Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

I have just posted to my website a Diagnostic Checklist for the three Primary Diagnostic Indicators and Secondary Clinical Features for the pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”

This diagnostic checklist is available at the link below:

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting, and directly through my website

I am not sure if this checklist will be helpful to targeted parents, but I am trying to provide you with something simple that you can give to therapists and child custody evaluators.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, we can lead a horse to water but we can’t make him drink.

We can’t force mental health professionals to be knowledgeable.  If you have cancer and you’re in the position of educating your physician regarding the diagnosis and treatment of cancer… you’re in trouble.  The treating physician should know more than you about the disorder.  Would that this were the case with mental health professionals and “parental alienation.”

This Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting may, or may not, be helpful in educating therapists and child custody evaluators.

If the three Primary Diagnostic Indicators are present then a diagnosis of pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is warranted, because no other possible explanation can account for this specific set of child’s symptoms.  It is simple.  It is clear.  It is definitive.

In addition, there are a set of secondary clinical features that can be used as confirmatory support for the diagnosis, or as initial signs triggering additional focused assessment for the three Primary Diagnostic Indicators.

The diagnosis of pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is made solely on the presence or absence of the three Primary Diagnostic Indicators.

If one or more of the three Primary Diagnostic Indicators is sub-threshold, then a 6-month Response to Intervention (RTI) trial of therapy would be warranted to assist in clarifying the diagnosis. If the parent-child conflict with the targeted parent is NOT due to the pathogenic influence of the child’s cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) parent (i.e., “parental alienation”), then 6 months of appropriate therapy should produce a significant resolution to the parent-child conflict.  Perhaps not a complete resolution in 6 months, but significant gains should be achieved from 6 months of therapy.

If, however, the parent-child conflict IS the result of the pathogenic influence of the child’s cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) parent (i.e., “parental alienation”), then 6 months of therapy will have had no effect, the Primary Diagnostic Indicators would have become more clearly evident, and the presence of secondary clinical features could confirm the diagnosis.

If you want to remain focused in educating a therapist or child custody evaluator, I structured the checklist so you can simply present the first two pages.  At the end of the first page are resources of my website, blog, and online seminar if the mental health professional wants more information.  At the end of the second page is the appropriate DSM-5 diagnosis (including V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed) with a reference in the footnote to the article on my website where I provide an analysis of the DSM-5 diagnosis for an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”

The third page is a single-page checklist for all of the associated secondary clinical features, followed by bullet-point descriptions of each secondary clinical feature.  I’m planning to address each one in turn in future blog posts, describing each feature and explaining why it occurs.

Again, this may, or may not, be helpful.  We can lead a horse…

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

 

One thought on “Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting”

  1. dr. childress, while i agree completely with you attachment based “parent alienation”. i think a huge problem is with one of your diagnostic features. while the mental health professional, especially the psych. should understand the cross-generational coalition with narcissist/borderline parent, it is a hard concept to wrap you head around. it would be hard for me to go into my and my son’s psych. to look into this characteristic in my son’s father would be almost impossible for me to explain why he should and why my case is “parent alienation”. he refused to go there. i am an MSw , former clinical therapist and this was about one year ago and he just wouldn’t go there. wrote up his assessment telling the court my 12 year olds best interest would be not to see me anymore. cancel the visits until he “decides” to see me and let him “decide” that he did not want to see me any more despite no abuse or reasons for him to not want to see me on his own volitions and knowing the fact that i had full custody of his little 1/2 sister, age6.

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