An Invitation to Karen Woodall

I was intrigued to learn the other day from one of Karen Woodall’s blogs that she doesn’t believe she’s professionally competent to diagnose personality disorder pathology.

From Karen Woodall: “If I suspect a personality disorder is present I will ask our clinical psychologist to evaluate this and on the basis of this outcome we will design and deliver a treatment route, often in a team setting, sometimes headed by our clinical psychologist.”

I didn’t realize that Karen relied on a clinical psychologist to “evaluate” personality disorder pathology and sometimes head your treatment team.  You know I’m a clinical psychologist.  I wonder if the evaluation of clients at your clinic might benefit from some professional-to-professional consultation between your clinical psychologist and Dr. C?

Hey, that gives me an idea Karen.  How about if you and your clinical psychologist come to the November AB-PA Certification seminars here in Pasadena.  You and your clinical psychologist could get Advanced Certification in AB-PA.  You’d be the ONLY clinic in all of England to have an AB-PA Certified psychologist on staff.

And you know what Karen?  If you have an AB-PA Certified psychologist on staff at your clinic, and if you’re documenting your assessments using the instruments of AB-PA, then you can unleash me on the British mental health system. 

Hmmm, if I’m taking on the incompetent mental health assessment of attachment-related pathology in the British mental health system, it sure would be nice to have an AB-PA Certified psychologist in England who could conduct a proper assessment of AB-PA.  Hmmm, who could that be?  Hey, I know.  There is only one clinical psychologist in all of England who is AB-PA Certified.  Go to that person and you’ll get an exceptionally good diagnostic workup.

Come on Karen.  Personal invitation from Dr. C.  Come to Pasadena with your clinical psychologist in November.  Three days – Advanced Certification in AB-PA for both you and your clinical psychologist.  Then unleash me into your mental health system.

Let me tell you a story.

Back in 2014 I was working on a model for “reunification therapy” (Reunification Therapy: Treating “Parental Alienation”) and Dorcy Pruter came up to me after a conference we both attended.  At the time, I didn’t know Dorcy.  I had heard her speak once at a conference and was impressed by what she had to say.

So Dorcy approaches me as I’m socializing with other attendees and she says, “Dr. C, love your work –wonderful-wonderful, but I disagree with you about one thing.”

Telling me I’m wrong about something, well that certainly captivates my arrogance.  “Really?” I said, “Tell me more about that.”

Dorcy continued, “You say it will take about six months to a year to treat and resolve the pathology of “parental alienation,” and I can solve it in a matter of days.”

Well that has my attention.  I am well-versed in models of psychotherapy.  There is not a psychotherapeutic approach out there that can restore the child’s attachment bonding to the targeted parent in a matter of days. 

Needless to say, I was skeptical.  But I caught myself, and held my arrogance in check.  “Really?” I replied, “Tell me more about that.”

We proceeded to talk at the cocktail event for about 10 or 15 minutes, and nothing she described would rule-out her ability to restore the child’s attachment bonding, there were no obvious disqualifiers.

She contacted me later and we set up a meeting at my office to talk further.  I planned for a two-hour meeting.  We had a six-hour meeting.

The moment she started walking me through the High Road protocol on her computer, I immediately recognized what she was doing and how she was accomplishing it.  It’s not psychotherapy.  It’s a totally different approach to change.  It’s like I’m a biologist and know all the different types of carbon-based life forms on the planet, and Dorcy walks into my office and opens up a shoebox that contains a silicon-based life form.  A critter that is unlike anything we do in psychology.

I totally understood how she does it, and I was kind of amazed and impressed.  I’d characterize the approach as elegant.  Dorcy has the solution in her hip pocket.  We started to talk about the implications.  She recognized that I had the diagnostic model, I recognized that she had the solution to restoring the child’s normal-range attachment system in just a matter of days.

From that moment on, I stopped working on a model for “reunification therapy” and I threw my full and complete support to Dorcy on the intervention side.  She has the solution in her hip pocket.

Why did I do that?  She’s not part of my “professional club.”  I’m a clinical psychologist, Dorcy is just normal.  She doesn’t even have a college degree.  Certainly she can’t compete with me and my doctorate degree – I’m a clinical psychologist for goodness sake.  And wouldn’t it be more in my personal self-interest to be a big-kahuna in therapy, creating the model for “reunification therapy”? 

None of that nonsense is relevant.  Dorcy has the solution in her hip pocket. 

Dorcy has the solution.  I’m a professional.  Done deal.  Dorcy has my full and complete support because she has the solution in her hip pocket.  The needs of my client take precedence over any motivation like personal ego stuff.

And look at my support for her since then.  I have consistently and steadfastly put my own professional credibility on the line for Dorcy.  I didn’t need to do that.  She’s not part of “my club” of clinical psychologists. 

Remember during that period when you Gardnerians started to exclude her from your club – from the “Bona Fide Experts” club – reminds me of something from Spanky and Our Gang – coming up with your shaded “bona fide” expert criteria that were biased specifically to exclude Dorcy as a “bona fide” expert – remember that? –  look how I took you all on in support of Dorcy when you tried to exclude her from “your club”:

Stark Truth

Now imagine for a second Karen, that you and your clinical psychologist became AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professionals and started documenting your assessments of attachment-related pathology using the AB-PA assessment instruments.  Then you and I are on the same team.  You would then have my full and complete support – just like Dorcy receives my full and complete support.  Your adversaries become my adversaries. 

You can unleash me into the mental health system of Great Britain to break down all the barriers that are preventing you – an AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professional – from doing your expert job of assessing, diagnosing, and treating pathology.

Imagine releasing me into the mental health system of Great Britain against all of the barriers you face.  You’ve seen what a staunch and formidable ally I’ve been for Dorcy.  Imagine if I was a staunch ally of Karen. 

I am extending a personal invitation to you and your clinical psychologist, Karen, for both of you to come to the November AB-PA Advanced Certification seminars.  There’s Disneyland… Universal Studios… the weather in November is better here than in most places, although it’s been getting rainier in the winter recently, I think it might be a climate change kind of thing… Come on Karen.

All you have to do is implement the standardized AB-PA assessment protocol with attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, and document the symptoms – present or absent.  If the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA are present, you and your psychologist make a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.91 Child Psychological Abuse and take child protection steps.

The Courts in Great Britain aren’t going to want to protectively separate the child from the supposedly “favored” parent.  Hmmm, I wish there was some sort of compromise solution we could offer the Court in lieu of a protective separation that might get a handle on the pathology.  Hey, I know… how about the Contingent Visitation Schedule?  Ask the Court to order a Contingent Visitation Schedule

Oh, but wait… the Contingent Visitation Schedule needs an organizing family therapist to develop and implement it.  I wish we had an AB-PA Certified psychologist somewhere, because on the second day of Certification I’ll be training AB-PA Certified mental health professionals in the background, design, and implementation of the Contingent Visitation Schedule

Sooooo, if your clinical psychologist was AB-PA Certified, and we recommend a protective separation based on the confirmed DSM diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, and then perhaps compromise to a 6-month Response-to-Intervention trial with the Contingent Visitation Schedule

Data-driven decision making.  Document the child’s symptoms using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting – and use the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale for the Contingent Visitation Schedule.  Document the targeted parent’s parenting using the Parenting Practices Rating Scale.

On Day 2 of the Certification seminar, I’ll be covering each of the six sessions of the Treatment-Focused Assessment, what you’re looking for in each session and how to look for it.  Good stuff, Karen, come on – personal invite from Dr. C.

If the child has the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA, then it’s a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, and the situation has changed to one of child protection considerations.

If the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA are not present, then it is something other than AB-PA.  I might consider using the Contingent Visitation Schedule as a Response-to-Intervention trial to obtain a broader range of data for diagnosis.

Come on Karen, you and your psychologist will be the only AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professionals in all of England.  And then you can release me on the British mental health system to work toward removing all the barriers you face to accomplishing a solution for these kids and families.

Ask Dorcy what it’s like to work with me.  I’m really a teddy bear.  I’ll fight like gang-busters for my kids.  But otherwise, I’m just a cuddly softy. 

I know, I’ll sweeten the pot.  You know that parent-child conflict coding scale I offered you the other day?  I’m working that up into a book where each of the individual code types have pretty thorough work-ups.  I’m working my way through each of the subtypes using the following template:

Subgroup 05:  Child – Anxiety Regulation Challenges

Symptom Identifiers:
Treatment Indicators:
Potential Contributing Dynamics:

I’m not planning on rolling out the coding scale until I have the supporting pathology descriptive book in place – couple years, but if you bring your clinical psychologist to the November AB-PA Advanced Certification seminar in Pasadena, I’ll throw in a special addendum seminar on Saturday evening from 5:00 to 6:00 on just the Coding Scale.  I’ll walk everyone through it and describe each of the categories.  And then, I won’t offer this coding seminar again until the book comes out – couple years.  That way, you and your psychologist (and I guess the other attendees) will be the only ones who have been trained in the coding system.  I think you’ll like it.

Since the coding scale is in early development, you can wander to your hearts content in exploring its utility for “hybrid cases” – lots of open subtypes within the categories.  And I’m providing 6 hours of professional-to-professional post-seminar Skype consultation with the Advanced Certification.  If you or your psychologist want to touch-base with me about a diagnostic issue or about a coding issue, give me a Skype.

You and your psychologist would be the only clinic in Europe using the conflict coding system. Wait, I think I have some people from the Continent coming.  But still, you’d be right there at the start – a central hub for AB-PA in Europe.  You just have to conduct a standardized AB-PA assessment protocol and document the symptoms – if the symptoms are present, diagnose Child Psychological Abuse and shift your approach to child protection considerations.

If it’s sub-threshold to AB-PA, use your clinical discretion – consider a Response-to-Intervention trial with the Contingent Visitation Schedule to collect more diagnostic information. 

And look at those Associated Clinical Signs, Karen.  I’m telling you, those ACS are jewels.

Wouldn’t you rather have a big cuddly teddy bear friend than an old grumpy-headed version of Dr. C?

Can’t you see the advantages of a partnership? 

But I can’t partner with you because the Gardnerian 8 symptoms get in the way.  AB-PA is – and needs to be – entirely separate from the Gardnerian diagnostic model.

But you can partner with me…  You and your clinical psychologist can become AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professionals.  You just have to use the standardized AB-PA assessment protocol instruments to document the symptoms.  I could easily see you becoming a focal hub for AB-PA in Europe.

Stop ignoring AB-PA and use it – use me.  That’s what I’m here for.

There are larger forces at work here, Karen.  AB-PA isn’t Dr. Childress.  I’m just a catalyst.  That’s my role in this tapestry.  AB-PA is Bowlby, and Kernberg, and Millon, and Beck… it’s a return to standard professional psychology.

Stop fighting me and start using me.  That’s my role in this solution.  Stop ignoring AB-PA and start using Dr. C as a resource.

Come on, Karen… November.  Ask Dorcy, I’m a teddy bear.


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