The Voice of Children: We Are Not Weapons

We should listen to the voice of children.

We should advocate for children. We should be the voice for children.

We should listen to the voice of children… and… AND… children are not weapons.

Children should never be used as weapons by a parent in their spousal conflict surrounding divorce. Children are never weapons.

We should listen to the voice of children. Children are never weapons.

A treatment-focused assessment protocol identifies when children are being used as weapons in the spousal conflict.

The weaponization of the child by one parent shows up in three specific child symptoms:

1.  Attachment System Suppression: suppression of attachment bonding motivations toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent.

2.  Personality Pathology: the presence of five specific narcissistic-borderline personality disorder traits in the child’s symptom display.

3.  Psychiatric Pathology: the child has a fixed and false belief maintained despite contrary evidence (a delusion) in the child’s supposed “victimization” by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent (an encapsulated persecutory delusion).

The presence of these three symptoms in the child’s symptom display represents definitive diagnostic evidence that the child is being used by the allied parent as a weapon in the spousal conflict.  No authentic pathology in all of mental health produces this set of symptoms. ONLY the weaponization of the child produces this specific set of symptoms.

Treatment-Focused Assessment

A treatment-focused assessment examines the potential pathogenic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent.  The assessment is documented using the Parenting Practices Rating Scale.

The treatment-focused assessment also examines the potential pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent.  This assessment is documented using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

Treatment recommendations are then described based on the diagnosis.

The standard of practice in clinical psychology is that assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.  This is a fundamental axiom of clinical psychology. Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

Should we listen to children?  Yes.  And children are not weapons.

So let’s assess what’s going on.  In a 6-session treatment-focused assessment we can identify the source of pathogenic parenting creating the child’s attachment bonding symptoms.  We are establishing a standard of practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (consistent with Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code).

9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings.

“…information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings.”

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale
The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

A six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol will identify the source of pathogenic parenting creating the child’s attachment-related symptoms.

Is it the pathogenic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent (child abuse) – as documented using the Parenting Practices Rating Scale.

Or is it the pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent (weaponizing the child) – as documented using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

Simple, simple, simple.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment. Standard and established professional practice.

Where and How

Q:  “Dr. Childress, where and how can I find a treatment-focused assessment for my children and family?”

A:  I don’t know.  I know it’s standard of practice for me when I first encounter attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

There are a few professionals who have trained with me and are capable of conducting a treatment focused assessment: 

Jayna Haney in Houston, Texas
Michelle Jones in Provo, Utah
Larken Sutherland in Corpus Christi, Texas
JulieAnne Leonard in Alto, New Mexico
Nadine Colgan in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

All of us can conduct a six-session treatment focused assessment.  Can other mental health professionals conduct a six-session treatment focused assessment protocol?  I assessment booklet coverdon’t know.  Ask them.  Give them my booklet:

Asssessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce.

I honestly don’t know what to tell you, because I view the professional practices described in a treatment-focused assessment protocol to be pretty basic clinical psychology.  It’s called “differential diagnosis.”

It’s kind of standard clinical psychology.  So if others don’t know how to conduct a focused clinical assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce… well… that’s kind of a problem…

I also posted some YouTube segments directed specifically to my professional colleagues (I’m wearing my “psychotherapist hat”).

Professional-to-Professional Conversations with Dr. Childress

In particular, I describe conducting a treatment-focused assessment in:

Module 4.01: Assessing the Targeted Parent
Module 4.02: Assessing the Allied Parent

I honestly don’t know what more I can do.  I describe the pathology in Foundations.  I provide a booklet describing the treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology.  I post YouTube modules that describe the assessment at a professional level of analysis.

I know that I can do a structured and standardized treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce and prepare a brief (10 page) report on the findings.  I know Jayna, and Michelle, and Larken, and JulieAnne, and Nadine can do the same.

What about other mental health professionals?  I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them.

Children are Never Weapons

Children are never to be used as weapons in the spousal conflict.  Children have the right of childhood to love both parents, and to receive the love of both parents in return.

When one parent tries to use the child as a weapon of revenge against the other spouse surrounding the divorce… we must make it stop.  Children are not weapons.

The three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA are the symptoms of the child being weaponized by one parent against the other parent.  No authentic pathology produces that set of child symptoms other than the weaponization of the child by one parent against the other parent.

A structured and standardized six-session treatment-focused assessment protocol can identify the weaponization of the child.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.

Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

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