Professional Competence Applies to the Gardnerians Too

It became abundantly apparent to me the other day that it’s reached the point that the continuing intransigent ignorance of the Gardnerian PAS “experts” needs to be fully addressed.

The Gardnerian PAS model is in the process of being replaced by the more professional sound and scientifically grounded AB-PA model described in Foundations.  These “experts” in Gardnerian PAS will soon become irrelevant because the model they’re holding onto will become irrelevant.  We are going to completely solve the pathology of “parental alienation” without reference to the Gardnerian PAS model.  Everything is going to be solved.

But it has become apparent to me that the continued propagation of the flawed constructs of Gardnerian PAS actually presents a risk to my kids – (your kids ARE “my kids”) – so I need to take active steps to address and counter the ignorance and professional incompetence surrounding Gardnerian PAS as well.

The professional requirement that ALL mental health professionals be knowledgeable and competent applies to ALL mental health professionals, including the Gardnerians.  They too must be knowledgeable in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems constructs at a professional level, and they too MUST assess for pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-based pathology in ALL cases in which attachment-related pathology is evident.

Notice I did not use the term “parental alienation” in any of that statement – we are returning to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to which all mental health professionals – ALL, including the Gardnerians – can be held accountable.

If the Gardnerian “experts” believe themselves to be “exempt” from professional standards of practice regarding professional competence (Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code) because they are somehow “special” – they’re not.

And if the Gardnerian PAS “experts” think that they are exempt because of their “specialness” from the professional requirements of Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code regarding their assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related and personality disorder related pathology surrounding divorce – they’re not.

Failure to conduct a proper professional assessment for pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-related pathology would represent a violation of Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code for ALL mental health professionals, including the Gardnerian PAS experts.

The statements contained in Slides 43-45 from my Keynote address in Dallas apply equally to the Gardnerian PAS “experts” as they do to every other mental health professional.

Slide 43:  Attachment System Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically dysfunctions.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the attachment system when assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Gardnerian PAS “experts” are not exempt from standards for professional competence in their assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology.

Slide 44: Personality Disorder Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology as it is affecting family relationships need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in personality disorder pathology, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically affects family relationships following divorce.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding personality disorder pathology when assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology in the family would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Gardnerian PAS “experts” are not exempt from standards for professional competence in their assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of personality disorder pathology as expressed within family relationships.

Slide 45: Family Systems Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating families need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Gardnerian PAS “experts” are not exempt from standards for professional competence for family systems constructs and principles in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of family pathology.

Professional knowledge and competence is required from ALL mental health professionals, including the Gardnerian PAS “experts.”

Gardnerian-Based Ignorance

The need for professional competence from the Gardnerian PAS “experts” became evident to me from a recent website post by Michael Bone, Ph.D., a self-proclaimed “expert” in Gardnerian PAS.

Michael Bone: The Eight Symptoms of PA: Absence of Guilt over Cruelty to and/or Exploitation of the Alienated Parent

I don’t pay much attention to the Gardnerians.  Their continued intransigence in holding onto a failed and inadequate model of pathology is simply irrelevant.  Gardnerian PAS is going to be replaced by AB-PA.  That’s just a fact.  So if they choose to hold onto Gardnerian PAS in an effort to remain relevant as “experts” in an outdated and inadequate model of pathology, rather than contribute their professional effort and voices to creating an actual solution to the pathology (AB-PA), then they will ultimately simply recede into irrelevance along with their model of pathology as it’s replaced by the more professionally sound and scientifically grounded model of AB-PA (as described in Foundations).

But I became aware of this article by Dr. Bone when it was linked in a parent support group.  The information Dr. Bone presented in this article is deeply troubling because it has the potential to hurt my kids – your kids ARE “my kids.”

The information shared in this article by Dr. Bone was so troubling that I had to respond directly to it in the support group and correct this misinformation propagated by Dr. Bone (who is relying on a Gardnerian model of PAS).  Here is my response that I posted in this parent support group:

I generally try not to comment on information shared in support groups as I don’t want to intrude into the discussion. However, in this case I feel obligated to say something to protect the child. This statement is not exactly accurate. The symptom is not an absence of guilt, the symptom is an absence of empathy (a narcissistic trait acquired through the psychological control of the child by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent).

The child actually feels a lot of guilt surrounding having to reject the beloved targeted parent. The child is in a psychological hostage situation. Imagine a wartime hostage who is forced by his or her captors to make derogatory statements about the United States. That soldier feels tremendous guilt about making those statements, even though it was under coercion. That soldier feels like a traitor.

The child of alienation feels tremendous guilt. And in moving forward with the recovery of the child’s healthy love and bonding to the formerly targeted-rejected parent, it is vital for all of the involved adults – therapists and recovered parents alike – to fully understand and provide empathy for the child’s feelings of guilt. We understand. No worries, sweetie. Things got a little out of hand, We can move forward, no worries about it.

In recovering the child, and in providing the child with authentic empathy, we must understand the deep-deep guilt that the child feels for rejecting the beloved targeted parent. Grief and guilt are central to the child’s experience.

The symptom is NOT an absence of guilt. It is an absence of empathy during the active phase of the pathology due to the psychological influence and control of the child by a narcissistic parent who characterologically lacks the capacity for empathy. The child’s symptom of an absence of empathy is coming from the allied narcissistic parent’s absence of empathy.

The authentic child loves the targeted parent, and the authentic child feels tremendous guilt over rejecting the beloved targeted parent. We must be aware of the authentic child in order to provide authentic empathy to the authentic child who is caught in a terrible situation. Empathy heals trauma.

I normally don’t like to intrude, but my client children would want me to clarify this for them. I understand what Gardner was going for with that symptom (i.e., the absence of empathy), but it’s incorrect if we frame it as the absence of guilt.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Psychologist, PSY 18857

It was this troubling ignorance from Dr. Bone that made me realize that the time has come to apply standards for professional competence to ALL mental health professionals, including the Gardnerian PAS “experts.”  Professional ignorance – and the subsequent incompetence that comes from ignorance – is no longer acceptable… from anyone.

When I read further from this article by Dr. Bone I was also deeply troubled by his apparent absence of professional acumen in his reliance on constructs derived from “mysticism” rather than from professionally established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  In his article, Dr. Bone abundantly references the child entering a “trance state” when criticizing the targeted parent. The use of such loose “mystical” terminology by a mental health professional is troubling.  Mental health professionals are just that – professionals.  We should be describing pathology using the standard and established constructs and principles of the profession. Reliance on constructs derived from “mysticism” – such as “trace states” – is simply unacceptable from a mental health professional.

I understand what Dr. Bone is trying to get at.  The proper professional term is a “dissociative state.”  Dissociative symptoms are associated with identity disorders, trauma disorders, and are loosely associated with both psychotic disorders and thought disorders. There is a general constellation of pathology in which dissociative symptoms might be evident.  Interestingly, dissociative symptoms have also been associated with the psychological decompensation of borderline personality pathology in response to stress:

From: Carlson, E.A., Edgeland, B., and  Sroufe, L.A. (2009). A prospective investigation of the development of borderline personality symptoms.  Development and Psychopathology, 21, 1311-1334

“Correlational analyses confirmed expected relations between borderline symptoms and contemporary adult disturbance (e.g., self-injurious behavior, dissociative symptoms, drug use, relational violence) as well as maltreatment history.” (p. 1311)

“Trauma and maltreatment undermine the child’s capacity to attend to, recognize, and interpret accurately the cues and affective states of others and by extension, the self. Dissociative processes instill a sense of passivity whereby events are perceived as happening to the individual or controlled outside of the self (i.e., without volition; Breger, 1974; Bowlby, 1969/1982). Children become hypervigilant to the attitudes and intentions of others, further compromising emergent self-awareness, a sense of authorship, and the ability to attend to internal cues, emotional needs, and thoughts.” (p. 1314)

If Dr. Bone, a mental health professional, is going to use “mysticism” terms to describe the child’s symptoms as a “trance state,” then he should at least indicate that he understands the professional pathology he’s describing by referencing the professional terminology of “dissociative state.”

If I wanted to use the construct of a “trance” (and trust me, I wouldn’t) in a sentence to describe the child’s symptom, I might say something like, “In many respects, severely alienated children operate in a kind of trance state (called a dissociative state) where they too may believe the things they are saying, when they are saying them.”  This would represent professional practice of indicating that Dr. Bone at least understands the professional construct and it’s associations.

I understand what Dr. Bone is reaching for.  The underlying symptom that Dr. Bone is identifying is the encapsulated persecutory delusion of the child (diagnostic indicator 3), and he more directly references this in the second part of his sentence that “they too may believe the [false] things they are saying.”

But Dr. Bone is not applying an AB-PA model.  He is trying to fit the child’s pathology into the inadequate Gardnerian PAS model.  So he wanders off into “trance states” and absence of guilt rather than remaining professionally grounded in the established professional constructs of dissociative symptoms, encapsulated persecutory delusions, and the absence of empathy associated with narcissistic personality pathology.

It was this display of troubling professional ignorance by Dr. Bone in falsely asserting that these children have an “absence of guilt” and then wandering into the mysticism of “trance states” that made me realize that the time has come to hold ALL mental health professionals accountable to standards for professional competence – even the Gardnerians.  The troubling assertion that these children are absent a sense of guilt might lead to efforts to trigger guilt in these children, which would be both cruel and would likely provoke increased rejection symptoms.  The use of mystical constructs such as “trance states” rather than a reasoned professional description explaining the presence of dissociative symptoms also further damages our collective professional credibility with establishment psychology (such as with the APA).

Mental health professionals are NOT ALLOWED to be ignorant and incompetent in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your children and families.  None of them.  Not even the Gardnerian PAS “experts.”  It’s time to require professional competence from ALL mental health professionals, even the Gardnerians.

Boundaries of Professional Competence

So I decided to look into this a bit more by examining Dr. Bone’s vitae for evidence of professional competence in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy.

Based on my review of Dr. Bone’s vitae, I see no evidence of training or education in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, or family systems therapy which would be required for professional competence in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology involving parental personality disorder pathology expressed within family relationships.

Is it any wonder then, that Dr. Bone continues to maintain and propagate a flawed and inadequate Gardnerian PAS model of the pathology, since once the paradigm shifts to AB-PA his “expertise” in Gardnerian PAS will not suffice.  Once AB-PA replaces Gardnerian PAS, Dr. Bone will actually need to develop a new expertise in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy.  It’s much easier, I suppose, to simply hold onto Gardnerian PAS than it is to expend the professional effort needed to obtain true competence in established forms of pathology.  With Gardnerian PAS, everyone can just kind of make stuff up without the annoying limitations imposed by having to explain anything using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

But the problem is that under the model of professional accountability I described in my Dallas Keynote address, Dr. Bone’s absence of knowledge regarding attachment-related pathology, personality disorder pathology, and family systems constructs would represent a violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code.  Well that’s unfortunate for Dr. Bone.  If we establish domains of professional knowledge necessary for professional competence, then he’ll fall into the incompetent area of not knowing what he’s talking about.

I can see why he wouldn’t want AB-PA to become established.  But AB-PA offers an immediate solution to the pathology.  Quite the dilemma for Dr. Bone.  Remain an “expert” or solve “parental alienation.”  By his recent post, he’s appeared to have chosen to remain an “expert” in Gardnerian PAS at the sacrifice of a solution to the family pathology of “parental alienation.”

But then, wouldn’t a violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code make him vulnerable to a licensing board complaint?  Yes it would… if Dr. Bone was licensed.  But it appears that Dr. Bone isn’t licensed.  He apparently surrendered his license in 2007 in order to avoid sanctions.  So at this point, as far as I know, Dr. Bone is simply a self-proclaimed “expert” in Gardnerian PAS.  And as soon as Gardnerian PAS is replaced by AB-PA, Dr. Bone’s sole “expertise” vanishes.

Curiosity then captured me.  What about some of the other prominent Gardnerian PAS “experts,” such as Dr. Bernet, a leading and continuing advocate for Gardnerian PAS?  Does he possess the necessary background and training in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy necessary to meet professional competence criteria for assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology manifesting through parental personality disorder pathology being expressed in family relationships?  So I looked at Dr. Bernet’s vitae for evidence of knowledge, training, and experience in attachment-related pathology, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy.

I could find no evidence of a professional level of knowledge or training in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, or family therapy in Dr. Bernet’s vitae either.

Based on the standards set forth in my Dallas Keynote address that ALL mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related and personality disorder pathology that is being expressed within the family need to possess professional-level knowledge of the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy (Slides 43-45), wouldn’t Dr. Bernet’s seeming absence of professional-level knowledge in these domains mean that he is practicing beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code?  Yes it would.

Well that’s unfortunate for Dr. Bernet.  So should we just not establish professional standards for knowledge and competence so that Dr. Bernet can continue to be an expert?  Or maybe should we provide Dr. Bernet with a “special exception” to the requirement for professional knowledge needed for professional competence?  Or should we simply hold ALL mental health professionals accountable to the same standards of practice for professional competence, and ask Dr. Bernet to become knowledgeable about the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems constructs in order to be considered professionally competent in assessing, diagnosing, and treating this form of attachment-related, personality disorder related, family systems pathology?

But still, wouldn’t the violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code make Dr. Bernet vulnerable to a licensing board complaint?  No.  Because Dr. Bernet is an M.D. psychiatrist, not a clinical psychologist, so Dr. Bernet is not subject to the same professional requirements for competence that would bind a clinical psychologist.  Whew.  Lucky for Dr. Bernet.

What about Amy Baker?  So I decided to look at the vitae of Amy Baker.  What’s important to note about Amy Baker is that she is not a licensed clinical psychologist.  She is a researcher.  So she’s never actually assessed, diagnosed, or treated any form of pathology.  So her vitae is full of research articles, but no actual experience with assessing, diagnosing, and treating any form of pathology.  As I reviewed the titles of her research studies, there are some studies regarding sexualized behavior in children, some studies of children in residential treatment facilities, some studies surrounding Head Start programs.  These types of topics are peripherally related to the attachment system.  But there is no clear evidence of any studies or professional expertise acquired regarding attachment-related pathology.  No reference to insecure attachment types in any of her studies.  No indication of the Adult Attachment Interview being used in any of her studies.  And there is clearly no indication of any reference to personality disorder pathology or family systems therapy in any of her research.

So if Amy Baker doesn’t have a professional-level of knowledge, training, and expertise in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy, wouldn’t that mean she is practicing beyond the boundaries of her competence?  No.  Because she is not a clinical psychologist who is conducting any sort of assessment, diagnosis, or treatment regarding this form of attachment-related family pathology.  She is merely a researcher, and her primary area of research expertise appears to be in trying to document a proposed new form of clinical pathology that is supposedly unique in all of mental health called “parental alienation.”

I will admit that all three of these Gardnerian PAS “experts” are clearly “experts” in Gardnerian PAS.  Problem is, there’s actually no such thing in clinical psychology as PAS.  I’m a clinical psychologist.  I know this sort of stuff.  That’s my job.   There’s no such thing in clinical psychology as PAS.  There’s attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, there’s autism spectrum pathology, there’s oppositional-defiant and conduct disorder pathology, there are trauma and complex trauma pathologies, there are anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders, and psychotic disorders.  There’s all sorts of stuff in clinical psychology.  There are even attachment-related pathologies arising from insecure attachments and pathogenic parenting.  There’s just nothing about PAS in actual clinical psychology.

Psychological control? Oh yeah, there’s a lot of literature and research about the psychological control of children (see for example, Barber, 2002).  There’s stuff about the Dark Triad personality of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellian manipulation, and research that links the Dark Triad personality to revenge in romantic relationships and high-conflict patterns of communication.  There’s a lot of research surrounding psychological boundary violations in parent-child relationships and families, including role-reversal relationships in which the child is used to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the parent.  All that stuff exists in clinical psychology.  Just not PAS.

If we turn to family therapy, there’s the “triangulation” of the child into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” with one parent against the other parent that results in an “emotional cutoff” in family relationships as described by the preeminent family systems therapists Murray Bowen, Jay Haley, and Salvador Minuchin.  Family systems therapy is one of the four primary schools of psychotherapy (the others being psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, and humanistic-existential therapy), and family systems therapy is the ONLY school of psychotherapy that addresses the process of resolving current family relationship problems.  All the other schools of psychotherapy are individual-oriented models of psychotherapy.

Murray Bowen, Jay Haley, and Salvador Minuchin are among the preeminent figures in family systems therapy, and all of them have addressed, described, and defined this form of family pathology.  In fact, on page 42 of his 1993 book, Family Healing, the preeminent family therapist Salvador Minuchin even provides a structural diagram of the family involving triangulation, a cross-generational coalition, and emotional cutoff.

So there’s all sorts of stuff in actual clinical psychology.  There’s just no established and defined pathology of PAS, which is unfortunate for the Gardnerian PAS “experts” because it means that they’re “experts” in a nonexistent form of pathology.

So what happens when we return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to which ALL mental health professionals can be held accountable?  What happens when Gardnerian PAS is replaced by AB-PA?  What happens to their status as “experts”?  It vanishes.  Poof.  Once the mythical pathology of “parental alienation” vanishes (notice I’ve always put the term in quotes, from the very beginning of my writing on this topic), so too does their “expertise” because none of these Gardnerian PAS “experts” are expert in actual true forms of attachment-related, personality disorder related, family systems pathologies.

Well, no wonder that none of these Gardnerian PAS experts have come forward to support AB-PA.  Why would they support AB-PA if this means they cease to be “experts” in “parental alienation.”  I suppose bringing an end to the pathology of “parental alienation” might possibly be a motivation for supporting AB-PA, but obviously not motivation enough.

It’s clear that they want to stop AB-PA from taking hold.  They’re trying as hard as they can to simply ignore AB-PA in hopes that it will just go away.  I’ve worked in the professional worlds of schizophrenia, and ADHD, and autism, and this is the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen, where a group of professionals act as though significant advancements simply don’t exist.  I’m like Lord Voldemort – he who cannot be named.  It’s really fascinating to watch.

Allies of the Pathogen

I also find it interesting that there are two groups that want to stop AB-PA.  The flying monkey allies of the pathogen, and the Gardnerian PAS experts.  Don’t you find that interesting?  That these two groups should be on the same side in wanting to stop the solution afforded by AB-PA?

We are reclaiming the citadel of professional psychology for targeted parents and your children.  By defining this attachment-related pathology entirely from within standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, AB-PA identifies clear domains of professional competence needed for the competent assessment, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment of this attachment-related, personality disorder family pathology.  In defining established domains of knowledge needed for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this pathology, AB-PA activates the Standards of the APA ethics code for you and your families, so that you can now hold ALL mental health professionals accountable.

When Gardner led everyone away from the path of professional psychology and into the wilderness of “new forms of pathology,” he allowed the citadel of professional psychology to become infected by the pathogen through its allies, who have effectively disabled the mental health response to this family pathology.

This attachment-related (trauma-related) pathology generates two types allies, the overt “activating ally” and the covert “enabling ally.”

The flying monkey allies of the pathogen are the overt “activating allies” of the pathology who actively collude in the creation of the pathology in order to meet their own (unconscious) psychological needs to be the “protective ally” of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent and supposedly “victimized” child.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are the covert “enabling allies” of the pathology who (unconsciously) enable the activation of the pathology in order to meet their own (unconscious) psychological needs to play the role of the “protective ally” of the targeted parent and the child.  By leaving the path of established professional psychology, the Gardnerian PAS contingent have enabled the profound professional ignorance and incompetence that has effectively disabled the mental health response to this pathology for 30 years.

If the Gardnerian PAS experts are allowed to just make stuff up, then everyone is allowed to just make stuff up, which has led to the rampant and unchecked professional ignorance and incompetence currently surrounding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this attachment-related family pathology.  Gardnerian PAS acts to enable the pathogen’s expression by allowing rampant professional ignorance and incompetence that effectively disables the mental health response to this form of attachment-related family pathology.

The supposedly protective “activating ally” of the pathogen who actively colludes with enacting the pathology, and the supposedly protective “enabling ally” who is supposedly the “helpless and ineffectual” ally of the targeted parent and child, are simply flip sides of the same trauma-reenactment coin.  Both are meeting their own personal unconscious psychological needs to be the “protective other” in the kabuki theater display of a trauma reenactment narrative.

In order to solve this attachment-related family pathology we must leave the wilderness of “new forms of pathology” and return to the established path of standard and established professional constructs and principles – to which ALL mental health professionals can be held accountable – including the Gardnerian PAS experts.  No mental health professional is allowed to just make stuff up.  No one.

So Michael Bone, if you want to assert that these children evidence an “absence of guilt,” you’re going to have to explain to me – in detail and at a professional level of analysis – exactly the mechanisms by which the child acquires an “absence of guilt” surrounding the rejection of a parent, because I’m telling you that the symptom displayed by the child is NOT an absence of guilt, it’s an absence of empathy associated with the psychological control of the child (Barber; Kerig) by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent (Beck, Kernberg, Millon) who is the actual source of this symptom display by the child.

I will describe – in detail and at a professional level of analysis; using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology – exactly the mechanisms by which each of the diagnostic indicators and associated clinical signs of AB-PA are created.  That’s the standard for professional competence.

So Michael Bone, if you’re going to assert that these children enter a “trance state,” then you’re going to have to explain to me – in detail and at a professional level of analysis – exactly the mechanisms by which this “trance state” is created and triggered.  Because I can explain to you – in detail and at a professional level of analysis – exactly how dissociative symptoms emerge from complex trauma, an encapsulated persecutory delusion, and the collapse of parental borderline personality pathology as a result of psychological stress.  I can also link these dissociative symptoms to identity pathology in the attachment networks and the trans-generational transmission of trauma.

We are done making stuff up.  Done.  That applies to ALL mental health professionals, even the Gardnerian PAS “experts.”  Bring your “A” game or go away, because these children and families deserve our absolute best.  Nothing less is acceptable.

We lead by example.  If we expect all mental health professionals to evidence the highest standards for professional knowledge, expertise, and competence, then we must display ourselves the highest standards of professional practice and professional competence.  Nothing less than our absolute “A+” game is acceptable.

Domains of Knowledge and Competence

So to Bill Bernet, Amy Baker, Michael Bone and all of the continuing Gardnerian PAS “experts,” you need to identify – specifically – what component of Slides 43-45 from my Dallas Keynote address is wrong.

Because if the statements contained on these Slides are correct, and they are, then you will need to explain why these standards of practice don’t apply to you; why, of all mental health professionals, you are “entitled” to not be competent in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of an attachment-related pathology.

If you assert that a child’s rejection of a parent is not an attachment-related pathology, then you will have to explain – in detail and at a professional level of analysis – why a child rejecting a parent is not an attachment-related pathology and you will have to explain – in detail and at a professional level of analysis – why Bowlby’s statement that the “deactivation of attachment behavior” is a key symptom of “pathological mourning” is not true.

Professional competence applies to ALL mental health professionals – Gardnerians included.   We lead by example.  No mental health professional is exempt from standards of practice for professional competence.

If Gardnerians PAS “experts” are allowed to just make stuff up, then everyone can just make stuff up and we dissolve into rampant and unchecked professional ignorance and incompetence.

The Gardnerian PAS experts are unconsciously acting as covert “enabling allies” of this attachment-related family pathology who are colluding with the disabling of the mental health response to this form of attachment-related family pathology.

All mental health professionals – each and every single one – must now be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy.  If you don’t want to bring your absolute “A+” game to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this attachment-related family pathology, then go away, because nothing less than that is acceptable.

We are returning to the path of professional psychology in which all – ALL – mental health professionals will be expected to assess for pathogenic parenting surrounding an attachment-related pathology (using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting), including mental health professionals who continue to hold and espouse a Gardnerian PAS model for the pathology.  There is no excuse or justifiable reason for ANY mental health professional, including Gardnerian PAS “experts,” not to assess for the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA pursuant to Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code for professionally competent assessment.

If you are not going to assess for pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-related pathology, then you must provide a cogent justification at a professional level of analysis as to WHY you refuse to even assess for pathogenic parenting when assessing attachment-related pathology.

We are leaving the wilderness of “new forms of pathology” and we are returning to the world of professional competence.

If you wish to argue that you are somehow entitled (a narcissistic symptom) to be exempt from the rules that govern all other – “ordinary” – mental health professionals (also a narcissistic symptom) because you alone somehow occupy a special status or elevated position (also a narcissistic symptom), you can try – but it’s not going to work.  ALL mental health professionals are accountable to standards of professional practice – including you.

“As a means of demonstrating their power, narcissists may alter boundaries, make unilateral decisions, control others, and determine exceptions to rules that apply to other, ordinary people.” (Beck et al., 2004, 251)

Slides 43-45 of the Dallas Keynote apply to ALL mental health professionals. There are no “exceptions to rules that apply to other, ordinary people” regarding the professional obligation for professional knowledge and competence.  I don’t care how important and special you may think you are (grandiosity is a narcissistic symptom), the rules of professional competence apply to you as well.

The statements made in Slides 43-45 of my Dallas Keynote address apply to ALL mental health professionals.

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

Dallas Keynote Address

Slide 43:  Attachment System Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically dysfunctions.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the attachment system when assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Slide 44: Personality Disorder Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology as it is affecting family relationships need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in personality disorder pathology, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically affects family relationships following divorce.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding personality disorder pathology when assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology in the family would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Slide 45: Family Systems Competence

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating families need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

16 thoughts on “Professional Competence Applies to the Gardnerians Too”

    1. What component of the statements of Slides 43-45 is incorrect?

      If the statements in Slides 43-45 are correct, and they are, why should any mental health professional be allowed to be incompetent?

      ALL mental health professionals need to possess the necessary professional knowledge and expertise for professional competence. This is a requirement of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code. Are you suggesting that we not meet the requirements of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code?

      Or are you suggesting that we should maintain a professional “conspiracy of silence” with regard to our colleagues who do not meet the professional criteria of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code; that we should just look the other way regarding their professional ignorance and incompetence in order to further our agenda – “our cause”?

      Or do we instead speak out and demand that all mental health professionals – ALL – achieve and demonstrate the highest levels of professional knowledge and professional competence?

      What you are suggesting is that we maintain a professional conspiracy of silence that is complicit in the ignorance and incompetence of our colleagues because it serves an agenda. That I will not do.

      If a mental health professional does not possess the required knowledge necessary for professional competence, then it is incumbent upon that mental health professional to acquire the necessary knowledge and experience to achieve professional competence. If you don’t like reality – change reality.

      Establishing criteria for professional competence (Slides 43-45) and holding mental health professionals accountable for professional competence, is not “bashing” – requiring professional knowledge and competence is sound and established professional practice. Your characterization of a requirement for professional competence as “bashing” says more about your tolerance for ignorance and incompetence than it says about my call for established domains of knowledge needed for professional competence.

      You are essentially saying that we should tolerate ignorance and incompetence when it serves our interests in advancing our agenda, and that we should maintain a professional conspiracy of silence regarding the ignorance of our colleagues when this meets our needs. That I will not do.

      In my view, the “cause” is advanced when we require – require – the highest levels of professional knowledge and expertise from ALL mental health professionals – and especially from our colleagues since we should be the models for the highest standards of professional competence.

      If the named individuals do not have a professional-level knowledge of the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy necessary for professional competence in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology and personality disorder related pathology as expressed within the family – that’s not a “me” issue.

      It is incumbent upon them to acquire the needed levels of professional knowledge.

      We are leaving the wilderness of “new forms of pathology” in which everyone is allowed to simply make stuff up, and we are returning to the path of established professional standards of practice. There is no such thing as “parental alienation.” At the professional level, it is a made up pathology. Describe the pathology using standard and established constructs and principles. You cannot use the term “parental alienation.” So what is the pathology? THAT is the standard for professional practice.

      The eight Gardnerian symptoms are a made up pathology. You cannot use the Gardnerian eight symptoms. Define the pathology. THAT is the standard for professional practice.

      Returning us to the path of established professional psychology requires that we define the domains of professional knowledge necessary for professional competence to which ALL mental health professionals can be held accountable – ALL mental health professionals.

      I don’t care one whit for playing nice in the professional sandbox. I will not tolerate professional ignorance and incompetence. We’re done tolerating professional ignorance and incompetence. I’m not likely to make many friends among my professional colleagues. Don’t care. The ONLY thing I care about is solving this pathology as quickly as is humanly possible.

      For years I have been asking the Gardnerians for their roadmap for how they see a solution to this pathology using Gardnerian PAS – nothing – crickets. They have no solution whatsoever. There is no “cause” except 30 years more of exactly the same thing. Scoreboard. Done.

      There is no “cause” – the “cause” you speak of is nothing but 30 more years of no solution. No. That is unacceptable. You want to fight for “our cause” – the noble rebel alliance fighting the just battle against the evil empire – I want to enact a solution – today – now – this very instant. And we can enact the solution today – now –this very instant, the moment we adopt AB-PA.

      AB-PA provides an immediate solution. So why don’t these named individuals come out in support of the solution that’s immediately available from AB-PA? Because they don’t want a solution, they want to remain “experts.” I find that reprehensible.

      My question to you is why don’t you find that reprehensible? That they would be more concerned about maintaining their own status as “experts” than in actually solving “parental alienation” if solving “parental alienation” means that they are no longer “experts.” Why don’t you find that reprehensible? Why are you tolerating that?

      That is an important question for you to answer.

      Explain to me the roadmap for the solution using Gardnerian PAS. I’m waiting…. Crickets. Nothing. There is no solution using Gardnerian PAS. There is no “cause” except 30 more years of no solution. That’s the supposed “cause” your fighting for.

      If I’m wrong, tell me the roadmap for the solution using Gardnerian PAS.

      If you wish to argue that professional psychology should not establish domains of knowledge needed for professional competence, you are free to do so. I disagree. Professional standards of practice require establishing domains of knowledge necessary for professional competence in a given field.

      If we are assessing, diagnosing, and treating cancer – we need to have a professional level of knowledge about cancer.

      If we are assessing, diagnosing, and treating PTSD – we need to have a professional level of knowledge about PTSD.

      If we are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology – we need to have a professional level of knowledge about the attachment system, how it functions and how it characteristically dysfunctions.

      What you are saying is that it’s okay for a mental health professional not to possess the required professional knowledge needed for professional competence, and when we are aware of that we should just look the other way and maintain a professional conspiracy of silence because it serves our interests – our agenda – our “cause” of 30 more years of no solution.

      If you wish to argue that domains of knowledge needed for professional competence don’t apply to all mental health professionals and that certain mental health should be exempt from the requirements of professional competence, you are free to do so. I disagree. We are returning to the path of established professional standards of practice, in which all mental health professionals – all – are expected to possess the necessary knowledge needed for professional competence.

      If a mental health professional does not possess the necessary knowledge, training, and experience needed for professional competence in assessing, diagnosing, and treating a given form of pathology, then it is incumbent upon that mental health professional to acquire the necessary knowledge, training, and experience needed for professional competence.

      That is not a “me” problem.

      You are suggesting that we should maintain a professional “conspiracy of silence” to allow professional ignorance and incompetence in our fellow mental health professionals because it serves our agenda – our “cause” – of continuing another 30 more years of no solution.

      I will not do that.

      I will speak up and demand that all mental health professional – ALL – demonstrate the highest levels of professional practice. My question to you is why you would advocate tolerating professional ignorance? To advance “the cause”? What “cause”? Tell me the roadmap that the Gardnerian PAS model provides to the solution. Because if there is no roadmap, then the “cause” is just 30 more years of no solution.

      So you are suggesting we maintain a professional conspiracy of silence in order to enact another 30 years of no solution. No.

      What component of the statements contained in Slides 43-45 is incorrect?

      If you indicate what component of the statements made in Slides 43-45 is incorrect, we can have a discussion of your concerns. If you are advocating that we maintain a professional conspiracy of silence that accepts professional ignorance and incompetence in order to enact an agenda of continuing another 30 years of no solution in order that some mental health professionals can maintain their status as “experts” – that I will not do.

      The statements on Slides 43-45 apply to ALL mental health professionals. If a mental health professional does not want to bring their absolute A+ game to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this attachment-related pathology, then they should go away. Because these children and these families deserve no less than our absolute best.

      Question which side of this you’re on. I am arguing for the highest standards of professional knowledge and expertise. You are arguing that we tolerate and accept professional ignorance and incompetence, and that we maintain a professional conspiracy of silence in order to continue another 30 years of no solution.

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

      1. I believe reducing the discussion into a binary, “which side are you on” might be helpful for The Crusades but not here. It is the work of those you discredit who have laid the foundation for for our enterprise — identifying what you call ACS, distinguishing alienation and estrangement, and providing to the APA the necessary body of research that, for all practical purposes, led to the creation of a new category in the DSM-5, Child Psychological Abuse, which you rely heavily in diagnosis. May I suggest, meeting with Dr. Bernet and others of the PASG in Boston to discuss areas of intersection and divergence? Personally, I just don’t see how the two ‘camps’ are incompatible.

      2. You did not address any of the questions I put to you. Answer me this, tell me the roadmap to the solution provided by Gardnerian PAS. Just tell me that. I’ve been asking for that answer for two years now and all I hear is crickets.

        I have laid out in detail the solution that is available immediately from a paradigm shift to AB-PA. A solution that we will – with 100% certainty – enact.

        It is NOT me who is being divisive, it is the intransigent Gardnerian PAS people whom you praise who insist on maintaining a failed and inadequate model of the pathology that is simply NOT TRUE. This pathology is NOT a new form of pathology. That is simply NOT TRUE. The Gardnerian model for a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health that requires equally unique symptom identifiers unrelated to any other pathology in all of mental health – is simply not true.

        And by continuing to insist on something that is NOT TRUE, these people whom you praise continue to enable the pathology’s ability to destroy families. They are “enabling allies” of the pathology. Thirty years of the Garnerian PAS model has given us EXACTLY what we have right now. Thirty years. No solution. Rampant and unchecked professional incompetence. Scoreboard.

        And you want another 30 years of exactly the same.

        I’m not being “divisive” – AB-PA is true, Gardnerian PAS is false. That’s not divisive. That’s the truth. Let’s see if you can follow this…

        Gardnerian PAS maintains that the pathology is a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health, identifiable by an equally unique set of symptom identifiers developed uniquely for this pathology alone. A new form of pathology unique in all of mental health.

        AB-PA defines and describes the pathology from entirely within standard and established constructs and principles. The pathology is NOT a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health. It is a manifestation of known and fully established psychological principles and constructs. A manifestion of known and existing pathologies – NOT a new form of pathology.

        These two models of pathology are fundamentally incompatible. If one is true, that means the other is false. If it is a new form of pathology, then it is NOT a manifestation of existing forms of pathology. If it is a manifestation of existing forms of pathology, then it is NOT a new form of pathology. They are logically incompatible models. Logic. One is true, the other is false. This is not about Crusades. This is about reality. The two cannot – CANNOT – logically be simultaneously true. It is impossible for both to be simultaneously true. It is either a new form of pathology or it is an established form of pathology. Logic. Incompatible.

        I’m fine coming together with Dr. Bernet. He simply has to accept the AB-PA model of the pathology and everything is fine. I’m not being divisive. He is. He is being stubborn in insisting that any solution to the pathology MUST be from Gardnerian PAS. If he switches to a much-much better description of the pathology from entirely within standard and established constructs and principles that provides an immediate – an immediate – solution to the pathology, then everything’s fine. Why are you calling me divisive and not him? Why aren’t you asking him to tell you why he’s not adopting an AB-PA model? Please, ask him to tell you why he’s not adopting an AB-PA model. Make him critique the AB-PA model. I have yet to hear a substantive criticism of the AB-PA model. You know why? Because the AB-PA model is absolutely 100% an accurate description of the pathology.

        Does it solve everything under the sun? Nope. Just the pathology it describes. So let’s start there. With just the pathology it describes. Let’s solve that.

        Bottom line: Tell me the roadmap for the solution offered by Gardnerian PAS and I will listen to you. If all you are proposing is 30 more years of the same, then you have nothing relevant to add to the discussion. Tell me the roadmap to the solution offered by Gardnerian PAS. For two years I’ve been asking that question and for two years all I’ve heard are crickets. If you want to be relevant to the discussion, answer that question.

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

      1. The names mentioned are prominent researchers in the field. Their work is an essential part of the enterprise. We need these people to come together. Childress comments are unprofessional and divisive, and certainly undermines his most cogent analysis.

  1. I keep reading all your work DR. Childresss, and my children are in the severe category of AB-PA, but no one listens to me. They just say to me, oh, your husband is just angry. poppy-cock. Then why are my chidlren behaving so abhorently and so different to what they previously behaved like BEFORE the “Legal Seperation?” My son say’s he literally shakes while he’s talking on the phone with me. My god, his father has his mind so messed up that he’s shaking talking to this empathic mother. It’s disgusting what this animal (narcissism) has done to my family. No contact with them now. I’m sick. I’m ill. I’m exhausted trying to fight it. And it’s all consuming. I worry about my kids all the time. I don’t know how i’m going to live this way knowing that my children are in the care (or lack therof) of this new beast they have to still call their dad, all the while being abused by him. Makes me sick.

  2. Re: your post, Professional Competence Applies to the Gardnerians Too
    dated May 6, 2017

    Hello Dr. Childress,
    First, I want to express my enormous respect and admiration for your contributions to the concepts of attachment-based Parental Alienation. Personally, however, I do not find a contradiction between the use of the Richard Gardner’s and your contributions. I value the attachment-based concepts in understanding, evaluating and treating this horrendous problem. But I see no substantial conflict with Richard Gardner’s ground-breaking articulation of this condition. To me, this conflict is a straw man argument.

    I also want to address the issue you have articulated of expertise in Parental Alienation Syndrome. I am less familiar with the training of psychologists. However, I am a board certified child psychiatrist, as is William Bernet, M.D. So, I can tell you something about child psychiatry fellowship training – at least my own.

    After a 3-year residency in general psychiatry, I undertook a 2-year fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. The curriculum during my training was psychoanalytically oriented. It included the following:

    1. Attachment System: My fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry included readings and seminars on work by John Bowlby.
    2. Family Systems: My fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry included the study of and my supervised treatment of families using concepts of family therapy, “triangulation” of the child, “cross-generational coalition,” and readings and seminars on Murray Bowen, Jay Haley, and Salvador Minuchin.
    3. Personality Disorder: My residency and the child fellowship included readings and seminars on personality disorders that included work by Otto Kernberg, Mary Ainsworth, Aaron Beck, and Theodore Millon. I have subsequently read and studied dialectical behavior therapy pioneered by Marsha Linehan.

    You indicated that you looked at Dr. Bernet’s vitae (also a child psychiatrist) and you did not see “evidence of a professional level of knowledge or training in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, or family therapy.” If you looked at my vitae, you would not see “evidence of a professional level of knowledge or training in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, or family therapy” either. A vitae – whether it’s college, graduate school or post graduate training – does not typically contain individual areas of training or courses. I graduated from medical school, but you will not see in my vitae my clerkships in surgery, medicine, pediatrics, etc.

    Dr. Childress, not to be argumentative, but this is a straw man argument about not seeing “evidence of a professional level of knowledge or training in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, or family therapy.” On the other hand, my readings of your works has, indeed, greatly enhanced my knowledge and expertise in these areas.

    Another point is that Parental Alienation is not dead as a name. It is actually included by name in the beta version of next International Classification of Disease (ICD-11), due to be published in 2018. The DSM typically follows the ICD classifications. So, it is likely that Parental Alienation will finally be in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

    My main point is that Richard Gardner’s Parental Alienation Syndrome is not DOA. I would identify myself as a Gardnerian and an AB-PA expert. I see no conflict. Are we missing something here?

    Les Linet, M.D.
    Princeton, NJ

    1. Answer a couple of questions and we can continue. Is the pathology a new form of pathology unrelated to any other pathology in all of mental health and therefore requiring a unique new set of symptom identifiers developed specifically for this pathology alone? (Gardnerian PAS)

      Or is the pathology a manifestation of standard and established forms of pathology? (AB-PA)

      It cannot logically be both simultaneously. If it is a new form of pathology (Gardnerian PAS), then it is not a manifestation of existing forms of pathology (AB-PA). If it is a manifestation of existing forms of pathology, then it cannot be a new form of pathology. So which is it, a new form of pathology (Gardnerian PAS) or a manifestation of existing forms of pathology?

      That’s question 1. Question 2 is a request. I’ve been asking for several years for the Gardnerians to lay out their roadmap for a solution using the Gardnerian PAS model. All I’ve gotten in response is crickets. Since you identify yourself as a Gardnerian expert, please-please tell me the roadmap you see to a solution using the Gardernian PAS model. Because, for the life of me, I can see no solution whatsover from using the Gardnerian PAS model.

      Question 3 is, if you are conducting an assessment of the attachment-based pathology commonly called “parental alienation,” will you use the 8 symptom identifiers of Gardnerian PAS or the 3 symptoms identifiers of AB-PA? If you assess for the 3 symptoms of AB-PA, what additional advantage is provided by which specific Gardnerian PAS symptoms?

      Question 4. If you are a Gardnerian PAS expert, then is it your position that the child has a “lack of guilt” over their treatment of the targeted parent? – which is a Gardnerian symptom.

      Question 5 is more of a statement. The “independent thinker” symptom is simply bizarre. Everyone – everyone – believes that what they think, feel, and believe is authentic to them. Everyone. The “independent thinker” symptom is simply a means to invalidate the child’s experience.

      The child feels an authentic grief response (i.e., breech of the attachment bond). When the child is with the targeted-rejected parent, the attachment system more strongly motivates the child to bond to the available targeted parent – so the child hurts more because the attachment bonding motivation is stronger and the child is NOT bonding.

      When the child is away from the targeted parent (with the allied parent), the child’s attachment system motivation to bond to the targeted parent is less because the targeted parent is not available for bonding. So the child’s grief response is less. The child hurts less when the child is away from the targeted parent.

      The child has an authentic experience of hurting more when with the targeted parent and hurting less when away from the targeted parent. The “independent thinker” symptom of Gardnerian PAS completely invalidates the authenticity of the child’s experience.

      Question 6… Can we hold all mental health professionals accountable to the Gardnerian model of PAS to the point of filing licensing board complaints under Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code if they don’t assess for the Garnderian symptoms of PAS? Can we hold all mental health professionals accountable to an AB-PA model of the pathology to the point of filling licensing board complaints under Standard 9.01a if they fail to assess for pathogenic parenting associated with an attachment-related pathology (notice I didn’t say “parental alienation”).

      Question 7 is a compound question. What is the DSM-5 diagnosis for Gardnerian PAS? Since the 8 symptoms of Gardnerian PAS can be either present or absent in any single case, what is the diagnostic cutoff criteria for the presence or absence of Gardnerian PAS? What is the cutoff criteria for a mild case, or a moderate case, or a severe case? And if you answer this question by providing cutoff criteria – why are these the cutoff criteria for mild-moderate-severe?

      Question 8. What is the treatment for Gardnerian PAS?

      Question 9. Gardnerian PAS has been the primary paradigm for 30 years. We currently have no solution whatsoever and rampant and unchecked professional incompetence. What makes you think that Gardnerian PAS is not a completely failed model of pathology? Can you honestly make that argument to any of the targeted parents who have lost their children to this pathology – that Gardnerian PAS is a successful model for the pathology? What makes you think that anything is going to change with another 30 years of Gardnerian PAS?

      Seriously… I’m calling scoreboard on Gardnerian PAS.

      Question 10. Is there any solution provided by Gardnerian PAS that does NOT require targeted parents prove “parental alienation” in court?

      Question 11. Shall I continue?

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

      1. I think it very silly of you to attack Richard Gardner for his very significant contribution to Parental Alienation Syndrome – attacking a man who is no longer here to defend himself. I also think you demean your own contributions by engaging in challenges with me when I offered no criticism of your work. You demean yourself by challenging me if I admire both Dr. Gardner and yourself. You proudly fling 10 challenges at me, as you have before to others. But you will only follow with more and more challenges. As you state after your Queston 10:

        “Question 11. Shall I continue?”

        Surely you will continue your silliness. There will be no end to squabbles with those who respect and admire Richard Gardner even if they also admire you. Instead, I suggest you look into your need to do battle with me and the “Gardnerians.” I will not engage in your game of one-upmanship. But please, continue your good work, sir.

        Les Linet, M.D.
        Princeton, NJ

      2. I note that you did not answer a single question.

        I did not come to your blog and post on your blog. You came to my blog and posted here. You are challenging me. In response to your challenge of me I posed 10 entirely reasonable questions that are directly germane to my response to your challenge. You did not answer a single one of my questions.

        Let’s just pick one question that I’d really-really like the answer to, Question 2 What is the roadmap for the solution available from Gardnerian PAS? I’ve been asking that question for 2 years and all I get is crickets. Because if Gardnerian PAS offers no solution – and the truth is that it offers no solution – then why would we continue to go down that path?

        The continuing psychological abuse of these children and the traumatic grief of their beloved targeted parents requires a solution. Now. Today. Not 30 more years of the same.

        Thirty year of no solution resulting in the current situation of rampant and unchecked professional incompetence. What solution does Gardnerian PAS offer? Because if it offers no solution – and the truth is that it offers no solution – then these parents and their children deserve more. They need a solution. Gardnerian PAS provides no solution. That’s the truth. That’s the answer to Question 2. You know it, and I know it. Gardnerian PAS offers no solution. The difference between you and me is that I’m telling the truth to the targeted parents who are so desperately seeking a solution to this absolute nightmare they’re living. I’m telling them the truth. Gardnerian PAS offers no solution. You’re maintaining a fantasy. Question 12: Why?

        Out of “respect” for Richard Gardner? My respect for Gardner is in bringing an end to this pathogen that devastated his life. He’s totally on my side. He doesn’t care about whether his model or mine brings this pathology to an end. He just wants it to end. In bringing an end to this nightmare for children and families, I’m showing great respect for Richard. I’m bringing down the pathogen that so savagely attacked him and has held sway in enacting its suffering on children and families for 30 years. It ends. THAT is showing respect for Richard. “Don’t worry, Richard. I’ve got this. I’m bringing this pathogen and the cruel nightmare it creates to an end.”

        I don’t care one whit for playing nice in the professional sandbox. The ONLY thing I care about is bringing this pathology to an end. Today. These children need an end to this today – now. These targeted parents need an end to this today – now. AB-PA provides that. Gardnerian PAS provides no solution whatsover.

        That’s the answer to question 2.

        As to why we can’t just live with both models, the answer to that is found in the answer to Question 1. The answer to question 1 is that this pathology is a manifestation of fully defined and established forms of pathology. That means that it is NOT a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health. That means that Gardnerian PAS is wrong. This pathology is NOT a unique new form of pathology. Gardnerian PAS is not true. AB-PA is true. Gardnerian PAS is not true. That’s why these two models are incompatible. One of them (AB-PA) is true and one of them (PAS) is not true. True is not compatible with not true.

        I also find it disturbing that you would characterize anything about this nightmare for these children and parents as “silly.” There is nothing – nothing – silly about this. I am being serious as a heart attack. This pathology ends. From where I sit, the Garnerian PAS experts are “enabling allies” of the pathogen, and I can cite you chapter and verse regarding why I see this. From where I sit, Gardnerian PAS provides no solution whatsoever, besides creating a bunch of mental health professionals who are experts in “parental alienation.” But as far as a solution to this nightmare for these parents and their children – nope – no solution whatsover. Just 30 more years of exactly the same – a bunch of “experts” and absolutely no solution.

        Enabling allies of the pathogen. That’s what I see. Strong words. I’ll back ’em up. You disagree? Start by answering my 10 entirely reasonable questions. Begin with Question 2. What is the roadmap for a solution provided by Gardnerian PAS – because if there is no solution available from Gardnerian PAS, what’s the point of holding onto it? Is it just to give these “experts” something to be “expert” in? That’s the way it looks to me. Because, for the life of me, I cannot see that Gardnerian PAS provides any solution to these parents and their children. And these parents and children NEED a solution. Today.

        Again, I don’t care one whit for playing nice in the professional sandbox. The ONLY thing I care about is creating a solution that brings an end to this nightmare for these parents and their children as fast as is humanly possible. The absence of active support from the enabling Gardnerian allies of the pathogen is slowing down the solution. I find that reprehensible. But it is what it is. I’ll do this entirely on my own because they won’t lift a finger to help enact the solution. Okay. But I find that reprehensible.

        Question 9 – thirty years. No solution. Gardnerian PAS is a failed paradigm. There is absolutely no way anyone can argue that Gardnerian PAS is a successful paradigm. Question 1 – AB-PA is true. Gardnerian PAS is not true. Question 2 – Garnerian PAS offers no solution to these children and families.

        There is nothing – nothing – silly about this. Bring your A+ game, because the immense grief and suffering of these parents and their children deserves no less. It is offensive to their suffering for you to characterize anything about this as “silly.” I’m serious as a heart attack. This patholgoy ends. The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are not lifting a finger to help bring this to an end. Question 13: Why? A: Because they don’t want it to end. I find that reprehensible. Question 14: Why don’t you find that reprehensible?

        Question 15: Want me to continue?

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

  3. Dr. Childress efforts to raise awarence in ending this nightmare are greatly appreciated. The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are not interested in finding a solution because they have invested so must in it. PAS is a multi million dollar industry. It’s in their best interests to maintain the status que as it justify their excistance. On the other hand, Dr. Childress is genuinely rightly for a solution on behave of ALL targeted parents and their children. He needs our support. In reality, Dr. Childress deserves to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Price. He is well worth it. Thank you Dr. Childress for all your contribution. Much love.
    Victor Saliba
    Toronto, Ontario
    Canada

  4. Dr. Childress criticizes Dr. Bone for his unprofessional ways, calling him a Gardnerian for using “lack of guilt” as a symptom of PA. One example Dr. Childress demonstrates how dangerous Gardnerians are, is that describing ‘lack of guilt’ can “lead to efforts to trigger guilt in these children”. Dr. Bone’s post mentions this saying that the “general consensus now is that such recantation is not to be sought, as this will most likely re-engage the alienation”.

  5. Dear Dr. Childress,

    When can we expect to see your theoretical work on parental alienation published in refereed journals? Have there been any in-depth reviews of this work by academic psychologists who are not, as you term, Gardnerians? When do you expect empirical work will be done to test your theories?

    1. First, let’s be clear… this is NOT “my theoretical work” – this is the work of Bowlby and Kernberg, and Beck, and Millon, and Haley, and Munichin, and Bowen, etc. This is not “theoretical.” It’s called diagnosis. Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.

      Gardner proposed a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health. That was a new theory – that there exists a new form of pathology. I am NOT proposing a new form of pathology. Narcissistic personality pathology exists. Borderline personality pathology exists. Cross-generational coalitions exist. Attachment trauma exists. Transference and the reenactment of complex trauma exist. These are not “theories,” and currently all of these constructs have substantial foundation in the research literature.

      Up on my website is the April Flying Monkey Newsletter that addresses the “peer reviewed research” critique. Read it. It contains a Checklist (also up on my website separately) of the component constructs and principles of AB-PA. If you simply indicate which construct you’d like “empirical research” for I’d be happy to provide you with abundant empirical research regarding that construct.

      The “peer reviewed” research argument is ignorant. There is substantial peer reviewed research for AB-PA. This is NOT “my theory,” this is diagnosis. This is the work of Bowlby, and Beck, and Kernberg, and Millon, and Haley, and Minuchin, and Bowen, and on and on in the professional literature. If AB-PA seems “new” to you, or a “theory” rather than established fact, then it is only because you are ignorant of the professional literature regarding attachment, personality pathology, complex trauma, and family systems.

      Oh… and I’ll publish in professional journals when I have the chance. I’m busy solving “parental alienation.” I suspect that soon I’ll begin writing for journal publication. I’m busy getting my second book, Diagnosis, ready for fall publication. Foundations has been available for two years and is broadly available for professional comment. So far, I have only heard positive professional responses to it. In a recent email from a psychologist who read Foundations, his response was, “It is truly a masterpiece.” This is the type of professional feedback I’ve received so far. If anyone wants to write a critique of Foundations in a professional journal, I’d be more than happy to respond to the critique. Two years ago, Drs. Bernet and Reay provided a critique of Foundations in the PASG Newsletter that AB-PA was “nothing new” same-old-same-old. Which I found absurd and I wrote a response that also appeared in the Newsletter. This critique by Drs. Bernet and Reay and my response is also up on my website.

      So if someone wants to critique AB-PA and Foundations, they’re welcome to do so. So far, Foundations has been available for two years and it stands unchallenged.

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

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