Moving Forward

A recent comment to my Facebook page by a parent asked what needs to be done to “keep things moving.” I thought my response might be more broadly of interest, so I am turning my response into a full post on my Facebook and blog pages.

1)  Assessment

We need to have all mental health professionals assess for the three symptom features listed in the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

All three of these symptom features are standard forms of symptom pathology (attachment pathology, personality disorder traits, encapsulated persecutory delusion), so there is absolutely zero reason for any mental health professional to refuse to even assess for these symptom features.

I recently met jointly with two activist attorneys here in the Southern California area regarding how to begin creating the solution within the legal system. They both completely understand the strategy.

We need to get a proper assessment using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting, and since all three of these symptoms are standard and established psychological constructs and principles, there is absolutely zero reason that a court-involved mental health professional should refuse to assess for these symptoms.

The mental health professional doesn’t even need to agree with AB-PA (although I don’t see any reason for them not to agree), they still have no reason whatsoever for refusing to even assess for these three standard and established symptoms.

So the attorneys will be developing this request into Court orders for assessment. They will also be trying to obtain Court orders for a treatment-focused assessment.

That is step 1, we need to get ALL mental health professionals to assess for the three symptom indicators on the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting (attachment pathology, personality disorder symptoms, and an encapsulated persecutory delusion). Even if the mental health professional doesn’t find these symptoms, at least it is documented and the targeted parent can enter a dialogue about what factors in the symptom display of the child are missing.

Remember, I’m willing to provide a professional-to-professional consultation with any mental health professional – (my consultation has to be with the mental health professional, not with the targeted parent). All the mental health professional needs to do to request a professional-to-professional consultation with me is send me an email with the heading Professional Consultation.

I even have a 50-page booklet, Professional Consultation, that can be given to the mental health professional Professional Consultation

Remember, always be kind. Don’t allow yourself to feed the false narrative of you being “angry and controlling.”  Be kind.  Be relentless, but be kind.  Always be kind.

We also would like all mental health professionals to document their assessment of the parenting practices of the targeted parent using the Parenting Practices Rating Scale. We can’t compel this, but we really want to encourage the documentation of the mental health professional’s assessment of the parenting of the targeted parent.

Parenting Practices Rating Scale

Too often the targeted parent is critiqued for parenting that is supposedly “contributing” to the child’s angry-hostile rejection. We want this clearly documented – documented; a key construct in the solution. This will allow targeted parents to understand specifically what aspects of their parenting are the focus of treatment and need to change (in the mental health professional’s opinion) in order to see changes in the child’s behavior. This becomes integral into an evidence-based approach to treatment.

Treatment plans and documentation, that’s what we want.

2)  Documenting the Parent-Child Relationship

This is not integral for the change, but I recommend this step.

Targeted parents should begin documenting their child’s behavior when the child is in their care using the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale (note that there is also an “Excessive Texting” version of this rating scale).

Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale

Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale (Excessive Texting Version)

Again, this is about evidence-based decision making. These completed parent rating scales can be provided to mental health professions as documentation of the parent-child relationship issues from the parent’s perspective. These ratings can also be incorporated into parent-child therapy as a discussion aid in therapy by seeking to understand the ratings of the parent and reach consensus among the parent, child, and therapist relative to the child’s behavior and the treatment goals.

Documentation of symptoms.  Evidence-based decision making.  Clear treatment plans.  This is what we’re trying to achieve.

3) The American Psychological Association

We need to continue to advocate with the APA to change their position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome to recognize and incorporate the existence of a second model of the pathology – AB-PA – that is based entirely within standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

Notice how the Statement of the APA has been co-opted by the domestic violence protection advocates. An official Statement about “parental alienation” should be about the pathology in your family, the Statement should belong to you. It’s time we take back the focus of the discussion, it’s about “parental alienation.”

We would like the APA to convene a high-level conference of experts in attachment theory, personality pathology, family systems therapy, and childhood trauma to consider the issues surrounding high-conflict divorce and attachment-related pathology, leading to a white paper on the issue.

We are also seeking two things from the change in the APA Position Statement:

1.) Acknowledgement of the Pathology – a formal recognition that the pathology exists, using whatever label-name for the pathology they like – attachment trauma pathology surrounding divorce; a cross-generational coalition; “parental alienation” – whatever they want to call it – just acknowledge that it exists

2.)  Special Population Status – a designation of the children and families evidencing attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce as representing a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.

From my understanding, the APA is in the process of forming a working group on the issue of… something – I don’t have information on the actual topic area for this working group. But there appears to be some movement on this. The APA needs to hear from you.

I’d recommend a brief one to two-page letter to the APA. Letters are stronger than emails. If you send an email, be very brief in the email section and direct the reader to the attached one to two-page letter. In your letter, be brief and concise in describing your loss and your heartbreak, and describe the lack of response from professional psychology. The details of the case are less important than the tragedy of your heart.

Psychologists respond to pain and suffering. We want to end pain and suffering. That’s why we chose to become psychologists. Show the APA your pain and suffering, and ask for their help in restoring your beautiful and loving authentic children to you.

Don’t use the construct of Gardnerian PAS. The APA does NOT like the Gardnerian construct of a “new form of pathology.” Use constructs like the narcissistic and borderline personality pathology of the ex-spouse, triangulation of the child into the spousal conflict by the ex-spouse, and the cross-generational coalition of the child with your ex-spouse.

You can also reference the work of Brian Barber on psychological control – his book was published by the APA.

Barber, B. K. (Ed.) (2002). Intrusive parenting: How psychological control affects children and adolescents. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

From Chapter 2 of Barber’s Book: “Psychological control refers to parental behaviors that are intrusive and manipulative of children’s thoughts, feelings, and attachment to parents. These behaviors appear to be associated with disturbances in the psychoemotional boundaries between the child and parent, and hence with the development of an independent sense of self and identity.” (Barber & Harmon, 2002, p. 15)

From Chapter 3 of Barber’s Book “The central elements of psychological control are intrusion into the child’s psychological world and self-definition and parental attempts to manipulate the child’s thoughts and feelings through invoking guilt, shame, and anxiety. Psychological control is distinguished from behavioral control in that the parent attempts to control, through the use of criticism, dominance, and anxiety or guilt induction, the youth’s thoughts and feelings rather than the youth’s behavior.” (Stone, Buehler, and Barber, 2002, p. 57)

You can even reference the Dark Triad personality:

Introducing the Dark Triad

You can note the research linking the Dark Triad personality to high-conflict communication, revenge-seeking against intimate partners, lies and deception, and the absence of empathy.

4)  Updating Child Abuse Reporting Laws

An accurate diagnosis of the pathology of AB-PA leads directly to a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

With regard to amending child abuse reporting laws, we want to add a piece in child abuse reporting laws that specifically states that a DSM-5 diagnosis of child psychological abuse made by a mental health professional is reportable under mandated reporting laws.

This makes the professional responsibility of the mental health professional explicit: assess for psychological child abuse (pathogenic parenting) and if it is present, file a child abuse report.

Legislative Amendment to Address the Family Pathology of “Parental Alienation”


These are the four areas I would urge for “moving things forward.”

In April, Dorcy Pruter and I will be presenting at a Symposium in Texas.

Symposium; Dallas, TX – 4/29/17

In June, Dorcy Pruter and I will be presenting at the annual convention of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the major legal-psychological professional organization.

AFCC Presentaton: Boston, MA – 6/1/17

Just the other week, I was slated to provide expert testimony in a case. The involved mental health professional contacted me at the request of the attorney for a professional-to-professional consultation on assessment. I sent the mental health professional an email describing a treatment-focused assessment protocol:

Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol

Following the professional-to-professional consultation email, the attorney contacted me and said my expert testimony was no longer needed because the involved mental health professional had conducted the assessment and made an accurate diagnosis of the pathology. That’s exactly how it should work.

The involved mental health professional sent me a brief follow-up email in which he said:

“Thank you Thank you, The information is very helpful.”

We are making progress.  We are moving forward.  We will not stop until all of your authentic and loving children are back in your arms.

I urge targeted parents to come together into a single voice for change. You are all in this together. We cannot solve this pathology in any one case, in your individual family, until we solve it for all children and all families. You are all in this together.

In one voice you are powerless. In 100 you have reclaimed your voice. In 1000 you have reclaimed your power. In 10,000 you become an unstoppable force for change.  Join us.  Join together.

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

9 thoughts on “Moving Forward”

  1. How does someone fight his in court if it’s a newborn? She has a diagnosis of bpd & hpd from previous dad’s court battle (4 kids all different dads) how do you prove all this will hurt the child & 5050 shared IS in the best interest of the child when it’s a baby?? Any help greatly appreciated

    1. First, let me be clear… I am not talking about your family. I have not assessed anyone in your family so I have no idea what is going on in your family. I am responding generally to the issue you raise.

      The family issues surrounding infants and toddlers being parented by a narcissistic or borderline personality parent take on a new level of complexity. That’s why it is advantageous for mental health professionals to remain grounded in standard and established constructs of professional psychology rather than entering the world of “parental alienation.” Other people, in the general public, can use the construct of “parental alienation” as much as they want. Mental health professionals need to restrict our focus to standard and established forms of pathology.

      So your question is about the distorted parenting of a young child by a narcissistic or borderline parent. The answer is that this issue will likely need the long-term involvement of a mental health professional who is expert in personality disorder pathology. It would also be helpful for this professional to have an additional expertise in early childhood mental health, but good luck with that. If you have to choose between an expert in personality pathology and an early childhood expert, it’s a toss-up. Each will bring a different focus with advantages and disadvantages.

      It’s likely to be easier to find a mental health professional with an early childhood expertise. Although they’re not common, it is a defined sub-specialty (like going to an endocrinologist rather than your general practitioner).

      I have a background expertise in early childhood mental health. A borderline personality parent is particularly damaging to the “self-structure” development of an infant-toddler. It will therefore be important to provide the child with substantial time with the normal-range parent as a protective factor to the distorted parenting from a borderline personality parent.

      The borderline parent is sensitive to abandonment fears. So it will be important for the co-parent to continue to supportively address the emotional needs of the borderline parent even after divorce. In addition, it would be helpful to begin to frame the emotional-psychological difficulties of this parent away from the label of “borderline” and over to issues of childhood trauma and emotional-regulation. There is an association of “borderline personality” development to their prior childhood sexual abuse victimization. So we could potentially be looking at a grown-up child abuse victim. While the relationship behavior of this person many be frustrating and challenging, it helps to approach the situation with understanding and compassionate support.

      Encouraging the troubled parent to obtain therapy is valuable. Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a blend of cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfullness from Eastern spiritual practices, such as Zen. It is really helpful with “borderline” types of issues like emotional regulation problems and acting out. So helping and supporting the troubled parent to get DBT would likely be helpful.

      The narcissitic parent will have less impact on the developing self-structure of the young child, the narcissistic-style parent will be damaging but not AS damaging as the borderline-style parent (that’s because the narcissistic parent is more relationally disengaged, whereas the borderline-style parent is more psychologically intrusive). The narcissitic parent is going to become more problematic as the child enters school-age years (ages 7-14). While both types of personality disordered parent will try to take “psychological possession” of the child, the narcissistic-style parent tends to weaponize their child more. So the long-term stabilizing support of a capable mental health professional will be needed. Even if the monitoring therapy drops to once a month, it will likely be of benefit if therapy involvement and stabilization is maintained for years.

      Again, I am not commenting on your specific family situation since I have not interviewed everyone and I don’t know what is going on in your family situation (and please don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t want to know what’s going on in your family situation. Trust me, I have my dance-card filled with my own clients’ lives. I care. I wish you all the best. But I cannot solve everything for everyone. I’m sure you understand.).

      Craig Childress, Psy.D.
      Psychologist, PSY 18857

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. Yes i agree therapy would be great but when they are in denial it’s hard. Plus this is my sons ex gf who now is calling me a crazy narcissist grand mother etc etc. thanks again for your insight

  2. There are too many professionals that are either siding with the pathogenic parent or excusing self reported abuse and not reporting it, yet reporting the claims by the alienated child about the targeted parent that are not true and are all over the place as far as accusations.  The fact that the professionals are yet to be held accountable helps them escape any repercussions (along with review boards who are just as collusive and ignorant) or they drop off the face of the earth when they get your material (care of the targeted parent) as in my case.  Since the court systems working against those protective mothers (specifically) because they do tell the truth of the abuse, with the pathogenic parent’s psychological abuse both of the children and courts and his manipulation of those who automatically in 70% plus of the cases hand the victims back to their abusers, there is even further work on the other side to do than making the “professionals” responsible to accurately assess.  They have gotten used to not being held accountable for anything they dont want to be held accountable for.   Pathogenic parents know how to manipulate, lie and get what they want; they are smooth and practiced.  If the other parent has any issues in regards to abuse, PTSD or C-PTSD, with the professionals as ignorant as they are, then the targeted parent does not have a chance.

  3. Thanks for the response Dr. C.! I will send another letter to the APA
    today. I will continue to rally my fellow TPs to keep up the good work they are doing in support of your efforts. Behind you all the way.

  4. It would help if you put the APA contact address to write to. Last time there was a push to contact APA, I asked all the big names of target parent organizations, but got no response. An actual person / contact would be great.

    1. The actual push regarding the APA is being led by targeted parents. Perhaps if you ask in online support groups you can get an answer to this question.

      Best wishes,
      Craig Childress, Psy.D.
      Psychologist, PSY 18857

  5. Is the American Psychological Association failing to protect abused children?

    Central Ohio Parental Alienation​:

    American Psychological Association documents admit that parental alienation exists, that it is abuse, and that it is harmful, yet the APA has no official position. Click on the picture below to read the 21 page eBook.

    Send the press release to your local newspapers. Send the link to your APA Council Representative for your state/province and the link to the Psychological Organization for your state/province/country. Ask your Senator and Representative to send a letter to the APA President asking for an explanation. Sign the Petition. Addresses and details are below.

    HOW TO SEND TO YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER: Go to the newspaper website and find “contact us”, which usually has information on where to send news tips, how to send to the editor, or perhaps how to send to individual reporters. Usually, news outlets like press releases without links or attachments, so you may wish to copy and paste the press release into your email. Or you can send an email to and ask me to send you the press release in email format.

    HOW TO SEND TO YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE: See below for the email address of your APA Council Representative. Feel free to help out parents in less populous states. You may wish to consider adding in your own story about any mental health professionals who only made parental alienation worse. Be polite.

    HOW TO SEND TO YOUR STATE’S PSYCHOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: See much further below for email address of your state’s Psychological Organization. Be polite.

    ASK YOUR FEDERAL AND STATE SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE TO SEND A LETTER TO THE APA PRESIDENT TO ASK FOR AN EXPLANATION: Find your senators and representative by going to Then call them. The address is Dr. Susan McDaniel, President American Psychological Association University of Rochester Medical Center 777 South Clinton Avenue Rochester, NY 14620-1448

    HOW TO SIGN THE PETITION: google for New APA Position Statement: some children are manipulated into rejecting a parent.

    APA COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES BY STATE Alabama Dr. Boll Alaska Dr. Smith Arizona Dr. Nicholls Arkansas Dr. Ghormley California Dr. Blanton Colorado Dr. Burgamy Connecticut Dr. Mehm Delaware Dr. Gibbings Florida Dr. Kazar DrDavidKazar@ATT.Net Georgia Dr. McGarrah Hawaii Dr. Ching Idahao Dr. Greenspan Illinois Dr. Sapar Indianna Dr. Brown Iowa Dr. Lonning Kansas Dr. Nystrom Kentucky Dr. Susman Louisiana Dr. Nemeth Maine Dr. Mills Maryland Dr. Killeen Massachusetts Dr. D’Angelo Michigan Dr. Perlman Minnesota Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya Mississippi Dr. Herzog Missouri Dr. Bohm Montana Dr. Swaney Nebraska Dr. Ullman Nevada Dr. Linning New Hampshire Dr. Gunn New Jersey Dr. Coyne New Mexico Dr. Linneman New York Dr. Feder New York Dr. Kanaris North Carolina Dr. Colwell North Dakota Dr. Benson Ohio Dr. Hayes Oklahoma Dr. Scott Oregon Dr. Johannsen Pennsylvania Dr. Knauss Pennsylvania Dr. Salter Rhode Island Dr. Rocchio South Carolina Dr. Loring South Dakota Dr. Hughes Tennessee Dr. Ozbek Texas Dr. Stagner Utah Dr. Reynolds Vermont Dr. Fino Virginia Dr. Sheras Washington St Dr. Miranda West Virginia Dr. Amerikaner Wisconsin Dr. Jurenec Wyoming Dr. Ziegler

    APA COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES FOR OTHER AREAS District of Col Dr. Hillabrant Guam Dr. Santos Puerto Rico Dr. Alvarez-Dominguez Virgin Islands Dr. Copemann

    APA COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES FOR OTHER COUNTRIES British Columb Dr. LeBlanc Nova Scotia Dr. O’Neil Ontario Dr. Cole Quebec Dr. Chevrier

    PSYCHOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION FOR OTHER COUNTRIES: Australia Dr. Cichello Australia Dr. Cichello @AnthonyCichello Australia Dr. Carr-Gregg Canada Dr. Cohen Canada Dr. Alex England Professor Hughes

    PSYCHOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION FOR LARGER STATES: Alabama Dr. Marullo Alabama Dr. Warren Arizona Dr. McGovern California Dr. Haldeman California Dr. Wong Colorado Dr. Vera Colorado Dr. Richey Florida Dr. Proctor-Weber Georgia Dr. Johns Illinois Dr. Faynor-Ciha Kentucky Dr. McBride Louisiana Dr. DeGrange Louisiana Dr. Nelson Maryland Dr. Robbins Maryland Dr. Williams-Plunket Michigan Dr. Post Missouri Dr. Korte Missouri Dr. Ross Minnesota Dr. McLeod Minnesota Dr. Girardeau New Jersey Dr. Katz New York Dr. Aranda North Carolina Dr. Ogle Ohio Dr. Celeste Ohio Dr. Ranney Pennsylvania Dr. McGowan Pennsylvania Dr. Barksdale South Carolina Dr. Liggett Tennesee Dr. Robert Bloom Tennessee Dr. Webb Texas Dr. Simonsen Wisconsin Dr. Chrostowski

    Sent from my iPad


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