Battles are chaotic. That’s to be expected. In July, I raised the battle flags of our assault on the citadel of establishment mental health. In August we are mustering our forces on the battlefield. In September and October we begin our focused assaults. Leadership is beginning to emerge from within your ranks and I’ll be working with that leadership in the days and months ahead. They will help and support you. Follow their guidance.
Our goal is to achieve a paradigm shift.
Gardner’s model of PAS took us down a wrong road in proposing a “new syndrome.” In order to achieve a solution, the pathology of “parental alienation” must be defined within standard and established psychological principles and constructs to which all mental health professionals can be held accountable.
An attachment-based reformulation for the pathology as described in Foundations accomplishes this.
Foundations defines specific professional domains of knowledge necessary for professional competence and activates Standards 2.01, 9.01, and 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.
The attachment-based model of the pathology as described in Foundations establishes the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed for the pathogenic parenting practices of the narcissistic/borderline parent who is inducing severe developmental, personality, and psychiatric symptoms in the child in order to use the child in a role-reversal relationship to regulate the pathology of the parent.
Once we achieve the paradigm shift from the old Gardnerian model to the new attachment-based model, the solution to the pathology of “parental alienation” becomes available immediately:
1.) The practice of assessing, diagnosing, and treating this type of pathology will be restricted to only mental health professionals with the established professional competence in personality disorders, family systems principles, and attachment system trauma pathology.
2.) All mental health professionals assessing, diagnosing and treating this form of pathology (attachment trauma reenactment pathology) will assess for the three definitive diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model of the pathology, as well as the associated clinical signs indicative of the pathology, as defined and predicted a priori from the description of the pathology in Foundations.
3.) When the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” are present in the child’s symptom display, all mental health professionals will make a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed, they will document this diagnosis in the child’s treatment record, and they will file a suspected child abuse report with the appropriate child protection services agency in order to appropriately discharge their “duty to protect.”
4.) The social worker at the child protection services agency who receives this child abuse report from the mental health professional will then apply the same model for the pathology (attachment trauma reenactment pathology) and will assess for the three diagnostic indicators of the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation”.
5.) When the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” (attachment trauma reenactment pathology) are present in the child’s symptom display, the social worker will confirm the DSM-5 diagnosis made by the mental health professional of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed and will initiate a protective separation of the child from the pathology and pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline parent.
6.) The social worker with the child protection agency will place the child in the care of the normal-range and affectionally available targeted parent, and treatment will be initiated under the expert guidance of a knowledgeable and competent mental health professional.
7.) Once the child’s symptoms of pathology are resolved and the child’s normal-range development has been restored and stabilized, the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline parent will be reintroduced under careful therapeutic monitoring to ensure that the child’s symptoms do not return with the reintroduction of the parent’s pathology.
This is the seven-step solution made available today by a paradigm shift to an attachment-based definition for the construct of “parental alienation.”
That’s the solution we seek. That’s the solution that is available right now, this instant, once the paradigm shifts from a Gardnerian PAS model to an attachment-based model for the pathology. The only thing that stands in the way of this solution is achieving the paradigm shift from a Gardnerian PAS model to an attachment-based redefinition of the pathology.
At this point, the only thing that stands between us and this solution is ignorance. Once the paradigm shifts to an attachment-based model for describing the pathology of “parental alienation,” this solution becomes available immediately.
Our goal is to achieve this paradigm shift within mental health to an attachment-based description of the pathology.
The Battle for Mental Health
We are not proposing a “new syndrome.” We are not proposing anything “new.” All of the component pathology of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is existing and well-defined pathology within establishment mental health.
We are simply asking for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this already recognized and established form of psychopathology.
The attachment-based paradigm defines specific domains of professional knowledge necessary for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the pathology traditionally called “parental alienation” (i.e., attachment trauma reenactment pathology; narcissistic/borderline personality pathology in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the targeted parent).
By defining specific domains of professional knowledge necessary for professional competence, the attachment-based model activates existing standards of practice established by the American Psychological Association governing the practice of professional psychology:
Standard 2.01 requiring that mental health professionals ONLY practice within the boundaries of their professional competence. If you don’t possess professional expertise in personality disorder pathology, family systems principles, and attachment trauma pathology then you should stay away from assessing, diagnosing, and treating this type of pathology.
Standard 9.01 requiring that mental health professionals conduct an appropriate and adequate assessment to support their diagnosis. If you are assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder pathology, family systems pathology, and attachment trauma pathology, you must conduct an appropriate assessment of these domains of pathology and document the results of that assessment in the patient record.
Standard 3.04 requiring that mental health professionals not harm their clients. If, in practicing beyond the boundaries of your competence, you harm your clients, then you are in violation of this Standard.
The professional “duty to protect” requires that mental health professionals take active steps to protect their clients and the general public from harm, including protecting children from all forms of child abuse.
NONE of these Standards are activated by the Gardnerian PAS paradigm, because the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is proposing a “new syndrome.”
ALL of these Standards are activated by an attachment-based paradigm, because the attachment-based model describes the pathology from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs.
The moment the paradigm shifts, all of these Standards become active. In fact, they are already active but are simply not recognized because of professional ignorance regarding the established forms of pathology that comprise the pathology traditionally called “parental alienation.”
So our first step is to eliminate professional ignorance. That’s the booklet Professional Consultation. That booklet is designed to eliminate professional ignorance locally, in your specific case. Case-by-case we are eliminating ignorance, we are creating the paradigm shift for your specific case, and we are activating Standards 2.01, 9.01, 3.04 and the duty to protect for your specific case.
If, after being alerted to the paradigm shift, the mental health professional…
- Continues to practice beyond the boundaries of his or her competence regarding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of personality disorder pathology, family systems pathology, psychiatric (delusional) pathology, and attachment trauma pathology;
- Continues to not assess for and accurately diagnose the personality disorder pathology, the family systems pathology, the psychiatric (delusional) pathology, and the attachment trauma pathology;
- Inflicts harm on you and your child by their failure to adequately assess and accurately diagnose the pathology and by their failure to protect the child from the evident psychological abuse being inflicted on the child by the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline parent;
Then that mental health professional is likely in violation of these activated Standards of professional practice and may be vulnerable to a licensing board complaint relative to Standards 2.01, 9.01, 3.04, and failure in their “duty to protect.”
Warriors in the Paradigm Shift
Our first set of warriors in creating the paradigm shift are those parents who are currently actively involved with the mental health system. You can create a small paradigm shift related to your specific case by providing the mental health professional with the booklet Professional Consultation and requesting the assessment for the type of pathology it describes.
A week after providing the therapist with the booklet Professional Consultation you can offer to provide the therapist with the Diagnostic Checklist from my website. You have now created a mini paradigm shift surrounding your specific case. The book Foundations is referenced in the booklet Professional Consultation, so the description of the pathology contained in Foundations has now become active in your case.
When you provide the therapist with Professional Consultation, boundaries of competence regarding established and fully accepted forms of psychopathology have been established relative to your specific case to which the mental health professional can now be held accountable. One of three things will then occur:
1.) The mental health professional will assess for the pathology.
Great. This is exactly what we want.
If the three diagnostic indicators are not present in the child’s symptom display then you will want to ask that the mental health professional document in the patient’s record (and describe for you) which specific diagnostic indicators are not present.
If the three diagnostic indicators are present, then you’ll want the mental health professional to provide the appropriate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
2.) The mental health professional will withdraw from the case.
Great. This is exactly what we want.
If the mental health professional is “in over their head” in diagnosing and treating this type of pathology, and doesn’t want to learn about the pathology and acquire the professional competence necessary to accurately assess, diagnose, and treat this domain of pathology, then it is best for them to withdraw from the case now rather than messing everything up with their ignorance and incompetence.
3.) The mental health professional will reject your input and yet will continue to treat the case despite your efforts to alert them to the nature of the pathology.
This is a problem. This will probably result in your filing a licensing board complaint relative to boundaries of competence, inadequate assessment of the pathology, creating harm to the client, and failure in their “duty to protect.”
Note too, that Standard 3.09 requires professional consultation “when indicated and professionally appropriate… in order to serve their clients/patients effectively and appropriately” (APA, 2002, p. 6), and Standard 2.03 regarding Maintaining Competence states, “Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence” (APA, 2002, p. 5).
So most likely your licensing board complaint is going to reference five Standards of practice, 2.01, 9.01, 3.04, 2.03, and 3.09 along with the failure in their “duty to protect.”
Now I understand that many of you are eager to start filing licensing board complaints, particularly against perceived wrongs done by past therapists who failed to make an accurate diagnosis of the pathology. Let me caution you to take a deep breath and wait just a bit.
Our battle flags were raised in July. The booklet Professional Consultation only came out a few weeks ago. We are still mustering our forces on the battlefield. Imagine an army where some eager and undisciplined troops rush headlong into battle. They are defeated piecemeal and we lose valuable troops from the battle.
Leadership is emerging from within your ranks. By mid-September we will have “sample wordings” for your complaints. I’ll be working with your community leadership on understanding the process and how to frame your complaints for maximum effect. There’s no hurry. If we have a disciplined assault we will have more impact.
One of the things you will want to do prior to filing a complaint is to request the treatment records of the therapist. You have a right to review the treatment records for you children. You will want to identify the laws for your state regarding review of records. HIPAA also covers review of records. Work with your community leaders to identify these laws in each state so that you can support each other with this information. For example, I’ve posted the California laws governing review of records to my website.
The first step to filing a licensing board complaint will be to request the treatment records of the therapist. This will make you even more dangerous to incompetence. Patience and discipline. Work with the community leadership that is emerging.
Also, our strategy for enacting the solution is to work with CURRENTLY diagnosing and treating mental health professionals to create localized pockets of paradigm shifts to which these currently treating mental health professionals can be held accountable.
Previous treatment was still under the Gardnerian paradigm of PAS, so that the standards of practice activated by a paradigm shift to an attachment-based model were not active for your case at that time. So it will be harder to hold these previous mental health professional accountable. The words “parental alienation” have no power. We first have to enact the paradigm shift to define boundaries of competence, then we can hold mental health professionals accountable to these domains of professional knowledge needed for professional competence.
Because there is nothing new about an attachment-based model, there is still the potential of a malpractice lawsuit, but that’s a different category of accountability. Licensing boards don’t care about the specifics of your case. They don’t care if the right diagnosis was made or the correct treatment was provided. They just care about procedural issues. Was informed consent obtained? Was confidentiality maintained? Did the mental health professional have the necessary background and training to treat this type of issue (such as family problems and parent-child conflict)?
Malpractice lawsuits, on the other hand, do care about whether a correct diagnosis was made and whether the correct treatment was initiated. But malpractice lawsuits are more difficult, complicated, and expensive to pursue.
Our focus in creating a paradigm shift is not on retaliating for prior wrongs, it is to focus on creating paradigm shifts regarding current practice. We are creating pockets of localized paradigm shifts regarding current treatment to which the current mental health professionals can then be held accountable.
If you want to try to use your empowerment under an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” to seek some form of justice for past wrongs that you believe were done to you, simply recognize that this involves a personal motivation for retaliation and revenge and is not part of the overall strategy to achieve a paradigm shift that solves “parental alienation.” Also recognize that this may be more difficult since the paradigm governing “parental alienation” at the time was the Gardnerian PAS paradigm that does not activate standards for professional competence.
Our front-line direct assault is being led by targeted parents who currently have active involvement with the mental health system that allows them to create localized paradigm shifts regarding their specific cases. In these cases, we are done asking for professional competence. We are expecting professional competence.
In interacting with your current treatment provider, be kind. Be relentless, but be kind.
A haughty and arrogant attitude is a narcissistic trait. A sense of entitlement is a narcissistic trait. Motivations for retaliation and revenge are narcissistic traits. Externalization of blame and lack of self-insight are narcissistic traits.
Kindness, compassion, empathy, and personal self-reflection are healthy qualities. I ask that you demonstrate how healthy you are, not how narcissistic you are. Your actions reflect on all of us.
Good cop; bad cop. Let me carry the demands, the arrogant challenges, the fight, so that you can be kind, relentless but kind. We absolutely will not tolerate mental health complicity with the continuing psychological abuse of children and the destruction of families, and at the same time, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
While you are part of a larger movement to create a paradigm shift and solution to “parental alienation” for all children and all families, this is also your specific child, your specific family, not a “movement.” In kindness and (reasonable) cooperation you have the best chance of recovering your specific child right now. You don’t want to fight with the current mental health professional, you want to cooperate with their cooperation.
If, however, they are stubbornly entrenched in their ignorance, even in the face of your honest and sincere efforts at cooperation, then we have no choice. We will not tolerate mental health collusion with the continuing psychological abuse of children by the pathogenic parenting of a narcissistic/borderline parent. That is going to end. There are existing standards of practice expected of ALL mental health professionals (2.01, 9.01, 3.04, 2.03, 3.09, and the “duty to protect”).
Think Gandhi. Relentless but kind. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. Relentless yet reasonable.
Splitting into polarized positions is a manifestation of the pathogen. There are no sides. We are all on the same side. We want to prevent 100% of child abuse 100% of the time. That includes the psychological abuse of children by the pathology and pathogenic parenting of a narcissistic/borderline parent.
The Second Assault Wave
Our second set of warriors are assaulting the citadel of establishment mental health directly. Our goal is to achieve a paradigm shift within establishment mental health away from a Gardnerian PAS paradigm that provides no solution whatsoever, to an attachment-based model that provides an immediate solution today (as described in the seven-step solution outlined above).
The focal point of this paradigm shift is a change in the official position statement of the American Psychological Association on “parental alienation.”
The current APA position statement has been co-opted by the pathogen through its allies, who have distracted the discussion away from the pathology of “parental alienation” (attachment trauma reenactment pathology; narcissistic/borderline personality pathology in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the targeted parent) onto the issue of domestic violence.
What we are seeking from the citadel of establishment mental health is:
1.) Formal Acknowledgement of the Pathology: We want the position statement of the APA to formally acknowledge that this type of pathology exists (using whatever label for the pathology they want), thereby definitively penetrating the pathogen’s “veil of concealment” under which it hides and enacts the pathology. The pathology exists. Call it what you want, the pathology exists.
2.) Special Population Status: Recognition that these children and families represent a “special population” who require specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat, thereby eliminating the “binding sites of ignorance” for the pathogen who are recruited by the pathology to be used as allies to disable an effective mental health response to the pathology.
We want to penetrate the pathogen’s “veil of concealment” and nullify its allies, the “binding sites of ignorance,” who are used by the pathology to disable the mental health response to the pathology.
This assault on the citadel of establishment mental health will be through letter-writing campaigns to the leadership of professional psychology, and through generating lots and lots of media exposure regarding the paradigm shift. The community leadership that emerges from within your ranks can help organize these efforts and provide guidance.
You may want to generate models for press releases and press packets. As articles are generated regarding an attachment-based model of parental alienation (not the Gardnerian model; they are not the same thing. We are seeking a paradigm shift not simply awareness), collect these articles and include them in your press packet. Sell the media on the story hooks offered by a “new paradigm,” such as a grassroots “revolt of parents” led by a psychologist in California, of an “unrecognized form of child abuse” and the collusion of the mental health and legal systems in continuing this psychological abuse of children.
Create the story, write the story, for your press packets. Take different perspectives, such as the failure of mental health, the failure of the legal system, the unrecognized abuse of children, a grassroots revolt of parents against establishment mental health, the “trauma” of divorcing a narcissistic/borderline spouse, etc.
The goal is not simply to raise “awareness” of “parental alienation,” it’s to create a paradigm shift to a new definition of “parental alienation.” As long as the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is the dominant paradigm defining the construct of “parental alienation” then there is NO solution to “parental alienation.” The seven-step solution I described earlier is ONLY available once a paradigm shift occurs to an attachment-based reformulation and redefinition of the construct of “parental alienation.”
This is important to understand. Gardnerian PAS offers no solution to the pathology of “parental alienation.”
The moment Gardnerian PAS is replaced by an attachment-based paradigm for the pathology, the solution becomes available immediately.
The continuance of the Gardnerian PAS model is actually a hindrance to enacting the solution. The sooner it’s replaced by an attachment-based model for defining the pathology, the sooner we have a solution.
Our goal is to create this paradigm shift that solves parental alienation today. Now.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857