In this post I’m going to describe the paradigm shift that needs to occur to solve the pathology of “parental alienation.”
As a foundational premise, I want to highlight a post by Jason Hofer to my Facebook page that provides a spot-on accurate description of the solution offered through AB-PA.
Jason 100% sees it.
“AB-PA is not the solution. The PAS mindset is “one model to solve them all,” but that is not what AB-PA brings to the table.
The solution is the psychological knowledge behind AB-PA. Attachment theory, family systems theory, personality disorders, all of it. When a therapist has all of that knowledge they can use all of it to make whatever diagnosis is necessary, whether it leads to AB-PA or something else.
The usefulness of the knowledge behind AB-PA far, far outweighs the usefulness of AB-PA itself. If you were to have a therapist study everything found in the reference section of “Foundations”, but not read “Foundations” itself, I guarantee they’ll be able to make the right diagnosis that child psychological abuse is taking place. That’s the beauty of it. The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The solution to PA is not AB-PA. AB-PA points to the solution, but it is not the solution in-and-of itself.
The real solution is having therapists with a deep understanding of all of the psychological components that make up AB-PA. Whether they *use* AB-PA itself or not doesn’t really matter. All AB-PA provides is a well-thought out way to use all that knowledge to make a certain specific type of diagnosis. So, AB-PA may not account for all the subtler cases, but the knowledge required to use AB-PA certainly does, and then some.”
When I read that from Jason, it floored me. The clarity and complete accuracy of that is spot on.
So let that sink in for just a bit before I move to the path…
The path to the solution is like a set of dominoes, as each one falls it tips over the next domino.
Domino 1: The Paradigm Shift
The first and most critical domino is the paradigm shift away from Gardnerian PAS over to AB-PA as the diagnostic model for the pathology. As Jason points out, this is not actually a paradigm shift to AB-PA, it’s a paradigm shift back to the full richness of the entire field of professional psychology, its full literature and research base on all forms of pathology.
When we’re dealing with a child rejecting a parent, we’re in the realm of the attachment system. The attachment system is the brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss. The attachment system is a primary motivational system of the brain. It functions in characteristic ways, and it dysfunctions in characteristic ways.
Prior to entering private practice, I was the Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center (ages 0-5) dealing primarily with children in the foster care system. Early childhood is the period when the attachment system actively acquires its “internal working models” regarding expectations for love and bonding, which are then applied throughout the lifespan. With my specialty background in early childhood mental health, I know the attachment system.
What’s more, I worked with young children in the foster care system. I’ve seen how all the various forms of trauma affect the attachment system, and I’ve worked with restoring the normal-range and healthy attachment system of children who’s attachment networks have been damaged by trauma from aberrant parental behavior – profound neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse.
You’ve seen what I’ve done relative to my work on uncovering the pathology of “parental alienation” (Dr. Childress Personal Reference List: AB-PA). Prior to my work on “parental alienation,” I was working for decades with the regulatory pathology of ADHD and with the trauma-related pathologies in early childhood as my primary field. If I’ve put in this amount of work on uncovering the core pathology of “parental alienation,” imagine what I know in these other domains.
If you look at the very end of my AB-PA reference list, you’ll see a set of references for Neuro-Developmentally Supportive Psychotherapy. Books like:
The First Idea: How Symbols, Language and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans
In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are
Childhood Trauma, the Neurobiology of Adaptation, and “Use-Dependent” Development of the Brain: How “States” Become “Traits”
Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development
These are on my reference list for AB-PA. These references for Neuro-Developmentally Supportive Psychotherapy are just the tip of the iceberg of core references that are in another set of references relative to another topic area. I have them on my AB-PA reference list just in case I want to talk about something from the neuro-developmental research.
I love knowledge. Knowledge feels good in the brain as the threads form into a rich tapestry of comprehension.
I’m not from the field of high-conflict divorce. I come from ADHD and early childhood mental health. In these fields, excellence and knowledge are expectations. It was only after I left the position as Clinical Director and entered private practice that I ran across my first case of the pathology called “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce, a targeted parent mom and her 10 year-old son.
In the very first session with the targeted parent mom and her son I immediately recognized the child’s inauthentic attachment system. The brain doesn’t work like that; the attachment system doesn’t work like that. The child is displaying an inauthentic brain.
Since I come from the world of childhood attachment trauma, I know what childhood trauma does to the attachment networks of the brain, I know what authentic attachment trauma looks like in the child’s symptom display. This child’s attachment-related symptoms were clearly not the product of any form of trauma. This child was presenting an inauthentic display of attachment behavior. The brain does not work that way.
As an aside: With a normal attachment system, “protest behavior” (angry-oppositional behavior) emerges from the neuro-developmental function of eliciting increased parental involvement (the baby cries to elicit – to obtain – the mother’s involvement). But in the case of this child, the child’s “protest behavior” was seeking to end – to sever – parental involvement. The child was rejecting the parent. Children don’t reject parents. Not even attachment-trauma kids who’ve been abused by their parents. Bad parenting creates an “insecure attachment” that MORE strongly motivates the child to form an attachment bond to the bad parent. Children don’t reject parents, even bad parents. That’s not how the attachment system and protest behavior works. That is not an authentic brain.
But then the question emerges, why is the child displaying an inauthentic attachment system relative to his mother? The answer: Because the child is being influenced and psychologically compelled by the father to adopt this attitude toward the child’s mother. The child is displaying his father’s anger and rejection toward the other spouse, toward the mother. The child’s presentation is not an authentic display of the child’s authentic attachment motivations towards his mother, it is an imposed display of rejection created by the father’s psychological control and manipulation of the child to meet the father’s needs for revenge and retaliation on the mother for divorcing him.
This immediately leads to an application of the standard and established constructs and principles from family systems therapy to the child’s symptom display. This is likely a cross-generational coalition of the child with the father against the mother, with the father “diverting” his spousal anger toward the mother through the child.
In family systems therapy, the child draws power from the cross-generational coalition with one parent, and this power acquired from parental support elevates the child in the family hierarchy to a position above the targeted parent, leading to a very characteristic symptom of a cross-generational coalition called an “inverted family hierarchy.” In normal and healthy family structures, parents occupy positions of executive leadership in the family hierarchy. In normal and healthy families, parents judge children’s behavior as appropriate or inappropriate and deliver consequences, rewards and punishments, based on parental judgements of child behavior.
In an inverted hierarchy, the child becomes empowered by the coalition with the allied parent to an elevated position in the family hierarchy from which the child then judges the targeted parent, and it is the child who then delivers consequences to the parent, rewards and punishments, based on the child’s judgements of the parent’s behavior – an inverted hierarchy.
While the symptom of an inverted hierarchy involves parent-child conflict, the surrounding behavioral, communication, and relationship features of the parent-child conflict are very different from authentic oppositional-defiant parent-child conflict created by other sources, such as from problematic parenting. So while a lay person might just see parent-child conflict, a knowledgeable and competent clinical psychologist will clearly see the surrounding symptom indicators of an inverted hierarchy as opposed to problematic parenting as the source cause of the parent-child conflict.
When the empowering coalition with the allied parent (that is creating the inverted hierarchy) is examined further, the allied parent feigns parental incompetence (“What can I do, this is between the child and the other parent”) and the allied parent offers displays of supportive understanding for the child’s position in the conflict with the other parent (“If the other parent were just nicer to the child this wouldn’t happen”). This pattern of symptom features for the inverted hierarchy, feigning of selective parental incompetence by the supposedly “favored” parent and the allied parent’s tacit approval and support for the child’s conflict with the other parent, is the characteristic symptom set associated with the child’s “triangulation” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational” coalition with one parent against the other parent.
This is all standard family systems therapy – Bowen, Minuchin, Haley, and many others.
In addition, as I conducted my first session with the mother and child, what was particularly striking about the child’s symptom display was a profound absence of empathy from the child for his mother’s suffering, which allowed the child to say incredibly cruel things to his mother. An absence of empathy? There are only three pathologies that have an absence of empathy as a component – the sociopath (antisocial personality disorder), autism, and narcissistic personality pathology. The child did not evidence symptoms of sociopathy, and the child was clearly not autistic or autistic-spectrum. Narcissistic?
The child evidenced a grandiose sense of entitlement in judging the mother’s adequacy as both a parent and as a person, and the child displayed an attitude of haughty and arrogant contempt for his mother. Grandiosity, entitlement, absence of empathy, haughty and arrogant attitude. Holy cow. I’ve got a child displaying symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. This isn’t oppositional-defiant disorder pathology, this is narcissistic personality pathology
How does a child acquire narcissistic personality pathology? Answer: from the influence of a narcissistic parent. It’s the father who has the narcissistic attitudes toward the mother – it’s his judgement of her inadequacy as a spouse, it’s his absence of empathy for her suffering caused by the child (she “deserves” it), it’s his attitude of entitlement that her role as his spouse was to meet his needs and she didn’t, and it’s the father’s attitude of haughty and arrogant contempt for the mother that the child is displaying. The child is acquiring and displaying these attitudes toward his mother through the father’s psychological control and influence on the child in the cross-generational coalition against the mother.
That was Session 1.
Notice in none of this did I rely on a pathology called “parental alienation.” This is all based entirely on the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.
I then scheduled a session with the father to assess that component of the family system and check out the clinical hypotheses formed in my first session with the mother and child. During the session with the father, he displayed all the associated behaviors consistent with the clinical hypotheses formed in the first session with the mother and child. I had my confirmation of the child’s “triangulation” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” with a narcissistic/histrionic father against the mother in which the father’s spousal anger toward the mother for the divorce was being diverted through the child.
That was Session 2.
I then met with the child and mother again and began examining more fully the child’s belief systems that the mother was an inadequate parent who “deserved” his rejection. In response to the child’s inappropriate judgements of the mother (that were acquired from the father’s hostile-negative judgements of the mother), I offered the child normalized and balanced interpretations of the parenting the child was receiving from the mother, to assess the child’s response to these clinical probes of alternate and disconfirming information. The child, however, maintained his rigidly held fixed and false belief in his supposed victimization by his mother’s supposedly bad parenting (parenting that was fully normal-range parenting).
A fixed and false belief that is maintained despite contrary evidence is a delusion. For 15 years in my early career I rated the delusions of schizophrenic patients on a 7-point scale (the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale) from not-present to severe and I participated in annual reliability training in these symptom ratings through my role as a research associate on a longitudinal research project on schizophrenia at UCLA. Fifteen years. Weekly ratings. Annual reliability training. I know what a delusion looks like. I know what the difference between a rating of a 3 or a 4 is. I know what the difference between a rating of a 5 or 6 is. I know what an encapsulated delusion looks like. I know what non-bizarre and bizarre delusions look like, delusions of reference and somatic delusions.
A false belief in being victimized is a persecutory delusion. A delusion that affects only one area of life is an encapsulated persecutory delusion. The child was displaying an encapsulated persecutory delusion.
How does a 10 year-old child acquire an encapsulated persecutory delusion? Answer: The same way the child acquired the narcissistic personality traits, through the psychological control and influence exercised on him by his father in the cross-generational coalition with his father against his mother. It is the father who has the persecutory beliefs of victimization by the spouse/(mother) during their marriage. She was a bad souse (translated into the child’s symptom of her being a bad mother) and she deserves to suffer for her badness.
And this attitude of the father toward the mother was on full display during my individual session with him.
This was Session 3.
This is called diagnosis.
The pathology everyone is calling “parental alienation” is not some “new form of pathology.” If you’re a mental health professional, it’s only a “new form of pathology” if you’re ignorant regarding real forms of pathology.
Once the father realized that I wasn’t colluding with the child’s story of supposed victimization by the mother (probably from downloading the child for the content of the mother-son sessions), the father then manipulated minor’s counsel and the Court to have me removed from the case. A little manipulation of the child and the child starts refusing to come to therapy with Dr. Childress because he doesn’t like Dr. Childress – I’m supposedly not “understanding” enough regarding the child’s victimization by his bad mother – and what can the father do? He can’t “force” the child to come to therapy with Dr. Childress.
A little collusion with the pathology from the minor’s counsel, and I’m off the case. Off they go to look for a therapist who is more “understanding” for the child’s (delusional) beliefs in his victimization by his mother’s supposed badness as a parent (spouse).
I may not be meeting with that child anymore, but that doesn’t mean that child is not still my client. I’m still working for that child. That kid is “my kid” – and you don’t create that level of pathology in “my kid.” All your kids are “my kids” – and destroying the lives of “my kids” is simply not okay.
That’s when I began to look into the broken legal system response. I was doing a google search on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (the creation of pathology in the child by a parent for “secondary gain”) and that’s when I first ran across the construct of “parental alienation.” I then began my research on “parental alienation,” which led me into the history of controversy surrounding Gardner and his proposals regarding false allegations of abuse that tore professional psychology apart, creating divisions within professional psychology, including his extremely distasteful professional statements about children’s sexuality.
I looked at Gardner’s proposal for a “new form of pathology” – a new syndrome in psychology. Oh my God – that’s a really bad model for a pathology.
I teach graduate level courses in diagnosis and psychopathology. If a student submitted a paper that proposed the PAS model of pathology I’d give it D grade. Perhaps D-. That’s an incredibly bad model for a “new form of pathology.”
1.) The diagnostic model is far-far too symptom-focused without sufficient foundational support in providing an explanatory framework for why the symptoms are present, for how they develop, and for the psychological-emotional ground which creates each of the symptoms. The eight supposed symptoms are just reported without adequate explanation for their development.
2.) The diagnostic model offers no explanatory linkages into established constructs and principles. It is proposed as a pathology ex nihilo (out of nothing).
3.) The new and unique symptoms that are completely made up symptoms for this supposedly “new form of pathology” are way too vague and way too arbitrary to be useful as diagnostic symptoms.
4.) Some of the proposed “new symptoms” are symptom features of other established forms of pathology (absence of ambivalence is “splitting” and lack of guilt is an absence of empathy, both symptoms are characteristic of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology), and some of the “new symptoms” are simply bizarre (the “independent thinker” symptom).
5.) It proposes a dimensional diagnostic framework but with no criteria for definitions of mild, moderate, and severe forms along the continuum, any symptom can be present or absent, and there are no set number of symptoms for determining the different dimensional points along the continuum. It is way-way too arbitrary to serve as a diagnostic model.
Gardnerian PAS is an extremely bad diagnostic model for a supposedly “new form of pathology.”
What’s more, the pathology we’re dealing with is NOT a “new form of pathology.” Gardner was simply a poor diagnostician. Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms. This pathology is fully describable using standard and established constructs and principles from professional psychology. There is absolutely zero need to propose a “new form of pathology”
But in proposing a supposedly “new form of pathology” that is unique in all of mental health, Gardner skipped the step of professional diagnosis. He did not apply the profession rigor necessary to define the pathology using standard and established constructs and principles from professional psychology. His approach to diagnosis was simply lazy and indolent.
Do the work. This is clearly an attachment-related pathology. The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of love and bonding across the lifespan, including grief and loss. A child rejecting a parent is clearly an attachment-related pathology, not a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health. Do the work
Splitting (lack of ambivalence) and an absence of empathy (lack of guilt) are characteristic symptoms of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology. Do the work to unravel the links between attachment pathology and the development of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology.
An inverted hierarchy in which the child becomes empowered to judge a parent is a characteristic symptom feature of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent that is “triangulating” the child into the spousal conflict. Do the work.
Attachment system suppression is a feature of “pathological mourning” – the disordered processing of sadness surrounding loss.
Narcissistic and borderline personality pathology is associated with the disorganized incapacity to process the emotion of sadness surrounding loss.
The triangulation of a child into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent occurs when the family cannot successfully adapt to a transition. In the case of this attachment-related pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce, the family is unable to successfully transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure because of the aberrant and pathological processing of sadness by the narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent, who is then triangulating the child into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the child to stabilize the collapsing personality structure of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, which is collapsing in response to the rejection and abandonment inherent to the divorce.
Do the work. Proposing a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health, which is supposedly identifiable by an equally new and unique set of symptoms that are simply made up out of thin air to be specific for this pathology alone, with no symptom associations to any other form of pathology in all of mental health, is diagnostically lazy and indolent.
Don’t be lazy. Do the work.
On my first ever encounter with the pathology I essentially unraveled the nature of the pathology in my first three sessions.
Session 1: Attachment pathology, an inauthentic attachment system display, narcissistic pathology, an inverted hierarchy suggesting a cross-generational coalition of the child and father against the mother.
Session 2: Confirmation of the personality disorder traits of the allied parent, the allied parent’s belief in his supposed “victimization” by the other spouse (the targeted parent) during the marriage, and confirmation of the symptom pattern for the cross-generational coalition of this parent with the child.
Session 3: Assessed and confirmed the encapsulated persecutory delusion of the child. When the child’s symptom is combined with the persecutory beliefs evidenced by the allied parent in Session 2, the diagnosis becomes a Shared Delusional Disorder (ICD-10: F24).
Fixing the Broken Systems
Why is the legal system response so broken?
Because the mental health system response is broken. The legal system is not receiving a clear communication from professional psychology regarding the nature of the pathology and the necessary steps for the resolution of the pathology. Instead, the legal system is receiving a variety of mixed information from professional psychology (“parental alienation is a discredited form of pathology” – “the pathology in the family is only moderate parental alienation, we should try reunification therapy” – “both parents are contributing to the child’s conflict with the targeted parent” – “separating the child from the favored parent would be traumatic for the child”).
Why is the mental health system response broken? Because professional psychology was led away from the path of fully established and real forms of pathology and into the world of “new forms of pathology” – new syndromes that are supposedly unique in all of mental health, with new made up symptoms. The moment we leave the path of established professional psychology and enter the make-believe world of supposedly “new forms of pathology,” then everyone is allowed to just make stuff up. If the Gardnerians can just make up their eight symptoms of a “new form of pathology,” then it becomes a free-for-all where everyone is allowed to just make up symptoms for this supposedly “new form of pathology.” This INVITES rampant and unchecked professional ignorance and incompetence, which is exactly what we’re seeing.
Instead of becoming knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, and personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy so they can diagnose and confirm the pathology in the first three sessions, mental health professional are allowed to be ignorant and incompetent regarding real forms of pathology as long as they profess their competence in a make-believe form of pathology, “parental alienation.”
Notice, from the very first day I began writing about this – almost a decade ago – I have always put the term “parental alienation” in quotes. That’s because I consider it to be a “make-believe” form of pathology – unicorns and mermaids. That doesn’t mean that the pathology doesn’t exist. Oh, it very much exists. It’s just not a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health.
If any mental health professional thinks this is a “new form of pathology” – it’s not. It’s only new to them because they are so incredibly ignorant regarding real forms of pathology. There is no such thing as the tooth fairy. Yes, there’s a quarter under your pillow. Your mom put it there. I know it’s sad to lose the fantasies of childhood, but it’s time to grow up now. There is no such thing as the tooth fairy. Sorry sweetie, it’s time to become a grown-up mental health professional. Grown-up mental health professionals do the work. No “new forms of pathology.” No tooth fairies.
There is no such thing as “parental alienation.” There is attachment-related pathology. There is personality disorder pathology. There is family systems pathology. There are a lot of real forms of pathology. But there is no such thing as the tooth fairy. It’s time we expect a professional-level of knowledge and competence from all mental health professionals.
Because once we return to established constructs and principles of professional psychology, once we return to assessing, diagnosing, and treating real forms of pathology, we can then bring ALL of professional psychology into a single voice by leveraging Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code:
APA Standard 2.01: Boundaries of Competence
(a) Psychologists provide services, teach, and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience.
Every ethics code for ALL mental health professionals everywhere, including internationally, have a Standard that requires – REQUIRES – professional competence (Professional Competence).
Once we return to defining the pathology from entirely within the standard and established constructs of professional psychology, then we immediately activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code, and all of the competence Standards in all of the other ethics codes – including internationally – that require professional competence.
Here is the leverage that AB-PA provides:
Competence in the Attachment System
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.
Competence in Personality Disorder Pathology
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.
Competence in Family Systems Therapy
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.
Competence in Complex Trauma
Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating the trans-generational transmission of complex trauma need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the nature of complex trauma, as expressed both individually and through family relationships.
Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the trans-generational transmission and expression of complex trauma when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family pathology involving complex trauma would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.
Once we return to the established constructs and principles of professional psychology to define the pathology, we immediately – today – right now – activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code for ALL psychologists everywhere, and we activate all of the other ethical codes for all of the other mental health professionals – everywhere, including England, Australia, the Netherlands, Poland, Mexico, South America, Asia; everywhere – that require professional competence.
The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model for a supposedly “new form of pathology” does NOT activate these Standards requiring professional competence, because the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model is proposing a diagnosis of unicorns and the tooth fairy – a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health.
In order to activate the ethical code Standards requiring professional competence that are in all of the ethics code for ALL mental health professions everywhere – we MUST return to the path of professional psychology by defining the pathology entirely using the established constructs and principles of professional psychology.
The moment – the very moment – we do this, we immediately activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code and all of the other Standards for professional competence in all of the other ethics codes.
And the truth is, the moment Foundations was published in 2015, all of these Standards for professional competence were activated.
When I presented in Dallas, Slides 43–45 of my Keynote address also once again activated all of the Standards for professional competence in all of the ethics codes everywhere (Unpacking Dallas and Leaving Oz)
When I presented in Boston, Slides 62–65 of my presentation with Dorcy Pruter once again activated all of the Standards for professional competence in all of the ethics codes everywhere.
Truth is, all of the Standards in all of the ethics codes everywhere have already been activated for you by AB-PA.
And it is NOT your responsibility to educate mental health professionals, it is the obligation of mental health professionals to “undertake ongoing efforts” to maintain their competence:
APA Standard 2.03: Maintaining Competence
Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.
If you have provided the psychologist with a copy of Foundations, you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code. If you have provided the psychologist with a copy of Professional Consultation, you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code. If you have provided the psychologist with material from my website describing the pathology (The Attachment-Related Pathology of “Parental Alienation”), you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code.
All of this is possible – all of this is very much real – because AB-PA defines the pathology from entirely within the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.
As Jason Hofer so accurately and incisively understands:
“AB-PA is not the solution… The solution is the psychological knowledge behind AB-PA. Attachment theory, family systems theory, personality disorders, all of it.”
“If you were to have a therapist study everything found in the reference section of “Foundations”, but not read “Foundations” itself, I guarantee they’ll be able to make the right diagnosis that child psychological abuse is taking place. That’s the beauty of it. The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.”
AB-PA is entirely contained within my reference list (Dr. Childress Personal Reference List: AB-PA). If anyone asks you for the peer-reviewed research for AB-PA, give them this reference list.
If they read the material in this reference list but never read anything about AB-PA, I guarantee that they will make the correct diagnosis of the pathology.
AB-PA isn’t Childress. It’s Bowlby, and Millon, and Haley, and Beck, and Minchin, and Kernberg, and van der Kolk, and everyone in that reference list. These are the people and this is the research base for AB-PA.
I’ve just brought this information into a single place (Foundations) in applying this information to the attachment-related pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce. My reference list is the peer-reviewed research for AB-PA. The finger that points at the moon is not the moon.
To solve the pathology of “parental alienation” – all of professional psychology must speak to the Court in a single unified voice – “The pathology is AB-PA, the DSM-5 diagnosis is V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, and the professional standard of practice and the “duty to protect” requires the child’s protective separation from the abusive parent.”
For all of the variants of “parental alienation” that may be sub-threshold for AB-PA or that may involve other forms of pathology – we solve all of these in EXACTLY the same way that we solve AB-PA, through the application of the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to the set of symptoms.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857