Time to Decide Karen

In September, I invited Karen Woodall and the clinical psychologist with whom she works to Certification training in the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA).  A personal invitation for professional collaboration.

An Invitation to Karen Woodall

I extended the invitation to both Karen and her clinical psychologist, because apparently, according to Karen on her blogs, she is not professionally qualified to diagnose personality disorder pathology so she must refer cases of “parental alienation” involving suspected narcissistic or borderline personality disorder pathology of the parent to a clinical psychologist:

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 find this intriguing, since personality disorder pathology exists on a spectrum (mild, moderate, severe) and is often unrecognized during initial assessment presentations. 

From Beck:Underdiagnosis constitutes a big problem that results in insufficient treatment.  In many cases we saw, it took years of fruitless attempts to treat these patients before it became clear they were in fact suffering from BPD.” (Beck, et al. 2004 p. 196)

Dr. Childress Comment:  Aaron Beck is one of the preeminent leading figures in professional psychology.

From Cohen: “The perception [of narcissism in a patient] is hampered by the fact that narcissistic individuals may well be intelligent, charming, and sometimes creative people who function effectively in their professional lives and in a range of social situations… While narcissism is recognized as a serious mental disorder, its manifestations may not be immediately recognized as pathological, even by persons in the helping professions, and its implications may remain unattended to.” (Cohen, 1998, p. 197)

So I wonder… at what threshold does Karen refer to her “clinical psychologist to evaluate this”?  Might she be missing cases of parental narcissistic or borderline personality pathology because she is not personally capable or qualified to independently assess and independently diagnose parental personality pathology, and therefore doesn’t make the referral to her clinical psychologist in sub-threshold cases of personality disorder traits or features?  Because in addition to actual personality “disorders” there are also personality “traits” and “features” that don’t meet full diagnostic criteria for a “disorder.”  At what threshold does Karen refer to her clinical psychologist?

If she and her clinical psychologist had attended the AB-PA Certification in November, this could have been a very productive conversation between Karen, myself, and her clinical psychologist at the AB-PA Certification seminar.  After all, I am a clinical psychologist with an expertise in the area of pathogenic parenting by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  A lost opportunity for seemingly valuable professional-to-professional dialogue.

In my invitation to Karen and her clinical psychologist back in September, I explicitly offered a professional collaboration in solving the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” in the UK.

From An Invitation to Karen Woodall:

“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.”

Crickets.  No response from Karen.  I offer professional collaboration in solving “parental alienation.”  She refuses the offer.

Two weeks ago, I extended another invitation to Karen Woodall to engage in a professional collaboration; a professional level discussion of the pathology on a joint blog:

Invitation to Karen Woodall

Joint Blog: A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress

This would be an immensely valuable opportunity for a professional-level discussion regarding the nature of the pathology, its assessment, its diagnosis, and its treatment.  This professional-level conversation could advance both the professional-level understanding for the pathology and its definition, and could potentially speed the enactment of a solution to “parental alienation” pathology in Great Britain.

So far, I’ve heard nothing but crickets.  No response from Karen.  She is apparently refusing my offer of a professional-level discussion of the pathology and collaboration in its solution.

What the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) does is return professional practice to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  No “new forms of pathology” proposals that are rejected by establishment psychology and that open us to mental health persons simply making stuff up, whatever they want, that then leads to our current situation of rampant and profound professional ignorance and incompetence.

The Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA returns professional psychology to standard and established constructs and principles, and doing so immediately provides all targeted parents everywhere with a solution:

The Solution: The Return to Professional Practice

The Solution: The Dominoes

There is not a rational and responsible mental health professional who can possibly argue against a professional reliance on the established constructs and principles of professional psychology to assess, diagnose, and treat pathology – any pathology – all pathology – including attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

What the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA does is establish a defined standard of practice using the defined and established foundational principles and constructs of professional psychology;

The Attachment System

Personality Disorder Pathology

Family Systems Therapy

Complex Trauma

If Karen Woodall wants to add “new forms of pathology” that she thinks she’s “discovered” to the work of Bowlby and Minuchin and Beck and Haley and van der Kolk and Millon and Kernberg…, fine by me.  Add all the unicorns and mermaids you want.  If you can get your unicorns and mermaids accepted by professional psychology, woo hoo.  I have no problem with that.

But in the meantime, let’s solve the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

If Karen Woodall wants to argue that the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA doesn’t solve all the different variants of the pathology, and that the standard and established constructs and principles from the accumulated wisdom and scientific investigation of professional psychology is inadequate to solve the pathology, and that she alone possesses the wisdom needed to solve the pathology, fine by me.  Make the argument to professional psychology that you’re a new magnificent expert.  I have no problem with that.

But in the meantime, let’s solve what we can – the severe form or “pure case” as you call it – of “parental alienation” surrounding divorce.  Let’s start by solving the most severe form using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  There is absolutely zero reason why we should not begin immediately implementing the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA to solve the (allegedly) “severe cases” of “parental alienation”.  If we can solve the suffering of these families right now, today – and we can – let’s do it. 

Let’s not waste a minute arguing among ourselves.  If the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA immediately solves the most severe cases, lets all of us get on the mountaintops and church steeples and begin to shout about this.  Lets all of us work together to get this change into place as fast as we possibly can.

In truth, the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model (i.e., the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology) CAN and will solve all the different variants of the pathology as well, I just won’t argue that at this point.  In my view, first things first.  We start with solving the most severe form, develop the system-wide professional knowledge and competence to solve that, and then we expand this knowledge and competence into the variant expressions of parental pathology following divorce.  Step-by-step.

I’m a clinical psychologist.  I know the constructs and principles of professional psychology – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Haley, Fonagy, Stern, Kohut, Winnicott, Tronick, van der Kolk, Ainsworth, Main, Sroufe, Bowen, Satir, Millon, Linehan, Kernberg – we can absolutely solve all the different variants of attachment-related family pathology following divorce by using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

But I won’t argue that at this point.  If Karen Woodall thinks she’s discovered “new things” and “new forms of pathology” fine by me.  Let’s just solve the severe cases using the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA and end the suffering of these families everywhere – in the United States, in England, in Australia, in the Netherlands, in South Africa, in Japan, everywhere.  Then we can discuss your “hybrid cases,” the different variations of the pathology.

And you know what, Karen?  I’m more than happy to discuss that with you on a professional level:

A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress

Send me an email and I’ll send you the password for this joint blog and we can begin the professional-level discussion.

But unless you’re willing to engage in a professional level-discussion and join with us in solving the pathology using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology (the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA), then you are just using your platform and supposed “expertise” to sow confusion, controversy, discord, and division.  Stop it.  We’re trying to solve this. 

Join with us in creating the solution – using ONLY the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology – to which ALL mental health professionals can be held ACCOUNTABLE – thereby establishing a baseline professional standard of practice for all mental health professionals everywhere using standard and established professional domains of knowledge, or else you simply become an obstructionist seeking to promote your own self-interest at the expense of a solution.

My offer for you and your clinical psychologist to become AB-PA Certified in the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of “parental alienation” stands.  If you and your clinical psychologist want to become AB-PA Certified in the spring of 2018, just give me the dates and I’ll book a seminar at a hotel in Long Beach.  My offer to then collaborate on bringing the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA to England also stands, as it would to collaborate with any mental health professional anywhere.

My offer for you and I to engage in a professional-level discussion of the pathology so that we can bring professional division to an end using a joint blog  – A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress – stands.  Send me an email and I’ll send you the password to this blog and we can begin the professional-level dialogue.

But understand this clearly Karen… I will NOT allow you impede the solution available to targeted parents and their children provided by a return of professional psychology to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  If you do not want to collaborate in the solution offered by the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA, then I suggest you simply stand aside for the next year or so while we solve this – internationally.  Because I will NOT allow you to impede the solution by your sowing of confusion, controversy, discord, and division.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.  The world is changing.  The status quo is not acceptable.  More of the same is not acceptable.

We are returning to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  That is a fact.

We are going to establish a ground foundation for a professional standard of practice in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  That is a fact.

Gardnerian PAS and its eight symptom identifiers are NOT part of the solution.  Gardnerian PAS is dead.  That is a fact.

We are going to solve the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” for all children and all families everywhere using the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology (as defined through the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of AB-PA) .  That is a fact.

Join us in the solution.  Or stand aside.

Because I will not allow you to simply obstruct the solution for your own self-interest.  Gardnerian PAS is dead.  Let it go.  Embrace the coming change and join us in creating the change.  That is my invitation to you.

Send me an email, I’ll send you the password, and we can begin our professional-level conversation:

A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress

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


Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., Davis, D.D., & Associates (2004). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. (2nd edition). New York: Guilford.

Cohen, O. (1998). Parental narcissism and the disengagement of the non-custodial father after divorce. Clinical Social Work Journal, 26, 195-215

2 thoughts on “Time to Decide Karen”

  1. I really hope she accepts Dr. C.
    The parents I have ‘met’ in the UK are wonderful people and some of their stories are horrendous.
    There seems to be another component to this push back.
    For some reason it has also become a UK vs USA competition. I and others have tried to maintain the focus on saving the children whoever can do it. How do we deal with this?
    Thank you. With you all the way.

  2. Could you tell me of anyone who is qualified like you for parental aligations

    In Brisbane or toowomba or ipswich
    As my son has been done over and the court cannot see through her.

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