Conflict Coding System

Hey Karen,

Since I’ve had the Conflict Coding Scale stuff out, I thought I’d try it on a recent consultation case I had.  It was for a 10-year-old child with lots of factors involved, ADHD, early childhood adoption, problematic over-indulgent parenting, and a moderate cross-generational coalition with dad against mom.

There were three other mental health professionals involved, all of whom produced reports for the Court.  They were disagreeing with each other about how much the “parental alienation” from the father was contributing to the child’s behavior problems generally and with mom.

One of the three mental health people sought my consultation and I reviewed her redacted report, along with the other two redacted reports from the other mental health professionals, so I had a fair amount of data from three separate mental health sources.

It was a complicated case with multiple factors.  So once I had formulated my opinion based on the data, I decided to try the Conflict Coding Scale to describe my opinion.  Here’s what it looked like:

Primary Origin Code:
PCC-03: 01 Child/Parent Vulnerability: Attachment Insecurity

(mother: attachment bond failure post-adoption)
(father: overindulgent parenting fostering insecurity)

Secondary Factors Codes:
PCC-00: 02 Empathic Failure: Narcissistic Failure of Parental Empathy

(father over-indulgent)

PCC-02: 04 PCC-02: 03 Child Vulnerabilities: Regulation Stability

Child anger regulation challenges
Child motivational-behavioral impulsivity

PCC-04: 01: 01 Parent Vulnerability: Withdrawn/Disengaged

Emotionally distant, disengaged, neglectful (father)

PCC-05: 02 Family Systems: Child Triangulation – Parent-Child Coalition Against Parent

(father-child alliance against mother)


So “alienation” (a cross-generational coalition) is present and is a factor, but it’s not a prominent factor within the context of all the other stuff, at least not in my opinion based on the data that I reviewed.  The cross-generational coalition is number 5 on my list of causative factors.

Dad’s parenting is problematic (leading to Secondary Factors 1, 3, and 5).  However, the primary issue is the child’s failure to achieve a secure attachment bonding post-adoption, and this leads to the child’s inherent regulation challenges (Secondary Factor 2) and contributes to the formation of the cross-generational coalition with the distant/disengaged father as a means of improving attachment bond security with the emotionally distant and disengaged father.

Now imagine if the other three mental health professionals ALSO completed the coding scale regarding their opinions.  They may not identify the attachment bond failure post-adoption and they may possibly have different orderings for the factors – differing opinions about the Primary Origin cause of the conflict and the hierarchy of Secondary Factors.

What the Conflict Coding System brings is clarity.

If I’m consulting with the other three mental health professionals and we had all completed the coding scale, immediately we have clarity in our professional-to-professional dialogue.  The causative diagnostic formulation for each of the involved mental health professionals would be clear, even if they disagree on the Primary Origin or the hierarchy of Secondary Factors.  At least these differences of assessment-judgement are clear.  Each mental health professional’s causative diagnostic thinking is clear and documented.

One mental health professional may emphasize the cross-generational coalition as being more significant in creating the child’s symptom pathology, another may emphasize the child’s inherent vulnerabilities of ADHD and impulse control problems.  And this would be immediately clear from the Conflict Coding form.  Then we can discuss the data on which our various interpretations of causal factors are based, and we could reach a rough consensus of opinion on the Primary Origin causal factor and a broad set of Secondary Factors influencing the parent-child conflict.

The Coding System is just a tool.  It’s to be used.  For example, in our consensus diagnosis we may decide to list two Primary Origin codes because persuasive arguments can be made that doing so best captures the nature of the family’s pathology.  It’s a tool to be used to bring clarity.  But it’s just a tool.  It’s flexible.  At the same time, it gains its value from bringing the clarity of structure to dialogue.  So we don’t want to stray too far from the structure in our flexibility.

Clarity.   The Conflict Coding System brings clarity.

Now imagine for a second if everyone in the British mental health system used the Conflict Coding System to document their conclusions regarding the causes of the parent-child conflict surrounding divorce.  If your interpretation differed from some other mental health professional’s interpretation, it would immediately be clear as to why.  It would immediately be clear what factors you’re identifying and what factors the other mental health professional is identifying, and each of your respective weighting for those factors would be clear and documented.  Documentation.

You and the other mental health professional can then discuss the data each of you is using to reach your pathology identification opinions, and your relative weightings of the various factors.  Professional-to-professional consultation.

It’s a good coding system for parent-child conflict, and it brings considerable clarity to the professional-to-professional dialogue surrounding parent-child conflict.  I think this coding system will ultimately become a standard of practice for all child custody related evaluations.  At the end of the Child Custody Evaluation report, the evaluator will provide his or her Conflict Code for the child’s symptoms.

Clarity.

Then, if another mental health professional, such as a therapist for the family, disagrees with the conclusions reached in the custody-related evaluation, this therapist can provide an alternate Conflict Code work-up based on the data from therapy (a second opinion), and it immediately becomes clear what factors are leading to the professional disagreement.  One of the mental health professionals is placing more weight on some factors and less weight on others, or they are identifying entirely different causal origins for the conflict pathology in the family.

The family symptom data supporting the various pathology identifications and relative weightings can then be professionally described and discussed.

Clarity.

When dealing with complicated complex pathology, clarity is a good thing.

November 19th from 5:00 to 6:00, an addendum seminar in the Conflict Coding System.  You can then take this coding system back to England.  You and your clinical psychologist will be the ONLY mental health professionals in England trained to do the Conflict Coding System (excepting other potential November seminar attendees).

Then unleash me into the British mental health system to advocate that ALL mental health professionals use the Conflict Coding System as a standard of practice in documenting their evaluations of parent-child conflict surrounding divorce.

Where-oh-where will the British mental health system obtain training in the Conflict Coding System?  A: From an Advanced Certified AB-PA mental health professional who is trained in the Conflict Coding System.  You and your clinical psychologist can train the other mental health professionals in England in the use of the Conflict Coding System.

Now look what we’ve accomplished by working together.  The entire British mental health system is coming to YOU and your clinical psychologist for training.  I think that would be a good thing, don’t you?  The entire British mental health system involved in high-conflict divorce is coming to you to be trained.  Sounds good to me.

They are coming to be trained in the Conflict Coding System.  So you have to teach them that system so they can use it in their assessments, and if later they have a question about how to use it, they can consult with you and your psychologist on the interpretation of various symptom features – “How would you code this, Karen?”

I think the British mental health system asking you for direction and advice in their assessments, that would be a good thing.  Don’t ya think, Karen?

We are going to give all targeted parents and their children a standard of practice for the assessment of the pathology in their families, families in Iowa, and in New Jersey, and in Europe, and South Africa.  Everywhere.  We are going to give all of these families a standard of practice for the assessment of the pathology in their families.

I’m leveraging the data sets of Bowlby and Beck and Millon and Kernberg and Minuchin and Haley and Bowen to move establishment psychology into creating a semi-structured and flexibly standardized assessment protocol – a standard of practice assessment protocol.

Don’t you see the advantages of our working together Karen?

But if the British mental health system doesn’t know about AB-PA, then they won’t need to develop a structured and standardized assessment protocol as a standard of practice.  If they don’t need to develop a structured and standardized assessment protocol, then they won’t need to come to Karen to be trained in a structured and standardized assessment protocol.

If, however, the British mental health system is aware of AB-PA and wants the features of AB-PA (the Contingent Visitation Schedule; the Conflict Coding System), then they have to come to Karen for training.  The entire British mental health system coming to Karen for training is a good thing.

But the entire British mental health system is turning to Karen for training because of AB-PA.  You must train them in AB-PA.  You can add to AB-PA.  You can add all the beautiful ponies that you want to AB-PA, as long as you provide the baseline training in the AB-PA assessment protocol.

In return for training them in the AB-PA assessment protocol, the entire British mental health system will be turning to you for training and expert consultation.  Sounds good to me.

But none of this will happen if the British mental health system doesn’t even know that AB-PA exists.  No one will come to Karen for training in the Conflict Coding System, and no one will turn to Karen for professional consultation on how complex cases should be coded.

Stop fighting me and work with me.  The entire British mental health system involved in high-conflict divorce seeking training and consultation from Karen Woodall is a good thing.  Oh, but in order for that to happen, you must teach them the AB-PA model, not the Gardnerian PAS model, and you are insisting that only the Gardnerian PAS data set be used in reaching a solution.

Dang.  That’s too bad.

Come on Karen, if you turn down the opportunity to become Advanced Certified in AB-PA then I’ll train someone else to be the AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professional for England (and this may be happening already).  And instead of coming to you for training and consultation, the entire British mental health system involved with high-conflict divorce will turn to the other AB-PA Advanced Certified mental health professional for training and consultation.

I’ve been contacted by mental health professionals from Great Britain and the Continent inquiring about the AB-PA Advanced Certification training in November.  AB-PA will be coming to Europe.  No doubt about it.  You can be on the cutting edge of this change, leading in the training and professional expertise.  Or you can watch as others assume roles of training and leadership.

The Conflict Coding System is choice, Karen.  It’s a structured and standardized way of describing clinical judgements regarding the origins of the parent-child conflict.  It brings substantial clarity to the professional-to-professional discussions of family pathology and the attributed causes for the parent-child conflict.  I suspect that the Conflict Coding System will become a standard of practice for all child custody related evaluations involving parent-child conflict.

Beyond the categorical causal-diagnostic work-up, the Conflict Coding System ultimately creates the treatment plan.  The Primary causal factor becomes the organizing core for the treatment plan, followed by each of the Secondary Factors in order of hierarchy – from most important to least causal – with the treatment plan addressing and resolving each causal factor as the treatment unfolds.

Come on Karen.  November 19th 5:00-6:00, Conflict Coding Seminar with Dr. C.  Let’s have the entire British mental health system coming to you for training and consultation.

Oh, but dang.  The British mental health system doesn’t even know about AB-PA.  Too bad.

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

Dr. Bernet, join me.

The world is changing, Dr. Bernet.

If the Gardnerian PAS “experts” want to maintain leadership for the solution, you MUST describe the path to the solution that you envision so we can make a reasoned and considered decision on our path going forward.

In the absence of a proposed path to solution from the Gardnerian PAS “experts,” they forfeit their leadership.

It is unreasonable to ask that targeted parents and their children follow the leadership of the Gardnerian PAS “experts” with no description of how following that leadership will solve the pathology for these families – solve it for them with their specific families, right here and right now.

In the absence of a solution from the Gardnerian PAS “experts” – the AB-PA diagnostic model is going to assert itself into the leadership position of solving the pathology.  I have described the path to a solution using the AB-PA diagnostic model:

The Solution:  A Return to Professional Practice

The Solution:  The Dominoes

The ONLY relevant argument is how do we achieve a solution – now – for these parents and their children.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin discussions are not relevant.  The solution is the only relevant issue.

Gardnerian PAS is a failed diagnostic paradigm.  Thirty years, Dr. Bernet – you’ve had 30 years to produce results from your Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model.  Look around you Dr. Bernet.  No solution.

Thirty years is more than generous.  It is a failed diagnostic paradigm.

You’ve had a full and complete opportunity to present your case – all of your research, all of your arguments – to establishment psychology with the revision to the DSM-5 diagnostic system in 2013.

I want to point out that I could have attacked the Gardnerian “new form of pathology” approach back then, but I didn’t.  I didn’t do anything back in 2011-2013 that would undermine your efforts to get “parental alienation” into the DSM.  I stood aside and I did nothing to hinder your full and complete opportunity to alter the DSM diagnostic system to include the term “parental alienation.”

What was the result of your full and complete opportunity to influence professional psychology?  Zero impact.  Nothing.  No mention of the construct of “parental alienation” anywhere in the DSM-5 diagnostic system.  Even in the V-Codes, where a reference to the “parental alienation” construct would have been fully appropriate in V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress.  No mention.  Nothing.

The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model has had a full and complete opportunity to solve the pathology.  Thirty years is more than enough time to demonstrate the ability of a diagnostic model to solve the pathology, and you have had a full and complete opportunity to influence professional psychology with the revision of the DSM-5 diagnostic system.

Gardnerian PAS is a failed diagnostic model.

I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Nor do targeted parents and their children care about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  They need a solution.   They need a solution for their children and their families now – today

The world is going to be changing, Dr. Bernet.  I am leading us back onto the path of established professional constructs and principles.  No more “new forms of pathology” proposals.  I am returning us to the path of professional psychology.

The Solution:  A Return to Professional Practice

You and the other Gardnerian PAS “experts” have been upset that I have not paid proper homage to the “parental alienation” literature.  That is a false framing of the issue.  I have paid abundant homage to the foundational expertise in professional psychology: Bowlby, Beck, Millon, Minuchin, Kernberg, van der Kolk, Haley.

I have extensively quoted and cited these recognized and established experts in professional psychology.  I just haven’t referenced and cited you and the Gardnerian contingent of “experts.”

It’s not that I haven’t paid proper homage to expertise, it’s that I haven’t paid proper homage to all of you.  You want your narcissism fed, and you’re upset that I’m not doing that.  You want me to cite and reference the Gardnerian literature so that I validate your importance, and I don’t do that.  And that upsets you.

I am drawing on an entirely different data set to solve this attachment-related pathology.  I am not drawing on any of the data set surrounding Gardner’s proposal for a “new form of pathology unique in all of mental health.”  This is important for you to understand… I am drawing on NONE of that data set to solve this pathology.

The data set of Gardnerian PAS is not relevant to the solution using AB-PA.

Professionals cite data sets because the knowledge is relevant, not to display homage.

AB-PA is drawing on data sets from:

Attachment: Bowlby, Ainsworth, Mains, Lyons-Ruth, Bretherton, Shroufe and all of the research base on attachment.

Intersubjectivity: Stern, Tronick, Trevarthan, Stolorow, Shore, Fonagy, and all of the research base on intersubjectivity.

Personality Disorders: Beck, Millon, Kernberg, Linehan, the Dark Triad, and all of the research base on personality disorders.

Family Systems:  Minuchin, Haley, Bowen, Satir, Boszormenyi-Nagy and all of the research base on family systems.

Complex Trauma: van der Kolk, Perry, and all of the research literature on complex trauma.

I am absolutely acknowledging the professional expertise that serves as the ground for my data set.  That expertise is just not you and the other Gardnerians.

The data set of Gardnerian PAS is not relevant to the solution using AB-PA.

I’m not using you and the other Gardnerians as my data set to solve this pathology and that upsets you.  Because, according to you and your colleagues, any solution to this pathology MUST use the Gardnerian data set and must acknowledge your “expertise” in the Gardnerian data set.

When I do not use the Gardnerian data set to solve the pathology, the accusation is then leveled, “What makes Dr. Childress think he has the only solution?”

I consider that a projection.  First, it’s not my solution.  It’s Bowlby, and Beck, and Minuchin, and Millon… this isn’t Dr. Childress.

Second, I would respectfully suggest that it is you and the other Gardnerians who are insisting that the ONLY solution is through your data set – with all of you as the “experts.”  You are insisting that the ONLY solution allowable is through the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic system.

As far as I’m concerned, if you want to ADD your Gardnerian data set to the data set being used by AB-PA to solve the pathology, that’s fine with me. You can add dancing ponies with golden hair for all I care.  No worries here.

It’s just that AB-PA does not rely on any of that data set of Gardnerian PAS and dancing ponies to solve the pathology.  AB-PA can solve the pathology separately and independently from the Gardnerian PAS data set.  AB-PA can solve the pathology entirely using the data sets from Bowlby, Beck, Millon, Minuchin, Kernberg, Haley (and others).

But you can add the Gardnerian data set to AB-PA if you want.  No worries on my part.  People can add data sets from autism or fetal alcohol syndrome for all I care.  No problems with me.  Are they relevant data sets?  No.  But people can add whatever data sets they want to AB-PA and they can make their case that these data sets add something.

AB-PA uses a different data set to solve the pathology.  Stop insisting that ONLY the Gardnerian data set is allowed to solve the pathology, and that you will NOT support any other solution that does not rely on the Gardnerian PAS data set as its foundation.

From where I sit as a clinical psychologist, the data sets from attachment theory, intersubjectivity, personality disorders, family systems, and complex trauma are sufficient to solve the pathology.

If you think that there is some aspect of the pathology that is not solved by the data sets from Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Haley, Stern, Fonagy, Millon, van der Kolk, etc., that then requires the additional data set from Gardner, go ahead and add your data set from Gardner and make your case as to why this additional data set from Gardner is needed because the data sets from Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Haley, Stern, Fonagy, Millon, van der Kolk, etc., are not sufficient.

That’s fine with me.  But AB-PA relies on only the data sets from attachment, intersubjectivity, personality disorders, family systems, and complex trauma.

Dr. Bernet, I’m simply not using your preferred data set as the foundation for the solution.  Get over it.  Open your mind.  There are alternative data sets besides the Gardnerian data set that can – and will – solve the pathology, and that don’t need the Gardnerian data set to do so.

To distort the data sets from Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Millon, Haley, Bowen, Linehan, Kernberg, van der Kolk and all the surrounding research into just another variation of your Gardnerian data set, as you tried to do in your Old Wine essay, is absurd – and grandiose.

The data set of Bowlby, Millon, Beck, Minuchin, Haley et al., is not simply Gardnerian PAS using different words. To assert that these two diagnostic models are the same just using “different words” is absurd on its face.

Besides the data sets used to define the pathology, the two diagnostic models are worlds apart on simply a structural level.  Gardnerian PAS proposes eight unique symptom identifiers that have no association to any other pathology in all of mental health, and uses a dimensional (mild-moderate-severe) diagnostic framework, while AB-PA uses three diagnostic indicators drawn from standard forms of mental health symptom features that link into a vast amount of research and scientific literature, and AB-PA proposes a categorical diagnostic framework (present-absent).

In your Old Wine critique, Dr. Bernet, you’re essentially saying that the entire data set for AB-PA, attachment theory, the personality disorder literature, intersubjectivity, family systems therapy, complex trauma research – all of it – is merely a variation of Garnerian PAS using different words.

That’s a little grandiose there, Dr. Bernet.  I will 100% grant you that AB-PA is not Dr. Childress.  But it is not Gardner.  It is Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Haley, Millon… it is a different data set.  To assert that the data sets of Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Haley, Millon are just Garnderian PAS using “different words” is simply bizarre and grandiose, and suggests a failure of logical reasoning systems – “Everything is the same.  Everything is Gardnerian PAS.” (The Group Mind; the inhibition of reasoning and critical thinking skills involved in recognizing difference – not perceptually registering difference is necessary to form the group-mind state).

Have other Gardnerian PAS “experts” sometimes used these data sets from standard and established professional psychology?  Yes, in some cases these other data sets have been acknowledged.  I’ve read the PAS literature.  But they have always twisted the data set from the outside into conforming to the Gardnerian PAS model.  Always, the foundational data set that is being used to organize the data is Gardnerian PAS; not attachment theory, not personality pathology, not family systems therapy.  All of these other data sets are secondary to the Gardnerian PAS model in organizing the symptom information.

AB-PA changes that.  AB-PA uses NONE of the Gardnerian PAS model or data set.  AB-PA relies ONLY on the data sets from Bowlby, and Millon, and Beck, and Minuchin, and Haley, and Kernberg, and Linehan, and Bowen – all the established experts in professional psychology.

I recognize that the Gardnerians have adopted a strategy of closing ranks and scrupulously avoiding discussing AB-PA in any public way in order to avoid “legitimizing” AB-PA.  I know the Gardnerians want to ignore AB-PA so that it never sees the light of day and never provides any threat to their preferred diagnostic approach of the Gardnerian PAS model.

What you should be aware about when forming conspiracies is that emails may find their way to unanticipated people, and the more people the conspiracy grows to include, the more likely it becomes that information may leak.  I am aware of the strategy of the Gardnerians to disable the solution to the pathology provided by AB-PA.  It is abundantly evident on its face.

Since you cannot address AB-PA on the merits of the respective diagnostic models, AB-PA is a vastly superior description of pathology, the strategy for disabling the solution offered by AB-PA is to try to bury AB-PA, so it never sees the light of day.

That’s not going to be an effective strategy.  Truth will out. You might as well try to hold back the ocean.

Also, you may want to self-reflect on the strategy of trying to stop the solution to “parental alienation” offered by AB-PA – since this puts you on the same side as the pathogen.  It too wants to stop the solution offered by AB-PA.  So currently, the two forces seeking to stop AB-PA are the Gardnerian PAS “experts” and the pathogen.  I would recommend that it should give you considerable pause whenever you find yourself on the same side as the pathology in trying to prevent a solution to the pathology.

Will history look back on this period and remark how admirably you put the advancement of science and the best interests of the parents and children ahead of your own personal ego-investment in a particular diagnostic approach?  Or will the hindsight of history see you and the Gardnerian PAS “experts” as attempting to put your own personal ego-gratification of being “experts” ahead of a professional-level discussion of ideas and ending the suffering of families?

There is a wonderful scene at the end of the movie, the Bridge on the River Kwai, in which the Alec Guinness character – a British army colonel who is a Japanese prisoner of war – has built a magnificent bridge with his British troops for his Japanese captors, maintaining an esprit de corps among his British troops.

The bridge needs to be destroyed as part of the larger war effort to defeat the Japanese, and the William Holden character, an American soldier, leads a group of Allied commandoes back to the prisoner of war camp to blow up the Japanese bridge built by Alec Guinness and his troops.

In the final scenes, as Alec Guinness sees the signs that there is a plan underway to blow up the bridge, he tries to stop it.  He alerts the Japanese to the plan to blow up the bridge, and he starts disabling the dynamite placed on the bridge.  He has become so enamored of his creation, the bridge built by his troops under his leadership, that he has lost sight of the larger context of the war.

Finally, as the William Holden character dies at his feet, Alec Guinness realizes the larger context of the war and says, “What have I done.” (Bridge on the River Kwai: Final Scene)

Wonderful movie.  Well worth watching.  Seven academy awards, including best picture.

I’m William Holden, Dr. Bernet.  My role is to blow up the Gardnerian “bridge on the river Kwai” because we need to return to alternate data sets in order to solve the pathology.

You and the other Gardnerian PAS “experts” are trying to keep me from blowing up the Gardnerian “bridge on the river Kwai” that you have all constructed.  You’ve all become so enamored of the “bridge” you’ve constructed and your esprit de corps as “experts,” that you’ve lost sight of the larger goal – a solution.

But in order to defeat the pathogen, we must blow up the bridge, we must switch from the Gardnerian diagnostic model to an AB-PA diagnostic model.  We accomplish that by switching data sets for how we define and diagnose the pathology.

When the hindsight of history comes to view this period, I suspect that the Gardnerian strategy of not “legitimizing” AB-PA by withholding any professional acknowledgement of its existence is not likely to be viewed favorably in the cold light of historical reflection.  Nor will that strategy work.  It has to do with how meme-structures propagate (Dawkins: The Selfish Gene).

Trying to suppress the advancement of scientific knowledge is a fool’s errand.  It can work for a while, it can delay things.   But truth will out.

The Catholic Church tried to suppress the knowledge of Galileo through threat of “excommunication” because he broke with church dogma.  I am familiar with that strategy for trying to suppress knowledge because it disagrees with dogma.

Didn’t work.  Won’t work.

The world is changing, Dr. Bernet.  That’s just the reality.   And I would suggest that seeking to suppress knowledge by not acknowledging its existence and through a strategy of “excommunication” rather than challenging the knowledge with reasoned argument will not be viewed favorably in the cold light of historical reflection.

The diagnostic paradigm for the attachment-related pathology commonly called “parental alienation” is changing.

I’m asking for you to join me in creating this change.

You have been a stalwart and steady warrior for targeted parents through all of these years.  I saw how you tried to influence the formation of the DSM diagnostic system.  Like Alec Guinnness, who fought the psychological oppression of his Japanese captors and maintained the British esprit de corp of his troops, you have fought a heroic struggle against the pathology for many years.  Admirable.  Magnificent.

But ultimately, the Gardnerian PAS model has fatal flaws embedded within it.  You didn’t have the proper tool to solve the pathology.  I can tell you exactly what those inherent and terminal problems with the Gardnerian PAS model are – but not now.

The construct of meme-structures will help you understand a lot of things.

Dawkins: The Selfish Gene

Gardnerian PAS is a failed diagnostic paradigm.

The only issue that is relevant at a professional-level is the solution.  It is not relevant how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

AB-PA provides a solution.

Gardnerian PAS does not.

The world is changing.

Stop fighting against AB-PA and fighting against the change it brings.  I am not the source of this change, I am merely the conduit.  There are larger forces at work here.

I would like to propose that we write two collaborative articles together, Dr. Bernet.

The first one would be a reflection on history and the future.  It would pass the torch from Gardnerian PAS to AB-PA for the solution.  We’re both a couple of old guys, Dr. Beret.  This isn’t about us.  There will be a new generation coming to take on the fight against the pathology.

AB-PA is a richer diagnostic model than the Gardnerian model because AB-PA opens wide the full data sets of attachment theory, intersubjectivity, personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, and complex trauma.

The categorical AB-PA diagnostic framework lends itself better to “operationally defining” the construct of “parental alienation” for research purposes, and those 12 Associated Clinical Signs are jewels – both clinically and from a research perspective.

It will be impossible to prevent AB-PA from fully entering professional discussion and professional practice.  Help me to define the legacy of our fight against the pathogen to the next generation.

I propose that in the first half of a joint collaborative article, you describe the first-fight against the pathogen.  Tell us about Gardner’s courage, the malevolence of the pathology, all the research and the battle surrounding Gardnerian PAS.  Bring out whatever data sets you want and revel in it.

And then end your segment of the article by passing the torch for the solution to AB-PA.

Then let me take the second half of the article to explain that, as courageous and magnificent as Gardner may have been, he skipped the step of diagnosis; the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.  Instead, he too quickly abandoned the rigors of professional practice by proposing a “new form of pathology” which led professional psychology away from the standards of professional practice regarding diagnosis; the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms (no “unique new forms of pathology” diagnostic proposals).

I’ll describe how AB-PA returns to the foundations of the pathology and corrects this diagnostic step skipped by Gardner.  AB-PA defines the pathology (the set of symptoms) from entirely within standard and established constructs and principles.  Here’s what AB-PA says; pathological mourning, the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma, the addition of splitting pathology to a cross-generational coalition, we need to return to standard and established constructs and principles in our professional diagnosis of pathology, and AB-PA does this.

You and I, in a joint article, bring together both the history and the future of our efforts to solve the pathology of “parental alienation.”

Then, let’s write a second article together.  A much more interesting article.  Let’s set the stage for completing your work with the DSM diagnostic system.  Let’s set the stage for the next generation in their efforts to include the pathology of “parental alienation” into the DSM diagnostic system.

Together, you and I in a joint article, let’s make the argument to the DSM that this pathology is an attachment-trauma pathology that belongs in the Trauma and Stressor-Related section of the DSM.  In doing that, we then have a specific committee we’re targeting for support – we are forming allies within the DSM process – a new Trauma and Stressors disorder – attachment trauma – the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma.

We will argue that the diagnosis should be nearly identical to the prior DSM-IV TR diagnosis of a Shared Psychotic Disorder.  Nearly the same identical everything.  Look how closely that DSM-IV diagnosis mirrors the pathology of “parental alienation”:

DSM IV TR Shared Psychotic Disorder

Diagnostic indicator 3 of AB-PA is the encapsulated persecutory delusion.  What do you want to bet that we will find massive amounts of overlap in the psychological process that the Shared Psychotic Disorder people were looking at for the original DSM-IV disorder, and the pathology we’re looking at with AB-PA.

The DSM system has already acknowledged in the DSM-IV that the pathology of a shared delusion exists.  They acknowledge it in DSM-5 but diagnostically bury it.  All we’ll be asking for is that they re-establish the shared delusion – just like in the DSM-IV – as a primary diagnosis in the Trauma and Stressor-Related section, and we link our reasoning to the shared delusion created by the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma.

We can bring all of the data sets from attachment theory, intersubjectivity, personality disorder pathology, and complex trauma to our argument.

You and I are old guys, Dr. Bernet.  This DSM battle is for the next generation of mental health warriors.  But you and I could lay out the vision for how that battle can be fought and won – the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma creating a shared delusional disorder (Trauma and Stressor-Related section of the DSM – right alongside the other attachment-related disorders).

The world is changing, Dr. Bernet.  There are larger forces at work in this.  This isn’t Dr. Childress.  I’m merely the conduit for catalyzing the change.  The only credit to me is that I’m smart enough to recognize my role in what the universe wants to do.  Join with me in creating this changed world.  Trying to stop the change is like trying to hold back the ocean by putting up your hands to stop the waves from crashing on the shore.

Join me in defining the legacy and the future of our fight with the pathogen.  Trust me, Gardner doesn’t care about his model, he just wants us to defeat the malignancy of this pathogen.  Do you know what I think Gardner would say to me?  “Go for it, Dr. C.”  I am fully convinced that Gardner is supportive of my efforts with AB-PA.  He doesn’t care about “his” model, he just wants us to defeat the pathogen and solve the pathology.  He wants us to finish what he began, he wants us to defeat the pathogen.

But in the interesting way that the universe works, we will fulfill Gardner’s legacy without Gardner’s model.  Curious, isn’t it.  But it’s not surprising to me, because that’s the way things work sometimes.

We can fulfill his wishes using AB-PA.  When we bring the full power of scientifically established data sets to the solution, we can solve the pathology for all children and all families everywhere.

Join us, Dr. Bernet.  Join me.  Let’s write two collaborative articles.  One to reflect on history and the future, and one to define for future generations the path forward to achieve formal inclusion of the pathology into the DSM diagnostic system.

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

 

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

Description:
Substrate:
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.

Craig

A Call for Unity: A Single Voice for Solution

Well, it seems like the deadline for the Gardnerian-based solution has come and gone, and all we’ve heard is crickets.

They propose no solution to “parental alienation.”

The Gardnerians have no solution using the Gardnerian PAS model except 30 more years of exactly the same thing.

I am therefore calling for unity in our fight to save the children.  We need to come together to enact the solution as quickly as we humanly can.  Targeted parents and their children need a solution.  They don’t need professionals arguing about how many angels can dance on a head of a pin. They need this pathology to stop – today.

I have posted the path to the solution that is available from enacting a change to an AB-PA diagnostic model:

Solutions: A Return to Professional Practice

Solutions: The Dominoes

We need to bring all of our voices together – all of them – into a single voice for change.  We need to stop the suffering of targeted parents and their children as quickly as we possibly can.

I am therefore calling specifically on:

Bill Bernet

Karen Woodall

Amy Baker

the Parental Alienation Study Group

and all of the Gardnerian PAS contingent of “experts” – and on everyone who wants to see the pathology of “parental alienation” come to an end – to JOIN US in advocating for a professional standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic model.

Join us in advocating for a professional standard of practice and standardized assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce using the AB-PA diagnostic model for the pathology.

AB-PA offers a solution (The Solution series: Return to Professional Practice; Dominoes).  Gardnerian PAS does not (crickets).

I don’t care if the Gardnerians “think” their diagnostic model is better.  The issue is a solution.  We need a solution.  Targeted parents and their children need a solution.

If the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model with its eight symptom identifiers produces NO SOLUTION – then we need to change to the AB-PA diagnostic system that leads to an immediate solution.

And everyone – everyone – should be working toward that SAME goal.

I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  That’s not relevant.  The ONLY thing that’s relevant is a solution – targeted parents and their children are suffering – daily.  Day-after-day their grief and suffering continues, and day-after-day we continue to lose more and more children and families to the pathology.

There is urgency.

This cannot wait, we cannot delay.  Each day that is lost can never be recaptured.

Mental health professionals – the Gardnerian PAS “experts” – need to STOP arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and they need to work WITH US – not against us – in bringing a solution – one that is achievable today – to end the suffering of targeted parents and their children.

The time has come for ALL mental health professionals – including Bill Bernet, Karen Woodall, Amy Baker, and the PASG – to endorse an AB-PA diagnostic model that provides these parents and their children with a solution – an end – to the nightmare of “parental alienation.”

Let’s put the two models for a solution side-by-side:

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

Let’s now make a reasoned decision on the path moving forward.

AB-PA provides a clear and actualizable path to a solution.  Gardnerian PAS offers no solution.

It is time for ALL mental health professionals – ALL mental health professionals – to bring our voices together into one single unified voice for change – into one single unified voice for the solution to “parental alienation.”

I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – that’s not relevant.  Each day that passes is another day lost in the lives of a loving targeted parent and child that can NEVER be recaptured. Children are only 10-years-old for a year – they are only 12-years-old for a year.  Times of love and bonding that are lost during childhood are lost forever.

Childhoods are being lost as we stand by and bicker about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  ENOUGH.

It is time for a solution.  It is long-past overdue for a solution.

It is time we come together into a single voice for change that will bring these targeted parents and their children a solution – today – now.

The grief of targeted parents is immense and utterly overwhelming.  Day-by day –  each day – they suffer so terribly.

We must ALL do everything we possibly can – everything we possibly can – to bring this suffering to an end as quickly as is humanly possible.

I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. That’s not relevant. The ONLY thing that’s relevant is a solution to end the suffering of targeted parents and the psychological abuse of their children.

Delaying the solution by a single day when we possibly could have solved it is abhorrent and unacceptable.  We need to solve this as fast as we possibly can.

It is time for ALL mental health professionals to join together in a single voice for change, in a single unified voice advocating for a professional standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic model for the pathology:

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

It is not relevant how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  It’s not relevant if you think this or that way of diagnosing the pathology is “better” – NOT relevant.  The ONLY thing that is relevant is the solution – we MUST end the suffering.  What is the path to a solution?  That is the ONLY relevant question.

The answer:

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

Both the AB-PA diagnostic model and the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model have had full and complete opportunities to describe their respective paths to a solution.  We can now make a reasoned and considered decision on our path moving forward.

AB-PA provides a solution to targeted parents and their children that we can actualize today to end the suffering of these parents and their children today, and Gardnerian PAS offers no solution whatsoever – just 30 more years of the same.

ALL mental health professionals MUST place the needs of their clients first.  I don’t care about your dancing angels.

There is NO rational reason that would prevent us from coming together into a single voice in advocating for a professional standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic model for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

“Dr. Childress is wrong thinking only he has the solution.”

AB-PA:  8/6/17 – The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: 9/1/17 – nothing.

No, I’m not wrong.  The AB-PA diagnostic model provides a solution.  The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model does not.

“Our model with eight diagnostic symptoms is better”

Dr. Childress: Does it lead to a solution?

“No.”

Dr. Childress:  Then your preferred approach is not relevant to a professional-level decision.  The ONLY thing that is relevant at the professional level is a solution – because a solution is in the best interests of the client.

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

It is not relevant how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  The immense grief and suffering of targeted parents as they are forced to watch helplessly as their children are psychologically destroyed and abused by the pathology of their narcissistic/(borderline) ex- MUST STOP.

It MUST stop.

That is the ONLY relevant consideration.

It is time – in fact it is long past overdue – when ALL mental health professionals who authentically want to bring the suffering of targeted parents and their children to an end, bring their voices into a single unified voice for change to a standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic model that provides targeted parents and their children with a solution.

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

I asked the Gardnerian PAS “experts” to provide us with their proposed path to a solution by September 1, 2017 so we could make a reasoned and considered decision on our path forward.   Day-by-day the immense suffering of targeted parents and their children continues.  There is urgency.  We don’t have time to waste.

September 1 came and went.  No proposed solution from the Garnerian PAS “experts.”

It is time to bring this professional squabbling over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin to an END.  Enough!

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

The reasoned and considered decision by all rational people who authentically want to bring the pathology of “parental alienation” to an end is that the path to a solution is through an AB-PA diagnostic model – because Gardnerian PAS offers no solution.

This solution will come more quickly if we unite all of our voices into a single voice for a professional standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic system.

Every day we lose – every day we delay – every day we spend pontificating about pinheads and dancing angels – is another day of immense suffering for targeted parents and their children.

I am calling on ALL mental health professionals – including Bill Bernet, Karen Woodall, Amy Baker and the PASG – to bring ALL of our voices into a single call for a professional standard of practice using the AB-PA diagnostic model.

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

This is the ONLY rational path forward to end the suffering of targeted parents and their children.

It doesn’t matter if you think your “dancing angels” model is prettier and better.  The ONLY thing that matters is the solution – bringing an end to the immense suffering of targeted parents and their children.

AB-PA:  The Solution: A Return to Professional Practice; The Solution: Dominoes

Gardnerian PAS: nothing.

I am calling for a single unified voice.

Join us in bringing the nightmare of “parental alienation” to an end for these grieving parents and their children.

There is no rational reason not to join us in solving “parental alienation.”  From this point forward, continuing to sow division and discord that slows the solution offered by AB-PA is obstructionism.

If you are an obstructionist to the solution, then you are no ally to targeted parents and their children.  They need a solution.

The path forward into a solution is through AB-PA.

Craig Childress, Psy.D
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

Never see the light of day

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

They don’t care if AB-PA solves the pathology.  That’s not relevant to them.  Only they are allowed to solve the pathology.  It’s their game – it’s their pathology.  I’m the outsider.  I’m not part of their club.  How dare I come in and just solve the pathology. 

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

Even through AB-PA offers tens of thousands of children and families a solution to their nightmare, the Gardnerian PAS experts are willing to sacrifice your children to the pathology rather than allow AB-PA to solve the pathology.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are the (semi-conscious) colluding allies of the pathogen who are disabling the mental health system response to the pathology.  The pathogen has access to them through their narcissistic self-inflation around being “experts” and it uses this entry point to motivate them into continuing to push an abundantly flawed and completely failed diagnostic model of the pathology that will never in a million years solve the pathology.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

I find the willingness of the Gardnerian PAS “experts” to sacrifice children and families to the pathology rather than support a solution that doesn’t involve Gardnerian PAS — to be morally reprehensible.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

People complain that the system is rigged.  For family law attorneys.  For court involved mental health professionals. 

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are part of that failed system.  Thirty years – no solution.  Why?  There’s a reason for that.  The Gardnerian PAS “experts” didn’t want a solution, they wanted to be “experts.”

I came from outside the system. Look what I did. Returned to the standard and established principles of professional psychology and diagnosed the pathology.  In 30 years, they never diagnosed the pathology using standard and established  constructs and principles of professional psychology.

They don’t want things to change. They’re “experts” and they like being “experts.”  They want everything to remain exactly as it is.

Even if that means that more children and more families are sacrificed to the pathology.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

I knew the pathogen would attack once it recognized the threat I posed to it.  The threat?  I can see it.

I had always anticipated the attack would come from the Silberg-Meier contingent of Anti-Gardnerians.  I was wrong.  It’s from the Gardnerian PAS “experts” – wow, whaddya know.

It’s the Gardnerian PAS “experts” who are the enabling allies of the pathogen.  It’s the Gardnerian PAS “experts” who are clogging up and disabling the mental health response to the pathology.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

Why are they so afraid of AB-PA?  A: They are afraid that AB-PA is going to solve the pathology – and they are right to be afraid because AB-PA will solve the pathology.

They are afraid that AB-PA will solve the pathology, so they don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day. 

The pathogen is afraid that AB-PA will solve the pathology, so it doesn’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

Dorcy had her flying monkey overt allies of the pathogen who sought to discredit her and prevent the solution she holds from ever seeing the light of day – and I’ve got my Gardnerian “experts” covert enabling allies of the pathogen who will similarly try to prevent AB-PA from ever seeing the light of day – (somehow the image of flying Gardnerians is a little off-putting). 

The battle is now.  I’m on the battlefield with the pathogen now. 

The Gardnerian PAS experts don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

They don’t want mental health professionals to know about AB-PA, they don’t want mental health professionals to use AB-PA. 

They don’t want AB-PA to ever see the light of day.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” and I have different goals when it comes to “parental alienation.”  I want to solve it.  They want to remain “experts.”

I am on the battlefield right now, fighting for your children.  We must achieve professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your children and families. To accomplish this, we must return to the standard and established path of professional psychology.

The Gardnerian PAS model invites – invites – rampant professional ignorance and incompetence.  Want proof – look around you.  Thirty years of the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model has given us exactly what you see. 

The Gardnerians want to bury AB-PA so that the same status quo can continue, and continue, and continue – they’re “experts” and they like being “experts.”  Everything needs to remain just the way it is.  We’re “experts” and we’re fighting a heroic fight for children and families.  Don’t disturb us by actually solving the pathology.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” never want AB-PA to see the light of day.

I am on the battlefield right now fighting for your kids.  I am on the field right now fighting with the pathogen. 

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” never want AB-PA to see the light of day.

They would rather sacrifice more children to the pathology than allow AB-PA to solve the pathology. 

I find that morally reprehensible.

And to the pathogen that’s on the battlefield with me right now… I see you.

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

Christmas 2017

I don’t go to read Karen Woodall’s blogs.  Occasionally, people send me a Woodall blog to get my reaction.

The solution is on its way, and it’s time to address the Gardnerian faction. Karen Woodall is the most direct and active representation of the Gardnerian PAS approach.

I’ve read all the Gardnerian literature.  I don’t cite it because it’s not really relevant or valuable.  The Gardnerian approach is a proposal for a new form of pathology that requires an equally new and unique set of symptom identifiers.

According to the Gardnerians, this pathology is so unique in all of mental health, that its diagnosis requires its own set of new and unique symptom identifiers – that are unlike any other symptom pathology in all of mental health; symptom identifiers are made up by one guy to be unique for this pathology alone in all of mental health.

Historically, their label for this supposedly new form of pathology started as “Parental Alienation Syndrome” (PAS) as they proposed the specialness of this pathology as a new “syndrome” – a unique new constellation of symptoms into a cohesive pathology.

Through controversial assertions made by Gardner and issues surrounding false allegations of sexual abuse by mothers, and Gardner’s troubling statements about child sexuality (Gardner Quotes on Child Sexuality), established mental health professionals grew uncomfortable with PAS.  Opponents of Gardner then correctly identified that his proposed model for a new form of pathology – a new syndrome – lacked professional grounding and scientifically established validity.

This was a valid criticism of a proposal for a new form of pathology.  I studied with Dr. David Foy at Pepperdine.  He was one of the principle figures in getting the diagnosis of PTSD accepted by the DSM system following the Vietnam war.  Lots and lots of vets with post-traumatic stress symptoms but no disorder – no diagnosis.

The group that formed the PTSD diagnosis in the years following the Vietnam war set about defining and describing the pathology from within standard and established constructs and principles of trauma and the traumatized brain.  They also collected lots-and-lots of prevalence data.  They never left the path of professional psychology.  No new “magical” symptoms.

While I wasn’t part of that process for the PTSD pathology, I know what they did and how they did it because I had Dr. Foy as an instructor in cognitive-behavioral theory and he told us what they did and how they did it.

As an aside since I’m talking about Dr. Foy and cognitive-behavioral psychology…

CBT has very good stuff – I’d recommend that Karen Woodall, Bill Bernet, and all of Gardnerians stop for a moment and try to explain the pathology of “parental alienation” and its treatment from entirely within CBT constructs.

It’s possible, and I can do it for you if you’d like.  But I think you’ll get more out of it if you try it for yourself – try explaining the pathology of “parental alienation” using ONLY the constructs and principles of CBT.

Gardnerian PAS was quickly discredited and locked in controversy.  This left the professional field adrift.  There is actually a pathology but the model for the pathology was fully rejected.

in the next phase the Gardnerian PAS people dropped the word “syndrome” from the construct – making the pathology just “parental alienation” (no PAS; small p, small a “parental alienation).  But although they changed the name from Parental Alienation Syndrome to “parental alienation” – no syndrome – everything else remained exactly the same.  Exactly the same 8 symptoms.  Exactly the same mild-moderate-severe (dimensional) diagnostic structure.  Exactly the same “new form of pathology” proposal.

In a 2009 article in the Journal of Child Custody, the PAS critic Joan Meier, a Georgetown University Law Professor, critiqued the transition from Parental Alienation Syndrome to “parental alienation” and the “alienated child.”  While I would take exception to her framing of issues, there are many of her lines of argument that are spot-on accurate.

Let me offer you Joan Meier’s description of Gardnerian “parental alienation”

From Meier: “The many critiques of Gardner have resulted in a shift—at least among leading researchers and scholars of custody evaluation—from support for PAS to support for a ‘‘reformulation of PAS’’ typically called instead ‘‘parental alienation’’ or ‘‘the alienated child’’ (Johnston, 2005; Steinberger, 2006).  Johnston and Kelly (2004a), along with Drozd and Olesen (discussed in Meier, in press), are among the leading credible researchers spearheading this trend.” (Meir, 2009, p. 246)

From Meier: “Johnston and Kelly have clearly stated that PAS does not exist, that Gardner’s version of it is ‘‘overly simplistic’’ and tautological, and that the data do not support labeling alienation a ‘‘syndrome.’’ Instead, they speak of ‘‘parental alienation’’ or ‘‘child alienation,’’ as a valid concept that describes a real phenomenon experienced by some children in the context of custody disputes.” (Meir, 2009, p. 246)

From Meier: “What is the difference between PAS and PA?  The primary shift in focus appears to be away from Gardner’s obsession with the purportedly alienating parent and toward a more realistic assessment of the multiple sources of the child’s hostility or fear of his or her parent, including behavior by both parents and the child’s own vulnerabilities (Kelly & Johnston, 2001; Johnston & Kelly, 2004b; Johnston, 2005).” (Meir, 2009, p. 246)

From Meier: “Johnston (2005) defines an alienated child as one ‘‘who expresses, freely and persistently, unreasonable negative feelings and beliefs (such as anger, hatred, rejection and/or fear) toward a parent that are significantly disproportionate to the child’s actual experience with that parent.  Entrenched alienated children are marked by unambivalent, strident rejection of the parent with no apparent guilt or conflict’’ (p. 762).” (Meier, 2009, p. 246-247)

From Meier: “Another notable difference between PAS and Johnston’s reformulated PA is the renunciation of Gardner’s draconian and brutal ‘‘remedies,’’ including custody-switching to the ‘‘hated’’ parent.  Johnston calls instead for individualized assessments of both the children and the parents’ parenting, maintaining focus on the children’s needs rather than the parents’ ‘‘rights.’’  Reconciliation with the hated parent is not necessarily the only desirable goal; a more realistic and healthy attitude toward both parents is (Johnston, 2005).” (Meier, 2009, p. 246-247)

I’ll be interested to hear a law professor’s analysis of AB-PA and Foundations.  So far, we haven’t heard a thing from Meier about AB-PA.  I wonder what a law professor’s analysis of AB-PA would be?  I wonder if a law professor’s analysis of AB-PA and Foundations is even relevant to the clinical discussion of pathology?

Notice all the people that Meier cites: Kelly & Johnston, 2001; Johnston and Kelly, 2004a, Johnston & Kelly, 2004b; Johnson, 2005; Steinberger, 2006.

Basically the same people Karen Woodall cites.

Notice in my 40-page list of references I cite none of these.  Why?  Because they’re not relevant.

If Meier is citing all these sources, and I am citing none of them because they are irrelevant to AB-PA, then I guess that makes Meier’s 2009 analysis of “parental alienation” irrelevant to AB-PA too.  Poof.  All gone.

The references that are relevant to AB-PA are Bowlby, and Beck, and Minuchin, and Kernberg, and Kohut, and Stern, and van der Kolk, and Millon, and Haley, and Bowen, and Linehan, and Ainsworth, and Lyons-Ruth, and Fonagy.  These are among the leading figures in professional psychology.

Foundations is built upon the work of the leading figures in professional psychology.  I can cite chapter and verse for each component of AB-PA.

Look at the titles of the references in my 40-page personal reference list… you don’t think I can cite chapter and verse support for each piece of AB-PA? – I can absolutely cite chapter and verse.

Not one of the citations by Meier is on my reference list.  None.  Who is Meier going to cite in her discussion of AB-PA?  Bowlby?  Beck?  Minuchin?   I don’t know.  It will be interesting to find out.

As for Meier’s analysis of the “parental alienation” construct itself…

From Meier:  “More Similar than Different. The new approach to alienation blunts some of the more extreme elements of Gardner’s theory and places the problem of alienation in a more moderate and reasonable light (by recognizing the many reasons children can become alienated from a parent). Nonetheless, because the differences between ‘‘alienation’’ and PAS are not firmly established, many discussions of parental alienation still necessarily draw on PAS theory and scholarship, and, at least in practice, invocations of PA appear often to be simply ‘‘old wine in new bottles.’’ (Meier, 2009, p. 246-247)

“Old wine in new bottles.” – Meier, 2009.

Where have I heard that comparison before?

Old Wine in Old Skins – Bernet & Reay, 2015

Oh yeah.  That’s the title of Bernet and Reay’s critique of Foundations, a critique recently cited by Woodall.

Wow.  Isn’t that a curious coincidence.  Exactly – to the word – exactly the same critique made by Meier against “parental alienation” is being used by Bernet and Reay – and now Woodall – in their critique of Foundations and AB-PA.

Anybody else find that curious?  That exactly the same critique – word-for-word – that is used by an ally of the pathogen to discredit Gardnerian “parental alienation” is now being used by the Gardnerian PAS “experts” in their efforts to discredit and marginalize AB-PA?

Anybody else find that curious?

And you know what’s curiouser still?  I’m actually more Gardnerian than the Gardernians.  Listen to this, in summarizing her conclusions about the difference between Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and “parental alienation”:

From Meier: “In short, the reality is that whatever some researchers may say about the differences between PAS and PA, in practice, PA is rarely understood to be different.  Indeed, some proponents of alienation theory simply cite to both PAS and PA without distinction.”

From Meier: “Gardner himself noted that some evaluators used the term ‘‘parental alienation’’ instead of PAS in order to avoid the attacks that reference to a ‘‘syndrome’’ invites.  Gardner opposed this practice, arguing that PAS is a far more severe and entrenched problem than mere ‘‘parental alienation’’ (Gardner, 2002).” (Meier, 2009, p. 247)

Gardner believed that PAS was “far more severe… than mere “parental alienation.”  Wow.  I’d agree with that relative to AB-PA.

AB-PA is far more severe than mere “parental alienation.” Yep, Gardner and I are in agreement.

The cross-generational coalition is very common in families, and while pathological, the less severe forms of cross-generational coalition are far less intense and extreme in their symptom display.

But when we add the splitting pathology of parental narcissistic/(borderline) personality pathology to the already pathological cross-generational coalition, this transmutes the already pathological cross-generational coalition into a particularly severe and malignant form.  When we add the splitting pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent to the cross-generational coalition process, in the mind of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent the ex-spouse MUST also become an ex-parent.

The ex-wife MUST become an ex-mother; the ex-husband must become an ex-father.  This is a neurologically imposed imperative of the splitting pathology of the brain.

This psychological requirement for the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that the ex-spouse also become an ex-parent is so strong that it becomes an obsessive fixation – a neurologically imposed imperative – driving the behavior of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

The ex-husband must become an ex-father; the ex-wife must become an ex-mother as well.  This is a neurologically imposed imperative of the splitting pathology.

There is a qualitative and clinical difference in the severe form of this pathology (AB-PA).  Gardner and I are in agreement on this.  Woo, hoo. Chock up one for Dr. C; Gardner agrees with Dr. C.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

So, Karen, while you focus your attention on those multitude of “hybrid cases” – “mere parental alienation” as Gardner might call it – I think we should go solve the pathology that Gardner was talking about… you know, that severe one – the real bad stuff.  How about we go solve that?

Gardner says that the severe form of the pathology is different from garden-varieties of “alienation” – and I am saying that AB-PA is a distinctly different, more severe manifestation of the cross-generational coalition (Minuchin; Haley) because of the addition of parental narcissistic and borderline splitting pathology to the cross-generational coalition.

The Solution:  So How Soon?

It was interesting when I reviewed my response to Bernet and Reay’s analysis of Foundations (Old Wine in Old Skins, I know they got the saying wrong), I noticed this statement from the conclusion of my response to them:

From Dr. Childress (2015):  “My challenge to Drs. Bernet and Reay is, I wonder how much faster we can achieve the solution to “parental alienation” offered by an attachment-based model (as described on my blog) with your active support in making establishment mental health aware of the new paradigm offered by an attachment-based reformulation for the pathology traditionally called “parental alienation.”

From Dr. Childress (2015):  “With your active support could we achieve the seven-step solution to “parental alienation” which I describe on my blog by Christmas of 2015?  By this Christmas?  That’s only three months away, but with your active support it might be possible.  There is nothing that stands in the way of a solution to “parental alienation” other than the ignorance of establishment metal health that an attachment-based reformulation of the pathology from entirely within established and accepted psychological principles and constructs exists.”  (Childress, 2015, p. 3)

Well, needless to say, Dr. Bernet, Dr. Reay, and Karen Woodall – the “parental alienation experts” – did not provide their “active support in making mental health aware of the new paradigm offered by an attachment-based reformulation for the pathology.”

Two years later, we are still working to make professional psychology aware of AB-PA – and we are still without the help of Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall.  And more and more children continue to be sacrificed to the pathology.

How many children could we have saved from the pathology in 2016 and 2017 if Dr. Bernet, and Dr. Reay, and Karen Woodall had helped us in 2015 “in making establishment mental health aware of the new paradigm offered by an attachment-based reformulation for the pathology”?  How many children could we have saved – and how many did we lose?

I don’t care if you call it the “pure form of alienation” – I don’t care if you call it Bob – let’s just solve it, okay?

Just as in 2015 – two years ago – I said that:

“There is nothing that stands in the way of a solution to “parental alienation” other than the ignorance of establishment metal health that an attachment-based reformulation of the pathology from entirely within established and accepted psychological principles and constructs exists.” (Childress, 2015, p. 3)

The same is true in 2017.  There remains only one barrier: ignorance.

We are making significant inroads.  Professional psychology is becoming increasingly aware of AB-PA, and AB-PA is beginning to be used in professional psychology.  I know this to be true.  I’ve consulted with the mental health professionals – I’m seeing the changes occur around us.  Mental health professionals are beginning to wake up from their conceptual slumber.

But how many children and families did we lose over the last two years, from 2015 to 2017.

If we had gotten the “active support” of Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall, could we have saved them?  I am of the opinion that we could have.  If we had gotten the active support of Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall in 2015, there are likely thousands and thousands of children and families we could have saved over the last two years.

You know why I’m being harsh with Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall?  That’s why.  For all of the children we lost in the last two years that we could have saved if Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall had given their active support to the solution.

In 2015, I made the call to end “parental alienation” (AB-PA) in three months, by Christmas of 2015.

In 2017, I make the call to end “parental alienation” (AB-PA) in three months, by Christmas of 2017.

Is that do-able?  With the active support of Dr. Bernet and Karen Woodall, I think it is.  It’s an audacious goal.  But I think it’s do-able; and shouldn’t we at least try to end this nightmare as fast as is humanly possible?  I wanted Christmas 2015 – so for me Christmas 2017 is far too long.

What do you say, Dr. Bernet?  Karen?  The only thing that stands in the way of the solution is ignorance that AB-PA exists.  Can we solve this pathology, please.  Then you can play with your “hybrid cases” to your heart’s content, discussing this and that feature of the pathology – but can we please solve the severe form of the pathology that Gardner was talking about, please.

So many children and families are suffering.  They need the solution today – they needed the solution yesterday.

What do you say, Dr. Bernet?  Karen Woodall?  Will you actively bring your voices to educating professional psychology about AB-PA.

Do you want to know how?

On October 20th in Houston, Texas, I will be presenting a talk about the AB-PA Key Solution Pilot Program for the Family Courts.  Tell people you know about this October 20th seminar in Houston.  See if people you know would like to attend.  They can contact Dwilene Lindsey at Children4Tomorrow to register (although in Houston, registration may require a boat).

There is a booklet available through Amazon.com that describes the Key Solution Pilot Program.  Send this booklet out to various people you know.

There is a booklet available on Amazon.com regarding the Contingent Visitation Schedule.  Send this booklet out to various people you know.

On November 18th – 20th I’ll be presenting a set of AB-PA Certification seminars in Pasadena.  Alert people you know about these seminars and recommend they attend.  Make a public statement that you recommend that mental health professionals should attend the November 18th – 20th AB-PA Certification Seminars if they can.

That’s a full month before Christmas, 2017.  Do you think if you did that we could actually begin seeing the widespread solution to “parental alienation” by Christmas of 2017?

I do.

But if you choose to withhold your active support for the solution, then my question becomes how many more children will be sacrificed before we eventually achieve the solution?

Let’s solve “parental alienation” (AB-PA) by Christmas of 2017.  Bill?  Karen?  What do you say.  Can we please solve this pathology?

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