Single Case ABAB Protocol

Preface:  The Authentic Parent

With the permission of parents who are targeted by the pathology of “parental alienation,” I’m going to start referring to you as the child’s “authentic parent” rather than “targeted parent.”   A mother of former alienation recently shared with me an insight she had that the term “targeted parent” subtly identified her as the victim.

She – and you – are not victims.  You are the child’s authentic and protective parent, and you are fighting to protect your children from a very severe and malignant psychological pathology. You are targeted by the pathology, but we are done with you being a victim of the pathology. From this day forward, you are the empowered authentic parent of your child in your fight to protect and reclaim your child – your children – from the pathology of “parental alienation.”

The Single Case ABAB Protocol

In the next two blog posts I will be discussing two new booklets available for the authentic and protective parents of children who are targeted by the pathology of “parental alienation.”  

The first of these booklets is intended to support parents in their efforts within the legal system to obtain a protective separation of their children from the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

The second booklet, due out in less that two weeks, is to use in your efforts to obtain professional competence from mental health professionals involved with your children and families.  This booklet represents my professional-to-professional consultation with these mental health professionals.  I will discuss this second booklet in an upcoming blog post.

The first resource for the legal system is available now through

An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Single Case ABAB Assessment and Treatment

Even as we engage the battle for establishment mental health, I’m already working on the legal side of things. We are still a ways off from being able to solve the legal side, but I am turning my attention to this battle as well since I know so many of you are trying to solve the pathology of “parental alienation” today, this moment, and need all the help you can muster in your current battle.  I’ll do what I can.

The Single Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol is a booklet designed for your attorneys (or for you if you’re representing yourself pro se) to give to the judge as a proposal for either assessing for possible “negative parental influence” (i.e., “parental alienation”) or as a remedy if it is determined that “parental alienation” is present.

Before we can ask your child to reveal the child’s authentic love for you, we must first be able to protect the child from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent. Only the Court has the power to order the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery. So we must be able to obtain a Court-ordered protective separation of the child from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

To accomplish this on a regular basis will require mental health as your staunch ally, so our first battle is to cleanse the mental health system of its infection by the pathogen, so that we can activate the necessary response from the mental health system (i.e., a consistent DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed when the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” are present in the child’s symptom display).

But until we are able to achieve mental health as your ally, you still need solutions that you can actualize today. The Single Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol offers one possible solution for obtaining the necessary Court-ordered protective separation needed to recover and restore your child’s authenticity.

Within our currently broken mental health and legal systems, the Court is likely to be reluctant to order the child’s outright protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, (the supposedly “favored” parent). The Single Case ABAB protocol offers the Court an alternative.  And since it’s an assessment protocol, you can ask for it without having to “prove” parental alienation; it’s an assessment for “parental alienation.”

The Single Case ABAB protocol uses a standard research protocol called a “single-case” research design that is used frequently in mental health research with only a single child (i.e., a single case). The single-case design involves systematically collecting data through a series of structured phases. What I’ve done is apply this standard type of research methodology (i.e., a single-case ABAB reversal design) to the assessment of “parental alienation” for the Court.

Up on my website, near the top, is a Chart from the book that briefly summarizes the phases of the protocol.

The following is a description of the Single Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol from the back cover of the book:

“Assessing the cause of parent-child conflict following divorce can be a complex undertaking, especially in the context of allegations that one parent is exercising negative parental influence on the child that undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent.

While securing testimony is one way to evaluate the cause of parent-child conflict and allegations of negative parental influence, a more scientifically-based approach offers an alternative solution.

Single-case research designs are an established scientific methodology for determining causality as well as treatment efficacy. A single-case ABAB reversal design is considered the best scientifically-based research methodology for determining causality with individual children and individual situations (i.e., a single case).

A Single-Case Assessment and Remedy protocol offers the Court a structured approach for ordering the systematic collection of child and family information which is needed to address the decisions before the Court.”

The High Road Protocol

Be aware, the Single-Case Assessment and Remedy protocol requires the High Road to Family Reunification intervention of Dorcy Pruter and it requires the appointment by the Court of a “supervising clinician” to oversee the implementation of the protocol, so these may be hurdles for you to overcome at this point in time.

But I have reviewed the High Road protocol and it will absolutely restore the authentic child in a matter of days. I don’t care how symptomatic they currently are.   One of the reasons the High Road protocol can do this is because it is NOT therapy. It’s a totally different type of intervention (a “catalytic” intervention rather than a “healing” intervention).

Right now the availability of this protocol is through Dorcy Pruter, but as Dorcy gets interventionists trained-up across the country this barrier will begin to dissolve. We’ll only need a couple of trained interventionists in every region of the county. Because it’s an intensive 4-day psycho-educational intervention, it can be conducted at a hotel in one of the conference rooms, so that a regional interventionist could realistically cover an entire geographic area.

Another thing is that therapists will be particularly BAD at administering the psycho-educational High Road protocol. Therapists can’t help using healing interventions of bringing up the past and talking about feelings. This is exactly the wrong thing to do with the High Road protocol. The trained interventionist simply needs to follow the steps of the protocol, no improvisation, not trying to add something to “make it better.” Just follow the instructions and follow the steps.

The protocol will work all by itself. Mental health therapists, however, will have a hard time with this. We can’t help ourselves. We want to heal. But the High Road protocol isn’t using healing therapeutic interventions, it’s using step-wise catalytic interventions that restore an authentic brain.

Once the child’s various brain systems are back up and functional, the problem’s solved. We don’t’ need to do psychological archeology of dredging up past conflicts and talking about feelings. That’s actually counter-productive because it activates latent grief and guilt in the child.

That’s one of many things that make the High Road protocol so effective, it DOESN’T do psychological archeology. It uses an entirely different approach of restoring an authentic brain. Once the child’s various brain systems (e.g., empathy, attachment, cognitive interpretation, social communication) are functioning authentically and normally, the pathology goes away.

The pathology is present because the child’s various brain systems are being distorted by the pathogenic influence of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

Separate the child from the pathogenic influence of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

Restore the normal-range and authentic functioning of the child’s various brain systems.

Poof. Pathology’s gone.

Hopefully you know by now that I am direct and forthright in what I say.  I took on ineffective “reunification therapy” in On Unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and Reunification Therapy, comparing current “reunification therapy” to a snake oil remedy of unknown and unreliable content.  I took on Child Custody Evaluations, highlighting the complete absence of scientifically established validity for the interpretations and recommendations contained in these evaluations, and comparing the practice of child custody evaluations to “voodoo assessment.”  I even spoke directly and forthrightly to you, the child’s authentic parent, in Stark Reality, where I told you that we cannot restore your child’s authenticity until you are first able to protect your child.

Hopefully, you realize that I will speak directly. So it should hearten you to hear me say that I have reviewed the High Road protocol, I completely understand what it’s doing and how it works, and it will restore your child’s authenticity in a matter of days (with a protective separation in place).

Dorcy Pruter has the intervention in her hip pocket once we’re able to get the Court to order a protective separation of your child from the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

In order to get the Court to order a protective separation we will need mental health to be your ally and to consistently provide the correct and accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed when the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” (Childress, 2015) are present in the child’s symptom display.

In order to get mental health as your ally in accurately and correctly diagnosing the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation,” we must cleanse the mental health system of its current infection by the pathogen which is disabling the mental health response to the pathology. View my YouTube videos on Empowerment.

Once mental health consistently provides the correct and accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology as V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed, we can then take this confirmed mental health diagnosis into the legal system (and into the Child Protective Services system) to obtain the necessary protective separation of the child from the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline parent.

Then, when we reach this point, we’ll be able to quickly restore your authentic child. But first things first.

First mental health, then the legal system, then we can recover your child’s authenticity. “Parental alienation” is not a child custody issue, it is a child protection issue.  We must first be able to protect the child. Only then can we restore the child’s authenticity.

Finding Solutions Today

But in the meantime, as we move relentlessly toward the solution for all families and all children, many of you struggle to find a solution today, amidst the broken mental health and legal systems that surround you.

For all of you who are struggling in the current reality of the broken mental health and legal systems, the Single Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol MAY be able to help. It gives you something concrete to request from the Court, without having to prove “parental alienation” in an exceedingly expensive and difficult trial.

The Single Case ABAB protocol is an assessment protocol that can determine if the cause of the child’s excessive hostility, excessive anxiety, and rejection of a normal-range and affectionally available parent is the result of “negative parental influence” (i.e., “parental alienation”) by the allied and supposedly favored parent.

The Single Case ABAB protocol offers the Court an evidence-based approach to determining the cause of the family conflict.

The Single Case ABAB protocol offers the Court an evidence-based alternative to seeking a costly and time consuming child custody evaluation that has no scientific support for the conclusions and recommendations reached.

In as little as 10-12 weeks overall, and potentially only four to six weeks of protective separation (perhaps longer in some cases, depending on individual circumstances), the Single Case ABAB protocol can provide the Court with definitive empirically-based answers.

The Single Case ABAB protocol can be submitted by your attorney as either an Assessment protocol if there are questions about whether “parental alienation” is the cause, or as a Remedy protocol if “parental alienation” is identified and the question is what to do about it.

And… the Single Case ABAB protocol provides an instrument that can be submitted as either an Assessment or Remedy intervention by you, the child’s authentic parent, when you can’t afford legal representation and are representing yourself pro se (caveat: mind you, I am a psychologist, not an attorney, and I can’t and don’t offer legal advice.  I am discussing a possible psychological intervention).

Will the Court order the Single Case ABAB protocol?  I don’t know.  I do know that the judge can’t accept it if you don’t request it. 

If nothing else, at least you will be educating the Court regarding an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”  Maybe the judge will read the ABAB protocol and will become curious enough to read Foundations.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful, judges who understand the pathology.

Can you ask the judge to read Foundations?  No.  Can you or your attorney submit the Single Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol to the judge as a proposed assessment or proposed remedy.  Absolutely.  Might this help educate the judge?  We can only hope.

For some of you, the Single Case ABAB protocol may represent a current hope. At the very least you would be acquainting the Court regarding an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” and giving the judge an alternative (and Dorcy will travel).

Our current fight is to obtain mental health as your ally. Once we have mental health as your ally we will turn to the legal system. Until we solve “parental alienation” for all children and all families, there will be no solution in your particular family.

But I know how precious your children are to you, and I know how anxious you are for a solution. As we move relentlessly toward the solution, the Single Case ABAB protocol may be of help to some of you. I am doing everything I can to get solutions out to you as soon as possible in case they might be helpful for some of you now.


In less than two weeks another 50-page booklet will become available to you on entitled:

An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Professional Consultation

This 50-page booklet is what you can give to mental health professionals. It is my professional consultation to them. If you give the mental health professional Foundations they may or may not read it (likely they won’t) .

Professional Consultation is the booklet I’ve written specifically for you to give mental health professionals. It will be available on in less than two weeks.

I am serious. We will not tolerate for one day more the loss of your children to the pathology of “parental alienation.” The pathology of “parental alienation” ends today. Now.

We are moving relentless toward the solution. If there are five of us on the battlefield, then it will take us longer to get there, but make no mistake, we will achieve the solution. If there are hundreds of us on the battlefield, we are stronger; if there are thousands of us on the battlefield we are stronger still.

The question is not whether we will achieve a solution to “parental alienation,” the only question is how soon.

You are more powerful than you know, if you come together as one,

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

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Childress, C.A. (2015). An attachment-based model of parental alienation: Foundations. Claremont, CA: Oaksong Press.

11 thoughts on “Single Case ABAB Protocol”

  1. Thank you very much for the booklet concept! I had been concerned that sending Foundations to the various practitioners involved in our case would be complicated approach.

    1. Dr. Childress,
      It has taken me a long time to understand what you mean by ABAB . . . ‘what is the acronym’ I have asked myself for months since you first wrote of it. Now I see your chart, “Single-Case ABAB Assessment & Remedy Protocol”. I understand the protocol, but where is the ‘high road protocol’ remedy?
      A1, initial baseline for us has been 7 years. B1, initial intervention, without an attorney, it will never happen. A2, second baseline, we will never see it. I physically ache for my daughters touch and my heart is heavy with grief and unending despair, ‘The Great Sadness’, ‘Frozen Grief’. . . . under these conditions, waiting for ‘Dorcy to train people and get them out into regions of the country’, no, I will never see it in my lifetime. I will not see my beloved child look at me with her eyes of love. B2, second intervention, the focus has been on me, Dr. Childress and how black the shrouded pathogen has been around me; I will never see the light of day. I can assure you I am courageous and positive, however, my hope has turned to shame again and again and now again for the last time. I do not have an attorney to speak on my behalf, I do not expect to have intelligent assistance from anyone. I am a lonely nobody. My 16 year old daughter is in her place, with her father and his hatred established in her towards me for no reason. My family of 5 is destroyed.
      I believe in your model of PA, and I believe in you as an authentic psychologist. So now I am grieving more intensely now than I ever have because I haven’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and can only see the next two years as ultimate torture. I am lonely and miserable without my family. I have nothing to live for except not to die so my children will know I did not take my own life.
      I have been studying psychology, nearing the end of my 3rd course. There is nothing I want more than to help me and help others, but honestly, I cannot imagine getting on the other side of this emotional pain that has consumed me.
      God help us all, we who are of the truth, and hope beyond hope.

  2. Target or targeted parent comes from understanding that if you are or have been in a close relationship with a Narcissistic/borderline person, and they “targeted” you to take the blame and the punishiment for all of their problems. Their disorder is such that they MUST project their inadequacies onto someone else. That makes the authentic parent their primary target. They will never stop blaming or trying to punsh the authentic parent, NEVER. But being targeted doesn’t mean that we accept the blame or stay in a place where we feel the punishment, The abuse is so subtle, that many of us, if not most of us initially do fall into the victim pattern. It is only when targeted parents realize that they have been victimized by a mentally ill person, in dominating and manipulative ways, can they put the blame back where it belongs.

    I am and always will be a targeted parent. It signifies that I have been in the trenches, and have endured the unendurable. I recognize the weapons of destruction that can no longer hurt me. I will use my new found strength to bring my children back home! Then, I will look into the eyes of the loser and say, “What do you think of me now!”

  3. This was very interesting. I am currently the targeted parent. My ex has visitation only 25 hours a year because of his addictions. I have maintained he could have a relationship with his son as long as he is healthy, and could follow established boundaries. He has visited his son 4 times in 4 years, but says I won’t allow him to have a relationship with his son. He doesn’t visit or call with any regularity, but I usually have my son call his Dad on a monthly basis. My fear is for him to start claiming I am alienating his son from him when I do everything I can to force a relationship. You have some really useful information on here. Thanks!

    1. It is important to note that not all parent-child difficulty is the result of “parental alienation.” The three diagnostic indicators for an attachment-based model will reliably differentiate the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation” from other forms of family difficulty and parent-child conflict. Based on your report, a suppression of the child’s attachment bonding motivations that might be present may be the result of parental incapacity, with is discussed in Foundations.

      Also, it is unlikely that the child in the scenario you describe will evidence the five specific narcissistic/borderline symptoms required by Diagnostic Indicator 2. In particular, I would expect that the child will not evidence an absence of empathy, will not evidence a haughty and arrogant attitude, and will not evidence a sense of entitlement relative to the other parent.

      Even with a compromised parent, however, the child will still benefit from an affectionately bonded relationship with both parents. The issue is not about “forcing’ the child, it is about the child’s cooperation because of normal-range empathy and compassion. We are not kind to others because of who they are, we are kind to others because of who we are.

      So, based on the scenario you describe, I would hope that your child would show the healthy values of kindness, empathy, and compassion, and would reach out to cooperate with including his father into his life, not necessarily because of who is father is, but because of who your son is, and as a reflection of the values you have taught him. Children are a product of the parenting they receive, and I am confident that your son’s kindness and compassion will reflect well on your parenting.

      1. Thank you for the response. My son does show kindness, empathy and compassion. He is amazing. I think I am the one that gets anxious about the lack of relationship and will try to encourage my son to call his Dad and prompt him with things to talk about. My son is 4 so often when I ask if he wants to call Dad he declines. I will usually suggest that I call him and he can talk. Sadly because of my ex-husbands problems he is very inconsistent with visitation and phone calls. At rational moments he will threaten with the PAS and use that against me. I have read through your page and have found it incredibly helpful. I had thought that ‘reunification’ therapy might help my son and his father have a relationship after reading what you said about this therapy, I have a much better understanding. Thanks again.

  4. I am more anxious and desperate than any authentic parent. I cannot go a day more without asking the court for relief. I am tire if being ill-equipped to effect change through the court (I am ordered no contact). How have my pleas gone unnoticed for so long with me charged as being the inept and unfit parent. My daughter’s therapist has disabled my influence for three years and five months. During this time I have had an injunction filed against me which was in place for six months with me and my daughter ordered to supervised visitation when she was qe years old. Enough is enough. My next step was it is to give the psychologist a phone message that I am filing a complaint with the licensing board. Everything I do I backfires yet I press on willing to be humiliated. I have no attorney. I am broke and barely able to remain on my feet. Why do I have to suffer like this?
    I will take the ABAB method as you have described to plead with the court once again, even though I don’t even have clue (yet) what the anachronism means. I will study and do the best I can. Of course I realize I am one of many who need immediate help. I won’t stand by any longer; I am in pain, I have no life. I am an INFJ and my personality has no voice.
    Thank you for this article.

    1. Try to find as much peace as you can. The systems surrounding “parental alienation” are broken. We are moving relentlessly to fix them. Until they are fixed the frustration and helplessness is real, but we are on the move to change them. As much as you can, try to find peace so that your efforts can remain focused. With each passing day we move relentlessly toward the solution. The publication of Professional Consultation in two weeks will provide a major step forward. You are not alone, and we will not abandon you. Nor will we abandon any child to the pathology of “parental alienation.”

      Find what peace you can because your child needs you to be centered and healthy. My analogy is to quicksand. If your child is in quicksand it doesn’t help for the targeted and authentic parent to jump in after them. Instead, keep your feet firmly rooted on the solid ground of your own emotional, physical, and psychological health, and then reach out your hand to help rescue your child. What we will be providing in the months ahead are a variety of ropes and branches that you can use to pull your child from the quicksand of the pathology.

      Ultimately, we will fix the surrounding systems, and the pathology of “parental alienation” will be solved for all parents and all children.

      1. Dr. Childress, I do understand your encouragement for me to keep my feet planted on solid ground. It’s the loneliness that gets me the most. I have two awareness leads here; one for Channel 9 News and the other Florida State Senator Geraldine Thompson introducing me to the senator who chairs the committee on Children, Family and Elderly meeting in September. These events give me hope, and “you are my biggest fan” I Appreciate you.

  5. I like the thought around “authentic parent”, but I think it might still put us in a difficult patient. We are certainly not saying that the sick parent is not an “authentic” parent. Can we find a different adjective that is still clear and forceful yet empathic and cognizant that in court, arguments over which parent is “authentic” are beside the point?

  6. There must be a Single Case ABAB assessment to begin now. This was written mid July of 2015 and it is November 2016.

    “For some of you, the Single Case ABAB protocol may represent a current hope. At the very least you would be acquainting the Court regarding an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” and giving the judge an alternative (and Dorcy will travel).”

    There must be something more right now. We are in need of the father receiving psychotherapy to learn how to share. He needs to resolve his issues wrapped up in narcissism with the “parenting coordinator’ we have had for a few months now. He needs to learn how to share her in her senior year after turning 18. I think this is what needs to happen… BUT how do we do this?

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