The Return of Clinical Psychology to Court-Involved Practice

Professional psychology is divided into three primary domains,

Research Psychology:  Conducted through universities, research psychologists primarily work through grant-funded projects and are typically not licensed to assess, diagnose, or treat pathology.  To the extent that the research works with the assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of pathology, research psychologists typically hire a clinical psychology team through the grant as a component part of the research.

Clinical Psychology:  The role of clinical psychology is to assess, diagnose, and treat pathology; all types of pathology, from autism to ADHD, to trauma, to depression, to anxiety disorders.  The domain of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology is the domain of clinical psychology.

Forensic Psychology:  The domain of forensic psychology is defined as any professional activity by a psychologist that involves the court.  Forensic psychology as a field does not encompass a domain of knowledge.  Rather, it highlights the procedures used by professional psychology in a court-involved, legal jurisdiction context.  The requirements of the legal system are different than the requirements of professional psychology.  Forensic psychology requires that court-involved psychologists understand their role in a court-involved legal context.

Family Courts & Clinical Psychology: Shared Goals

In the family courts, however, the goals and mission of clinical psychology are highly attuned to the goals and mission of the court; the healthy emotional and psychological development of the child, often referred to as the “best interests of the child.”

In clinical psychology, it is always in the best interests of the child for the family to make a successful transition from the prior intact family structure united by the marriage, to a new separated family structure, that is now united by the child through the child’s shared bonds of affection with both parents.

The goal and mission of clinical psychology is consistent with the goal and mission of the family courts; ensuring the healthy emotional and psychological development of the child.  In cases of child abuse, this means protecting the child from an abusive parent.

The Role of Clinical Psychology

It is the responsibility of clinical psychology to solve pathology.  The solution to high-conflict family pathology surrounding divorce requires the clinical application of four domains of professional knowledge:

The attachment system,
Personality disorder pathology,
Family systems therapy,
Complex trauma.

The attachment-related family pathology of a child rejecting a parent following divorce can be understood through the application of each of these domains of knowledge individually, and professional-level understanding improves substantially when all four domains of professional knowledge are combined and integrated in their application to the pathology.

Attachment System:  A child rejecting a parent is fundamentally an attachment-related pathology, The attachment system is the brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  A problem in love and bonding between a parent and child is a problem in the attachment system of the brain; the love-and-bonding system of the brain.

The high-conflict family processes evidenced in the family can be described as the manifestation of one parent’s foundationally disorganized attachment system (a defined category of attachment).  The specific problem is the pathological processing of sadness and grief by one spouse surrounding the failed marriage, called “pathological mourning” (Bowlby, 1980).  This pathological parent is then triangulating the child into the spousal conflict surrounding the divorce (through creating custody visitation conflict) as a means for this parent to stabilize his or her own psychological response to the failed marriage and divorce (the pathological processing of sadness, grief, and loss).

Abundant research indicates that the processing of sadness occurs within and through the attachment networks of the brain.  The patterns for love and bonding created in the attachment networks of the brain serve to regulate emotions, particularly the emotion of sadness through parental comforting.  In response to the child’s sadness, a responsive parent comforts the child into a re-regulated state, which then builds through use-dependent neural processes the child’s capacity for self-comforting (self-regulation) of sadness and loss. 

Failures in healthy parent-child comforting are created through problems in the parent-child attachment bonding relationship, that then become instantiated in the neurological networks of the attachment system (called “internal working models” by Bowlby and “schemas” by Beck).  Bowlby notes that the pathology of “disordered mourning” is associated with personality disorder pathology, and the pathological processing of sadness is a feature of both narcissistic and borderline personality pathology (Kernberg, 1975; Briand-Malenfant, Lecours, & Deschenaux, 2012). 

The application of professional research and knowledge from the attachment system literature expands to fully capture and describe high-conflict attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce as the sequelae of disorganized attachment networks (a defined category of attachment, well researched in the attachment literature) creating personality pathology in one of the parents who is pathologically unable to process the sadness and grief surrounding the failed marriage and divorce. 

A child rejecting a parent is fundamentally an attachment-related family pathology; a problem in the love and bonding system of the brain.  The knowledge base of professional psychology related to the attachment system is foundational knowledge required for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

Personality Disorder Pathology: Narcissistic and borderline personality processes are recognized DSM diagnoses with a substantial research evidentiary base in professional psychology.  Estimates from the research for the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder in the general population is approximately 6%, and for borderline personality pathology is also about 6%.  This means that 10% to 15% of all divorces will involve one parent with prominent narcissistic or borderline personality pathology, and probably an even high proportion for the sub-sample of high-conflict court-involved divorce will involve at least one narcissistic or borderline personality parent. 

Narcissistic and borderline personality pathology will create high family conflict surrounding divorce, and can often create significant psychopathology in children.  The narcissistic personality is vulnerable to rejection, the borderline personality is vulnerable to abandonment fears.  Divorce involves both rejection and perceived abandonment, and both rejection and abandonment fears will become highly activated by divorce.  A full display of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology should therefore be expected surrounding divorce involving a narcissistic or borderline personality parent (estimated prevalence of 10%-15% of all divorces, and a much higher percentage of high-conflict divorces). 

Both the narcissistic and borderline personalities are entirely self-absorbed, and as parents they are incapable of empathy for the child’s experience, causing these parents to actively manipulate and exploit their children to be used as weapons against the other parent in the spousal conflict.  Exploitation and manipulation are prominent characteristics for both the narcissistic and borderline personality.  The pathology of the narcissistic and borderline parent will absolutely manipulate, use, and exploit the child in whatever way the parent needs surrounding the divorce and inter-spousal conflict.

The development of both narcissistic and borderline pathology can be more fully understood through the application of research knowledge regarding the attachment system. The narcissistic personality represents disorganized attachment with anxious-avoidant overtones (both defined categories of attachment), and the borderline personality pathology represents disorganized attachment with anxious-ambivalent overtones (also a defined category of attachment).  Uniting the research and professional literature for personality disorder pathology with the research and professional literature for the attachment system exponentially increases a clinical psychology understanding for attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

Family Systems Therapy:  The child expressing attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce is being triangulated into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the allied parent against the targeted parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff of the child’s relationship with the targeted parent (Bowen; Haley; Minuchin).  Family systems therapy fully describes and captures the pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.

The renowned family therapist, Salvador Minuchin, provides a structural family diagram minuchin cross-gen diagramfor the pathology of a cross-generational coalition and emotional cutoff in his 1993 book, Family Healing, with Michael Nichols, and both Minuchin and Jay Haley, another preeminent figure in family systems therapy, describe the process of a cross-generational coalition

From Haley:  “The people responding to each other in the triangle are not peers, but one of them is of a different generation from the other two… In the process of their interaction together, the person of one generation forms a coalition with the person of the other generation against his peer.  By ‘coalition’ is meant a process of joint action which is against the third person… The coalition between the two persons is denied.  That is, there is certain behavior which indicates a coalition which, when it is queried, will be denied as a coalition… In essence, the perverse triangle is one in which the separation of generations is breached in a covert way.  When this occurs as a repetitive pattern, the system will be pathological.” (Haley, 1977, p. 37)

From Minuchin:  “An inappropriately rigid cross-generational subsystem of mother and son versus father appears, and the boundary around this coalition of mother and son excludes the father… The parents were divorced six months earlier and the father is now living alone… Two of the children who were very attached to their father, now refuse any contact with him. The younger children visit their father but express great unhappiness with the situation” (Minuchin, p. 61-62; p. 101)

A child rejecting a parent represents an “emotional cutoff” in the parent-child relationship (Bowen).  The preeminent family systems therapist, Murray Bowen, links the family pathology of an emotional cutoff to unresolved trauma in the family.  The unresolved trauma leads to poor differentiation of psychological boundaries, and ultimately to an emotional cutoff in a family relationship to balance the psychological over-involvement (enmeshment; the absence of psychological differentiation) in another relationship within the family.

The high-conflict divorcing family is having difficulty transitioning from the prior intact family structure that was united by the marriage, to the new separated family structure united by the children because of the pathological processing of sadness by the narcissistic-borderline parent.  The narcissistic-borderline personality pathology of the allied parent is instead processing sadness surrounding the failed marriage and divorce as excessive anger, hostility, and blame directed toward the other spouse.  The pathological processing of sadness as anger and blame is being transferred to the child through the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic-borderline parent.  

Family systems therapy fully understands, describes, and captures the family pathology surrounding a child’s rejection of a parent following divorce, and the addition of professional information sets regarding the attachment system and personality disorder pathology substantially enhances the fullness of the clinical psychology description of the pathology.

Complex Trauma:  The child’s rejection of a parent following 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 disorder pathology of the allied narcissistic-borderline parent, which is itself a product of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma.

The divorce triggered the concurrent activation of two sets of representational networks in the attachment networks of the brain, one created in the childhood attachment trauma of the narcissistic-borderline parent, instantiated in the schema expectation pattern (internal working model) of “abusive parent”/”victimized child”/”protective parent,” and a second set of representational networks in the attachment system for the current family relationships. 

The simultaneous activation of two representational networks results in a psychological fusion of these networks.  In the mind of the narcissistic-borderline parent, the other parent becomes – psychologically to the narcissistic-borderline parent – the supposedly “abusive parent” from the childhood attachment trauma of the narcissistic-borderline parent, while the current child becomes, in the mind of the narcissistic-borderline parent, psychologically equivalent to the “victimized child” of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma (the trauma reenactment narrative), which allows the narcissistic-borderline parent to then self-adopt and conspicuously display the coveted role as the supposedly all-wonderful “protective parent” in the trauma reenactment narrative.

It is all, however, a false trauma reenactment narrative born in the childhood attachment trauma of the narcissistic-borderline parent. The targeted parent is not “abusive,” the child is not being “victimized,” and the allied narcissistic-borderline parent is not a “protective” parent.

The creation of the false trauma reenactment narrative into the current family relationships is achieved by psychologically coercing and manipulating the child into adopting the supposedly “victimized child” role relative to the targeted parent.  Once the child adopts the false role of the supposedly “victimized child,” this role immediately identifies the targeted parent into the supposedly “abusive parent” role, and allows the narcissistic-borderline parent to self-adopt and conspicuously display the coveted role as the all-wonderful “protective parent.”

The combination and integration of four domains of professional psychology fully captures and explains the attachment-related family pathology involved in a child rejecting a normal-range parent following divorce.

Curriculum

The foundational curriculum for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce includes:

John Bowlby: attachment system
Salvador Minuchin: family systems therapy
Aaron Beck: personality disorder pathology
Mary Ainsworth: attachment system

Theodore Millon: personality disorder pathology
Otto Kernberg: personality disorder pathology
Murray Bowen: family systems therapy
Jay Haley: family systems therapy
Bessel van der Kolk: complex trauma
Marsha Linehan: personality disorder pathology
Alan Sroufe: attachment system
Daniel Stern: neuro-relationship development
Peter Fonagy: Intersubjectivity
Edward Tronick: Intersubjective relationship development
Bruce Perry: developmental trauma

These are among the most preeminent figures in professional psychology.  The knowledge they represent is the foundational knowledge of professional psychology.  This curriculum is required for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

This knowledge is not optional.  This knowledge is a requirement of professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  This knowledge represents professional standard of practice in clinical psychology.

The Return of Clinical Psychology

The standards of practice for forensic psychology are substantially below those for clinical psychology.  In forensic psychology, there is no pathology-related foundational knowledge required for professional competence.  Forensic psychologists are allowed to apply, misapply, or not apply – any, some, or none of the established foundational knowledge of professional psychology in their assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology… including the established DSM diagnostic system of professional psychology.

The standards of practice for forensic psychology are substantially below those for clinical psychology.

AB-PA, an attachment-based description of attachment related pathology, grounded in personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, complex trauma, and the professional research literature, is the application of the standard and established knowledge of professional psychology to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of family pathology.  AB-PA represents standard of practice in clinical psychology for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology.

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts represents the return of clinical psychology to court-involved consultation, court-involved assessment of pathology, and court-involved treatment of pathology.  The goal and mission of the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts is to provide the court with the highest caliber of professional knowledge and standards of practice in professional psychology. 

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

APA: Ethical Code Violations

Here are the two statements I made at the press conference held 6/7/18 at the National Press Club.

National Press Club Statements by Dr. Childress

The days of acceptable professional ignorance are over. The field of forensic psychology is marked by extensive professional ignorance and gross professional negligence that is destroying the lives of children and families.

My next step under Standard 1.05 of the APA ethics code, which requires me to take steps when I become aware of ethical code violations by my professional colleagues, is to file a statement of concern with the APA’s ethics committee delineating the professional concerns regarding violations of Standards 2.01a, 9.01a, 2.03, and 3.04 within forensic psychology.

Furthermore, the entire field of forensic psychology is in violation of Principle D of the APA ethics code regarding Justice:

Principle D: Justice
Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.

To require a $20,000 to $40,000 child custody evaluation as a mandate of professional psychology’s input into the court’s child custody decision-making is to limit “access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology” to only those families who can financially afford the excessive financial cost of a child custody evaluation ($20,000 to $40,000 per evaluation), in violation of Principle D of the APA ethics code.

Furthermore to conduct child custody evaluations that have zero inter-rater reliability denies “equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists” in violation of Principle D of the APA ethics code.

Forensic psychology is in violation of Principle D of the APA ethics code on two separate counts. Once I get home I’ll begin working on a statement of concern to the APA’s ethics committee. We are just beginning this fight.

You think my kerfluffle with the Gardnerian PAS “experts” was something, it was merely prelude. Now the real battle begins – Dr. Childress takes on forensic psychology.

Psychologists are not allowed to be ignorant and incompetent. Psychologists are not allowed to destroy the lives of children and families because of their ignorance and incompetence.

The APA is now on the clock, as of June 6, 2018.

Silence is collusion. We demand that the APA stand up and support their own ethics code by issuing a press release to that effect. With each day that the APA does NOT publish a press release supporting Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code relative to court-involved family conflict, as demanded in Article 4 of the Petition to the APA, they are colluding with the psychological abuse of children (DSM-5 V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed).

On June 7, 2018 the APA has been colluding with the psychological abuse of children for one day, in violation of the APA ethics code (Principle D, Standard 1.04, Standard 1.05, and Standard 3.04).

All psychologists, including those in the APA, are required by Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code to do something when they become aware of ethical code violations by other psychologists. For the APA NOT to act in response to known ethical violations within forensic psychology is to cause harm to parents and children, in violation of Standard 3.04 of the APA ethics code, to “take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients… and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable.

So all psychologists within the American Psychological Association organization who are now aware of the ethical code violations within forensic psychology as delineated in the Petition to the APA, are now, today and with each passing day, in violation of Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code.

I am stone-cold serious.

Psychologists are not allowed by the APA ethics code to be ignorant and incompetent, and to destroy the lives of children and families because of their ignorance and incompetence.

We own the high-ground of the APA ethics code. We are going to cleanse the pathogen from the APA and restore the American Psychological Association as your rightful ally in protecting your children.

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

Dorcy & Dr. C Seminar in Washington DC

It is with excitement and great pleasure that I announce a 4-hour seminar with Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 9 at the Darcy Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton.  Any hotel that includes the name, “Curio Collection” makes me smile.  Registration is through the Childress Institute for Child Development Website.

Dorcy Pruter & Dr. Childress
Parental Alienation:  Assessment, Diagnosis, Solution

Registration

A 4-hour seminar with Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress is guaranteed to be powerful.  There are limited seats.

I tried to keep the cost of the seminar as inexpensive as possible to cover expenses in hopes of bringing the cost within the reasonable range of parents.

The seminar will be directed toward mental health professionals and family law attorneys, but the information will be highly valuable to parents as well.  If we have only limited participation from the AFCC membership, then Dorcy and I will adjust the content more toward parents… we’ll work the room.

On Saturday, June 9th at the Darcy Hotel in Washington DC, Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress will present the solution to “parental alienation” from start to finish, from assessment through to solution.

If you are a mental health professional or family law attorney, you will learn about the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts in Houston, you will learn about assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce, you will learn about the Contingent Visitation Schedule as a remedy solution, and you will learn about how Dorcy and her coaches bring solutions to restoring a healthy family and authentic child.

If you are a parent, you will learn about the steps that are needed to solve the pathology in your family, from obtaining proper mental health assessment, to seeking court orders for the components of the solution, to collaborating with mental health professionals in achieving the solution. 

And then there’s the Higher Purpose Parenting class offered by Dorcy… a solution that does not involve therapists or attorneys.  Dorcy will describe this class and how parents can reunite with their children despite the pathology of the allied parent.  Pretty impressive stuff.

Dorcy & Dr. Childress, 6/9/18 at the Darcy Hotel in Washington DC.  Solution, from start to finish.  Guaranteed powerful information.

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

 

AB-PA Pilot Program: The Highest Caliber of Professional Practice

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts will provide the Court with the highest caliber of professional knowledge and professional standards of practice. The highest caliber.

If any aspect of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is not at the highest caliber of professional knowledge and professional standards of practice, then I fully expect and invite professional critique and criticism.

When the Court turns to professional psychology for consultation, for assessment of pathology, and for treatment of pathology, it should expect and receive the highest caliber of professional knowledge and professional standards of practice.  

If you are a mental health professional who will be seeking to work with the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts as this model begins to be replicated as a standard of practice in jurisdictions beyond Houston, you are expected to bring you’re A-game.  Nothing less is acceptable.

AB-PA is a scaffolding of professional knowledge until we achieve the required standard of professional knowledge and professional standards of practice across all court-involved mental health professionals.  We will start with AB-PA, but then AB-PA will gradually fade away, replaced by the actual knowledge from the actual source material within professional psychology, Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Bowen, Millon, Kernberg, Haley, Linehan, Haley, Perry, van der Kolk, Fonagy, Stern, Sroufe, Tronick, and all of the scientific literature surrounding the attachment system, narcissistic/borderline personality pathology, and complex trauma in childhood – will all be required reading for standards of professional practice.

Required reading:  My 40-page reference list for AB-PA is online (Dr. Childress Personal Reference List).  If you are a court-involved mental health professional working with attachment-related pathology, start with this reference list.  Start with Bowlby regarding the attachment system and attachment pathology, expand to Minuchin, Bowen, and Haley regarding family systems pathology, and extend this into Beck, Millon, Kernberg, and Linehan regarding personality pathology.  Then move into the research literature, particularly the research literature linking attachment pathology to personality disorder pathology.  

If you are a mental health professional and this seems like a lot of work… then go away.  You are not of the professional caliber required to provide services through the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts.  AB-PA is a scaffolding of knowledge, it is not a replacement for knowledge.

John Houseman: The Paper Chase -1 – Be Prepared to Work

The days of tolerance for professional ignorance and incompetence are over.  This is NOT about the comfort level of court-involved mental health professionals, this is NOT about the comfort level of the American Psychological Association, this is NOT about the comfort level of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – this is about solving pathology, attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce. 

It is about providing the Court with the highest caliber of professional knowledge and professional standards of practice in psychological consultation, court-involved assessment of pathology, and court-involved treatment of pathology.

We have been led into, and have become mired in, profound professional ignorance and incompetence by the conceptually lazy and indolent construct of “parental alienation” and by the passivity and indolence of professional psychology generally surrounding court-involved mental health, and it will take some time for mental health professionals working within the AB-PA pilot program to catch up on their reading list.  They have a lot to learn, and we need that knowledge today… right now.

AB-PA and the diagnostic workup of Foundations provide a scaffolding during this catching up period.  The scaffolding diagnostic framework of AB-PA is not a replacement for the core knowledge, Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Bowen, Millon…

Once we have returned to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology and professional standards of practice, then AB-PA as a construct will disappear into Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck and the scientifically established ground of professional psychology.  There is no such thing as AB-PA, it is Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, and the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

Any mental health professional who claims that AB-PA is “new” or that AB-PA is “Dr. Childress’ work” is simply displaying their profound ignorance of actual constructs and principles in professional psychology; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.  If they don’t know Bowlby, Minuchin, and Beck, then what I’m saying may sound “new” to them.  AB-PA is not “new,” they’re just ignorant.

Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.

Do you really want to display your ignorance to John Housman? 

John Houseman: Paper Chase – 2 – Engaging the Material

Nothing about AB-PA is Dr. Childress. I am just a clinical psychologist.  AB-PA is diagnosis.  Foundations is a diagnostic treatise on the pathology, explaining the origins of three incredibly disparate, highly unusual and unlikely child symptoms by grounding the description of these symptoms into a full diagnostic treatise on the origins of these symptoms in attachment pathology, personality pathology, family systems pathology, and complex trauma.

None of these constructs are Dr. Childress, they are all fully established and scientifically supported domains of information (information sets) within professional psychology – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.

Because something is “new” to you does not make it new, it simply means you’re ignorant.  Don’t be ignorant.  Preventing the destruction of the lives of children, ending the psychological abuse of children, is depending on you NOT being ignorant.

No AB-PA Certified mental health professional is ignorant.  On May 22, 23, and 24th I will be providing seminars in Houston to ensure that.  We will then have monthly online clinical case consultation groups within the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts to provide additional application knowledge regarding the principles of standard and established constructs and principles.

Then… once this is completed,… then the work begins for the mental health professional. AB-PA is not the end… it’s the start of professional knowledge and professional competence.  We will then build on this foundation to create the highest standard of professional knowledge and professional standard of practice.

Nothing less than the highest standards of professional knowledge and professional practice is acceptable.  Because the children need this, because the court requires this, and because our moral compass as professionals compels this.

If you are a mental heath professional and you are not willing to acquire the knowledge, go away.  Go work with some other form of pathology.  Do NOT work with attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

My 40-page reference list is on my website. If you are a mental health professional working with attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce and have NOT read every book and article on that reference list… why not?  You don’t think knowledge about pathology is necessary to solve pathology?

Paper Chase Scene – 3 – Professional Caliber Work

Dr. Childress:  From a professional psychology perspective, we will start with the knowledge of the attachment system, then we’ll work our way into personality disorder pathology, then family systems therapy, and then complex trauma within the family.

If you are a mental health professional who does not want to learn this material.  Go away.  Go work with some other pathology.  Do not work with attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  If you are a mental health professional who is lazy or indolent.  Go away.  Go work with some other pathology.  I am stone-cold serious.

John Houseman Paper Chase – 4 – Here’s a Dime

Unfortunately, I could only find a poor quality YouTube for this scene, and it ends one sentence too soon.  

Here is the complete dialogue:

Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.:  Mr. Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.

James T. Hart: [pause, as he is leaving the room] You… are a son of a bitch, Kingsfield!

Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.:  Mr. Hart! That is the most intelligent thing you’ve said today.  You may take your seat.

If you are passive, go away.  If you have fire, if you are willing to work, if excellence is the only caliber of professional practice acceptable to you, stay… learn.

Professional Standards of Practice

We are returning to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  In Houston Texas, the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts will establish a baseline of professional knowledge required and professional standards of practice expected in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology.

The court has a right to expect the highest caliber of professional knowledge and standards of practice in consultation, court-involved professional assessment, and court-involved treatment of pathology.

Parents and children have the right to expect the highest caliber of professional knowledge and standards of practice in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of child and family pathology.

Nothing less is acceptable.

Dr. Childress, you are a son of a bitch.  That is the most intelligent thing I’ve heard so far. So let’s sit down and get to work, because there are kids and families whose lives are being destroyed, and who deserve and require the highest caliber of professional knowledge and standards of practice

Clinical Leadership

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts uses a clinical treatment team model (because this represents the highest caliber of professional practice), and leading this clinical team in Houston is Jayna Haney, MS.

I am excited and immensely pleased that Jayna Haney, MS is providing this leadership for the clinical team of the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts.  She is EXACTLY the type of high caliber professional who will bring solution.  What the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts provides is the proper framework of establishment psychology from which to work.

Jayna Haney is Advanced Certified in AB-PA through three days of seminars she took with me last November, and he has also trained directly with Karen Woodall.  I couldn’t imagine a better mental health professional to lead the clinical team in the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts.

Jayna Haney, MS is currently the clinical coordinator for the treatment team in Houston, and I am hopeful she will accept the position of Clinical Director for the AB-PA program for the Houston family court system once the structure for the pilot program is in place.

Jayna Haney is immensely smart and capable.  She is fully aware of the pathology in its various presentations and displays.  I am exceptionally pleased that she will be directing the clinical psychology team of the AB-PA pilot program.

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

 

 

Pruter: Higher Purpose Parenting

I just finished the nine-week Higher Purpose Parenting course from Dorcy Pruter.  I am immensely impressed by the quality of her professional work and for what she’s accomplished.  Dorcy does stuff that I didn’t think was possible… until I see her do it.  Oh.  I get it.   Wow.  That’s really impressive.

I’m a clinical psychologist who knows a lot of psychology stuff.  Everything Dorcy says in Higher Purpose Parenting is true, and I can support everything she says at a professional level of explanation.  What’s truly impressive is that I’ve never seen these particular constructs woven together in this way. 

As a clinical psychologist, her weaving of constructs was like being on a roller coaster, I recognized every single construct she was using, but holy cow I’ve never seen them arranged in that pattern and at that speed.  Whooosh, hold on psychologists, you’re in for a conceptual ride.

It’s skill based.  Dorcy teaches skills which, when used, will create certain types of change.  The skills Dorcy teaches are catalysts, and very interesting catalysts that activate extremely powerful change agents. 

She starts with some highly powerful skills, which leads into opening important change factors, and she finishes with spiritual skill sets that will open amazing change processes.  And I repeat, everything Dorcy says in Higher Purpose Parenting is true, and I can explain it all at a professional level of analysis.

The thing is, I’ve never seen anything like what Dorcy does and has accomplished.  From my world of clinical psychology (normal carbon-based life forms), what Dorcy does is a silicon-based life form.  It is unlike anything I’ve seen.  And it is absolutely true, and she’s accomplished something incredibly impressive.

Professional psychology needs to become aware of what Dorcy Pruter is doing.  It is different, and it is impressive.  It is catalytic.  Professional psychology heals.  We use synthesizing meme-structures.  Dorcy teaches skills.  She uses catalytic meme-structures.

Catalytic meme-structures are extremely powerful but very hard to construct, because catalysts work in sequence and if any aspect of the sequencing of catalysts is wrong, the whole thing crashes and zero happens.

But if the catalytic meme structures are correct and in the proper sequence, look out.  Catalytic meme-structures can be incredibly powerful change agents.  Much faster and more complete than healing meme structures.  With catalytic meme-structures, healing takes place, but not in the same way.  It’s a mindfulness, transformative kind of understanding insight healing. 

Professional psychology needs to see this.  We can’t do this yet.  The mind of professional psychology is going to be disoriented at first.  Once it processes what she’s doing, I suspect they’re going to be highly intrigued, and interested in exploring other possible applications of a catalytic approach to change. 

I can’t wait until I have the chance to serve as a conceptual conduit from what Dorcy is doing with her workshops to professional psychology.  I’m a clinical psychologist.  I know a lot of psychology stuff.  Professional psychology is going to be impressed by what Dorcy has accomplished.  There will be haters, no doubt.  Always are.  And Dorcy has her beloved flying monkeys.  And she goes into spiritual meme structures, which can always generate controversy no matter.

And what Dorcy Pruter has accomplished is truly impressive professional work.  Congratulations, Dorcy.  Impressive work.

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

AB-PA Pilot Program: Foundations

In my younger days I used to work in the construction industry, hanging drywall.   The construction of any structure occurs in phases and is based on a plan, a blueprint. 

In building any structure, we begin by laying the foundation.  Upon this foundation, the framing of the structure is then built.  As the framing is constructed, the electricians and plumbers weave in their infrastructures.  Then the drywall is hung which constructs the functional spaces of the structure.  The structure is then completed by installing the doors, windows, and roofing.

The structure for the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts begins with the blueprint, the plan, and will be constructed in integrated phases. 

First, we lay the foundation in the standard and established, scientifically grounded, constructs and principles of professional psychology.   This will occur with the three AB-PA Certification seminars on May 22, 23, and 24, and it will continue throughout the project.  The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts is based on the standard and established, scientifically grounded, constructs and principles of professional psychology.

The AB-PA Certification seminars frame the structure for the treatment team, the pairing of an AB-PA Certified family therapist with an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney to stabilize family pathology and ensure the family’s successful transition to a normal-range separated family structure.

Within the professionally and scientifically grounded structure of the AB-PA pilot program, we then construct the inner structure of professional knowledge and expertise, the professional skill sets, of the AB-PA pilot program for the Court;  

1.)  Treatment Focused Assessment Protocol: A structured and standardized six-session treatment focused assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce,

2.)  Contingent Visitation Schedule: A defined and structured Strategic family systems intervention for stabilizing pathogenic parenting in high-conflict divorce.

The next phase in the development of the AB-PA pilot program structure is to create the “rooms” comprised of the actual clinical care, consisting of monthly online clinical consultation groups that build the treatment team. 

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts will rely on a treatment team clinical care model.  This is a critical aspect of the AB-PA pilot program for the family courts, the creation of a treatment team approach.  This improves all aspects of clinical care and development of professional expertise.

Finally, we add the doors and windows to our structure, the program evaluation research component of the project.

There is also a house paint and landscaping phase of the pilot program for the family courts.  This represents partnerships with local area universities for additional research projects regarding high-conflict family pathology, and clinical internship training programs for building the next generation of professional knowledge and expertise.

Baseline of Professional Knowledge

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts creates a baseline of professional knowledge and competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  We then build upon this structure.

The goal of the AB-PA pilot program is to provide the Court with the highest caliber of professional expertise in clinical psychology; assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.   Decisions within the AB-PA pilot program are based on current scientific foundations and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

Ultimately, the highest caliber of professional knowledge is expected in four domains of professional psychology:

The Attachment System:  Bowlby and the research literature on the attachment system.

Personality Disorder Pathology:  Beck, Millon, Linehan, Kernberg and the research literature on personality disorder pathology (including the linkages of personality disorder pathology to attachment pathology).

Family Systems Therapy:  Bowen, Minuchin, Haley, and the family systems literature in professional psychology.

Complex Trauma: Perry, van der Kolk, and the research literature on the origins and impact of complex trauma in childhood.

These are grounded domains of professional knowledge with established and defined professional information sets directly relevant and applicable to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

The days of tolerance for professional ignorance and incompetence are over.  The Courts deserve the highest caliber of professional knowledge and expertise from professional psychology, and it is the obligation of professional psychology to provide the highest caliber of professional expertise to the Court.  The goal of the AB-PA pilot program will be to provide the Court with this professional knowledge and professional skill.

Court-Involved Clinical Psychology

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts in Houston represents the return of clinical psychology to court-involved professional practice.

Child custody evaluations are over-broad in their referral question, are arbitrary and lack scientific validity, and deny equal access to justice by being prohibitively expensive ($20,000 – $40,000 per assessment).

A foundational axiomatic principle of assessment in clinical psychology is to always assess to the referral question.  A well-formulated referral question for assessment defines and focuses the assessment procedures.  A focused referral question also substantially improves the psychometic qualities of the assessment procedure.

The referral question from the Court is NOT what the child custody time-share should be.  The information to answer such an over-broad referral question is not available from professional psychology that would allow for an answer. 

The only scientifically and theoretically supported answer from professional psychology would be for shared 50-50% custody based on the equal valuation of all four primary parent-child relationships; mother-son, mother-daughter, father-son, father-daughter.  Each of these relationships is unique, each is critical to healthy child development, they are each of equal value, and none of these relationship types are expendable.

Based on an equal valuation of all four primary parenting types (father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter), the only supported professional opinion would be for shared 50-50% custody visitation time-share in all cases except child abuse.  There is no scientific or theoretical justification for giving primacy to any of these relationship types over any other.

The referral question from the Court is not about the custody visitation time-share schedule.  The Court can exercise its normal-range judgement for cases where a deviation from a professional recommendation for a 50-50% custody visitation time-share is warranted.

The issue before the Court is what orders are needed to resolve the high family conflict that is creating excessive litigation and destructive family processes.  The referral question from the Court to professional psychology is to identify which parent is creating the child’s attachment-related pathology, and what are the treatment implications?

This is a much more focused and targeted referral question that is fully within the scope of clinical psychology to answer.  A structured and standardized six-session treatment focused assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce can provide the Court with this answer.

Based on the family data from the treatment focused assessment, the Court can make data-driven decisions regarding the course of action.  If significant pathology is identified in the treatment focused assessment (documented on the Parenting Practices Rating Scale and the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting for Court review), then an AB-PA treatment team can be constructed by pairing an AB-PA Certified stabilizing family therapist with an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney.  The role of the AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney is to serve as the interface between the stabilizing family therapist and the Court.

Treatment Team

The AB-PA Certified mental health professionals in the pilot program for the family courts will participate in monthly online Clinical Case Consultation groups of approximately six mental health professionals.  Each mental health professional will be expected to present at least one case during the year of case consultation groups.  In addition, all intake assessments will be reviewed within the Clinical Case Consultation group.  The amicus attorneys can participate in Clinical Case Consultation groups as warranted (for example, when a particular patient is being staffed in the consultation group).

The treatment team model in clinical psychology helps standardize and improve assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, the treatment team model of case consultation improves clinical decision-making, and the treatment team model in clinical psychology fosters the acquisition of professional knowledge and professional skill sets.

Foundations

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts serves as the ground foundation on which to build the highest caliber of scientifically based professional practice and professional expertise.

We build any structure by first laying the foundation.  The foundation for the AB-PA pilot program in the family courts are the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, including established professional standards of practice in clinical psychology for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

We can absolutely solve attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce, once we return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

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

 

 

My Professional Background

The AB-PA pilot program for the family court begins May 22, 23, and 24 in Houston, Texas.  It represents the solution to attachment-related family pathology surrounding high-conflict divorce.

How can I be so sure?  Because nothing about the pilot program is Dr. Childress.  Everything is standard and established professional clinical psychology.

We can absolutely solve attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce, once we return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

Introduction to the Court:  Clinical Director

I will soon be working collaboratively with the court system in Houston.  When I testify as an expert witness for the Court, my testimony typically begins with the attorney reviewing my qualifications as an expert.

I wish to take a blog post to introduce myself to the Court surrounding the AB-PA pilot program.

This is not my first time putting something like this together.  Two similar projects I’ve done in the past are my Clinical Director experiences:

FEMA/Department of Justice:  This project involved developing a national model for the mental health assessment of juvenile firesetting behavior in collaboration with fire agencies.  I worked closely with an internationally recognized expert in juvenile firesetting behavior, Dr. Kenneth Fineman, and an organizational psychologist, Dr. Brett Patterson, to develop a national model for a structured and standardized mental health assessment protocol for juvenile firesetting behavior, including an initial screening of risk factors by fire agencies.  This project was funded through FEMA and the Department of Justice.

Early Childhood Assessment and Treatment Center:  As Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center, I developed the structured assessment and treatment protocols for trauma impacted children in the foster care system.  The clinic was operated under the auspices of California State University, San Bernardino’s (CSUSB) Institute for Child Development and Family Relations, and included integrated assessment and treatment coordination with Loma Linda University’s occupational therapy department and the University of Redlands Truesdail Center for Communicative Disorders, both of whom provided senior staff and trainees on site to the clinic.

As part of this early childhood treatment clinic, we also developed and implemented a teacher training program for preschool teachers regarding child development and intervention with children presenting behavior problems in the classroom.  This extended to providing training opportunities to undergraduate students at CSUSB, beginning with their providing childcare at the clinic’s parenting education classes, progressing to providing therapeutic childcare at the clinic itself, and leading to advanced training to provide in-classroom support services to children in the preschool system. 

If you look on my resume, that’s what all the preschool teacher trainings were about.  We first recruited undergraduate students from CSUSB to serve as childcare staff at our parent training courses.  In return for the student’s time, we offered a series of seminars to them on child development, including pathology in early childhood.  We then recruited the best of these childcare staff to serve as therapeutic childcare staff at our clinic, and we provided these students with an even more advanced set of educational seminars.  The best of these therapeutic childcare staff we then recruited to serve as paid para-professional staff to provide direct support services to children in the classroom or directly in the foster home placement.  These trained para-professional student aides were supervised by senior clinical staff on individual cases.

Clinical Research Foundation

I have also worked with a variety of high-level clinical research projects over the years:

UCLA Schizophrenia:  For a major portion of my early career development I coordinated the research arm of a multi-faceted longitudinal clinical research project on schizophrenia at UCLA with Dr. Keith Nuechterlein.  I understand how major clinical research projects are structured and how they operate.  I was also trained to diagnostic reliability on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), an 18-item seven-point symptom inventory, and for nearly 15 years I participated in annual inter-rater reliability standardization training on diagnostic symptom identification and rating provided through the Diagnostic Unit at the Brentwood VA. 

I know what symptom features look like across 18 standard symptoms in professional psychology, each symptom rated along a seven-point scale.  I also know what inter-rater reliability training looks like.

UCLA Prader-Willi Syndrome:  Also earlier in my career, I was involved in a research project on Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that results in severe pediatric over-eating and obesity, cognitive deficits, and potential mental retardation.  I was not responsible for developing the assessment protocol for this project.  My role with this project was to administer a structured and standardized assessment protocol, including the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM (SCID). The SCID is a structured clinical interview assessment protocol for diagnosis of pathology.  The SCID is a long and thorough structured assessment instrument that is often used in clinical research projects to establish and confirm diagnosis.

CHLA Cognitive Remediation in Pediatric Cancer Patients:  While at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, I participated in a clinical research project on the cognitive remediation of attention deficits in children with neurologically involved cancer treatments (brain surgery or chemotherapy affecting the cerebrospinal fluid; “intrathecal” chemotherapy).  This was a multi-site research project involving the top pediatric cancer programs in the country, headed by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Childhood Cancer Research.  While I was with this project, I traveled to the University of Texas, MD Anderson Childhood Cancer Center for training in a standardized assessment and treatment protocol for attention deficits in pediatric cancer patients.

UCI Child Development Center Preschool ADHD:  This was a collaborative project between Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and the University of California, Irvine Child Development Center (UCI-CDC; James Swanson, Ph.D.) on the identification and remediation of attention deficits in preschool-age children.  I was the lead clinical psychologist on this project, hired through the CHOC part of the collaboration.  We developed a comprehensive parenting training program across several counties for families of preschool age children.  Layered into this program was a research intervention component for the cognitive remediation of attention deficits using a computerized intervention.  We also developed a teacher training component for preschool teachers in Functional Behavioral Analysis.

Clinical Psychologist

I’m an old clinical psychologist who received his foundational training in behavioral psychology as an undergraduate at UCLA.  I might be one of the few remaining clinical psychologists who learned the principles of behavior therapy from teaching a rat to press a lever in the laboratory.  Behavior is controlled by the cue, not the consequence.

Since my early professional career as a behavior therapist, I have extended my psychotherapy skill set into humanistic-existential psychology, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and family systems therapy.  My primary model of therapy for children is family systems therapy.

I have taught courses at the graduate level in:

Assessment and Treatment Planning
Diagnosis and Psychopathology
Psychometrics of Assessment
Research Methodology
Models of Psychotherapy
Child Development

I fully understand the content from each of these domains of professional practice.

I understand how to develop and implement clinical intervention programs.  

I know how to integrate a clinical intervention program into high-level research collaborations with university partners. 

I understand how to develop and implement structured and standardized assessment protocols that are consistent with the highest standards of professional clinical psychology, and with the requirements of structured research protocols.

Attachment Pathology:  I have a strong professional background in attachment-related pathology from my role as Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center.  Early childhood is the formative period for the “internal working models” of attachment bonding.  It is essential for early childhood mental health professionals to have a strong professional understanding for the attachment system, it’s formation, functioning, and characteristic dysfunctioning.

In addition, our clinic dealt primarily with children in the foster care system who had been exposed to childhood trauma (or neuro-developmental damage from prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol).  Child abuse severely damages attachment bonding and the development of schemas (“internal working models”) within the attachment system.  I understand what trauma looks like and how it affects attachment bonding and the attachment system.  This also means that I know what trauma DOESN’T look like, when the attachment-related pathology is a false construction of a parent weaponizing a child in the spousal conflict.

My doctoral degree is in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.  The doctoral program at Pepperdine University is a strong and substantial program for education and training in clinical psychology.

The Court System

You’ll note that none of my foundational professional background is with high-conflict divorce in the court system.  That domain of professional expertise began approximately a decade ago when I entered private practice.  It was when I entered private practice that I encountered first hand the attachment-related pathology commonly called “parental alienation” in the popular culture.

As a clinical psychologist, I do not recognize the pathology of “parental alienation” as an established clinical pathology.  In my view, it is a common culture term used to describe a particular type of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  In my clinical psychology work, I prefer to rely solely on the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

I am a clinical psychologist.  The role of a clinical psychologist is to solve pathology, whether that pathology is juvenile delinquency, childhood attachment problems, childhood trauma, or spousal and family conflicts.  The solution to all forms of pathology is the same, through the application of the standard and established, scientifically grounded, constructs and principles of professional psychology to the solution.

For the past decade I have worked toward providing a clinical psychology solution to the attachment-related family pathology surrounding high-conflict divorce.  This solution is available through the application of standard and established psychological constructs and principles, including established professional standards of practice, to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

I am the author of:

An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Foundations

The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

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

The Narcissistic Parent: A Guidebook for Legal Professionals Working with Families in High-Conflict Divorce

The Petition to the APA

I have presentations available online for viewing regarding attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce:

Master Lecture Series; California Southern University.
Theoretical Foundations of Attachment-Based Model of “Parental Alienation.” 
July 18, 2014; Irvine, CA.

Master Lecture Series; California Southern University:
An Attachment-Based Model of “Parental Alienation”: Diagnosis and Treatment.
November 21, 2014; Irvine, CA.

Legislature Briefing.  Pennsylvania State Legislature; House Children and Youth Committee:
Solutions to High-Conflict Divorce in the Family Court.
November 15, 2017; Harrisburg, PA

I have made additional presentations, such as a 6/1/17 seminar at the annual convention of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts on an attachment-based model of “parental alienation,” only these additional seminars are not available online for viewing.

I recently presented with Clarke Young, a family law attorney, at the California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors on 4/20/18 regarding:

Emerging Career Opportunities for LPCCs in Family Law: Parent Alienation Testing, Orders and Treatment in BPD/NPD Custody Proceedings.

This seminar was filmed and should be available for viewing online within the next several weeks.

I am scheduled to present on 6/20/18 at the EFCAP Congress (European Association for Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychology, and other involved Professions) in Venice, Italy regarding:

An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Solutions for the Family Court

The AB-PA pilot program for the family courts will provide the necessary professional knowledge and skill sets to the Court that are needed to solve attachment-related family pathology surrounding high-conflict divorce.

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