Three Symptoms

“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”       — Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


Diagnosis is not seeking, diagnosis is following, diagnosis is discovering.

The goal of clinical assessment is to follow the symptom pattern to discover the cause.  In court-involved mental health, the findings of the assessment should be carefully documented in the patient record.  

The goal of clinical assessment is not to “find” something, like ADHD or autism or bipolar disorder.  The goal of clinical assessment is to follow the symptoms into the pattern that discloses the cause, discloses the ADHD diagnosis or the bipolar diagnosis.  As a clinical psychologist, I don’t care what pathology is identified through the assessment.  We will fix whatever it is. 

We simply need an accurate diagnosis in order to develop an effective treatment plan.  In clinical psychology, we follow the symptoms into the pattern that discloses the diagnosis.

Diagnostic Prediction

The application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms is called diagnosis.  A description of pathology using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology is called a diagnostic model; it explains why we see a particular symptom pattern.

The diagnostic model of attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) makes a prediction about the child’s symptom pattern.  AB-PA predicts the presence of three disparate, extremely rare, and seemingly unconnected child symptoms:

1.)  Attachment system suppression toward a normal-range parent,
2.)  Specific personality pathology in the child’s symptom display,
3.)  An encapsulated persecutory delusion.

If these symptoms are not present in the child’s symptoms, then the assessment and diagnosis follows the symptoms wherever they lead to discover the cause. 

However, if these three a-priori predicted symptoms of AB-PA are present in the child’s symptom display, they need explanation.

How does a child acquire this specific set of three highly unusual and disparate symptoms?

How does a child develop an attachment bonding rejection pathology toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent? 

AND…

AND…  How does the same child develop five specific narcissistic personality traits expressed specifically toward a parent?  AND…

AND… How does the same child develop an encapsulated persecutory delusion about the normal-range parenting of a normal-range parent?  This symptom is impossible to explain other than AB-PA.

If these three symptoms are present, they require an explanation.  An attachment-based model for the pathology of “parental alienation” surrounding divorce not only explains these symptoms, it predicts these specific symptoms.

The presence of these three symptoms in the child’s symptom display confirms the diagnostic model that makes this prediction. 

Each of these symptoms is exceedingly rare generally, and exceptionally rare in children.  Attachment bonding rejection from a child toward a normal-range parent is essentially unheard of beyond the age of 18 months, except in severe cases of child abuse such as incest or severe physical abuse.  Personality disorder pathology is also extremely unusual in a child.  An encapsulated persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent is not only rare, it is impossible to explain outside of the pathology of AB-PA.  There is no method by which a child acquires an encapsulated persecutory delusion regarding a normal-range parent except through the pathology of AB-PA (a cross-generational coalition with an allied parent against the targeted parent).

Not only does a Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of attachment-based “parental alienation”  explain the presence of these three disparate and unusual symptoms in the child’s symptom display, a Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck diagnostic model predicts these symptoms.

The presence of these three symptoms in the child’s symptom display is confirmatory evidence for the diagnostic model that predicts these symptoms.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

It begins with assessment.  Three symptoms.

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

Scientifically Grounded Professional Practice

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

We are returning to the ground foundation of science to solve the attachment-related family pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.

There is no such thing as AB-PA.  What AB-PA does is simply integrate the current scientific knowledge of professional psychology in order to diagnose attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

AB-PA is Bowlby, and Beck, and Millon, and Kernberg, and Minuchin, and Haley, and Bowen, and Fonagy, and Stern and all of the scientifically grounded research in professional psychology.

AB-PA is not the moon.  AB-PA is the finger pointing at the moon.

We are returning to the foundational ground of science to solve an attachment-related pathology that emerges surrounding divorce. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Can the scientifically grounded foundational knowledge of professional psychology solve attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce?  Absolutely, without a doubt. 

Then why aren’t we solving it? 

A: Because of professional ignorance and incompetence.  It’s as simple as that.  The mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing and treating attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce are simply ignorant and incompetent regarding the scientifically established constructs and principles of professional psychology – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck – and in the professional practice of assessment and differential diagnosis.

Professional Knowledge

Five domains of scientifically grounded fields of professional psychology – five information sets drawn from the scientifically grounded research in professional psychology – are required to solve attachment-related family pathology that emerges surrounding divorce:

The Attachment System:  The attachment system is the neurological brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  There is substantial scientifically grounded research surrounding the nature and functioning of the attachment system.

Principle Professional Figures: Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main, Lyons-Ruth, Bretherton, Shroufe.  There is a substantial scientific research and professional literature foundation describing the attachment system.

Personality disorders:  Personality disorders are stable constellations of maladaptive psychological traits that affect relationships, behavior, and daily functioning.

Principle Professional Figures:  Beck, Millon, Kernberg, Linehan.  There is a substantial research and scientifically grounded professional literature regarding personality disorder pathology.

Family systems therapy:  Family systems therapy is one of the four primary schools of psychotherapy (the others being psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and humanistic-existential therapy).  Family systems therapy is the ONLY school of  psychotherapy that provides treatment models for solving current family relationships. All of the other schools of psychotherapy only provide models for individual psychotherapy, not family therapy.

Principle Professional Figures:  Bowen, Minuchin, Haley, Madanes, Satir, Goldenberg.  There is a substantial scientifically grounded research and professional literature for family system therapy.

Intersubjectivity:  The “intersubjective” brain system is a neurologically based (mirror neurons) primary motivational system of the brain responsible for creating the psychological connection of a shared psychological state.  The scientific study of the relationship systems of attachment and intersubjectivity are closely associated, with considerable linkages, cross-pollination, and associations of constructs.

Principle Professional Figures:  Stern, Tronick, Trevarthan, Fonagy, Stolorow, Siegel. There is a substantial research and professional literature foundation in the scientifically grounded field of intersubjectivity.

Complex Trauma:  The field of complex trauma contains extensive scientific literature on the impact of relationship-based complex trauma on the developing brain of the child.  The literature and scientific research surrounding complex trauma is closely linked to the literature and scientific research on the attachment system, since parent-created trauma will substantially impact the love-and-bonding system of the brain; the attachment system

Principle Professional Figures:  Perry, van der Kolk. There is a substantial research and professional literature foundation surrounding complex trauma.

Acquiring Professional Knowledge

There are a variety of ways that a mental health professional can acquire the professional knowledge and competence needed to assess and diagnose attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  I have made my 40-page AB-PA reference list available on my website.  Reading the material on that reference list is one way. 

Reference List of Dr. Childress

Start with Bowlby, Minuchin, Millon, Beck, and Kernberg.  Then expand into Lyons-Ruth and disorganized attachment, Stern and Tronick on intersubjectivity, Linehan on personality disorder pathology, and Minuchin, Haley, and Bowen regarding family systems therapy.  Goldenberg and Goldenberg provide a nice summary of family systems therapy and its constructs.

Look to the research literature on the attachment origins of personality pathology, Fonagy is particularly valuable.  Van der Kolk on developmental trauma and the trans-generational transmission of trauma is also particularly valuable.

The pathology of concern is called “pathological mourning” (Bowlby, 1980).  It’s being caused by the psychological collapse of self-structure organization in a narcissistic/(borderline) parent (Beck; Millon; Linehan) triggered by the rejection and abandonment of the spousal attachment figure through the divorce. 

The characterological structure of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is inherently unable to process the sadness, grief, and loss surrounding the divorce (the loss of the attachment-figure), and is instead translating “feelings of sadness and mournful longing” into “anger and resentment loaded with revengeful wishes” (Kernberg, 1977).

In response to the collapse of the narcissistic/(borderline) personality structure triggered by the inherent spousal rejection and abandonment of divorce, the narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent triangulates the child (Bowen, 1978, Minuchin, 1974; Juni, 1995) into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the child against the targeted parent (Minuchin, 1974; Haley, 1977).

The loss of psychological boundaries discussed by Minuchin as an “enmeshed relationship” involves the “intersubjective field” described by Stern, Tronick, Fonagy, Siegel.  In his seminal work describing family systems, Bowen describes that poor “differentiation” of psychological boundaries within the family, originating from unprocessed “multigenerational trauma,” represents the causal factor in creating “emotional cutoffs” in families.

This is all standard and established, scientifically supported professional literature.  The fact that this scientifically grounded information is not being applied to the solution of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce speaks more to the ignorance and incompetence of the mental health professionals than it does to our inability to solve pathology.  We can absolutely solve this pathology, once we return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

The issue is knowledge, professional level knowledge.  Mental health professionals can acquire the necessary knowledge and competence in a variety of ways.  My personal AB-PA reference list is available (Dr. Childress: AB-PA Reference List). 

What I do in Foundations is to pull together all of the relevant scientifically established information from professional psychology and apply it to the attachment-related family pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.  Foundations and the attachment-based description of the pathology it provides makes it easier for mental health professionals to acquire broad basic levels of professional knowledge and competence necessary to solve the pathology.

But AB-PA is not the moon, it is not the scientifically grounded knowledge of professional psychology itself.  AB-PA merely points to the moon.  AB-PA simply applies the already existing scientifically grounded knowledge of professional psychology to the attachment-related family pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Science: Verifiable Predictions

The thing that I like about science is that it is verfiable.  Scientifically established constructs provide predictions that are testable.

AB-PA is a scientifically based model of pathology and it makes a verifiable prediction:

Verifiable Prediction: Weaponization of the child into the spousal conflict by a narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent creates a constellation of three disparate, distinctive, and otherwise impossible to explain symptoms;

1)  Attachment system suppression toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent,

2)  Narcissistic personality disorder traits in the child’s symptom display (the “psychological fingerprints” of control by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent);

3) An ecapsulated persecutory delusional belief evidenced in the child’s symptom display regarding the child’s supposed “victimization” by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent.

This represents a verifiable or refutable prediction made by AB-PA.  Are these three disparate symptoms found in the child’s symptom display?  Look.  See if they are there.  Test the prediction.  Are these three symptoms evident in the child’s symptom display?

This is called the scientific method.  Collect evidence to test the prediction.

If these three symptoms are present in the child’s symptom display… then this set of symptoms requires explanation.  AB-PA not only explains the symptoms – it predicts exactly this symptom pattern.

This is called scientifically based practice.  The model makes a verifiable or refutable prediction.  Evidence is collected, and the prediction is either confirmed or disconfirmed.  Scientifically based practice.

The thing that I like about science is it is provable.  It produces predictions that can be tested and verified.  Are these three symptoms present in the child’s symptom display?  Testable.  Provable.

AB-PA Pilot Program for the Family Courts

We are now beginning the process of actualizing the solution provided by scientifically grounded professional practice.  The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts is designed to solve the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” as defined through the scientifically established constructs and principles of professional psychology;

Family Systems Clinical Definition:  The child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with an allied parent against the targeted parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent.

Attachment System Clinical Definition:  The trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma from the childhood of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent to the current family relationships, mediated by the personality disorder pathology of the allied parent that is itself a product of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma.

Notice that I did not rely on any construct called “parental alienation” in either of these professional-level clinical descriptions of pathology.  We are returning to the standard and established – scientifically validated – constructs and principles of professional psychology.

We can absolutely solve this pathology once we return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts does this.   The goal of the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts is to provide the Court with the highest caliber of professional knowledge and expertise in solving attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce. 

Scientifically grounded professional practice.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.Pilot program booklet cover
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

The Key to Solving High-Conflict Divorce in the Family Courts: Proposal for a Pilot Program in the Family Law Courts

Assessment:
The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

Two booket coversRemedy:
Strategic Family Systems Intervention for AB-PA: Contingent Visitation Schedule

 

Everything is Seen

This pathology hides.  It’s power comes from concealment.

The antidote is light.  Everything in the open, everything disclosed.  No secrets. 

This is the time.  We know what the pathology is and we need to make it stop.  Now.  Today.  No excuses.  Professional psychology can absolutely solve this pathology.  It requires professional knowledge and expertise, but we can absolutely solve it.

So why aren’t we?  A: Because of profound and rampant professional ignorance and incompetence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

Clinical Definition 1: Family Systems

The child’s “triangulation” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” with one parent against the other parent, that results in an “emotional cutoff” in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent.

Clinical Definition 2: Attachment Trauma

The trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma from the childhood of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent to the current family relationships, mediated by the personality disorder pathology of the parent that is itself a product of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma.

June 6-9, we are taking your voice to the American Psychological Association.  You have the right to professional knowledge and competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your children and families.  We are asking that the APA become your ally in achieving that.

APA & Washington, D.C.

I am beginning my outreach to the American Psychological Association asking to schedule an appropriate handoff of the Petition to the APA to a representative of the APA. 

The Board of Directors for the American Psychological Association is meeting June 8-12.  I am respectfully requesting of the APA the possibility of a meeting with a representative from the Board of Directors to hear your voice, 17,817 strong and growing, as carried by Wendy and Rod, with my professional support.

Professional decorum typically keeps negotiations private.  However, not with this pathology.  This  pathology hides in concealment and darkness, and it’s malevolent.  With this pathology, everything must be in the open, everything must be entirely visible.  When everything is in the open, the pathogen can be seen.

I am therefore blogging the outreach letter I sent to the American Psychological Association requesting a meeting June 6-9th to receive the Petition to the APA.  I sent it to several contacts identified by Howie and to the entire Board of Directors.

Letter to the APA:



I am a clinical psychologist and APA member.  I am also the author of the Petition to the American Psychological Association posted to Change.org in January, 2018.  The Petition to the APA currently has over 17,000 signatures since January, 2018.

Petition to the APA

During the first week of June (6/6 through 6/9), a delegation comprised of myself and two parent and child advocates, Wendy Perry and Rod McCall, will be traveling to the APA offices in Washington, D.C. to present this Petition to the APA.   The voices of thousands of parents are reaching out to the APA for help.

Wendy Perry is a leading parent and child advocate for families involved in post-divorce conflict surrounding child custody, and Rod McCall is a parent-child advocate and speaker, having lost his son to a murder-suicide by the mother because of this devastating family pathology surrounding divorce and child custody.

We are reaching out to the APA at this time to explore planning and scheduling for a meeting with a representative of the American Psychological Association during this period from June 6-9 to receive the Petition to the APA. 

We are aware that the Board of Directors for the APA is meeting from June 8-12 in Washington, D.C., and, if possible, we would respectfully request to meet with a representative of the Board of Directors, either on June 7th prior to the start of the BoD meeting (to limit our intrusion into the scheduled agenda for the BoD), or on June 8th the first day of the BoD meeting if this is gauged to be more appropriate.

We are asking that this request for a meeting be forwarded to the appropriate representatives within the American Psychological Association to discuss scheduling for our delivery of the Petition to the APA during the first week of June.

Thank you for your cooperation, and we look forward to working with the American Psychological Association.

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

Wendy Perry
Parent & Child Advocate

Rod McCall
Parent & Child Advocate

Asking for Your Support

Wendy Perry, Rod McCall, and I are in the midst of planning our trip to Washington, D.C. to deliver the Petition to the American Psychological Association, bringing your voice to the APA and calling on them to become your allies in solving the pathology of “parental alienation.”

We have a question for you…

Do you, the community of parents fighting for your children, want us to hold a press conference when we arrive in Washington?

I’d strongly recommend it. 

The power of the Petition to the APA is in the content of the petition introduced into the structure of the APA.   But media attention and focus on the pathology of “parental alienation” is an important weapon in our fight for your children, and our Washington, D.C. trip provides a valuable opportunity to begin generating this media attention.

I would strongly recommend a press conference to begin our trip to Washington.

The problem is… Wendy, Rod, and I cannot financially afford to put on a press conference.  We need help.  To put on a press conference will cost $500 for a room at the National Press Club and an additional $3,000 for a press consultant to help us get the press to the press conference. 

With all of the other financial expenses that Wendy, Rod, and I are personally incurring surrounding our trip to Washington, we simply don’t have the money to create a press conference.  We need your support.

If you want a press conference for your voice in Washington and with the APA, you will need to help us finance it.  We need your help.

I have formed a nonprofit 501c3, The Childress Institute for Child Development, with the goal of bringing education, training, and solution to the pathology of “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce.  Working with my attorney, The Childress Institute for Child Development is now available to accept donations to support its work.

Childress Institute for CD LogoThe Childress Institute for Child Development: Donations

We are asking for your help in funding a press conference.  If The Childress Institute for Child Development receives enough donations, then we will hire a press consultant ($3,000) and schedule a room at the National Press Club ($500), and we will host a press conference for your voice.

If we don’t receive enough donations, then we will figure that a press conference is not something that the community of parents is interested in.

Additional Funding:

The Childress Institute for Child Development would also like to host an Erasing Family event on Friday evening in Washington, D.C.  The documentary Erasing Family is an important voice for parents and children caught in the pathology of “parental alienation.”  Supporting the documentary is exceedingly valuable and important.

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the major legal-psychological professional organization involved in child custody, is holding its annual convention in Washington, D.C. during the period of our trip to Washington.  The Childress Institute for Child Development will be purchasing a vendors table at the AFCC convention ($750), paid for by me personally. 

We would like to use this forum of The Childress Institute for Child Development table at the AFCC convention to drive the family law attorneys, child custody evaluators, and court-involved therapists to an Erasing Family event on Friday evening.  At the Erasing Family event, the legal and psychological professionals will be treated to clips from the documentary, and cocktail party access to Dorcy and I for professional-level cocktail party discussion, professional dialogue, and conversation.

What we want to achieve is to make watching the documentary Erasing Family a requirement of professional responsibility when it is released, for all family law attorneys, guardians ad litem, minors counsels, child custody evaluators, and court-involved therapists.  Promoting a Friday evening Erasing Family event to the AFCC convention is immensely valuable in achieving this goal.

Our goal in Washington with the APA is also to schedule a meeting with representatives of the APA’s Board of Directors while we are in Washington.  The APA’s Board of Directors is meeting from June 8-12 (we are in Washington from June 6-9, overlapping with the BoD meeting).

In addition to increasing the awareness of the AFCC, we would also like to make watching of the documentary Erasing Family a requirement of professional responsibility for the Board of Directors for the APA.  Erasing Family is your voice, the voice of parents and children caught in the devastating family pathology of “parental alienation.”  We would like to provide the Board of Directors of the APA with complimentary tickets to the Friday evening (June 8th) Erasing Family event.

We will also be scheduling meetings with our congressional representative’s offices while we are in Washington.  We would like to encourage the congressional staffers we meet with to also come to the Erasing Family event, to increase the knowledge of congressional representatives regarding the devastating family pathology of “parental alienation.”

If parents choose to fund a press conference, then promoting the upcoming release of the documentary, Erasing Family, will also go a long way in our next phase of enlisting media attention to the pathology of “parental alienation.”

A Friday evening Erasing Family event is immensely valuable for a variety of reasons.  The problem again is financing.  Wendy, Rod, and I cannot afford to personally finance such an event (location and appetizer nosh).  We need your help.

Your contributions to The Childress Institute for Child Development will go toward funding this Friday evening Erasing Family event, allowing us to keep ticket prices to the event reasonable ($25) rather than a barrier to attendance ($150) to cover expenses.  Tickets to the Erasing Family event at $25 sold through an ipad at the Childress Institute for Child Development vendors table at the AFCC convention, and provided as complimentary to the Board of Directors of the APA and to congressional staffers, will encourage the greatest level of participation from family law attorneys, child custody evaluators, and court-involved therapists (the nominal cost encourages commitment to attend and provides us with a head count for the event).

We need your help.  If The Childress Institute for Child Development receives enough donations from the community of targeted parents, then we will pay for the Erasing Family event.  Otherwise, we cannot personally afford to finance such an event.

This is your voice.  We need your help.

Personal Note

On a personal note, I am deeply appreciative of both Wendy Perry and Rod McCall in agreeing for come with me to Washington, D.C. to deliver the Petition to the APA.  They are doing so at their own personal expense.  Their hotel and airfare costs are not inconsequential for them at a personal level.

I would like to use any additional money that may be collected by The Childress Institute for Child Development surrounding the Washington trip to help Wendy and Rod with their travel expenses.  They are traveling to Washington to represent your voice and the voice of your children.  Helping them with travel expenses is the right thing to do.

Donations

The time is now.  We are on the battlefield for your children and families now.  We need your support.

If you, the community of targeted parents, want a press conference for your voice, then we need your help in funding it.

If you, the community of targeted parents, want an Erasing Family event on Friday night for family law attorneys, child custody evaluators, court-involved therapists, the Board of Directors for the APA, and congressional staffers, then we need your help in funding it.

If you, the community of targeted parents, want to provide support to Wendy and Rod in representing your voice to the APA, to the AFCC, and to Congress, then we need your help.

I established The Childress Institute for Child Development specifically to serve as the organizing core in education, training, and solution for the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce.  Funding a press conference, funding an Erasing Family event in Washington, D.C., and supporting travel for parent-child advocates carrying your voice and the voice of your children, is consistent with the mission and goals of The Childress Institute for Child Development.

Please consider making a financial contribution to The Childress Institute for Child Development.  Whatever you can afford, $25, $50, more if you can. 

I know fighting the pathology of “parental alienation” is expensive for parents.  I know you’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars fighting against the lies and trying to restore the healthy emotional and psychological development of your children.  I understand.

I am also asking you to consider where the solution is.  Did the money spent on attorneys lead to a solution?  Did the money spent on “reunification therapy” result in a solution?

Supporting a press conference, Erasing Family event, and travel for your parent-child representatives to speak your voice in Washington, D.C. will lead to a solution.  Please join us in solutions.

The Washington, D.C. trip is the empowerment of voice, your voice.  It is time.  We are on the battlefield for your children and families now, to end this pathology for all children everywhere.  Please consider our request for your support.Childress Institute for CD Logo

The Childress Institute for Child Development:
Donations

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

Prove me wrong…

To my professional colleagues…

The field of professional psychology surrounding high-conflict divorce is rife with professional ignorance and incompetence. 

Prove me wrong.  I dare you.  I double-dog dare you.  Go ahead, prove me wrong.

Because you know what?  I’m not wrong.  The field of professional psychology surrounding high-conflict divorce is rife with professional ignorance and incompetence.

A Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck description of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce identifies four domains of professional knowledge required for professional competence:

The attachment system;

Personality disorder pathology;

Family systems pathology;

Complex trauma.

The vast majority of mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce do NOT possess the professional knowledge required for competence.

Prove me wrong. 

You can’t.  Because I’m right.  This needs to change.

High-conflict divorce surrounding child custody is not a legal problem, it’s a professional psychology problem.  Interpersonal family conflict is not illegal, it’s unhealthy… and it’s solvable through professional psychology.

The abject failure of professional psychology in solving the attachment-related family pathology of parent-child bonding and in helping the family to successfully adjust to a new and healthy post-divorce separated family structure is then spilling into the legal system through continual litigation of family conflict.

The attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” is NOT a legal issue, it is a professional psychology issue.  It only becomes a legal issue because professional psychology is failing in its obligation to solve the pathology. 

Why is professional psychology failing in its responsibility to solve pathology?  Because of professional ignorance and incompetence. 

Prove me wrong.

Trauma Informed Care

The pathology of “parental alienation” (Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck; AB-PA) is a trauma pathology

Clinical Definition:  Prominent attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce represents the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma from the childhood of an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent to the current family relationships, mediated by the personality pathology of the parent that is itself a product of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma.

The attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck; AB-PA) is a trauma pathology.  This pathology requires “trauma-informed care” in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Failure to possess the professional knowledge required for trauma-informed assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce represents practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence, in violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code. 

If professional ignorance of trauma-informed care leads to harm to the child and parent in their bonding following divorce, such as by preventing or delaying their bonding through inadequate assessment, inaccurate diagnosis, and ineffective treatment, then this would be a violation of Standard 3.04 of the APA ethics code.

To my professional colleagues… prove me wrong.

Because if I’m not wrong – and I’m not – then things need to change, and change quickly.  Causing harm to clients, potentially irrevocable harm to children and families, because of professional ignorance and incompetence is entirely unacceptable.

We are done tolerating professional ignorance and incompetence.  Those days are over.  All mental health professionals will be held accountable for the professional knowledge and expertise required to SOLVE pathology.

Trauma informed care.

Professional-level knowledge and expertise in:

The attachment system;

Personality disorder pathology;

Family systems pathology;

Complex trauma.

The world is changing.  Professional ignorance and incompetence are no longer acceptable.

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

Siege

I tend to think visually and in imagery.  I see our current situation as a battle, a siege of the citadel that is the American Psychological Association.

We have drawn up our forces on the plains before the citadel.  We are laying siege to the citadel of the APA.  We are reclaiming the APA as an ally of targeted parents and children in solving the pathology of “parental alienation” (defined through a Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model; AB-PA).

The key element of a siege to to draw up one’s troops to surround the fortress, and then just remain there.  Don’t go anywhere.  That’s all there is to it.   It takes time, but eventually the citadel will fall.

The Petition to the APA is a siege engine, a trebuchet if you will.  The united voice of parents is the trebuchet.  Article 3 of the Petition to the APA contains some mighty big boulders, violations of the APA ethics code.  Standard 2.01a Boundaries of Competence is a mighty big boulder.  Standard 9.01a Competent Assessment is a mighty big boulder.  Standard 3.04 Harm to the Client is an absolutely huge big boulder.

We are going to use the trebuchet of your voice, your signatures to the Petition to the APA, to batter the walls of the citadel with the  boulders of Standard 2.01a, Standard 9.01a, and Standard 3.04.

By relying solely on established professional constructs and principles, a Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model defining attachment-based parental “parental alienation” (AB-PA) activates Standards 2.01a, 9.01a, and 3.04 of the APA ethics code.  We are now going to leverage the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association to achieve widespread professional knowledge and competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

We are going to rid the field of professional ignorance and incompetence, and the remaining mental health professionals will know what they’re doing, they will be knowledgeable and competent, and they will be able to resolve the family pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation.”

We are laying siege to the APA.  The American Psychological Association is your rightful ally in achieving a solution to your family”s deep tragedy and struggles.  Professional psychology can absolutely solve this pathology, once we return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Millon, van der Kolk…

Clinical Psychology: Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

We are drawing up our forces at the walls of the citadel (17,570 signatures to the Petition and rising).  We will identify our allies and we bring our allies to the battlefield before the walls of the APA. 

And we won’t leave.  The delivery of the Petition to the APA is just the arrival of the trebuchet on the battlefield.  We will continue to batter the walls of the APA with Standards of the APA ethics code…

Until they listen, and until they act. 

And we will impress upon them that there is urgency.  Every day that passes without a solution is one day too long.  There is immense suffering and lost childhoods.  There is urgency.

With a siege, we engage the citadel and we just don’t leave.  The citadel of the APA will fall to you, and the APA will become your ally in solving the pathology.  You are more powerful than you know.

The Walls

A year ago, an assault began on the walls of the APA.  Many have been participating in the assault on the walls of the APA, but two notables deserve mention, Howie Dennison and Jason Hofer. 

It was primarily through Jason’s efforts, with assistance, that the first petition to the APA was written a year ago.  I wasn’t involved in creating or writing this petition and I was impressed by both the concept and its execution.  The scholarship in this first petition by Jason and colleagues was excellent and extensive.

Howie has been a relentless advocate in developing his relationships with the people in power at the APA.  The APA is an organization, it doesn’t attend to a person.  A person is shunted into the bureaucracy.  A person isn’t heard.  So it’s all the more remarkable that Howie has made himself heard.  He has been pleasantly relentless in his assault on the walls of the APA.

We actually own the walls of the APA thanks to Howie and Jason.  We still don’t have the APA as your ally, the citadel has yet to fall, but we have the walls.  It is entirely possible and it is my complete expectation that the APA will become your ally in relatively short order.

On June 6-9 we are bringing up the siege engines.  There is a chance, and it is my hope, that we will be welcomed by the APA as allies in solving the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation.”

Breaking the Siege

In most sieges, the besieged citadel draws into its fortifications and tries to outlast the siege.  In some cases, however, the beleaguered citadel may try to break the siege by attacking, either from the citadel itself or through a relieving force from the outside.

There is a possibility this may occur in our siege of the APA. 

If this attack occurs, it will likely be directed toward me.  An attack from within the citadel will be the APA’s concern regarding my allegations of ethical violations toward professional colleagues.  An attack by a relieving force from the outside will be to say that this is a “new theory” of Dr. Childress that needs to be “investigated.”

For the attack from the citadel, the allegations of ethical misconduct by psychologists contained in the Petition to the APA are consistent with my professional obligations under Standards 1.04 and 1.05 to take appropriate action “when psychologists believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist” (Standard 1.04).

APA Standard 1.05: Reporting Ethical Violations
If an apparent ethical violation has substantially harmed or is likely to substantially harm a person or organization and is not appropriate for informal resolution under Standard 1.04, Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations, or is not resolved properly in that fashion, psychologists take further action appropriate to the situation. Such action might include referral to state or national committees on professional ethics, to state licensing boards, or to the appropriate institutional authorities.

It is my professional judgement as a clinical psychologist, that the appropriate institutional authority to refer these 17,579 parents regarding the rampant and unchecked professional ignorance and incompetence being displayed by professional psychologists is to the American Psychological Association, and that the “further action appropriate to the situation” is to formalize that voice from parents into a Petition.

I am fulfilling my professional obligations under Standard 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code.  I’m fine.

As for the attack from outside forces trying to relieve the siege, none of this is Dr. Childress.  This is Bowlby, and Minuchin, and Beck, and Haley, and Millon…  Are they saying that they want to investigate Bowlby?  Minuchin?  Beck?  Because none of this is Childress.

Poof.  That attack vanishes.  Because none of this is Childress.

Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck) to a set of symptoms.  Diagnosis.  AB-PA is not a theory, it’s diagnosis; the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.

They will be unable to break the siege.  We won’t go anywhere.  As the trebuchet of your voice begins hurtling boulders of Standards 2.01a, 9.01a, and 3.04 against the walls of the APA, we will look to increase the media’s attention to your voice, and to the continuing reluctance of the APA to help you solve the pathology.

The Walls Are Ours

However, we may not need to enact a long protracted siege of the APA, because Howie and Jason and their colleagues have already taken the walls of the APA.  The people at the APA know of us.

Their response last year to the assault on the walls was to “deflect into committee” – they said they’d develop a “working group” to look into the research.   It’s been over a year and there is no progress on a working group.  That dodge is done.  They can’t use it again this time.

What the assault on the walls by Howie, Jason, and others did was to expose and use up the APA’s “deflect to committee” defense against doing anything.  They’ve already used that dodge last year.  One year later, no change.  We are now on much stronger ground demanding concrete and immediate action (Article 4: Remedy 1).

It is possible, and it is my hope, that the APA will recognize the legitimacy of your voice and the issues, and that the APA will take active and concrete steps to help you in finding solution (Article 4: Remedies 2 & 3).  I fully expect the APA to become your ally in relatively short order.

If not, then the trebuchet will begin the assault on the walls.  We’re not going anywhere until there is change, until there is a solution for all children and all families.

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

 

Venice Seminar: Saturday 6/23/18

I am pleased and excited to announce that I will be presenting a full-day 6-hour seminar in Venice, Italy on Saturday 6/23/18.

This six-hour seminar on Saturday is separate and additional to the one-hour seminar I will be presenting at the EFCAP Congress.  The EFCAP Congress runs from Wednesday through Friday, 6/20 – 6/22. 

On Saturday, 6/23, in collaboration with Peter Knudsen, Director of Bps Jurisfirma and Bpm Parental Alienation Awareness EU, I will be presenting an additional 6-hour seminar at the Park Hotel Ai Pini on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce and the solution for the family court system.

Venice Seminar Flyer: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Attachment Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce: Solutions for the Family Court System

I am excited by this opportunity to present a substantial seminar in Europe. 

This full-day seminar will cover:

Foundations: The professional foundations in the attachment system, family systems pathology, and personality disorder pathology for an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”

Diagnosis: The core and expanded symptoms of attachment-based “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce.

Assessment Protocol: The structure and clinical content for a six-session clinical assessment protocol.

Treatment:  The treatment considerations for resolving attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

Contingent Visitation Schedule: A Strategic family systems intervention for the treatment of ongoing attachment-related family pathology following divorce.

Family Court Solution: The framework for a structured and standardized approach to solution in the family court system for all cases of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

This will be a professional education seminar of substance and importance. 

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