Yikes Almighty – They’re Really that Stupid

Dorcy and I have a disagreement.

She cares so much about each kid and each family, that she struggles mightily trying to solve the problem of “parental alienation” for each individual kid she encounters, all in the face of a massively broken mental health system and rampant professional incompetence.   What I suspect is so frustrating for her is that she has the solution right in hand, she just needs to be given the opportunity to enact the solution.   Poof.   All solved.

(On June 1, 2017 in Boston, at the AFCC Convention, we will explain exactly how the High Road protocol accomplishes this.  Workshop 29;  3:30 -5:00.)

Me, on the other hand, I’m struggling directly with changing the overwhelming extent of profound professional ignorance and incompetence in mental health.  Whew.  Big system.  Little me.

As an old-school clinical psychologist who values knowledge and believes professionals should know what they’re doing, I am deeply appalled by the extent and degree of wholesale and rampant professional ignorance and incompetence surrounding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this attachment-related family pathology.

Seriously, it is positively medieval.  “Bring me the leeches, we need to bleed the child.”

And there is absolutely no excuse for such profound and rampant professional ignorance and incompetence.  This is not some “new form of pathology.”  It’s all standard and established stuff.  It’s just that the vast majority of mental health professionals involved with this type of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce are simply ignorant and incompetent.  No excuses.  They’re just stupid and incompetent (if you don’t like me calling you stupid… don’t be stupid – children’s lives are on the line).

We essentially have hair stylists doing open heart surgery.  Guess what?  All the patients are dying.

It is viscerally painful to me when I’m a consultant on a case to read the reports of the therapists and child custody evaluators because of the profound degree of ignorance and incompetence evidenced in these reports.  Oh my God.  It is absolutely appalling.

APA, you’ve got to do something.  It’s really bad.  The level of ignorance and incompetence is profound.  Mental health professionals are assessing and treating families with absolutely no apparent understanding of family systems constructs.  They’re just making up their case conceptualizations and treatments out of whole cloth – no grounding in any established principles or constructs of professional psychology.  They’re just making stuff up and winging it.

Seriously, APA.  The degree of professional incompetence out here with this form of attachment-related pathology is bad, bad, bad.

In my earlier career, I worked on a clinical research project with Keith Nuechterlien, Ph.D. at UCLA, one of the top-notch research investigators in schizophrenia.   Later, I worked on a clinical intervention project with Jim Swanson, Ph.D. at UCI on identifying ADHD in preschool-age children.  Jim Swanson is one of the top-level research investigators in ADHD.

I’ve worked at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and then at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, two top-level institutions.

Later, when I was the Clinical Director for a children’s assessment and treatment center that was established within the auspices of California State University, San Bernardino’s Institute of Child Development and Family Relations, we based all of our clinical diagnosis and therapy in the latest scientific evidence on assessment and treatment of childhood disorders.  We incorporated a collaborative effort of Cal State’s psychology department, Loma Linda University’s occupational therapy program, and the University of Redlands’ speech and language program.  State of the art integrated assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of early childhood trauma in the foster care system.

My professional experience has always been around top-level professionals.  I had no idea the extent and degree of professional ignorance and incompetence there is out here.

These mental health people are missing huge-huge indicators of family pathology, and they have no idea what they’re doing in terms of treatment.  It is astounding – it is appalling.

These mental health people are treating an attachment-related pathology – the child’s rejection of a parent – and they have no knowledge whatsoever about how the attachment system functions.  Zero.  Nothing.  Yet they’re treating an attachment-related pathology.  Stop it.  If you don’t know what you’re doing you’re going to hurt somebody.  Too late.

If you have no idea what cancer is, you shouldn’t be assessing and treating cancer, because you’ll keep misdiagnosing it as diabetes.  You’ll prescribe insulin for the supposed diabetes, and the patient will die from cancer.

Over and over again.

Look, mental health professionals, either:

A.)  Learn what you’re doing;


B.)  Go away.


C.)  Completely destroying the lives of children and families;

Is NOT an option.

If you are assessing or treating a family – LEARN ABOUT FAMILY SYSTEMS – Minuchin, Haley, Bowen, Satir, Madanes.  Holy cow people, how can you possibly assess and treat a family if you know NOTHING about how family systems function?   You’d think that would be a no-brainer.  If you’re going to assess and treat families then you should know about how families function.

Wait, there’s more.  If you are assessing or treating an attachment-related pathology (such as a child rejecting a parent) – LEARN ABOUT THE ATTACHMENT SYSTEM – Bowlby, Ainsworth, Mains, Fonagy.  Another seemingly obvious statement that I guess isn’t so obvious to many mental health people (I refuse to call them “professionals” at this point – they’re not. They are simply ignorant and incompetent people who are irrevocably destroying the lives of children and families as a result of their negligent ignorance and incompetence).

Look, if you’re treating cancer, learn about cancer; learn about its assessment, its diagnosis, and its treatment.

If you’re treating heart disease, then learn about heart disease; learn about its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

If you’re treating eating disorders, learn about eating disorders; learn about the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.  Seems pretty obvious to me.

So if you’re treating families, learn about family systems; learn about the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of families.

If you’re treating attachment-related pathology, learn about the attachment system; learn about its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Yet these mental health people who are assessing and treating your children and your families remain grossly and negligently ignorant – and therefore grossly and negligently incompetent.

Appalling.  Just appalling.

APA – do something.  How can you simply stand by and allow so many families to be destroyed – forever destroyed – by such profound professional incompetence.  Does Standard 2.01a of your ethics code mean nothing?  If it’s not enforced, it sure does mean nothing.

This is children’s childhood.  Once gone, it can NEVER be recovered. And APA, your allowing these ignorant and incompetent people who are masquerading as psychologists to irrevocably destroy these children and families.  How can you just stand by and watch.  Do something.  Lives are being destroyed.  Children’s lives are being destroyed.

APA, if you do nothing to stop the incompetence, then you are complicit.

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” – Albert Einstein

Each day that passes without a solution is one day too long.  This must stop.

So Dorcy covers each child against the storm of child abuse, and she screams to the storm – “STOP, you will not have this child, you will not destroy this child.”

Meanwhile, I struggle to work whatever magic I can muster to call forth the winds of change that will blow the storm entirely away, so that all children and all families can grow in the warmth of their parents’ love and affection.

At the recent fundraising event for the documentary, Erasing Family (www.erasingfamily.org), that is currently filming and that needs your financial backing and support, many people that night made the point that, “children have the right to love both parents.”

At one point during the evening, I turned to Dorcy who was sitting beside me and said,

“That’s only half of it.  Yes, children have the right to love both parents.  But equally important is that children have the right to RECEIVE THE LOVE of both parents in return.  Children flourish when they are loved.  In “parental alienation,” there are parents, and grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins – all of whom desperately want to love the child.  The child has a RIGHT to receive that love.  That love will only help that child flourish.  Love is always a good thing for a child.”

Yes, children have the right to love both parents, and children also have the RIGHT to RECEIVE the love of both parents – and grandparents – and aunts, and uncles, and cousins – in return.

There is absolutely zero reason to ever withhold love from a child.  Withholding love from a child is NEVER a good thing.

The construct of “erased families” is a good thing because it highlights that this isn’t JUST about parents – it’s about families – erased families.

Grandparent love can be some of the bestest lovin’ on the planet.  The love of uncles, aunts, cousins, all enrich a child’s life.  More love is always a good thing for a child.

The documentary-in-progress, Erasing Family, also uses the construct of “obstructed bonding.”  Another good phrase.  It highlights the blockage of children’s right to receive love from everyone who loves them.

There’s no need to get locked into the terms – I don’t care what we call it.  We can call it by any of a thousand names; obstructed bonding – “parental alienation” – pathogenic parenting – a cross-generational coalition – pathological mourning – call it whatever you want, just make it stop.

We all know what it is.  Call it what you want.  Me?  I think I’ll call it child abuse.

Children have the fundamental right to love both parents, and children have the fundamental right to receive the love of both parents in return.

… and the love from grandparents, and from aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and brothers, and sisters, and everyone else who loves that child.

Love is always a good thing for a child to receive.

On that, Dorcy and I are in full agreement.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Psychologist, PSY 18857

12 thoughts on “Yikes Almighty – They’re Really that Stupid”

  1. I live in yucca valley CA. How can I arrange for you to have a professional consultation with the court mediator for the SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY COURTS here in JOSHUA TREE?

    Elizabeth “Betsy” Pruitt

    1. Hello Ms. Pruitt. I have edited down your comment because I want to protect the privacy of your son. I am available for consultation to any mental health professional, including court mediators. All the mental health professional or court mediator has to do is request the consultation by sending me an email with the heading Professional Consultation, and we can set something up. I also have a booklet available through Amazon.com entitled Professional Consultation that is written for targeted parents to provide to mental health professionals.

      Craig Childress, Psy.D.
      Psychologist, PSY 18857

  2. It is not only the therapists who are incompetent the state boards can be also.
    I had a therapist (working with my child and myself) who of course bought into the combined narrative of the alienating parent and the alienated child. In order to not hear or listen or see the documentation or information that I wanted to present to her. She would constantly try to shut me down in different ways. She would pretend to fall asleep while I was speaking or sometimes she would repeat I love you over and over in a somewhat loud whispery voice to me as I was trying to speak to her. She insisted I read a book on boundaries that she kept putting up in front of her face as…….I……did not know how to respect boundaries according to her. LOL. I could not believe that this woman who was so unethical in her practice was shoving a book on boundaries in my face. She then told a court I was borderline personality disordered.
    I had begun putting together a complaint when one day I received a call from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights(someone that knew what had happened had given them my information) and they helped me complete the complaint against the therapist.
    It took about six months and then I heard back. She had been cited for withholding my records (I had requested them multiple times and she had refused) and nothing else. The board ignored her unethical behaviors such as whispering over and over Ilove you as I attempted to communicate with her and then covering her ass by declaring me BPD. One more thing I will add to this story; I had recorded the therapist unbeknown to her (it is allowed in my state.) and had shared these with my own therapist who wrote a letter to the board informing them of the violations she was able to hear on the recordings so this was not just a case of “he said she said” and yet this was ignored by the board. Worse yet is the fact that the public was not made aware of the unethical behaviors this therapist allows herself to engage in.
    Still though I did reference your work Dr Childress in my complaint and I believe that with time and others standing up to this form of abuse the boards will come to know your work, who you are and the real damage being done through ignorant and unethical professionals
    Thank you for all you have done in this field.

    1. Licensing boards may do nothing. We cannot control that. There are ethical standards for psychologists and master’s level mental health professionals that require professional competence (see my blog post entitled Professional Competence).

      The proper thing to do when facing professional incompetence is to document – lay a paper trail of documentation. Be kind. Always be kind. Be reasonable. And begin laying the paper trail of documentation. First ask that the mental health professional consult. Request this professional-to-professional consultation in a letter. Provide the mental health professional with my booklet, Professional Consultation. Provide the mental health professional with my book, Foundations. Using he proper professional terms – pathogenic parenting; cross-generational coalition; disordered mourning – ask (in writing) that the mental health professional assess for the pathology of pathogenic parenting using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting to document the results of this assessment. Ask (in writing) that the mental health professional document his or her assessment of your parenting practices using the Parenting Practices Rating scale.

      Remain calm. Be kind. Be reasonable. Document your requests. Lay the paper trail. If the mental health professional is practicing beyond the boundaries of his or her competence, if the mental health professional refuses to seek additional consultation, and if the mental health professional refuses to assess for attachment-related pathology involving a cross-generational coalition and pathogenic parenting (notice I did not say “parental alienation”), then the proper response is to file a licensing board complaint regarding a potential violation of professional standards requiring professional competence in the assessment of pathology (APA ethics code 9.01a) and regarding practice only within the boundaries of professional competence (APA ethics code 2.01a).

      Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code also requires mental health professionals “undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence,” which would be relevant to reading the book Foundations, and Standard 3.09 of the APA ethics code requires that mental health professionals “cooperate with other professionals in order to serve their clients/patients effectively and appropriately,” which would be relevant to a request that the mental health professional consult.

      Principle B of the APA ethics code also requires that mental “Psychologists consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of those with whom they work.”

      The standards exist that require professional competence. They simply need to be enforced. However, targeted parents must also become informed and knowledgeable consumers. Licensing boards are not going to micro-manage assessment and treatment. What professional practice standards are violated. For example, there is not professional standard of practice that prohibits whispering to the client.

      Request consultation. Request appropriate assessment. Document the requests.

      Craig Childress, Psy.D.
      Psychologist, PSY 18857

      1. My child is grown now and when this happened I had not yet found your information.
        I am a lot more educated now. You are spot on when you say that parents need to become educated consumers. It has taken me hundred of hours of reading perhaps thousands and in my case it was when the pain of what has been done to my youngest child overwhelmed me.
        I highlighted the whispered I Love You’s and the pretend sleeping and the insistence that I learn “others” boundaries while not understandint them herself, to emphasize that her behavior went beyond incompetent or ignorant of family systems attachment system cross-generational coalitions…… her behavior was that of an unhealthy therapist. She behaved in this way with me when I would insist that she hear me or that she look at the history or that she look at the information that had been documented. She did not have the capacity to see her own bizarre behavior with me as unethical and that of an unhealthy individual and even less capacity to admit or even entertain that she could be miss-reading the situation. I was uneducated at the time and her behavior generated fear in me regardless of the fact that I could recognize that it was unhealthy; because of the passive Aggressive way she behaved with me, the inherent power in her position and how I knew it was going to impact my child and our relationship.
        In my ignorance, I had assumed that if someone is working in a profession where their “job” is to help others reach balance that that professional would be balanced within themselves.
        She did receive a confidential letter of concern so I would assume that the board addressed some of this with her. The public however will never be made aware that this therapist behaved in an unhealthy way.
        It is not easy to file a board complaint most individuals would rather move on and not deal with it.
        I thank you again for all your work on behalf of the children of alienation and the targeted parents who also suffer under it.
        Even though my child who has been and is used as a regulatory other is now technically an adult I still come to your site regularly to learn.

  3. Your about 75% there Dr. Childress , keep going as THE UNIVERSE is on your side . Love will conquer this PROBLEM. CHILL and RELAX and have FAITH AND HOPE that there is something out there STRONGER than the OLD BELIEFS of many people in the medical community . You are loved by many people in the world for the success that has happened already on this subject of PARENT ALIENATION (or whatever others want to call it). It is REAL and they will come to the realization how many people lose FAITH and LOVE because their child is displaying hatred towards us targeted PARENTS . I appreciate all that you have done so far.

    1. Thank you for your words of support and encouragement. There is enough information about AB-PA currently in the ether that this will be solved. It is now inevitable. The only question is how long it takes. Each day that passes without a solution is one day too long. The solution is available today. Right now. This instant. All we need is the paradigm shift from Gardnerian PAS to an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA). It’s within our grasp. I feel the universe changing.

      That’s what I find so frustrating about the Gardnerian PAS “experts.” They’re trying to hold onto a failed paradigm because they want to remain “experts” in “parental alienation.” They are withholding their support and voice for the paradigm shift to the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA. They want to hold on to the failed eight symptoms of Gardnerian PAS that allow rampant professional incompetence – but that also allow them to remain “experts.” It’s a turf issue. They want to remain the “true experts” and they don’t want to relinquish that role, even at the cost of continued controversy and no solution. So they withhold their support, they withhold their voice from creating the needed change. False allies seeking to retain their status as “experts” rather than working for solution.

      So it’s all left to me, a single lone psychologist working all by myself to create a system-wide change in the mental health response to the pathology of “parental alienation.” Big system. Little me. But I have one thing going for me… you. Thousands of you’s. You are more powerful than you realize. But in order to achieve your power, you must come together into a single voice for change. Like a tsunami, become an unstoppable force. Thousands and thousands of voices to the APA. Thousands and thousands of voices to licensing boards. “Enough! This ends today.” We are demanding professional competence – not in “parental alienation” – we are demanding professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related pathology, parental personality disorder pathology affecting the family following divorce, in family systems pathology of a cross-generational coalition – standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

      We need your voice – all of your voices. The time is now. We stand on the battlefield to end “parent alienation” now. This fight for your children is yours. Come together into a single voice for change. Fight for each other. I have given you the weapons you need – the words of power from professional psychology – pathogenic parenting; cross-generational coalition; trauma reenactment narrative; narcissistic/borderline personality pathology; disordered mourning. These are the words of power from professional psychology to use in the mental health system.

      This pathology seeks to keep you alone and isolated because when you are alone you are powerless to stop it. Come together to reclaim your rightful ally in professional mental health. You are not alone. You are thousands and thousands of voices. You are more powerful than you know.

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

  4. At the risk of sounding redundant, thank you again for another great post. If everyone forwards this to the APA maybe they’ll move into action.

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