon during the tender years presumption.  Thus, it was believed that mothers were favored parents, while fathers were rejected parents.  Sadly, in some circles, this contributed to gender wars.  The literature is clear that an alienated parent can be male or female, as alienation is indiscriminate.

Parental alienation has also been scrutinized for being simplistic as it relates to causality.  Dr. Gardner suggested that target parents are innocent victims.  It is easy to believe the common phrase: where there is smoke, there must be fire.  That is, if a child rejects a parent some may conclude that the parent must have done something to deserve rejection.  Once again, we should remember the bullied child or poor treatment of targeted ethnic groups.  Certainly, this does not mean rejected parents do not contribute in some manner, but it suggests their role is unequal. 

Logically, if the phenomenon is denied and dismissed as worthy of clinical intervention, how can parents learn helpful responses?  Without help, rejected parents contribute such as: overreacting, under reacting, or by counter rejecting.  Dr. Gardner, in a balanced view, suggested that the rejected parent may have certain qualities that irritated, or temporarily alienated the child, but the parent does not deserve ongoing scorn, rejection, and in some cases to never see the parent again.  The animosity goes beyond what might be expected from minor parental weakness.  Vassiliou & Cartwright (2001) reported that rejected parents feel hopeless and helpless.  In a sum, rejected parents believe the situation is beyond control.  Unquestionably, rejected parents require support for being irrationally alienated.  They also need guidance in dealing with their children’s defiant behavior, which is perpetuated and rewarded by favored parents.  Rejected parents, who have lost all contact with their children, require support in dealing with such an enormous loss. 

Obviously, it is vital to distinguish indisputable abuse and neglect from parental alienation.  Certainly, physical abuse is detestable and unacceptable.  Most would agree that emotional abuse should also be unacceptable.  A child or adolescent should not be taught to make false allegations, hoping for the possibility that his or her parent may “win” in court.  Children should not be placed in the middle, nor do they need to hear constant denigrating remarks.  A child should not be forced to choose a “side”.  It should raise a red flag, when a five-year old parrots adult language using vocabulary such as alimony, or child support.  A red flag should also go up, when an eight year old proudly reports, “We are going to court to obtain full custody.”  Thankfully, progress has been made in providing awareness and education.  Currently, Parental Alienation has over 600 citations throughout the literature.  Progress has also been made in countries such as Brazil, where alienating behaviors are now illegal.  April 25th is Parental Alienation Awareness Day.  Last year Poland, Germany, Sweden, Canada, and the United States, just to name a few, participated on this day to help raise awareness.  As counselors, we should help eradicate not only physical abuse, but we should also aid in shedding light on the undetected scars that result from emotional abuse.

Recognizing Parental Alienation: The Therapeutic Role

Counselors play a pivotal role in alleviating pain that results from irrational alienation.  As a profession, we are at the forefront, when parents seek help, especially given the divorce rate.  Regardless if one is in private practice, or works in an agency setting, it is likely that one will be faced with alienated child, alienated adolescent, favored parent, or rejected parent.  Armed with empirical findings, counselors can help offset parental alienation before a relationship is permanently severed.  The first role of the counselor is to pierce through powerful polarities.  Stated another way, the media, and advocacy groups have erroneously portrayed that if one recognizes parental alienation, as a serious form of emotional abuse, they are simultaneously denying intimate partner abuse and child abuse.  This polarity, for the CBT adherents, may ring an all too familiar bell – the sound of black and white thinking. 
To acknowledge parental alienation, as a form of coercive control, with the victim as an innocent child, does not mean that one is denying the reality of child abuse or domestic violence.

In 2010, Fidler & Bala discussed narrow and polarizing perspectives.  They indicated the inflexible all or none thinking, observed by alienated children and their parents, can also be seen in helping professionals.  Another concern, one that often produces professional discord, is that PA is not accepted in the DSM-IV-TR.  However, we should be aware of the fact that just because a disorder or phenomenon is not listed in the DSM, does not mean the problem is not real.  One commonly cited example, among many, is Gille de la Tourette.  It was first described in 1885; ninety-five years later, it was accepted into the DSM.

Working with Children

Detecting signs of parental alienation is another therapeutic endeavor.  As noted by Baker & Andre (2008), the counselor can aid in putting a halt to additional deterioration of the parent-child relationship.  It is vital to determine if there has been a history of violence and to rule out bona fide abuse and neglect.  Unfortunately, there are not any widely accepted “parental alienation tests”.  The authors recommend that counselors can discriminate among possible sources for the rejection by using Dr. Gardner’s eight behavioral manifestations.  The first, as Dr. Gardner described, is what is known as a campaign of denigration.  A child, seemingly overnight, will claim to hate and/or fear a once loved parent.  Secondly, weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the depreciation of the targeted parent are offered, convincingly too, by the child.  As an illustration, a child will reject Mom or Dad, offering irrational, yet emotionally charged reasons, such as the parent folds the laundry wrong or burnt the macaroni and cheese.  Third; the child will adopt a rigid lack of ambivalence.  This is a key indicator that counselors should know.  Rather than viewing both parents, as fallible human beings, the rejected parent is viewed with contempt, while the favored parent is viewed in an angelic light.  Fourth, is known as the “Independent thinker phenomenon.  Clearly, independent thought is to be prized, but in PA situations the child’s head has been inserted with falsehoods.  The child asserts that his or her hatred has nothing to do with the other parent.  On the contrary, alienated children will insist that the idea is by their own accord.  Fifth, is an absence of guilt.  Alienated children, due to negative input by the favored parent, behave guilt free.  They act entitled, are defiant, and may exhibit cruel behavior.  Sixth is known as,  reflexive support for the favored parent.  They have no interest nor are they willing to consider the rejected parents thoughts or wishes.  This is the time in which rejected parents wonder why logic does not work.  It appears nothing they do or say will change their child’s distorted thinking.  The seventh manifestation is known as borrowed scenarios.  Children often will adopt words and concepts they cannot define.  As mentioned earlier, counselors should take note when a child uses adult-like language.  The last manifestation is when hatred spreads; the child may not only claim to hate the rejected parent, but they may also report they no longer love grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, or even the family pet.  In conjunction to Dr. Gardner’s eight manifestations, there are three components that are essential in detecting parental alienation.

In identifying Parental Alienation, Dr. Warshak (2003) exposes three fundamental elements.  First, counselors should establish if the rejection or denigration is persistent.  That is, is the rejection by a parent an occasional episode, or has it turned into a hate campaign.  As an example, did the parent’s separation occur six months ago, or six years ago?  Second, the counselors are faced with the question: is the rejection rational?  Is alienation due to the rejected parent’s behavior?  Third, the rejection must be in part, a result of the favored parent’s influence.  Dr. Warshak points out that at times, some who are critical of the child’s rejection, focus only on the first element.  According to Dr. Warshak, the phenomenon is at work when all three elements are present.  Counselors will be in a better position when they are considering parental alienation, if they keep the three elements in mind.  Shortly after parents separate, an occasional negative remark by an ex-spouse is expected.  However, daily doses of parental poisoning within an ear shot of a child, is another concern.

While the literature varies in regards to uniform testing and adopting Dr. Gardner’s eight manifestations, there is a consensus to the signs of alienation.  For starters, alienated children display all-or-nothing thinking.  They rewrite history, and ignore and/or deny evidence placed before them.  As an example, when shown a picture of a Disneyland vacation with the rejected parent, a picture in which the child and parent are smiling, the child will insist that they were only pretending to have a good time.  Another indication is when the child’s descriptions for the rejection sounds more like scripted lines.  Counselors should be attuned to adult language; language that is above age expected vocabulary.  This is similar to Dr. Gardner’s description of borrowed scenarios.  Alienated children not only utilize grown-up vocabulary, but they are rude, disrespectful, or even violent – without guilt.  As a caveat, their defiant behavior does not extended to all settings; it is aimed directly at the rejected parent.  Another sign is the child’s incongruence between words and affect.  As counselors, we are on the look-out for clients that are teary-eyed, yet insist they are happy.  The same goes for the alienated child due to parental brainwashing. 

An additional way to think about parental alienation, offered by Baker & Andre (2008), is the counselor may ask: do I believe that the child is being manipulated by one parent to reject the other parent, who is not abusive or so inadequate, as to deserve the child’s rejection? By posing this question, the counselor comes back to the three elements indicated by Dr. Warshak.  Some goals for counseling include, addressing divorce related stress and correcting the child’s distorted view of his or her rejected parent.  Studies indicate that in mild and moderate cases of alienation, a family systems approach is best suited.  In severe cases, such as favored parents who defy court orders and refuse counseling, may require one to pursue additional court intervention.  In severe cases, research indicates that temporarily suspending contact with the favored parent may be necessary.  Ideally, court orders should be enforced; unfortunately, as counselors are aware, this is not always the case.

 

Working with Rejected Parents: Therapeutic Options

Counselors can best serve rejected parents by validating their experiences, providing psycho-educational materials, teaching coping techniques, and bibliotherapy.  Rejected parents may run the gamut from being treated with contempt, while others may not have had any contact with their child for years.  Working with rejected parents brings counselors back to the basics – empathy.  Rejected parents require an empathic ear.  Emotions vary too; the counselor should be cognizant that rejected parents may display anger, as they are frequently blamed for their child’s rejection.  As Dr. Warshak points out, some suggest these parents are perpetrators of some type of behavior that warrants their child’s fear, hatred, or both.  He eloquently captures the source of their injustice, “the position that irrational alienation does not exist essentially means that all rejected parents deserve what they get.”  In the past, a common suggestion for rejected parents was to “wait it out.”  A few findings have suggested that PA is an expected reaction to divorce.  Or, in other instances, it is portrayed that alienation is no cause for concern, because children “outgrow” parental alienation.  Rejected parents who are waiting for time to heal all wounds, will lose years that cannot be replaced. 

One qualitative study, by Dr. Amy Baker (2007), indicates that adults who were alienated as children lost significant time with their rejected parents.  More than half of the participants in this study had relationships that were severed 22 years or more.  All participants lost at minimum, six years.  One can conclude that another role of the counselor is to offer hope.  Many rejected parents may develop a sense of learned helplessness.  In severe cases, all attempts to stop alienation have been met with dismal failure.  As described by Fidler & Bala (2010), some favored parents may be malicious, vindictive, feel above the law, and be deliberate in their actions.  Unquestionably, trying to co-parent with someone who is unwilling to co-parent, contributes to a great deal of difficulty.  Not only may rejected parents become angry, but they may also display anxiety and depression.  Leona Kopetski (1998), who was part of an evaluation team, enlightens counselors, given the dynamics, that uncontrollable factors should be considered.  She describes that rejected parents have more obvious symptoms of psychological distress than favored parents.  She stated, “If psychological health is defined as the absence of internal distress or internal conflict, the favored parent appears healthier; however, this appearance is misleading.”  As rejected parents are in distress, it is wise for counselors to consider the stressful context of PA.  Coming to mind is the famous quote by Victor Frankl, “an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”  While PA is not the norm of divorcing families, counselors should reflect that rejected parents are anxious to restore strained or broken relationships.

Counselors can make a profound difference for rejected parents by offering sound educational materials in conjunction with modeling parenting techniques for rejecting children.  Some parents may reinforce alienation, as they overreact to provocative behavior.  Another manner in which Counselors can assist is by sharing knowledge.  For example, if a rejected parent in return, rejects his or her child, he or she may risk further alienating the child.  Dr. Warshak (2010), identified that rejected parents may vacillate between doing too much and doing too little.  Other studies show that as rejected parents grow frustrated, they may ironically act like their alienated child.  Fidler & Bala (2010) emphasize an important point; while at times parental responses are less than desirable, the counselor should keep in mind, “few have had the benefit of being adequately prepared in advance to deal constructively with at least some of the extreme behaviors that is manifested by the alienated child.”

Other rejected parents, after years of attempting to cope, may become exhausted, withdraw, and simply throw in the towel.  Literature indicates, that earlier recommendations to rejected parents, was to give the child space.  That is, if the child refused to see Mom or Dad, let it be.  Unfortunately, decades later, this approach failed.  A review of the current standards reveals, that by giving an alienated child space, the rejected parent, although unintentionally, may strengthen the allegations made by the other parent.  As an example, if the child continues to refuse visitation, the rejected parent may become weary of “forcing” the child to spend time with him or her.  However, this backfires.  It provides ammunition for the favored parent to solidify his or her scheming antics, “See, your mom/dad does not care if you spend time with him or her.”  Some rejected parents self-initiate a cut-off, as they believe nothing they do or say will lead to reconciliation.  Thus, counselors can not only offer hope for the rejected parent, but they can also suggest that the behavior of their child is not personal.  The favored parent, especially in severe cases, tries to wear down the rejected parent.  Counselors should recognize this sad, but true reality.  The goal for the counselor is to explore areas of strength and potential resources.  The client needs to gain a sense of power and control.  In a sum, counselors’ can aid rejected parents in maintaining their internal compass, so that their direction will not be set off course.

Unfortunately, relationships may become permanently severed.  This may occur from the child, with the help of the favored parent, or the cut-off may come from the adult.  As noted by Dr. Warshak (2010), some loving and well-intended parents may let go for several reasons.  One reason, as previously mentioned, is that some parents may have exhausted all legal options, which in turn, may deplete financial resources.  A second consideration is when a rejected parent’s ex-spouse is disturbed and that continuing legal proceedings may provoke him or her to take violent action.  In cases where all ties have been severed, the counselor should consider that while the rejected parent’s child is not deceased, it is an ambiguous loss.  There is no closure.

Another option suggested by Dr. Baker (2006), when working with rejected parents, is to incorporate bibliotherapy.  Many counselors are familiar with suggesting self-help books or other readings.  Study after study reveals that in severe cases, rejected parents feel powerless to prevent alienation and that they feel alone.  Additionally, research indicates they often see themselves as doubly victimized.  Not only are they dealing with disbelief of their situation, but they also perceive they are misunderstood.  They may think others blame them for their child’s rejection.  Rejected parents may find solace by reading books about other rejected parents, as they realize they are not alone.  For  constructivists, one could view rejected parent’s stories as a thick description.  Dr. Baker (2006) explains that reading others accounts promote empowerment and releases feelings of rage that accompanies being the victim of injustice.  Others stories also allows a relational aspect, similar to groups, offering the reader a chance to step into the shoes of another.  The client may identify, through the descriptions, what role, if any, they have played.  According to Baker (2006), rejected parents may discover they have been passive, or that they needed to initiate legal proceedings.  Furthermore, the use of bibliotherapy may enhance therapeutic discussions, as different possibilities for the future may surface – a result of the narratives.  Encouragement and enlightenment may be found, especially by reading those who have overcome tremendous hardships.  Reading other rejected parents surreal ordeals may offset heartache, helplessness, and hopelessness.

Working with Favored Parents: Roles and Roadblocks

Working with favored parents can be an obstacle.  Throughout the literature, many discussions ensue regarding if the favored parent’s tactics are intentional, or unintentional.  Dr. Darnall (1998) describes various levels that favored parents may act upon.  One designation is known as the naïve parent, this category includes favored parents who make an occasional remark, or participate in some alienating behavior.  However, naïve parents are most likely to benefit from parenting education, or voluntarily attend therapy.  It is vital, that counselors reflect upon the three elements that must be present for parental alienation to exist.  In cases of PA, the remarks are not occasional, but are chronic.  When working with the naïve parent, counselors can offer psycho-educational materials, work on coping with divorce, co-parenting, and anger management.  This group is the most receptive to the harmful effects of badmouthing.  Clearly, an occasional remark differs from a consistent litany of parental put-downs.  Another group, described by Darnall (1998), is those who are obsessed and are set out to purposely destroy the relationship with the other parent.  This group is most likely to be court mandated.  They will be resistant, especially if the goal is to heal the damaged parent-child relationship.  Studies indicate this group behaves as if they are above the law.  In their view, court orders are worthless – mandates apply to everyone else, but not to them.

Counselors too, should be on the look-out for the methods used to turn a child against the other parent.  Some will badmouth the other parent within an earshot of a child.  The denigration is constant and they refuse to stop, even when informed badmouthing is harmful.  Sadly, they may tell their child that the other parent does not love them, or does not want to see them.  Keep in mind, this group is less likely to follow court orders; consequently, they may hide-out when it is time for the rejected parent to spend time with their child.  The outcome of visitation interference is that the child will “see” that the other parent is not around.  In their eyes, the lies of the favored parent are true, after all they did not “see” Mom or Dad.  This provides the opportunity for the favored parent to fill the child’s head full of lies.  Sure, object permanence is achieved; although out-of-sight does not equate to out-of-mind.  Out-of-sight, will lead the child to believe, what is not right – that the other parent does not love them, does not want them, or perhaps, even hates them.  In conjunction to damaging non-stop badmouthing, the situation can worsen.  Rejected parents are known to trash gifts and intercept mail.  Some too, flee the state or country.

Literature indicates favored parents may struggle in accepting their divorce.  They use the child as a confidant and a friend.  In order for the child to cope with loyalty demands, they often have no other choice than to claim that they hate Mom or Dad too.  If the child still has contact, they may be instructed to trash dinner while at the rejected parent’s home.  Some may destroy property, or steal – just to name a few.  Research also reveals that favored parents may have personality disorders.  What approach then, should a counselor take when working with favored parents?  According to Dr. Rand (1997), therapy with favored parents, can possibly make the situation worse.  As counselors, the therapeutic alliance is paramount.  However, as a caveat, favored parents utilize the very nature of therapy to their advantage.  As they have sociopathic tendencies, they might try to sway the therapist to his or her “side.”  Many favored parents will not attend, or will terminate early.  The counselor should keep in mind, for those who attend, they desire to find additional allies to gain support for their hatred.

  Dr. Warshak (2010) expanded upon other findings, “family therapy, co-parenting counseling, parent education, and cognitive behavioral therapy are insufficient to modify the complex behavior of alienating parents who are unable to think beyond their own needs…”  He goes on to note that psychoanalytic oriented treatment is the best approach to help these parents, but as this treatment is lengthy, by the time the parent improves their behavior, the children may be grown and have already endured years of psychic suffering. 

Conclusion

Dr. Warshak summarizes a helpful perspective when counseling alienated children and rejected parents, “restoration does not preclude prevention.”  As counselors, we must first and foremost recognize parental alienation as a serious form of abuse.  Any society’s standard of care regarding abused children, must be to prioritize protecting them from further abuse.  Every counselor can aid in protecting children from further emotional abuse through awareness of parental alienating behaviors, and recognizing children’s irrational rejection. 

To participate in raising awareness, visit the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization.

Categories: Professionals

You Might Be An Alienated Parent If…

You Might Be An Alienated Parent If…  (by Monika)

You might be an alienated parent if your four-year old reports, “dad says he gives your new marriage two years—and I agree with him.”

You might be an alienated parent if your seven-year old reports, “ I know the law; just wait till I am of age; I will tell the judge where I want to live.  We are asking for full custody.”

You might be an alienated parent if your child removes household items such as DVDs, electronics, etc. Then, when confronting the child, he / she reports “I feel sorry for dad (or mom) they live alone and cannot make ends meet.” “We pawned the items (mom/dad) get over it.”

You might be an alienated parent if your five-year old reports they no longer have to obey your  rules because “dad ( or mom) says so.” And “we think your rules are dumb.”

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if your ex-partner refuses to co-parent and constantly belittles you to your child.

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if your child complains about the meals you cook. But they don’t stop at complaining.  Instead,  they trash dinner. They call the other parent and report that “there is no decent food in the home.”

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if you kindly ask your ex-spouse to please cease badmouthing. You point out that constant badmouthing is not in the child’s best interest. But, you discover they refuse to stop.

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if your ex-spouse and his (or her) family do not understand the concept of boundaries. They share adult matters with adolescents and  actually seek your adolescents advice. This is evidenced by your adolescent reporting, “yeah dad (or mom) and I have a good time; we talked about the reason his third girlfriend moved out.” And, “geez, mom (or dad) I sure feel so very sorry for her (or him).”   And, as a consequence, your child is in constant distress. You understand this, but your ex-spouse and family do not;  they have the same  mentality as your adolescent. You wonder if insurance companies are the only ones that catch on, as full brain development does not stop at age 16. Insurance rates drop about age 25.

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if you tell your eight year old they cannot watch the exorcist movie, rated R.  Your eight year old informs you, “fine, I will watch the movie with (dad or mom) they will let me”…and the parent actually will.

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if your eight-year old child develops nightmares after watching  movies. You explain to your child that they should not watch such movies while at the other parent’s home. The child insists that “they are more mature than you understand.”  Being the good co-parent you are, you call up your ex-spouse and discuss (or your try to discuss) that it is not  a good idea to let the child view R rated movies. You are told, “ I am with them, what’s the harm; you are too strict.” Besides, “it’s my home when the child is with me.”  And… you are not going to tell me how to raise my (son or daughter).

You might be a distressed and an alienated parent if you report these events but are informed, “ emotional abuse is hard to prove.” The next question, “is your child physically abused?” No you reply. Well, says the helper, “go read a good parenting book.” That day you read an advocacy group’s stance that your issue–the emotional abuse of your child, is not a “real” problem because children would not reject a parent without a good reason. Coercive control only works with grown adults, not susceptible children, right?

You might be distressed, disgruntled, and an alienated parent if you attempt to seek help for your child.  Some say parental alienation is not a “real problem” that it is nothing more than a “normal reaction to a divorce.” Your advice is to “ take the high-road, most children will outgrow alienation.”

You might be a distressed, disgruntled, and an alienated parent if you end back up in  court to enforce orders that are not followed. Your co-parent refuses to adhere to any parenting plan or other mandates—he or she is above the law. They refuse to return the children on time or assist with paying for school lunches.  You are informed, “you just need to get along with your co-parent.” You try to explain that you have bent over backwards in trying to work with your ex-spouse. You may start to think that they have “Heard one case, so they have heard them all.”

You might be a distressed, disgruntled, down-trodden and an alienated parent if the experience of parental alienation has occurred for over 15 years. In fact, it went on for so long, one or more of your children no longer will speak with you. You scratch your head wondering if the brand new car (dad or mom) said they could have if they tore up your property and moved in with them, had anything to do with your child’s change of heart.   

You might be a distressed, disgruntled, down-trodden and an alienated parent if you attempt to explain the situation but others scratch their head, suspiciously question you, and reply “well… some kids are resilient to badmouthing and brainwashing—wonder why your child is not?”

You might be a distressed, disgruntled, down-trodden and an alienated parent if you did the best you could.  No you were not perfect. But,  you were at least an average parent. You know your day-to-day routine would be okay if you were still married.  But once the campaign of denigration started, you had to become almost a perfect parent. You grew a little weary.

Resources:

Parental Alienation Awareness Organization

Dr. Richard Warshak

Categories: Parents

NOW is The Time: Parental Alienation Known and Noted As Non-Phony. A Look At The Current DSM-IV-TR

NOW is The Time: Parental Alienation Known and Noted As Non-Phony. A Look At The Current DSM-IV-TR by: Monika Logan, LBSW

The essential feature of Parental Alienation (PA) is a delusion; a delusion that a child maintains, often for years on end. Sometimes the child carries the false belief into adulthood.  The child claims the delusion is their own.  It is taught by a disturbed parent. The parent is one that often did not desire the divorce. He or she may have an undiagnosed mental disorder. Then again, they may not. Perhaps they have traits, or  cannot accept their new founded solo status. What they refuse to do, is to set appropriate boundaries. Known by Wallerstein and Kelly (1976 & 1980) as unholy alliances. The boundaries are not healthy.  Some ex-spouses desire revenge while others lack intent. Ignoring  emotional abuse of children will not make the problem go away.  PA shares similar patterns with other DSM disorders. Disorders that currently are listed in the DSM-IV-TR.

For starters, PA is comparable to Shared Psychotic Disorder. PA has an “inducer” called an alienating parent, also known as the favored parent. Another commonality, is one person is dominant. The difference between the two disorders is prevalence. Unlike Shared Psychotic Disorder, PA has ample systematic information and is frequently reported is clinical settings, although some might debate the name. Both Shared Psychotic Disorder and PA require intervention because the course is chronic. Oddly enough, many demand more systemic research for PA but it is not required for shared delusions.

Differential Diagnosis should also be considered. Both PA and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) have parents reporting eerie similarities. Children diagnosed with ODD have parents claiming that their children  are hot-tempered, argues with adults, defies authority, deliberately annoys others, blames others for mistakes, will not follow rules and are angry and  resentful. They are also spiteful and vindictive. The difference between ODD and PA is that ODD manifests with adults that the kid knows well. In PA, the aforementioned behaviors are aimed only at one parent—a once loved parent.  The behaviors are reinforced. It is not necessarily that the parent outright says, atta boy! Rewards can be subtle, such as a new cell phone for cussing out mom.

Sadly, ODD can get worse. When it gets worse, it gets a new name, known as Conduct Disorder. When PA gets worse, we turn the other way or scoff at people who create helping centers because parents have nowhere to turn. Or, we might look at the target parent and wonder where he or she went wrong. If you are a good parent, you always have good outcomes, right? wrong. Not if you divorced an unstable person. The fact is, the parent did not have to do anything wrong. Conduct Disorder is when a child is physically cruel; they are deceitful and may violate serious societal rules. They may have truancy charges or run away. Severity may be mild, moderate, or severe (just as PA can be moderate, mild or severe.)  The kid may not have all the behaviors. Some kids placed in the middle have only a trait or two, such as hitting their parent once and violating rules.

We all have heard of resiliency. Regrettably, some kids have parents that make resilience difficult. Reality is that there are parents that will  ignore all court orders and continuously use the child as a confidant. The child is forced to hear of adult matters, care for the parent, and eventually feels sorry for the parent. This makes resiliency hard as the kid role reverses and spends time fretting over their “victim parent.”  Additionally, the child learns that he or she is above the law. Similar to Conduct Disorder, PA has  increased over the last decade. I have not found studies indicating if PA is more prevalent in urban or rural settings (DSM, p. 97). It is more common among high-conflict divorces. And, contrary to some TV shows, it does not always entail bickering back and forth.  Yes, PA even occurs with helping professionals; professionals such as psychologists, social workers and attorneys. They too may have  a hard time attempting to stop constant denigration and enforcing court orders.

Given the grim picture, how do children adjust? There are couples that co-parent amicably and the kids adjust well. We have read about such couples. They  have Thanksgiving together. Yes, adjusting may become a disorder. The DSM has Adjustment Disorder. It too shares similar features with PA. Kids may have depressed moods, anxiety, or disturbed conduct. If you are a fortunate parent and your ex-spouse co-parents, the symptoms might be acute. However, for many parents the duration may be chronic. Both PA and Adjustment Disorders will persist if the stressors persists. The stressors in Adjustment Disorder may entail misfortune life events. The stressor in PA, is an alienating parent compounded by groups that turn their head to the emotional abuse of children. NOW is the time to realize that PA is not  related to gender nor is it the target parent’s fault. The tender years presumption has long gone.

Lastly, Parental Alienation is not a tactic—it is the emotional abuse of children. It is the loss of vitality and life. It is the loss of one parent that does not deserve the rejection. For reminders, if physical or sexual abuse is present, PA is not included in the definition. Recognizing PA as a form of emotional abuse is not a green light to dismiss battering. Frequently overlooked, but worth noting: both PA and DV have elements of power and control. The distinction is that PA  places the child in the middle to hurt the other parent. The alienating parent may achieve power and control by threats of leaving the country, threatening expensive court battles, or other coercive tactics.  Domestic Violence encompasses power, control and assault.  Parental Alienation includes power, control and your children. Now is the time; stand up for the future of your children and your children’s children so that the cycle of alienation will end.

Categories: Professionals

Parental Alienation Resources: An Extensive List.

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Task Force on Parenting Coordination. (2006). Guidelines for parenting coordination. Family Court Review,44, 164–181.

Austin, Jr., R. B. (2006). PAS as a child against self. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 56–64). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Baker, A. J. L. (2005). The long-term effects of parental alienation on adult children: A qualitative research study. American Journal of Family Therapy, 33(4), 289–302.

Baker, A. J. L. (2005). The cult of parenthood: A qualitative study of parental alienation. Cultic Studies Review, 4(1),

Baker, A. J. L. (2005). Parent alienation strategies: A qualitative study of adults who experienced parental alienation as a child. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 23(4), 41–63.

Baker, A. J. L. (2006). The power of stories/stories about power: Why therapists and clients should read stories about the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(3), 191–203.

Baker, A. J. L. (2006). Patterns of parental alienation syndrome: A qualitative study of adults who were alienated from a parent as a child. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(1), 63–78.

Baker, A. J. L. (2007). Knowledge and attitudes about the parental alienation syndrome: A survey of custody evaluators. American Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 1–19.

Baker, A. J. L. (2007). Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: Breaking the ties that bind. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Baker, A. J. L. (2010). Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51(1), 16–35.

Baker, A. J. L., & Andre, K. (2008). Working with alienated children and their targeted parents. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 11(2), 10–17.

Baker, A. J. L., & Darnall, D. (2006). Behaviors and strategies employed in parental alienation: A survey of parental experiences. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 45(1–2), 97–124.

Baker, A. J. L., & Darnall, D. (2007). A construct study of the eight symptoms of severe parental alienation syndrome: A survey of parental experiences. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 47(1–2), 55–75.

Baldwin, A., & Tabb, M. (2008). A promise to ourselves: A journey through fatherhoodand divorce. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67(6), 3296–3319.

Benedek, E. P., & Schetky, D. H. (1985). Allegations of sexual abuse in child custody and visitation disputes. In E. P. Benedek and D. H. Schetky (Eds.), Emerging issues in child psychiatry and the law (pp. 145–156). New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Benedek, E. P., & Schetky, D. H. (1987). Problems in validating allegations of sexual abuse: Part 1, Factors affecting perception and recall of events. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 26(6), 912– 915.

Bernet, W. (1993). False statements and the differential diagnosis of abuse allegations. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32(5), 903–910.

Bernet, W. (1995). Children of divorce: A practical guide for parents, attorneys, & therapists. New York: Vantage.

Bernet, W. (1997). Case study, allegations of abuse created in a single interview.Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(7), 966– 970.

Bernet, W. (1998). The child and adolescent psychiatrist and the law. In J. D. Noshpitz (Ed.), Handbook of child and adolescent psychiatry, Vol. 7 (pp. 438–467). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Bernet, W. (2002). Child custody evaluations. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 11(4), 781–804.

Bernet, W. (2008). Parental alienation disorder and DSM–V. American Journal of Family Therapy, 36(5), 349–366.

Blackstone-Ford, J., & Jupe, S. (2004). Ex-etiquette for parents, good behavior after a divorce or separation. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.

Bond, R. (2007). The lingering debate over the parental alienation syndrome phenomenon. Journal of Child Custody, 4(1–2), 37–54.

Bone, J. M. (2003). The parental alienation syndrome, examining the validity amid controversy. Family Law, Section Commentator, 20(1), 24–27.

Bone, J. M., & Walsh, M. R. (1999). Parental alienation syndrome: How to detect it and what to do about it. Florida Bar Journal, 73(3), 44–47.

Bow, J. N., Gould, J. W., & Flens, J. R. (2009). Examining parental alienation in child custody cases: A survey of mental health and legal professionals. American Journal of Family Therapy, 37(2), 127–145.

Bowen, M. (1966). The use of family theory in clinical practice. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 7, 345–374.

Brody, B. (2006a). The misdiagnosis of PAS. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 209–227). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Campbell, T. W. (1992a). Psychotherapy with children of divorce: The pitfalls of triangulated relationships. Psychotherapy, Theory, Research, Practice, & Training, 29, 646–652.

Campbell, T. W. (1992b). False allegations of sexual abuse and their apparent credibility. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 10(4), 21.

Campbell, T. W. (1993). Parental conflicts between divorced spouses: Strategies for intervention. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 12(4), 27.

Campbell, T. W. (2005). Why doesn’t parental alienation occur more frequently? The significance of role discrimination. American Journal of Family Therapy, 33(5), 365–377.

Cartwright, G. F. (1993). Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(3), 205–215.

Cartwright, G. F. (2006). Beyond parental alienation syndrome: Reconciling the alienated child and the lost parent. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 286–291). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Clawar, S. S., & Rivlin, B. V. (1991). Children held hostage: Dealing with programmedand brainwashed children. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association.

Cooke, L. (1995). Parental alienation syndrome: A hidden facet of custody disputes. First Place, Lieff Award, Canadian Bar Association, Ottawa, Ontario.

Darnall, D. (1999). Parental alienation, not in the best interest of the children. North Dakota Law Review, 75, 323.

Darnall, Douglas. (2008). Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation (2nd ed). Lanham, MD: National Book Network.  

Drozd, L. M. (2009). Rejection in cases of abuse or alienation in divorcing families. In R. M. Galatzer-Levy, L. Kraus, & J. Galatzer-Levy (Eds.), The scientific basis for child custody decisions. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Drozd, L. M., & Olesen, N.W. (2004). Is it abuse, alienation, &/or estrangement? A decision tree. Journal of Child Custody, 1(3), 65–106.

Dunne, J., & Hedrick, M. (1994). The parental alienation syndrome: An analysis of sixteen selected cases. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 21(3–4), 21–38.

Eastman, A. M., & Moran T. J. (1991). Multiple perspectives: Factors related to differential diagnosis of sex abuse and divorce trauma in children under six. Child & Youth Services, 15(2), 159–176.

Ellis, E. M. (2000). Divorce wars: Interventions with families in conflict. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ellis, E. M. (2005). Help for the alienated parent. American Journal of Family Therapy,33(5), 415–426.

Ellis, E. M. (2007). A stepwise approach to evaluating children for parental alienation syndrome. Journal of Child Custody, 4(1–2), 55–78.

Ellis, E. M., & Boyan, S. (in press). Intervention strategies for parent coordinators in parental alienation cases. American Journal of Family Therapy.

Fidler, B. J., Bala, N., Birnbaum, R., & Kavassalis, K. (2008a). Understanding child alienation and its impact on families. In B. J. Fidler et al., Challenging issues in child custody assessments, A guide for legal and mental health professionals (pp. 203–229). Toronto, Canada: Thomson Carswell.

Fidler, B. J., Bala, N., Birnbaum, R., & Kavassalis, K. (2008b). Challenging issues in child custody assessments: A guide for legal and mental health professionals. Toronto, Canada: Thomson Carswell.  

Garber, B. D. (1996). Alternatives to parental alienation syndrome: Acknowledging the broader scope of children’s emotional difficulties during parental separation and divorce. New Hampshire Bar Journal, 37(1), 51–54.

Garber, B. D. (2004a). Therapist alienation: Foreseeing and forestalling third-party dynamics undermining psychotherapy with children of conflicted caregivers. Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, 35(4), 357–363.

Garber, B. D. (2004b). Parental alienation in light of attachment theory, consideration of the broader implications for child development, clinical practice, & forensic process. Journal of Child Custody, 1(4), 49–76.

Gardner, R. A. (1982). Family evaluation in child custody litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum, 29(2), 3–7.

Gardner, R. A. (1986). Child custody litigation: A guide for parents and mental health professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1987a). The parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1987b). Child custody. In J. D. Noshpitz (Ed.), Handbook of child and adolescent psychiatry, Vol. 5 (pp. 637–646). New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, R. A. (1989b). Differentiating between bona fide and fabricated allegations of sexual abuse of children. Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 5, 1–25.

Gardner, R. A. (1991a). Legal and psychotherapeutic approaches to the three types of parental alienation syndrome families: When psychiatry and law join forces. Court Review, 28(1), 14–21.

Gardner, R. A. (1991b). Sex abuse hysteria: Salem witch trials revisited. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1992a). The parental alienation syndrome, A guide for mental health and legal professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1992b). True and false allegations of child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1994). The detrimental effects on women of the misguided gender egalitarianism of the child-custody resolution guidelines. Academy Forum, 38(1/2), 10–13.

Gardner, R. A. (1998a). Recommendations for dealing with parents who induce a parental alienation syndrome in their children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 28(3–4), 1–23.

Gardner, R. A. (1998b). The parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health and legal professionals, 2nd ed. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (1998c). The Burgess decision and the Wallerstein brief. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 26(3), 425–432.

Gardner, R. A. (1999a). Family therapy of the moderate type of parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 27(3), 195–212.

Gardner, R. A. (1999b). Guidelines for assessing parental preference in child-custody disputes. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 30(1), 1–9.

Gardner, R. A. (1999c). Differentiating between parental alienation syndrome and bona fide abuse-neglect. American Journal of Family Therapy, 27(2), 97–107.

Gardner, R. A. (2001a). Should courts order PAS children to visit/reside with the alienated parent? A follow-up study. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3), 61–106.

Gardner, R. A. (2001b). Therapeutic interventions for children with parental alienation syndrome. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. A. (2001c). Parental alienation syndrome (PAS): Sixteen years later. Academy Forum, 45(1), 10–12.

Gardner, R. A. (2002a). Denial of the parental alienation syndrome also harms women. American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(3), 191–202.

Gardner, R. A. (2002b). Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: Which diagnosis should evaluators use in child-custody disputes? American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2), 93–115.

Gardner, R. A. (2002d). Misinformation versus facts about the contributions of Richard A. Gardner, M.D. American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(5), 395– 416.

Gardner, R. A. (2003a). Does DSM-IV have equivalents for the parental alienation syndrome (PAS) diagnosis? American Journal of Family Therapy, 31(1), 1–21.

Gardner, R. A. (2003b). The judiciary’s role in the etiology, symptom development,& treatment of the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 21(1), 39–64.

Gardner, R. A. (2004a). Commentary on Kelly and Johnston’s “The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome.” Family Court Review, 42(4), 611–621.

Gardner, R. A. (2004b). The relationship between the parental alienation syndrome: (PAS) and the false memory syndrome (FMS). American Journal of Family Therapy, 32(2), 79–99.

Gardner, R. A. (2004c). The three levels of parental alienation syndrome alienators: Differential diagnosis and management. American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 25(3), 41–76.

Gardner, R. A. (2006a). The parental alienation syndrome and the corruptive power of anger. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 33–48). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Gardner, R. A. (2006b). Future predictions on the fate of PAS children: What hath alienators wrought? In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 179–194). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Gardner, R. A., Sauber, S. R., & Lorandos, D. (Eds.). (2006). The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome: Conceptual, clinical and legal considerations. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Garrity, C. B., & Baris, M. A. (1994). Caught in the middle: Protecting the children of high-conflict divorce. New York: Lexington Books.

Gaulier, B., Margerum, J., Price, J. A., & Windell, J. (2007). Defusing the high-conflict divorce: A treatment guide for working with angry couples. Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers.

Gordon, R. M. (1998). The Medea complex and the parental alienation syndrome: When mothers damage their daughter’s ability to love a man. In G. H. Fenchel (Eds.), The mother-daughter relationship echoes through time (pp. 207–225). Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

Gordon, R. M., Stoffey, R., & Bottinelli, J. (2008). MMPI-2 findings of primitive defenses in alienating parents. American Journal of Family Therapy, 36(3), 211–228.

Gottlieb, D. S. (2006). Parental alienation syndrome: An Israeli perspective, reflections and recommendations. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 90–107). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Haas, T. O. (2004). Child custody determinations in Michigan: Not in the best interests of children or parents. University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, 81, 333.

Hamarman, S., & Bernet, W. (2000). Evaluating and reporting emotional abuse in children: Parent-based, action-based focus aids in clinical decision-making. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39(7), 928– 930.

Jaffe, P., Ashbourne, D., & Mamo, A. (2010).  Early identification and prevention of parent-child alienation: A framework for balancing risks and benefits of intervention.  Family Court Review, 48(1), 136-152.

Jaffe, P. G., Johnston, J. R., Crooks, C. V., & Bala, N. (2008). Custody disputes involving allegations of domestic violence: Toward a differential approach to parenting plans. Family Court Review, 46(3), 500–523.

Jeffries, M. (2009). A family’s heartbreak: A parent’s introduction to parental alienation. Stamford, CT: A Family’s Heartbreak, LLC.

Jenkins, S. (2002). Are children protected in the family court? A perspective from Western Australia. ANZJFT Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 23(3), 145–152.

Johnston, J. R. (1993). Children of divorce who refuse visitation. In C. Depner and J. H. Bray (Eds.), Non–residential parenting, new vistas in family living (pp. 109–135). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Johnston, J. R. (1994). High-conflict divorce. Future Child, 4(1), 165–182.

Johnston, J. R. (2003). Parental alignments and rejection: An empirical study of alienation in children of divorce. Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 31(2), 158–170.

Johnston, J. R. (2005). Children of divorce who reject a parent and refuse visitation: Recent research and social policy implications for the alienated child. Family Law Quarterly, 38(4), 757–775.

Johnston, J. R., & Campbell, L. E. G. (1999). Impasses of divorce: The dynamics and resolution of family conflict. New York: Free Press.

Johnston, J. R., Campbell, L. E. G., & Mayes, S. S. (1985). Latency children in postseparation and divorce disputes. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 24(5), 563–574.

Johnston, J. R., & Girdner, L. K. (2001). Family abductors: Descriptive profiles and preventive interventions. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1, 1–7.

Johnston, J. R., & Kelly, J. B. (2004). Rejoinder to Gardner’s “Commentary on Kelly and Johnston’s ‘The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome.’” Family Court Review, 42(4), 622–628.

Johnston, J. R., & Kelly, J. B. (2004). Commentary on Walker, Brantley, & Rigsbee’s (2004) “A critical analysis of parental alienation syndrome and its admissibility in the family court.” Journal of Child Custody, 1(4), 77–89.

Johnston, J. R., Kline, M., & Tschann, J. M. (1989). Ongoing postdivorce conflict: Effects on children of joint custody and frequent access. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 59(4), 576–592.

Johnston, J. R., Lee, S., Olesen, N. W., & Walters, M. G. (2005). Allegations and substantiations of abuse in custody-disputing families. Family Court Review, 43(2), 283–294.

Johnston, J. R., Walters, M. G., & Olesen, N. W. (2005). Clinical ratings of parenting capacity and Rorschach protocols of custody-disputing parents: An exploratory study. Journal of Child Custody, 2, 159–178.

Johnston, J. R., Walters, M. G., & Olesen, N. W. (2005). Is it alienating parenting, role reversal or child abuse? A study of children’s rejection of a parent in child custody disputes. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 5(4), 191–218.

Johnston, J. R., Walters, M. G., & Olesen, N. W. (2005c). The psychological functioning of alienated children in custody disputing families: An exploratory study. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 23(3), 39–64.

Kelly, J. (2010).  Commentary on Family bridges:  Using insights from social science to reconnect parents and alienated children.  Family Court Review, 48(1), 81–90.

Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s adjustment following divorce: Risk and resilience perspectives. Family Relations, 52, 352–362.

Kelly, J. B., & Lamb, M. E. (2000). Using child development research to make appropriate custody and access decisions for young children. Family Court Review, 38(3), 297–311.

Kelly, J. B., & Johnston, J. R. (2001). The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome. Family Court Review (Special Issue: Alienated children in divorce), 39(3), 249–266.

Klass, J. L., & Klass, J. V. (2005). Threatened mother syndrome (TMS): A diverging concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). American Journal of Family Law, 18(4), 189–191.

Kopetski, L. (1998). Identifying cases of parent alienation syndrome: Part I. Colorado Lawyer, 27(2), 65–68.

Kopetski, L. (1998). Identifying cases of parent alienation syndrome: Part II. Colorado Lawyer, 27(3), 61–64.

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Kopetski, L, Rand, D. C., & Rand, R. (2006). Incidence, gender, & false allegations of child abuse, data on 84 parental alienation syndrome cases. In R. A. Gardner, S. R. Sauber, & D. Lorandos (Eds.), The international handbook of parental alienation syndrome, conceptual, clinical and legal considerations (pp. 65–70). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Kuehnle, K. (1998). Child sexual abuse evaluations: The scientist–practitioner model. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 16(1), 5–20.

Kuehnle, K. (1998b). Ethics and the forensic expert: A case study of child custody involving allegations of child sexual abuse. Ethics & Behavior, 8(1), 1–18.

Kuehnle, K., & Connell, M. (2009). The evaluation of child sexual abuse allegations: A comprehensive guide to assessment and testimony. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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 Leona Kopetski,  a Social Worker (MSSW ). She was not aware of Gardner’s work. As a custody evaluator, she described the very same phenomenon observed by Gardner.

Kopetski reported on 84 serious PAS cases from a sample of 413 court ordered custody evaluations in Colorado (63). The assessments were conducted by the Family and Children’s Evaluation Team (FCET), of which Kopetski was a member. Their protocol included structured interviews of each parent, obtaining developmental histories for the children, observations of parent-child interaction and individual evaluation of the child. Beginning in 1988, formal psychological testing of the parents was performed for all cases in which there were allegations of abuse, neglect, or a parent was seeking to restrict or exclude the other parent’s contact with the child. Prior to learning of Gardner’s work, the team independently came to very similar conclusions. Kopetski characterizes PAS as a form of psychosocial pathology in which a parent psychologically exploits the child and appropriates social systems in order to achieve alienation. The team’s formulations reflect a social influence model and Clawar and Rivlin’s work is referenced. Bowlby’s attachment theories were found to be the most useful for understanding PAS. The team concurred with Bowlby’s observation that “strong” or “intense” parent-child attachments are not necessarily healthy ones.

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