AFCC Presentation: June 1, 2017

It’s confirmed and set:

Thursday, June 1 from 3:30 – 5:00 at the Annual Convention of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).

Workshop 29 – An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Diagnosis and Treatment

Presenters:  Craig Childress & Dorcy Pruter

The solution is here. 

The trans-generational transmission of “disordered mourning,” mediated by the personality pathology of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the targeted-rejected parent.

“The deactivation of attachment behavior is a key feature of certain common variants of pathological mourning” (Bowlby, 1980, p. 70; emphasis added).

Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss: Vol. 3. Loss: Sadness and depression. NY: Basic Books.

The attachment system is the brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss. 

The suppression of a child’s attachment bonding motivations toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent is fundamentally an attachment-related pathology.

The solution is here.  June 1, 2017 from 3:30 – 5:00.  Boston.

I am going to focus on diagnosis during my potion of the talk.  So far, I have been relatively quiet about the Associated Clinical Signs.  In Boston, June 1, from 3:45 to 4:30, I am going to unpack the origins of each of these 12 Associated Clinical Signs.  Diagnosis is recognizing the complete pattern of symptoms. 

The High Road Protocol

What’s more, for everyone who wants to know how the High Road protocol achieves a restoration of the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days, we will explain the High Road protocol and we will explain how it accomplishes what it does.

Several years ago, when Dorcy first approached me to review her High Road to Family Reunification protocol, I was working on a model for “reunification therapy” (Reunification Therapy: Treating “Parental Alienation”; Childress, 2014).  Dorcy approached me after a conference we both attended and said she disagreed with my position that restoration of the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations would require six months to a year of therapy, and she said that she could restore the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days.

I’m a clinical psychologist.  I do psychotherapy.  I teach models of psychotherapy at the graduate level.  Needless to say, I was skeptical.  There is not a model of psychotherapeutic change out there that can restore a child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days.  Yet I knew enough to know what I don’t know (if that makes sense), so I withheld judgement until Dorcy and I met in my office a few weeks later to allow me to review the content of her protocol.  A meeting planned for 2-hours became a 6-hour discussion.

Within the first 30 minutes of reviewing the content of her protocol I immediately recognized how she achieves a restoration of the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days – typically about the middle of the second day, sometimes into the third day, then – pop – the attachment system reactivates.  No force.  No focus on the past.  No blame.  A gentle solution-focused approach that simply involves watching videos (videos that activate normal-range empathy, compassion, and critical thinking skills) and family workshop activities teaching structured problem-solving and family communication skills.  But it’s the sequence… I see how this works… first…. and then… and then… and pop – the attachment system reactivates.  Okay, I get it.

I teach models of psychotherapy.  I know models of psychotherapy.  Any form of psychotherapy will require six months to a year of treatment to reorient the child to the child’s distorted grief response surrounding divorce.  No form of psychotherapy could restore the normal-range functioning of the child’s attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days.

But the High Road protocol is not a form of psychotherapy.  

As a clinical psychologist, I am excited to present to professional psychology an alternative model of change – a catalytic rather than integrative model of change.

Professional psychology emerged from Freud’s “talking cure” that sought to resolve the person’s deep inner conflicts.  Then differing models of psychotherapy developed from within differing schools for creating change, cognitive-behavioral models of change are based on principles of behavior change discovered with lab animals, humanistic-existential models of personal growth are based in life’s larger meaning, and family systems models of change recognize children’s behavior as embedded in the surrounding family context of relationships. 

But the High Road protocol uses none of these approaches.  It is an entirely different universe of change.  A gentle step-wise sequence of catalytic change in the brain systems surrounding the attachment system, the brain systems of empathy, compassion, and critical thinking (executive function).  Step-by-gentle-step, the High Road protocol activates normal functioning in these surrounding brain systems… and then – pop – the normal-range functioning of the attachment system reactivates.  Bonding, love, tears.  The grief resolves.  All fixed.

On June 1, 2017, Dorcy has agreed to present her protocol in a way that allows the audience to understand, aided by my descriptive commentary, how it achieves what it achieves.  We will walk, step-by-step, through the protocol structure leading to the “pop” – the restoration of the child’s normal-range attachment-bonding motivations.

One of my excitements as a clinical psychologist is that I recognize that this type of catalytic-change approach – which is unlike anything we do in psychotherapy – is applicable to other life-issues beyond attachment-related issues.  The proper catalytic steps in the proper sequence can restore the normal-range functioning of previously dysfunctional “software patterns” in these brain systems.

June 1, 2017; 3:30 – 5:00.  Boston.  Workshop 29.

An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Diagnosis and Treatment

Presenters:  Craig Childress & Dorcy Pruter

The solution to the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA… and the beginnings of a very interesting dialogue within professional psychology regarding catalytic-transformative solution-focused interventions.

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

17 thoughts on “AFCC Presentation: June 1, 2017”

  1. Relief is a very profound feeling. I now have a bit of fresh hope as I plunder through the terrifying world of parental alienation. Two years ago in February I lost my sweet baby boy in court to his narcissist father. He was at the time only two years old and was developmentally ahead. At four he exhibits severe narcissistic behaviors. I have had to watch helplessly as he was taught to hate instead of love (but hate disguised as love mostly), lies about everything, and is extremely confused. He is completely unreasonable and I do not take him into public anymore in fear he will run from me in a store or beat me in front of people. I am so scared to properly discipline him thinking I may never see him again because he will have a real reason to reject me. It is absolutely horrifying to watch this all unfold. I can only pray I will have the resources to go back to court to fight for him. At least now I know there is hope for my sons condition and hope for our relationship.
    Life as an alienated parent is devastating. As this process occurs you watch your child change in ways that make you sick to your stomach. The thought that this may be reversible is beyond awesome

  2. WAHOO! Can’t WAIT for you two to be in Boston! I will be there and so look forward to planting tons of fast-blooming seeds all over this country – especially Boston, the seat of academia and healthcare – yet with zip in terms of solutions! Onward!

  3. My three grand children, and my daughter are victims of Parental Alienation. The father severely brain washed the three children against their mother. The father filed for a divorce in Aug,2015.
    By October they hated her, and her family. by November they were hitting on her and wishing she never existed. And the grand parents, they wished that we were dead.
    This went to court Jan,2016. The judge spoke with the children in her chambers for 10 mins. When she came out to speak, she told the father that this was an extreme case of Parental Alienation.
    The Judge awarded my daughter temporary custody of children and for the father to remove himself out of the house. The children were to see clinical psychologist right away, and he was not to see the children. Its been a year now. The children now see their father on Wednesdays for 2 hours, and every other weekend Friday and Saturday.
    The children are good to their mom, but it will never be the same… Shes does everything for them, but when it is time to see the father , they cant wait to be with him.
    The father is a pathological liar,and he will tell the children any thing they want to hear. He is narcissistic its only about him feeling the success.
    December 2016 was mediation. He told the attorneys he wanted the ranch, land, and everything else they both owned and will not settle for less. My daughter can have $150000 to settle, and $1000 a month in child support each month. He wants the children every other week.
    The courts will settle in April 2017.

  4. This is wonderful news , so much weight will be off our shoulders , us Mom’s and Dad’s have suffered enough not knowing why our children or just one child , a son was acting toward me for 32yrs., he is 43 now , he was 10 when the divorce happened and his Dad leaned on him for support treating him like a little adult. Dr . Childress you have helped me so much to get CLARITY on this matter , and I thank you. You are on the NEW LEADING EDGE OF THOUGHT and ALL IS WELL , everything is going to work out. Jackie

  5. So glad to hear you will be presenting, Dr. Childress! Your analysis of why alienators do so is very enlightening. Ultimately, perhaps dealing with this origin of the issue will resolve parental alienation by prevention. See you in Boston.

  6. Hi, Dr. Childress,
    Something that I’ve not been able to put into words but has troubled me for a quite some time now, much in the same was as we are all troubled with the Gardner “syndrome,” as the term used for when a child has eight symptoms. The term “reunification” is unsettling for me; I reject it in that my kids and I were never apart. We were always attached, which validates disordered mourning existed regardless of all evidence presenting otherwise (detachment behavior). It finally occurred to me after reading your article, the terms “attachment” and “bonding” are more in tune with the kind of protocol or therapy that should be applied. Wouldn’t it seem more befitting to counter AB-PA, which is child psychological abuse, applicable from the cradle (and to the grave in some cases) with attachment protocol or bonding protocol? I remember one parent saying that when she and her daughter finally got to hug one another, they wouldn’t let go for a long time. Healthy relationships cause attachment to grow; maladaptive attachment occurs with AB-PA when the alienating parent (harboring the pathogen or “trauma”) interferes with their child and other parent’s attachment relationship or bond. The words attachment or bonding are positive and affirm what IS; whereas the word reunification holds with it the implication of pain and suffering and that the pathogen is real for the false “victims” and not the actual victim, which is the alienator. It’s as if the targeted parent did not exist for the time the alienator was in control using the child to hide their childhood trauma (the pathogen). I hope this makes sense or at least sheds some light on why I feel “reunification” is not the right term for protocol or therapy to awaken the authenticity of attachment or a bond never broken. When pathogenic parenting as child psychological abuse becomes a crime reportable by law no matter the age of the child, attachment or bonding protocol should be the response. WHO coined the term? Who coined it and why? I don’t mean to be belligerent or argumentative, Dr. Childress. I’m expressing what I feel might be a train wreck when we push the idea that the only way to heal families is with a reunification protocol when it is so natural. It may be that attachment or bonding occurs in a short period anywhere, rather than with a 3-day reunification protocol or six months in an office. What do you think? If we, meaning all citizens, nip this thing in the bud by deescalating or reporting child psychological abuse before it gets out of control, then we must also learn that attachment and bonding prevent the pathogen or trauma from deactivating attachment in children and adults. We don’t want disunity. We don’t want to have to resort to reunification. We want to activate attachment and bonding as standard protocol or therapy. Maybe my simplicity using attachment and bonding is the same type of thing as what you term “catalytic-transformative solution-focused interventions.” I’m not sure about that. But on the other hand . . . 🙂

    1. I agree with your synopsis, Suze. It’s this kind of dialogue that I hope will bring professionals & legislators into sync with what is actually going on. The onus I believe, has to b on prevention of PA. Thanks!

    2. The first thing we must do is stop the “bleeding out” of current cases. This requires professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA, which will lead to an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse and the necessary treatment to restore the child’s normal-range and healthy development. I am working to end the suffering as fast as is humanly possible. Targeted parents and their children don’t have time. This needs to be solved yesterday.

      Then, once we have stopped the active “bleeding out” of current cases and have achieved a consensus agreement in mental health regarding the definition of the pathology using standard and established psychological principles and constructs (no “bright thing in the sky” definitions), then we will have the additional time to look into the best methods of restoring healthy child development through family therapy or augmented-therapy (i.e., therapy that follows a brief-intensive psycho-educational intervention).

      We can also look at early indicators and preventative interventions we can take in recently divorcing families to facilitate the family’s transition from an intact-family structure to a new separated-family structure. We will have time, once we stop the active “bleeding out” of cases. This requires professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of the pathology. That’s my current focus. Other aspects will come once we get a handle of this first piece.

      By the way, there is no such thing as “reunification therapy.” It doesn’t exist. If any therapist says they do “reunification therapy” – run. “Reunification therapy” is snake oil. Ask for a citation to any theorist who describes what “reunification therapy” is… crickets.

      There are models of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, there are models for cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, there are models for humanistic-existential psychotherapy, there are models for family systems psychotherapy. There are NO models anywhere for what constitutes this mythical “reunification therapy. Snake oil, pure and simple.

      The therapy needs to center around the attachment system and resolving the grief experience of the child at the loss of the attached bond to the targeted parent. The pathology is “disordered mourning” and the solution is to be found in attachment theory. We’ll get there. But first we need an accurate assessment and diagnosis.

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

      1. I had to bow down to the powers that be, the mental health and court systems, bleeding our case out over a period of six years. It is so dehumanizing and brutal. My daughter turned 18 but we still had a “no contact” order hanging over our heads nearing three years. It is not cut and dry true that once our children turn 18 they can “decide” for themselves if an order is in place that they are to have no contact with their authentic parent. No. In order for the no contact order to be removed, in our case, or “reunification therapy” to commence, I had to swallow all pride to agree to a modification order that would include “therapy” that doesn’t even exist. If this therapy commenced the disordered mourning of my child would most likely get worse! But thankfully, in a hearing just yesterday, the judge ordered the no contact order be vacated. CASE CLOSED!

        The delicate authenticity of one child at a time will emerge, we pray. We WILL get there! I am excited and full of anticipation that ALL children and adult children of AB-PA will be rescued and ALL families will be strengthened through our combined efforts. None of this could be possible without the brilliant effort of Dr. Childress solving the problem. I am forever indebted to his care, and hope to spread healing by what I learn from him on a daily basis.

        You can bet I will be at the conference in Boston on June 1st —

  7. I am so glad to hear about all of this. My son is going to be 17 in April. I didn’t know where he was for 5 years. Now that I’ve found him, he was literally taken from the east coast to the west coast. I haven’t had any contact with him since I’ve been here. When I go to court in February, what should I ask for?

    When and where is the meeting? I really want to come. How much is it?

    Thank you.

  8. Hi – This is to Suz, Dr. Childress, Dorcy or any to whom this applies. I haven’t been vocal on social media but am following this battle Dr. Childress has been fighting… Suz – I am also in Florida and my daughter turns 18 in July. I feel your pain. You are not alone!

    Her narcissistic pathogenic father and I were divorced when I was pregnant with her and her brother was 8. I have primary residence but he has consistently violated it. The pathogen has been working on alienating her from me all these years and in order to survive my daughter finally succumbed and this is her senior year…

    1. Counseling was a train wreck with an incompetent person who agreed with me in private then blindsided me in front of my daughter with an incomprehensible circulatory argument as to why my daughter was rejecting me. She moved out less than 3 weeks later… Bottom line – I have no diagnosis… and now no daughter… She hasn’t been in my home in 9 months…
    2. I drove over an hour away to consult with a “PA expert” but the only help he could offer is that I could pay lots of money, spend loads of time and the judges would just ignore his recommendations… I’m in a BIG city and there is no help…
    3. When they were young I got a clear message from a biased judge who wouldn’t even let the pathogen’s parents in the courtroom to testify on my behalf to defend me from false allegations… Now the pathogen owes me $20k and child support enforcement refused to help me because now she lives with the pathogen…
    4. The good news is that before she completely rejected me I found Dr. Childress! I started reading Foundations, knew to stay calm and not reactive, and the best part is that my daughter watched his videos to the children. Dr. Childress I cannot thank you enough!! It took a few months but she let me come take her to dinner and I’ve seen her a few times. She hugged me tight and as long as I don’t push too hard with trying to take her blinders off, she communicates with me and sees me every once in a while. She denied that her dad has anything to do with this when she watched the videos and still vehemently defends him. (meanwhile has no car, no drivers license, no loving maternal grandparents in her life, etc etc) But… because she is secretly being kind to me I think she is trying to understand the incongruence. She has a great memory and I believe what Dr. Childress said in those videos is helping.

    Closing notes…
    *When she turns 18 she won’t need the pathogen’s permission to seek treatment.
    *Her brother moved to his dad’s at 15, then at 18 moved out the second he had the opportunity. He still defends his dad and won’t talk about it but at least he is in my life.
    *I may be wrong but I am hopeful she will agree to counseling again. If she does I need to know what to do and where to book our flight to you guys or someone else you recommend!

    My question is…
    If I come to Boston and come to understand the Dorcy’s High Road protocol, how can that help me? Not from a legal perspective, but how can that help me with my daughter when there are no competent professionals here? Thank you!!!!

  9. Ok this is weird… I wrote the above comment, then this 70’s song started playing in my head… the words “There ain’t no gold and there ain’t nobody like me… I’m the number one fan of the man from Tennessee”

    I googled it because it wouldn’t stop playing. The title? “Please come to Boston”!! I don’t believe in Karma or luck. Definitely an interesting coincidence!

    1. Tammy,
      I am glad to see you are soaking up Foundations and kudos to you for getting your daughter to view Dr. Childress’s ‘for the children’ YouTube series.
      Find me on Facebook and connect, please. We can rescue our children working together.

  10. While you are here in Boston in June, would you be interested in meeting with Mass. State Representative Chris Walsh who has sponsored a bill for grandparents’ rights which did not pass legal tests. I think that you are exactly the person who can help Rep Walsh’s office rewrite the language of the bill so that he can file a new version that will stand up. Rep Walsh is a longtime champion of preserving the family, and as far back as I’ve known him, he has lived in a three-generation family home.

    1. I would be happy to meet with the representative if this would be helpful. I understand that grandparent’s rights are an issue attached to “parental alienation,” but this is not my focus at this point in time. My focus is on getting all mental health professionals to assess for the attachment-related pathology of pathological mourning surrounding high-conflict divorce (AB-PA; Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting) and to provide an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology when the three diagnostic indicators are present. And I am happy to meet with allies of this process in state government when they believe my input would be helpful.

      1. Yes, I understand that. It appears, as you have often pointed out, that the reason legislation is failing is because alienation is now understood as a custody issue. I’m hoping that the APA will recognize your work on attachment disorder focus and include it in the DSM-V so that legislation can be written as a child protection issue. I have forward your kind response to Rep. Walsh’s office and the attorneys he has assigned to the drafting of a new bill.

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