Parental Alienation Is A Pattern of Severe Psychological and Emotional Child Abuse

Posted on August 12, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |



by Dr. Randy Rand


Work product prepared by Dr. Randy Rand – January 27, 2005
Parental Alienation is a severe form of psychological abuse: Psychological maltreatment is a pattern of adult behavior, which is psychologically destructive to the child, sabotaging the child’s normal development of self and social competence. The following are 6 types of psychological maltreatment involved in parental alienation:
Rejecting: The children’s legitimate need for a relationship with the hated parent and the family of the hated parent are rejected. Rejecting involves behaviors that communicate or constitute abandonment. Who the children are as developing young people is rejected.
Ignoring: The children feel neglected and abandoned by the alienating parent’s emotional unavailability. The children have to take care of the alienating parent. The alienating parent is so absorbed in hating the rejected parent and manipulating the children’s loyalties by selectively withholding love and attention and approval. Feeling insecure about the anger the alienating parent has toward hated parent, the children seek attention and approval by saying bad things about the hated parent.
Isolating: The alienating parent isolates children by restricting normal social relationships so children won’t foster autonomy and independence.
Terrorizing: The children are verbally assaulted by the alienating parent, who creates a climate of fear, bullies and frightens the children, making them believe the target parent is hostile and a threat. The alienating parent makes the children believe that the world is capricious and hostile.
Corrupting: The children are mis-socialized by the alienating parent, reinforced for manipulative, deviant or aggressive behavior that serves the PAS agenda, even to the point of being destructive to self and/or others. In false allegations of abuse, the children are barraged with deviant behavior, taught to lie about the other parent and actively participate in perpetuating the deception. Corruption to the extent of lobbying for the legal system to sever and reject the target parents relationship with the children.
Interference with Social Competence and Self-Esteem: The drive to master interpersonal competence and work through interpersonal conflict gets squelched. This deprives the child of learning healthy self-esteem, that of knowing oneself, being accountable for one’s actions, and acting responsibly toward others and self. Instead the child learns maladaptive patterns of manipulating and acting aggressive towards others. The child fails to learn empathy, a critical condition for successful adult functioning. Instead they learn to be paranoid and adopt the pathology of the alienating parent.
Damage to the alienated children
· Pathology – a life of maladaptive patterns of thinking, behaving and relating.
· Anti social stance, don’t need to respect authority or conform to social rules.
· Can’t defer immediate gratification for long term goals, do what feels good and do it now. They become conflict avoiding or adopt an aggressive bullying
strategy for winning over conflict.
· Absence of shame or guilt.
· Absence of empathy or sympathy
· Impairment of the ability to form stable human relationships.
· Deceitfulness: Lie with a straight face. Accepting antisocial life stance
· Manipulation and aggression versus negotiating and interpersonal skills.
· Irresponsibility, disloyalty and betrayal, are what the alienated children live with.
Children are eager to have a relationship with both parents in a divorce.
· Longitudinal studies reveal that children in alignments are less psychologically healthy compared to those children who are allowed to maintain their affection for both parents.
· Aligned children are angrier, less well adjusted, and less able to conceptualize complex situations.
· They express self-confidence because they are taking a stand but it is a false sense of confidence based on anger and rejection.
· The children who reject one parent and refuse visitation are the most noticeably disturbed children and their alliances are usually with the more psychologically dysfunctional parent.
· The alienated pre-adolescent and adolescent children do not reunite with the target parent, and the estimated small number that do seek out the target parent during young adulthood, do so with lots of excess baggage because they come to it with a false history.
· Sibling relationships are usually permanently damaged when the oldest child influences the youngest toward the alignment and rejecting one parent.

The steps in the alienation process:
“Brainwashing” was defined as the interactional process by which the child was persuaded to accept and elaborate on the program. Brainwashing occurs over time and involves repetition of the program, or code words referring to the program, until the subject responds with attitudinal and behavioral compliance.
According to Clawar and Rivlin, the influence of a programming parent can be conscious and willful or unconscious and unintentional. It can be obvious or subtle, with rewards for compliance that were material, social or psychological. Noncompliance may be met with subtle psychological punishment such as withdrawal of love, or direct corporal punishment. The Clawar and Rivlin study found that children might be active or passive participants in the alienation process. The nature and degree of the child’s involvement in the PAS may change over time.
This study identifies the influential role of other people in the child’s life, such as relatives and professionals aligned with the alienating parent, whose endorsement of the program advances the brainwashing process. In a general way, these findings appear to replicate Johnston’s research on high conflict divorce which identified the importance of third party participants in parental conflicts. Rand noted the influence of so-called “professional participants in Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy type abuse which in divorce can overlap with PAS.
Clawar and Rivlin identify eight stages of the programming- brainwashing process, which culminates in severe Parental Alienation Syndrome (7). Recognizing the power imbalance between parent and child, they view the process as driven by the alienating parent who induces the child’s compliance on a step by step basis:
1) A thematic focus to be shared by the programming parent and child emerges or is chosen. This may be tied to a more or less formal ideology relating to the family, religion, or ethnicity;
2) A sense of support and connection to the programming parent is created;
3) Feeling of sympathy for the programming parent is induced;
4) The child begins to show signs of compliance, such as expressing fear of visiting the target parent or refusing to talk to that parent on the phone;
5) The programming parent tests the child’s compliance, for example, asking the child questions after a visit and rewarding the child for “correct” answers;
6) The programming parent tests the child’s loyalty by having the child express views and attitudes, which suggest a preference for one parent over the other;
7) Escalation/intensification/generalization occurs, for example, broadening the program with embellished or new allegations; the child rejects the target parent in a global, unambivalent fashion;
8) The program is maintained along with the child’s compliance, which may range from minor reminders and suggestions to intense pressure, depending on court activity and the child’s frame of mind.

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Parental Alienation and Children Exhibiting Visitation Refusal Behaviour

Posted on August 12, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |

By Joseph Goldberg

There are significant differences between children who are true victims of abuse and the subset of children who are programmed to falsely believe it.

There are also unjustified reasons for parental rejection. (Presently there are no studies comparing justified reasons for parental rejection to unjustified reasons, but such a study in the future, would be important in the efficacy of therapeutic interventions).

Many times a child’s unjustified reason for parental rejection is directly linked to the negative influence of an aligned parent. This is referred to in the social science literature as parental alienation and the children who are afflicted with  this condition are vulnerable to a long list of maladaptive behaviours, including personality disorders. (Gardner, 1985, Bernet, 2010). There are also three (3), stages of parental alienation. The child becomes progressively more disturbed traversing from the mild, to moderate and then severe stages of alienation.

The psychological harm that results from splitting, and the more serious stages of parental alienation can be minimized with the early coaching intervention of a parental alienation consultant. This expert is best able to instruct the rejected parent how to better manage his or her relationships, within the family dynamic. (Goldberg)

Things A Parental Alienation Consultant Can Do For You, Joseph Goldberg, CSPAS conference in NYC                      at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Parental Alienation Syndrome: Past, Present and Future.

Parental alienation can also be a causal factor in self-injuring behaviour in children, including eating disorders. Alienated children are at a high risk of drug and alcohol abuse, they may suffer from mood disorders, have low self esteem, they may be depressed, or anxious or trying to cope with persistent panic attacks and some alienated children have been misdiagnosed as asthmatic.

There are also alienating parents who put their children on medication they do not need. Parents that engage in this behaviour attempt to make it appear (for custody purposes) that the child becomes adversely affected prior to, or shortly after their visitation with the rejected parent. Alienating parents will also go             doctor shopping for mental health practitioners that support their view that the child’s visitations should be terminated or limited to supervision. Lawyers may be partly responsible for also suggesting such strategies to alienating parents.

Whether the child is medicated or not, the mere threat of telling a child they need to be placed on psychotropic medication is cause enough to intensify visitation refusal behaviourThe struggle over medication abuse can be better avoided with the help of retaining a parental alienation consultant.

In addition, alienated children can have other unjustified reasons for rejection of a parent; reasons that have – nothing to do – with the negative influence of a favoured parent. For example an alienated child can have unjustified reasons triggered by the parent entering into a newly married relationship.   Remarriage as a Trigger of Parental Alienation Syndrome The American Journal of Family Therapy, 28: 229-241, 2000  Richard Warshak, Ph.D.

Today, mental health professionals already recognize parental alienation as a serious form of child abuse and science has unraveled how a parent’s negative influence can inculcate a child with parental alienation syndrome.

Psychological Associations have already started to identify Parental Alienation Syndrome as a diagnostic mental disorder.

In 2010, the Psychological Association of Spain classified Parental Alienation Syndrome (P.A.S.) as a mental disorder. According to American psychiatrist Dr. William Bernet, who proposed Parental Alienation Disorder  (P.A.D.) as a diagnosis to the DSM – 5 task force members, alienated children refuse visitation as a primary behavioural response.  In collaboration with over four hundred clinicians, Dr. Bernet has documented that parental alienation is now a global reality.

In some parts of the world, it is a criminal offence to parentally alienate a child. Also in 2010 Brazil passed laws making it a criminal offence to alienate children. Published in the popular press.

Family law judges in dozens of countries refer to alienating behaviour and even when judges never use a term like parental alienation, they consistently order parents not to engage in acts of alienation. To illustrate this point, most judges warn parents not to “badmouth the other parent in front of the child, ” not to ” expose the children to adult information, ” and not to ” interfere with visitation. ”   This proves that judges are not only aware of parental alienation, but how concerned they are that a parents negative influence can be a threat to the child’s well being. Many Final Dissolution of Marriage court orders also specify judicial boundaries that pertain to the contraction of alienation.

Due to the rapid development of parental alienation it’s not surprising that most parents are completely unaware of it and later surprised to learn it has a diagnostic term. This is a distinction normally reserved for rejected parents, because it is not until that parent is overwhelmed by the child’s denigrating behaviour, that they discover this nomenclature on the internet.

Social science has recently discovered that there’s also a transgenerational relationship in parental alienation. New data now indicates that alienated children frequently marry spouses who divorce them and later turn their own children against them (Baker 2009) Adult Children of Parental Alienation Breaking The Ties That Bind, Amy Baker, Ph.D, Published by Norton

Currently the American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A) is considering parental alienation disorder for inclusion in the DSM-5, and the ICD-11 is working with a parental alienation study group on the definitional terminology for it’s next edition. Parental alienation is also a very narrow sub-speciality in psychiatry, so very few clinicians know there are 3 possible classifications for it’s inclusion in the DSM-5.

In the opinion of many clinicians who support the new diagnosis the one that appears     to be most favoured is:

Parental Alienation Relational Problem

Even critics that do not believe Parental Alienation Disorder should be classified in the main body of Appendix A, uniformly agree, that it does deserve to be listed as a relational problem.  If the A.P.A. agrees, P.A.R.P. will be assigned a DSM-5 diagnostic V Code.

Note: There are 3 possible ways for parental alienation to get into the DSM-5: in the main body of Appendix A as a mental disorder, in Appendix B as a relational problem or Appendix A in one of the appendices of DSM-5      under Criteria Sets and Axes for further study.

Children that advance to the more severe stages of parental alienation have delusional thinking. One such belief is that the parent they once loved and trusted is now dangerous and unsafe to be with. The alienating parent maintains the same belief. This of course has a substantial impact on the child’s visitation refusal behaviour. Many of the experts in parental alienation (Caddy, Sauber, Worenklein, Bernet), liken this relation- al problem to shared delusional disorder and numerous scientific articles do refer to alienated children as being in a ” folie a deux ” with the alienating parent.

One of the unique clinical features in severe parental alienation is the child’s delusional belief that there never was a close or loving bond with the rejected parent.  The child clings to this belief even after viewing photos or videos debunking their delusion. It is this aspect of the child’s condition that makes Parental Alienation Disorder so worthy of inclusion in DSM- 5 as a mental disorder.

Whether the child believes there never was a close and loving bond with the rejected parent or expects the rejected parent to believe it, both sets of beliefs represent examples of delusional thinking.  It is therefore accurate to conclude that these children have an abnormal and self-harming set of beliefs.

For the victimized and rejected parent it is best to sum up their experience by saying:

No loving, caring parent with a history of good relations with the child would ever accept at face value the child’s false and delusional belief.

Either the alienated child expects their view of reality to be accepted by the rejected parent or the child accepts their own disorderly thinking because they are unaware of the parental alienation. Imagine for just a moment someone telling you that the car you’re driving is not a car; it’s an alien spaceship.

Only the genesis of the delusion is really at question, not the delusion itself.

Going back to the topic of victims of abuse, many are in denial of their abuse and sometimes that denial can last for a very long time. Being in denial, is the same for alienated children (who are the victims of parental programming), the difference is that alienated children see their abuser as being ” all good “ Victims of abuse do not lack such a total ambivalence. Also alienated children want everyone to accept as they do, the symbiotic relationship they have with the programming abuser.

Clinicians need to recognize this false-positive façade. The failure to do so only exposes the child to more programming abuse and suffering

When a child expresses constant unjustified denigration of a parent, it strongly in dictates the evidence of damaged critical thinking. More research is needed to quantify the extent of this damage, but what we do know is that the child’s critical thinking is in short supply.

Another marker in understanding the alienated child is that they do not show any sign of guilt or remorse for the denigrating behaviour. It is important to have compassion for these children because they are not at fault for their delusional thinking. Rejected parents also need a great deal of empathy to help them understand why a loving child they once cared for and understood, now rejects them for unjustified, illogical reasons.

In response to and perhaps in defense of their actions, a rejected parent (who doesn’t know about parental alienation or fully understand it) may respond in overly reactive ways. These parents suffer from an abundance of undeserved criticism. They may see     their child as a victim of emotional abuse and programming and they worry about the well being of the child and how to restore them back to mental health.

Due to factors that vary between frustration and a lack of understanding, these parents may have situational times in which they lose control over their better judgment in responding to the child and or with the alienating parent.  Many efforts are made by rejected parents to get their children to express apologies for their behaviour. Others try to elicit feelings of remorse in an effort to break down the child’s wall of denial.

As an example, lets look at the widely publicized story about actor Alec Baldwin and his voicemail message referring to his daughter as ” a rude little pig ” Angry, frustrated parents like Mr. Baldwin could have benefited from the advise of a parental alienation consultant in pre empting such a reaction. Unfortunately there are not many lawyers who know about parental alienation consultants so very few parents ever learn how to find them.

Even parents falsely accused of parental alienation, can benefit from a parental alienation consultant.

The fact that so few alienating parents reach out for the services of a parental alienation consultant seems to indicate that the large majority of those being accused of alienation are in fact true alienators. What else could explain why someone being unfairly accused of such behaviour would not want an expert to disprove it?  One other possible explanation is that some family law lawyers may be concerned that the advise or suggestions that they have given to their clients, could implicate them in the alienation and therefore would not want a parental alienation consultant to detect it.

It also helps a rejected parent to get the right advise at the time it’s most needed. It would be an understatement to say that rejected parents need experts to help them. They constantly have to cope with one crisis after another and the family law lawyer cannot fill this role because (1.) they’re not experts in parental alienation and (2.) they’re not available to advise their clients about daily chaotic events.

The alienated child is also frustrated. The goal for them is to convince the rejected parent to give up and walk away, to let them decide whether or not they want to be with them or not. In most cases they have already made up their mind not to be with them.When their efforts to separate from the rejected parent fail, it generates a great deal of frustration.  In short, it becomes a zero sum game for the child. Winner takes all!

An effort to separate from a rejected parent can also be a staged event to influence third parties (e.g. a therapist, a school counselor, a lawyer, a DCF investigator). In the background and unbeknownst to third parties, an alienating parent coaches and empowers the child to represent and echo their wishes, as a freely individuated viewpoint.

Third parties have no insight themselves to how the child ‘s viewpoint got foisted upon them by a programming parent. Also, unbeknownst to the rejected parent, the alienated child is testing them to help shape and sharpen their own credibility.

Third parties (e.g. mental health professionals, ad litem, etc) only get an opportunity to hear a small portion of the history in assessing the parent-child relationship. They only learn what they do from unreliable discussions with the child and alienating parent  (or sometimes from the allies of an alienating parent). Rarely do they get the real truth or   all the facts. Some simply say that they are not the trier of fact  therefore it’s not up to them to look at all the forensic, historical data regarding how the alienation started and developed. This maintains the alienation in its place, and it reinforces greater visitation refusal behaviour.

Alienated children often use what they learn from “ separation failure. “ A term I prefer   to use because it helps point to the child’s coaching (sometimes by an alienating parent other times with help from a naïve mental health professional).  The child uses the past experience to better assuage third parties. These children learn that third parties are frequently more likely to accept what they hear (from them) and see (in them) at face value.

The alienated child is also aware of many opportunities to use third parties to get other third parties to intervene. (e.g. like when the child alleges abuse to a school counselor who then reports it to the DCF).

Frequently, third parties refer to the “maturity ” of the child, the “age ” of the child or the fact the child “may be doing good in school” to rubber stamp their beliefs that the child should be able to reject a parents contact. This is also the prayer being answered for an alienating parent. Some judges will allow 13 or 14 year old children to make up their own mind about a parental relationship.

Imagine allowing a 13 or 14 year old child to stay out as late as they want unsupervised or letting a 14 year old decide for themselves if they want or need to go to school?  Yet children this age are often times given authority to decide if they want to see and have a parental relationship with a parent that’s never been proven to be abusive, neglectful, or been found guilty of any significant parenting deficits. This reinforces more visitation refusal behaviour. Isn’t it easy to say that a parent can’t force a child to get into a car for a visitation?

Yet the same parent makes no complaints about the child being reluctant to follow other instructions they give.

Sadly, many third parties parcel out advise to rejected parents that maybe they should   just give up the hope of having a parental relationship and just let the child comeback to them whenever they feel ready. Unfortunately, alienated children rarely come back on their own and they are never encouraged by the alienating parent to do so. If intervention does not occur, the child’s visitation refusal is more likely to become permanent. These third parties offering such advise are badly mistaken. One has to wonder if it were their child being abused and implanted with false beliefs, would they just walk away?

Clearly as more and more mental health professionals and as worldwide psychological and psychiatric associations acknowledge the reality of this parental alienation entity, the more advancement will be made in treatment services to alienated children, their parents, and to other family members.

In moderate and severe stages of parental alienation, the alienated child will reject all the other family members connected with the rejected parent. This total rejection spreads to grandparents, aunts, and uncles, cousins, friends of the family even the family pet will be abandoned by an alienated child.

What can be done to treat parental alienation?

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of false and misleading information on the Internet relating to parental alienation. Various groups have polarized and overly opinionated viewpoints. Many are affected parents. Some have lost custody because they were found guilty of alienation, other parents are badly rankled because they’re trying to prove that alienation is what’s going on and that it’s the cause of their lost relationship.

There are also many advocacy groups for father’s rights organizations and some women’s rights organizations pushing the debate even further saying that parental alienation is just junk science.

Many people in the past have voiced opposition to new diagnostic conditions.   (E.g. PTSD, AIDS) but those professionals were never as vilified as are the professionals    now involved in the study and science investigating parental alienation.

The reason that this is so, is because of the legal quagmire that surrounds the custody and treatment interventions.

No other mental health diagnosis is so rooted in a legal conflict as is the one involving parental alienation. This is the cause of much controversy. Some of the emphatic viewpoints being promulgated are simply biased. Others are based upon support for divergent agendas. Many people are spewing distorted and misleading facts because    they fear the recognition of a disorder that could expose their behaviour from the past, in the present, and into the future.

What comes around goes around. It is not uncommon for alienated children to turn against the alienator’s that programmed them.

Some alienating parents suffer in silence over the fear that their children will one day    turn against them. Many alienated children do, and this is even more likely to occur if the recognition of parental alienation is accepted in the DSM-5 and the ICD -11.

Imagine not only the influence of mental health professionals who begin to identify the diagnosis in larger numbers but the societal impact of movies and documentaries about parental alienation, add in books being published by famous celebrities telling their own stories about how parental alienation negatively influenced their life.

At some point in the not to distant future we may hear a very vocal outcry from tens of thousands of rejected-alienatorspleading for treatment plans to help them restore their lost relationships with alienated children. For this reason, interventions should immediately address this reality because a large percentage of alienated children are dis- advantaged in having already lost relationships with both parents.

Also, one very large movement is trying to change visitation so it’s more equal to both the parents. Although equal parenting is certainly a positive step in giving children the maximum time with each parent, it won’t stop or prevent the behaviour of an alienating parent.

In terms of treatment for alienated children, reunification has worked for children in situations where they were kidnapped and later given the chance to be reunified with a long lost parent.  It has helped children repair relationships with parents who have been in jail for long periods of time, but reunification therapfor alienated children hasn’t worked at all. In fact it has a high failure rate.

Traditional counseling is also failing. The social science literature shows converging data that traditional counseling offers no therapeutic gains for alienated children. Other data reports that traditional counseling actually makes things worse. It is unfortunate    but true that most mental health professionals have no specialized knowledge or expertise in treating children who are victims of parental alienation and in an AFCC article in the Family Law Review it stated the following advise to the courts:

” If parental alienation is even alleged, it is highly recommended that the court appoint an expert with specialized knowledge and expertise ”

The article in the family law review is: Children Resisting Postseparation Contact With A Parent: Concepts, Controversies, and Conundrums, Barbara Jo Fidler and Nicholas Bala Family Court Review, Vol 48, Number 1 January 2010.

For families and third parties seeking professionals for treatment it is also sad but true that most mental health professionals avoid litigious cases involving visitation refusal behaviour and custody disputes in order to side step professional complaints that stem from disaffected parents.

Due to this problem more and more practitioners are giving up and getting out of this line of work.

Also many practitioners that do custody evaluations no longer want to be involved.    They to, encounter complaints that are costly to defend. For this reason many families face the probability that the evaluator they turn to, is less likely to make the correct differential diagnosis.

There is however one organization taking giant steps in helping families that are in     need of these professional services:

The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome (CSPAS).

The CSPAS has a network of qualified mental health professionals who have special training and expertise in parental alienation and in understanding all the diagnostic factors why children reject parents.

They can refer parents and lawyers to custody evaluators or to mental health practitioners for counseling. They offer free referrals and free consultations. The professionals associated with the CSPAS Referral Service Center have qualified as more experienced in this field on the basis that they have (1.) attended CSPAS conferences, or (2.) purchased DVD clinical speaker resources for their practice, which they also share with patients or (3.) have taken a CSPAS Continuing Educational Course on Parental Alienation (already approved by the American Psychological Association for 18 CEC’s.)

The website for this organization is:

In conclusion, the best advise for the prevention of parental alienation and to end the child’s visitation refusal behaviour is for the rejected parent to assert control by surrounding him or herself with the right assembly of professionals.  A more sensible starting point would be to retain a parental alienation consultant and to build the legal -therapeutic intervention around the guidance of that expert.

Many collaborative professionals in the divorce industry might argue that these matters are better handled with a more mediated approach, unfortunately, they overlook (some for self-serving reasons), the large population of alienating parents who are personality disordered individuals and as such, they have no insight to the harm they cause to their own children.

These parents do not follow court orders and they have even less interest in following separation agreements. They stall for time to be able to program their children. They use professionals only if it will further their own aims, they dismiss or fight against any professionals that do not take their side (including their own lawyers) and some professionals give them the seeds of knowledge either wittingly or unwittingly to achieve their goals.

Alienating parents often times use collaborative professionals to manipulate their former spouses into flawed agreements. In case after case, trusting parents (who later end up rejected parents) are encouraged to enter into separation agreements or a consent orders and in the process they give away far to much control and power to the alienating parent.

There is also validating research that parental alienation occurs in intact families. This is important to know because many alienators start the process of programming a child long before any collaborative process begins. All the alienating parent needs is a bit more time to finish the job. How can any collaborative lawyer or a family mediator ensure any better the protection of a child from parental alienation if the parental alienation is already going on under everyone’s radar?  This is just another good reason to engage a parental alienation consultant early in the process of a separation or divorce. Three Types of Alienators, Douglas Darnall, Ph.D ( 1997 ).

Many family law lawyers and mental health professionals also skip over the ethical and professional codes of conduct in order to retain the clients that come through their doors. Most parents that enter into a high conflict divorce with children have no cognizance of this, and they have very limited funds.  So they can ill afford to make mistakes or correct them at a later date.

Most family law lawyers would be disadvantaged in taking on parental alienation cases without the expertise of a parental alienation consultant. Not only do they need the help in finding the right mental health professionals for counseling and evaluations, they al- so need their clients working with a professional that can monitor and respond to every- day events.

Added to the complexity of this problem are professionals whose egos prohibit them from acknowledging their shortcomings and the greater need for them to step aside so that more qualified professionals can take their place.

Judges are also easy targets to blame when parents are disappointed but judges can only make rulings based on how a case is presented to them, and if the lawyer does not have an expert assisting them then it’s not the judge’s fault. In my opinion a majority of judges are exceeding brilliant and the enormous amount of derision they receive is undeserved.

In addition, family law lawyers would be able to litigate their cases more effectively with the help of a parental alienation consultant; even clients with small budgets should be ad -vised to at least seek a free consultation from such a professional.  As odd as it may seem to add more people to the litigation team, the fact is that when clients do retain such professionals, they save substantial amounts of legal fees because ineffective legal strategies are voted down at the starting gate. For the client this could represent savings in tens of thousands of dollars and a great deal of wasted time and heartache.

Also any client without this professional expertise is likely to bounce from one lawyer to the next as things go from bad to worse. Regardless of how other professionals become involved in these cases it will always be important for family law judges to have a solid education in parental alienation. It is the only way to maximize the best interest of children and to reassure the public that parental alienation is being better understood. The key to ending visitation refusal behaviour is to identify the true reasons why children reject a parent and then to apply the most appropriate therapeutic intervention.

Parental Alienation and Children Exhibiting Visitation Refusal Behaviour

By Joseph Goldberg

Parental Alienation Expert and Family Law Consultant

Founder of The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome

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Brian Ludmer on Family Matters Blog Talk Radio (I)

Posted on August 11, 2012. Filed under: Family Matters Blog Talk Radio | Tags: , , , , , |

Brian Ludmer, is a lawyer with substantial experience representing targeted parents. Brian will be writing about tips in various areas including:Managing your legal case; dealing with mental health professionals; and helping alienated parents.

He is authoring a chapter in the forthcoming 2nd Edition of TheInternational Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Brian brings a unique perspective to parental alienation cases, having successfully solved his own family dynamic when faced with attempts to estrange him from his own children.

Unlike many other professionals – HE SPEAKS FROM EXPERIENCE.

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Bryan McGlothin on Family Matters Blog Talk Radio

Posted on August 11, 2012. Filed under: Family Matters Blog Talk Radio | Tags: , , , , , |

Have you seen my mother?

It was the mid 60’s when Bryan, at age two, was abducted by his father. Bryan was, stealthily, spirited away and taken from Town to Town by his father, keeping their whereabouts unknown. His mother, at nineteen and heartbroken, felt powerless.

Bryan was taught at a very young age that his mother was demonized and that she had been physically abusive to him as a baby. As the years went on and Bryan grew older, several times he asked his father for information to contact his mother; his father always shrugged his shoulders. Then at age eighteen, Bryan inquires once again of his mother, only to be told, by his father, that she had overdosed on drugs and died in a mental institution.

Listen to the one hours show on Blog Talk Radio.

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Divorce Court: Mopping Up the Mess

Posted on August 11, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |

Huffington Post Article Posted: 08/16/11 by Dr. Richard Warshak
 Most people never have their day in court. They have no need. They commit no crimes. They avoid lawsuits. And they never testify at a trial. Most of us never even serve on a jury, despite being summoned every few years.

The closest most people come to a courtroom is watching “Law & Order,” unless they get divorced or have ringside seats to the breakup of the marriage of a relative or friend. Then they sink into the quagmire known as our family law system. Nearly everyone who enters this system gives it low marks. The so-called “winners” and the “losers.” Everyone agrees. The polite way to say it: the system is deeply flawed. Privately, attorneys, judges, and litigants bemoan: the system sucks.

Alec Baldwin speaks for those victimized by a system that too easily places itself in the service of a parent’s vindictive wish to erase the other parent from the child’s life. Advocates for victims of domestic violence believe the system fails to adequately protect abused spouses and their children. Fathers’ rights advocates are convinced that courts remain mired in the early 20th century model that relegates fathers to the role of material provider while leaving child-rearing to mothers. Libertarian feminists want to break down the influence of gender role bias. Mother’s rights advocates worry that courts view fathers as saints if they spend a little extra time with their children, and fear that mothers with high-powered careers enter a custody dispute with two strikes against them.

In the face of massive dissatisfaction on so many fronts, it is gratifying to know that help is on the way. And from a source that may surprise you: the people who created this system and earn their living from it.

We have a love-hate relationship with the legal profession. Books, films, and television serve up lawyers as heroes (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) and as devils (Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate”). When involved in a divorce, you probably think of your spouse’s lawyer as evil incarnate. But, when you hire your own lawyers, they become your gladiators.

Some of these gladiators have come to realize that the adversary system, designed to establish guilt or innocence, does violence to families embroiled in child custody disputes. To transform a system of justice widely viewed as unjust (a “psychological meat grinder” according to one victim), the American Bar Association Section on Family Law, partnering with the University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children and the Courts, last summer inaugurated a massive initiative that is now poised to bring family law into the 21st century.

Bringing together sixty top family law experts — judges, law professors, and practicing attorneys along with about five mental health professionals (disclaimer: I am one of the non-lawyers privileged to participate in this initiative) — the group’s mission, under the banner “Families Matter,” is to generate proposals for radical reform that rectify the destructive impact of the family law legal process.

The project will take several years. But early signs point to a key reform: rather than treat each case with a one-size-fits-all approach, family courts need to adopt a lesson from medical emergency rooms: triage. Essential to efficient use of limited resources is early identification and fast-tracking intervention with families most at risk for violence and severed parent-child relationships. These are the cases that take up residence in the system, clogging the courts with repeated visits to the courthouse, each parent desperately trying to protect children from the harm perceived as the handiwork of the other parent. It is no exaggeration to say that getting to these cases sooner will prevent many tragedies. Fewer parents on the edge will take the law into their own hands. Fewer children will languish unprotected against violence. Fewer children will succumb to manipulations aimed at drafting them into paying allegiance to one parent at the expense of their relationship with the other. Losing a parent is a price children should not have to pay for their parents’ breakup.

Change is coming. To help the next generation avoid blood-letting in family courts, it is not a moment too soon.

Dr. Richard Warshak is the author of Divorce Poison: How To Protect Your Family From Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing (HarperCollins), the classic and best-selling parental alienation resource in the world, and co-author of Welcome Back, Pluto: Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Parental Alienation , the leading resource for families whose children struggle to stay out of the middle of parental conflicts. You may find him at and his blog,Plutoverse.

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Every Child has Certain Inalienable Rights

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Friend of the Court

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Recent California Amicus Brief Involves Tired Old Myths About PAS
Published on June 20, 2012 by Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. in Caught Between Parents

A recent Amicus brief written by DV Report, The Leadership Council, Justice for Children, , The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, California Protective Parents Association, and Sheila James Kuehl dated November 22, 2011was filed in order to prevent the judge from transferring custody of 4 children to their father from whom they were alienated. According to the brief, “PAS posits that when children reject their father and they or their mother make abuse allegations, that behavior is most likely the product of a mother’s alienating tactics rather than actual experience of abuse” (page 14). The case was McRoberts (mother) v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County and Steven Lesserson (father).

Statements like this infuriate me because they pack so many untruths. First, there is the presumption that all PAS cases are ones in which the mother is the favored parent and the father is the rejected parent. This is not what Dr. Gardner wrote about and it is not consistent with research on the topic, which clearly shoes that mothers can become innocent victims of their former spouses malicious manipulation of the children. To propagate misunderstandings/untruths such as this does a lot of damage to mothers everywhere who are seeking validation and support in their efforts to deal with the alienation of their children.

Second, PAS theory does NOT posit that when a child rejects a father it MUST be because of alienation rather than actual abuse. In fact, Gardner and those who follow in his footsteps emphasize that bona fide abuse and neglect must be ruled out prior to a decision about PAS being made.

Third, PAS theory does not state that simply because one parent makes an allegation against the other that it is ipso facto alienation. As noted above, abuse allegations must be investigated prior to alienation being determined.

I have tried to have a discussion with the folks at California Protective Parents Association but they did not want to have a discussion with me, although the woman I was communicating with offered to pray for me. I cannot help but conclude that they are willfully choosing to be ignorant about what PAS theory really is so that they can continue to hate us. In order to acknowledge that we who endorse the concept are not evil or crazy, they would have to give up their bogey man. In that way they are committed to their delusion every bit as much as alienated children are committed to theirs. I typically encourage alienated parents to never give up on their alienated children and I will follow my own advice and continue to reach out to these groups in order to one day achieve a mutualunderstanding.

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Parental Alienation Is Emotional Abuse of Children

Posted on August 10, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |

Published on June 28, 2011 by Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. in Caught Between Parents

Parental alienation is a set of strategies that parents use to undermine and interfere with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent. This often but not always happens when parents are engaged in a contested custody battle. There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.

Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child: (1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself, (2) the other parent is dangerous and unavailable, and (3) pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me. In essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others. This is the core experience of psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse) as defined by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).

Research with “adult children” of parental alienation syndrome (that is, adults who believe that when they were children one parent turned them against the other parent) confirms that being exposed to parental alienation represents a form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, these adults reported that when they succumbed to the pressure and rejected one parent to please the other, the experience was associated with several negative long-term effects including depression, drug abuse,divorce, low self-esteem, problems with trusting, and alienation from their own children when they became parents themselves. In this way the cycle of parental alienation was carried forward through the generations. Thus, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that damages the child’s self esteem in the short run and is associated with life-long damage.

As is often true with other forms of abuse, the child victims of parental alienation are not aware that they are being mistreated and often cling vehemently to the favored parent, even when that parent’s behavior is harmful to them. This is why, mental health and legal professionals involved in cases of parental alienation need to look closely at the family dynamics and determine what the cause of the child’s preferences for one parent and rejection of the other parent are. If the favored parent is found to be instigating the alignment and the rejected parent is found to be a potential positive and non abusive influence, then the child’s preferences should not be strictly heeded. The truth is, despite strongly held positions of alignment, inside many alienated children want nothing more than to be given permission and freedom to love and be loved by both parents.

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Parental Alienation – A Corrosive Legacy

Posted on August 10, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , |

By Judge Michele Lowrance

I have been a judge on the divorce bench for 16 years, and have watched the wreckage of the corrosive legacy of parental alienation and visitation interference play out over decades. We have no statistics for measuring this group, because the victims are too vast. But the concentric circles include the children, their children and the extended family as well. The declaration of war by one parent on another creates radioactive fallout, which contaminates for generations.

The alienating parent treats the target parent like a disease in the child that must be removed. They make the child’s survival contingent upon such removal. So the child must extricate the parent without the privilege of grieving the loss. These are crippling circumstances.

I have witnessed impassioned declarations of love for a child by an alienating parent to masquerade the venom he/she feels for the other parent. Parents who do this are not interested in mere control. Their stakes are higher: total annihilation of the target parent’s bond with the child. Little by little, alienation in a divorce case starts to take root. And when it fully takes root, I see the child’s boundaries collapse before my eyes. Soon the child forgets how to protect him or herself, and must align with the alienating parent as if life depends on it — because it does.

Perhaps curing this degenerating influence may, in the future, be addressed by therapy. But for now, we can and must do better. I want to tell you how to be proactive in court, and how to fight against the inclination to give up like so many hurt, alienated parents — who are, frankly, not always welcomed in the courts.

Why Cases Involving Parent Alienation are so Difficult

Here are some reasons these cases are so difficult, and why judges often have no love for them:

  1. Combative parents present conflicting stories of “he said / she said,” and make it very difficult to determine who is telling the truth. Often an alienating parent comes to believe what he or she is saying, and their presentation seems authentic.
  2. When targeted parents present their side of the case, they are often angry and frustrated — and as a result, they don’t present very well in court. Judges often consider attitude as influential as content.
  3. The children often support the alienating parent by telling the judge, their attorney and mental health professionals how they have been treated badly, and of their dislike, for the target parent. The reasoning skills of alienated children are often compromised, as is their ability to choose freely.
  4. Alienated children often won’t cooperate with therapeutic intervention, and courts have difficulty enforcing these orders.
  5. Judges like to believe that what they do works and it is the right decision. When their decisions don’t work, they often get exasperated with both parties.

What You can Do in Courts

Despite these difficulties there is plenty that you can do. Here are some suggestions for handling parental alienation in the courts:

  1. Parenting plan orders should be entered as soon as possible.
  2. Create an alienation map or chart for the judge, which shows him or her in five minutes what couldn’t be said in five hours. This map should include all missed visits, and a list of all the denigrating phrases made by alienating spouse to the children, including the friends and/or extended family of the hated parent (if they are admissible in evidence). If you know how to make a graph, you can show the increase in missed visits in a very compelling and impactful way.
  3. Most judges aren’t warm to the phrase Parent Alienation Syndrome. Instead, ask the judge to please keep an eye open for visitation interference, as the case progresses, and describe for him or her the maligning behavior.
  4. Get a court order for parenting therapy as soon as possible.
  5. If orders are violated, go to court on a Rule To Show Cause for violation of the order as soon as possible. If you can’t afford an attorney, then do this yourself. Write petition for rule, for visitation violation, for family therapy, or for makeup visitation.

You may be among the many alienated parents I have known, who have grown weary due to the repetitive stress fracture on your heart. Each time your visitation is interfered with, it has a cumulative affect. This can make you hyper sensitive, which easily magnifies your emotional response.

Because your emotions are flooding your ability to reason, writing and rewriting a petition with your attorney is a rational thing to do and gives your thoughts “breathing time.” If you immediately act upon your anger, you are just going to make things worse — and perhaps run the risk that the other parent will get an order of protection against you. Reflect upon the past consequences of your amped up anger. Did you write nasty emails, make hostile phone calls, yell at your child, become overly aggressive, or decide to retreat and do nothing?

The way to tell if your anger serves you is to always ask yourself the following four questions:

  1. Does this anger further my constructive goals?
  2. Does this anger further degenerate my relationship with my children?
  3. In what ways does this anger help me?
  4. In what ways does this anger help my spouse?

If your reactions are based upon what has been done to you, you can only respond with hatred. When you do this, you give the alienating parent the “upper hand,” because he or she has provoked you to become the hateful person who they are portraying you to be to the children. Don’t let someone else provoke, influence, and therefore control how you behave. You run the risk of actually becoming as miserable and dysfunctional of a person as they’re trying to portray you to your children. When you react with hatred, you not only play into their hands, you’re letting them steer your ship, letting them determine your present and future.

When Your Children Come Home, Who do You Want Them to Come Home to?

As you read this, you may be on the edge of giving up. You may be starting to feel that nothing can work against your former spouse’s devotion to destroy your relationship with your children. Even though you may be physically invisible to your children, you will always be visible to them through stories, gossip and second hand reporting from all sources. When we lose a loved one, we often decide to live the way that the departed person would have wanted us to. In the same spirit, when you lose a child to alienation, you need to live as if he or she is watching you. Your long term goal is to become the person your child wants to come home to.

Michele F. Lowrance has been a domestic-relations judge in the Circuit Court of Illinois since 1995. A child of divorce who was raised by her grandparents, Judge Lowrance has been divorced and has devoted her professional life to helping those similarly situated. For more information visit

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