My professional background is perfectly suited to what I’m doing with this court involved pathology. I want to point out some specific things.
1. Master’s Degree in Community/Clinical Psychology
In addition to my Psy.D. doctorate which I will discuss shortly, I also have a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology. I have three degrees in Psychology.
I have a Master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology. Clinical psychology is the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology. What is the Community Psychology component of that advanced post-graduate training?
Community Psychology is solving pathology by altering community systems, such as solving pathological family conflict by altering how the community systems (such as family courts and forensic psychology) respond to the pathology.
I am specifically trained to do exactly what I am doing. I am trained to alter systems within the community, such as the family courts and forensic psychology, to solve pathology. Do you know what that means? That means I know exactly what I’m doing, because I am trained to do exactly this thing, affect pathology by changing community systems.
The Community component also included a focus on Organization Development, a field of psychology providing consultation to businesses to improve their functioning and operation. For example, an Organization Development psychologist might be hired by Apple or Nike (or community agencies, such as the family courts) to improve functioning in a particular division of their organization.
If you look into my work with juvenile firesetting behavior for FEMA and the Department of Justice (Firesetting Child Interview; Firesetting Reinforcement Summary) you will see three psychologists listed, Dr. Fineman (the content expert on juvenile firesetting behavior), Dr. Childress as the Clinical Director for the project, and Dr. Patterson as the Organizational Development Psychologist working with the fire agencies. Dr. Patterson was a post-doc at the time, I supervised his work in Organizational Development because I’m trained to do that.
I am trained in the specific professional skills needed to change and alter systems and organizations (such as the family courts and forensic psychology) to address and solve pathology. In my work with this court-involved pathology, I am following a set of procedures for system change in community organizations. I can explain it all if anyone is interested.
But in lieu of an explanation, I will simply offer this question… how is it that Dr. Childress, a single lone clinical psychologist, working without any help or support, is changing the very fabric of how professional psychology and the family courts respond to pathological family conflict?
The answer is because I am specifically trained through my Master’s program to do specifically that, to solve pathology by altering community structures.
I know exactly what I am doing. I can explain it all if anyone is interested.
2. Twelve Years of Rating Psychotic Symptoms
During my Master’s degree I worked full-time in adolescent psychiatric hospitals to work my way through school and pay for my education. I have experience working with that spectrum of child and adolescent pathology; psychiatric hospitalization for severe emotional and behavioral problems.
Once I obtained my degree, I wanted to take a break from school AND work, and simply enjoy the fruits of my academic labors before returning once again to graduate school for my doctoral degree. I secured a position as a Staff Research Associate on a schizophrenia clinical research project at UCLA. My responsibilities on this project were to manage all aspects of data collection, data processing, and data organization. I managed the research side of a 16-hour two day test battery which occurred at patient intake, remission, exacerbation or relapse points, and additional time-points, such as 1-year and 3-year treatment points, integrating multiple researchers at multiple sites into the data collection and data processing.
I have a strong research background (despite having a non-research Psy.D.) This background in managing a major longitudinal research project at UCLA has allowed me to structure AB-PA to be research friendly. There are ports-of-entry built into AB-PA to accept and anchor research. Once university research adopts an AB-PA model for the pathology, they will find conveniences in organizing their research projects.
During my twelve years spent at this UCLA research project on schizophrenia we were trained to clinical reliability every year by UCLA and the Brentwood VA Diagnostic Unit on rating psychotic symptoms (and all symptoms; 24 different symptoms of pathology) using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS).
The BRPS is considered the professional “gold standard” in symptom rating for all clinical research. Wikipedia describes the BPRS as “one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms.”
From Wikipedia: “The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) is a rating scale which a clinician or researcher may use to measure psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hallucinations and unusual behaviour. Each symptom is rated 1-7 and depending on the version between a total of 18-24 symptoms are scored. The scale is one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms and was first published in 1962.”
I have over a decade of direct experience rating psychotic symptoms on the 1-7 scale of the BRPS, from not present to extremely severe and each gradation in-between. I was trained annually for over 12 years by UCLA in the assessment and diagnosis of psychotic symptoms. Vitae entry:
9/85 – 9/98 Research Associate
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Principle Investigator: Keith Nuechterlein, Ph.D.
Area: Longitudinal study of initial-onset schizophrenia
The pathology with this court-involved, high-litigation, high-intensity family conflict surrounding divorce involves the child pathology of an encapsulated persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent (a likely BPRS rating of 5 Moderately Severe because the child evidences “full conviction” in a false persecutory belief).
This is the definition from the American Psychiatric Association for a persecutory delusion:
From the APA: “Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treatment in some way.”
The child’s encapsulated persecutory belief is part of an extended sub-system to the pathology with the allied parent, who also holds a persecutory delusion and who represents the “primary case” of a shared delusion created in the child (an ICD-10 diagnosis of F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder). Here is the description by the American Psychiatric Association of a shared delusion:
From the APA: “Although most commonly seen in relationships of only two people, Shared Psychotic Disorder can occur in larger number of individuals, especially in family situations in which the parent is the primary case and the children, sometimes to varying degrees, adopt the parent’s delusional beliefs.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)
From the APA: “Usually the primary case in Shared Psychotic Disorder is dominant in the relationship and gradually imposes the delusional system on the more passive and initially healthy second person. Individuals who come to share delusional beliefs are often related by blood or marriage and have lived together for a long time, sometimes in relative isolation.” (APA, 2000, p. 332
The American Psychiatric Association also provide guidance on treatment for a shared delusional belief
From the APA: “If the relationship with the primary case is interrupted, the delusional beliefs of the other individual usually diminish or disappear.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)
From the APA: “Course: Without intervention, the course is usually chronic, because this disorder most commonly occurs in relationships that are long-standing and resistant to change… With separation from the primary case, the individual’s delusional beliefs disappear, sometimes quickly and sometimes quite slowly.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)
Of all the most-expert professionals on the planet who are skilled, trained, and experienced in the assessment of delusional-psychotic pathology, I’m one of them.
Twelve years of annual training by UCLA and the Diagnostic Unit at the Brentwood VA in the assessment of psychotic symptoms.
3. Child Abuse & Trauma
The pathology asserts that the targeted-rejected parent is abusive of the child, which is supposedly thereby creating the child’s attachment pathology toward this parent (i.e., rejecting the parent; attachment bond rejection by the child).
I have direct child abuse and trauma background. I served as the Clinical Director for a three-university collaborative assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system. In that capacity, I supervised and directed the clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of child abuse and complex trauma.
I have exactly the professional background and expertise to address the potential child abuse and child maltreatment concerns of the allied parent (and the court). I know exactly what child abuse looks like in the symptom patterns of the child.
The child in this court-involved family conflict is presenting as being “victimized” by a parent. If true, this is a likely DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse. There are four DSM-5 diagnoses of child abuse in the Child Maltreatment section of the DSM-5;
V995.54 Child Physical Abuse,
V995.53 Child Sexual Abuse,
V995.52 Child Neglect,
V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.
If a parent is “victimizing” a child, it is hard to imagine a scenario where that would not also be child abuse.
If, however, the belief in “victimization” is false, how false? A false belief in “victimization” is a persecutory belief, is it a persecutory delusion? Use the BPRS to anchor symptom rating.
I am experienced in the assessment and diagnosis of authentic child abuse from my professional background leading a three-university collaborative assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system. I am also experienced assessing and diagnosing delusional psychotic pathology.
I have exactly the relevant background, training, and experience needed to assess and diagnose both sides of the differential diagnosis, if the belief in “victimization” is true (child abuse), and if it is false (a persecutory delusion).
4. Attachment Pathology
A child rejecting a parent is an attachment pathology. The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of the love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss. A child rejecting a parent is a problem in the love-and-bonding system of the brain; the attachment system.
The attachment system forms its basic wiring during early childhood (the period from zero-to-five years old), yet we use the attachment system throughout our lives to guide and mediate our approach to love-and-bonding with other people. The domain of professional psychology most directly involved in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment pathology is early childhood, especially child abuse (attachment trauma) in early childhood, which is exactly my background.
This is exactly the pathology I worked with as Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center (ages zero-to-five) working with children in the foster care system (attachment trauma). I have a high-level of professional training, background, and experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating attachment pathology.
I have been trained in two additional diagnostic systems for early childhood and attachment pathology, the DC:0-3 and the ICDM diagnostic system, I have been trained in two standard evidenced-based attachment therapies, Watch-Wait-Wonder and Circle of Security, and I have additional Certification training in Infant psychology, which is a whole additional domain of complexity created by the rapidly changing neuro-development of the infant’s first year.
Of all the most expert professionals on the planet regarding attachment bonding pathology, I’m one of them.
5. PsyD versus PhD
A PhD is a Doctorate in Philosophy, combining psychology and research coursework, a PsyD is a doctorate in clinical Psychology, no research.
A PhD in clinical psychology (there are other PhD categories in psychology that are entirely research-focused) is trained in both clinical psychology (the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology) and in research methodology and research statistics. It’s called the “scientist-practitioner” model and it allows these psychologists to both treat pathology and to be a university researcher as well.
The PsyD, on the other hand is an advanced specialization focusing solely on clinical psychology and the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology. PsyD doctors sacrifice the research side of the vitae (meaning any university professorships) in order to obtain additional specialized training in pathology and its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. A PsyD doctorate is the most advanced degree possible in clinical psychology, more advanced than a PhD.
Our advanced training in clinical psychology has cascading implications. Let me explain.
Pathology teaches. Coursework prepares the psychologist to learn, but it is direct experience with the pathology that teaches. Following doctoral coursework, clinical psychologists must complete two full years of supervised training, one pre-doctoral (the “pre-doctoral internship;” some are APA accredited, some are not), and one post-doctoral (the “post-doctoral fellowship”). I did both my pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (APA accredited predoctoral internship), with medical rotations in spina bifida (pre-doctoral internship) and pediatric cancer (post-doctoral fellowship), and a mental health specialty of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The pathology teaches. We learn the features of the pathology from our assessment of it, we learn its core from treating it. That’s why we have two full year of supervised training, the clinical supervisor guides the intern and post-doc in their learning directly from the pathology.
Our coursework prepares us to learn, the pathology (whatever the pathology is we’re working with) teaches us.
The PsyD has additional coursework in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology in place of the research coursework of the PhD psychologist. Because we sacrificed coursework in research for this additional training in pathology and its treatment, that means we enter our internships better prepared to learn from the pathology than a PhD trained clinical psychologist. This has implicatons.
Our better preparation means that after the first year of pre-doctoral supervised training, the PsyD clinical psychologist has learned more than the PhD clinical psychologist, because we are better prepared to learn from the pathology, we know,more going in.
That means when we begin our second year of supervised post-doctoral training, we are even more advanced in our preparation because of our more enriched learning during the internship supervised training, so we learn even more from the pathology than the PhD during our second, post-doctoral training year.
That means when we enter independent licensed practice, we’re even more advanced over the PhD than when our supervised training began. The PsyD doctorate provides better preparation to learn during the two years of supervised training, so we learn more during these two training years than the PhD.
That’s why we sacrifice the research side of our vitaes. You will never see a PsyD as a professor at a university.
Except me. I’ve taught graduate level courses in Assessment & Diagnosis – Models of Psychotherapy – Psychometrics of Assessment – Cultural Psychology – Law and Ethics – Research Methodology – Theories of Personality – and Child Development. In order to teach a graduate-level course in a subject, the professor needs to first know the subject. I know everything in each of those content areas because I taught those content areas at the graduate level. I enjoy teaching and mentoring students, so I found a way to stay active and do that.
The PsyD doctorate is a more advanced degree in clinical psychology, in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology – significantly more advanced – than the PhD. A PsyD doctorate degree (Doctor in Psychology) is the top there is in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology, there is none better.
I have a B.A. degree in Psychology from UCLA. an M.A. degree in Community/Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.
In the doctoral program at Pepperdine, we selected two of the four primary schools of psychotherapy as our specialty training focus. I chose Family Systems Therapy and Humanistic-Existential psychology (personal growth and self-actualization; I am trained as a Gestalt therapist from my Master’s training years).
My specialty in psychotherapy as a PsyD advanced-level clinical psychologist is… family systems therapy.
This court-involved high-intensity family conflict is…. a family conflict .
Family therapy is THE appropriate school of psychotherapy to apply to solving family conflict, and I am an advanced-level Psy.D. family systems therapist… with a background in diagnosing delusional-psychotic pathology, with a background in assessing, diagnosing, and treating complex trauma and child abuse, with a background in assessing, diagnosing and treating attachment pathology.
And I have been specifically trained through my M.A. in Community/Clinical Psychology to solve pathology by creating change in community systems and organizations, like the family courts and forensic psychology.
I have exactly the proper professional background to do exactly what it is I’m doing.
6. AB-PA is True and Accurate
An attachment-based description of this court-involved family conflict pathology (Foundations; AB-PA) is 100% accurate. Foundations and its description of AB-PA is a comprehensive, true and accurate description of the pathology, that is a fact.
You will find three symptoms, three disparate and impossible symptoms, with this pathology, (each of these symptoms is impossible, yet nevertheless present),
1) Attachment: attachment bond suppression toward a normal-range parent (an impossible symptom),
2) Narcisistic: five specific narcissistic personality traits in the child’s symptom display (an impossible symptom),
3) Delusional: an encapsulated persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent (an impossible symptom).
All three symptoms are impossible. The prevalence rate for any of those symptoms in the general population is zero. We should never see those three symptoms because they are each impossible. Yet AB-PA (Foundations) predicts the presence of all three impossible symptoms in the child’s symptom display.
Diagnostically, Foundations and AP-PA are analobous to a batter calling the home run to left field before the pitch, designating the Section, Row, Seat, and in the cupholder… and then doing it, putting it right in the cupholder of Seat 23, Row E, Section 104.
Foundations and an attachment-based model for this court-involved family conflict pathology is 100% a true and accurate description of the pathology. That is a fact.
I know exactly what I am doing, and I can explain it to anyone who is interested.
The solution is a done-deal, it on its way. That too, is a fact. It has been for several years now. It’s not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when, and when the paradigm shifts to an attachment-based diagnostic model, the field of professional psychology will shift quickly.
The solution is available immediately – today. It simply requires we apply the established knowledge of professional psychology. If we apply knowledge, we solve pathology. Ignorance solves nothing. There are standards of practice in clinical psychology, codified by the APA ethics code. The APA ethics code is mandatory – required. It is NOT optional.
Standard 2.04 requires the application of the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology – that would be Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), Tronick (neuro-development of the brain), and the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association).
Standard 2.01a requires this information for professional competence – mandatory, not optional.
Standard 9.01a requires that psychologists’ assessments and diagnostic statement, including forensic testimony, be based on information “sufficient to substantiate their findings” – that would be the application of Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), Tronick (neuro-development of the brain), and the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association).
Standard 3.04 requires that psychologists harm no one – no one – not even parents, not even if the forensic psychologist thinks the parent “deserves” to be harmed. No one. Not even terrorists (3.04b). No one.
To limit or restrict a parent’s time an involvement with their child hurts the parent, and the child. That is not allowed under Standard 3.04. The ONLY appropriate custody recommendation from professional psychology is that each parent should have a much time and involvement with the child as possible.
The only professionally justifiable reason for restricting a parent’s time and involvement with their child is child abuse – a child protection justification.
If there is no child abuse… then parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, personal values, and religious values.
If there is no child abuse or child protection concerns, then the ONLY allowable recommendation for a child custody schedule from professional psychology pursuant to the requirement of Standard 3.04 of the APA ethics code to Avoid Harm – mandatory, not optional – is that each parent should have as much time and involvement as possible.
Furthermore, Principle D: Justice of the APA ethics code requires – not optional, requires – that all clients have the right to equal access to professional services. The excessive $20,000 to $40,000 cost of a child custody evaluation denies equal access to lower SES parents, and provides a higher-quality of service to more affluent clients, in violation of Principle D: Justice.
Principle D: Justice of the APA ethics code also requires that all clients receive equal quality in professional services. Required – not optional. The absence of inter-rater reliability for child custody evaluations, and professionals who just “dabble” in professional psychology leading to a “wide range of variability in services” violates this fundamental Principle of Justice and professional ethics.
From Stahl & Simon: “The American Board of Forensic Psychology is a subspecialty board of the ABPP. In the fall of 2011, there were approximately 250-300 ABPP board certified forensic psychologists in the United States and an unknown number of psychologists who specialize in forensic work but are not board certified. On top of that, there are many psychologists who dabble in forensic practice, occasionally performing child custody or other types of forensic evaluations, and who find themselves called to testify in court on occasion. While we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work, it is clear that forensic psychology is a growing area of specialization.” (Stahl & Simons, 2013, p. 9)
Stahl, P.M. and Simon, R.A. (2013). Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony, Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association.
Stahl & Simon openly acknowledge there to be “many psychologists” who merely “dabble in forensic practice” and they openly acknowledge that “there is a range of quality in their work.” This, then, would represent a violation of Principle D: Justice, that requires “equal quality” in the psychological services provided to all clients.
7. Duty to Protect
When a parent creates a persecutory delusion in the child that destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent (in spousally motivated revenge and retaliation for the failed marriage and divorce), that is a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse. Creating significant psychopathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting is called “pathogenic” parenting (patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation). Creating delusional-psychotic pathology in the child through deviant, distorted, and pathogenic parenting practices is Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51).
Failure to diagnose child abuse and protect the child when it is warranted by the child’s symptoms represents a failure in the professional’s “duty to protect” the child.
Failure to diagnose and protect the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse (Intimate Partner Violence; “domestic violence”), i.e., the brutal emotional abuse of the ex-spouse/targeted parent using the child as the weapon, would also represent a failure in the professional’s “duty to protect” the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse, using the child as the weapon.
From my professional background as noted above, forensic psychology is in clear and ongoing violation of Standards 2.04, 2.01a, 9.01a, 3.04, Principle D: Justice, and the duty to protect on two separate and independent counts, failure to protect the child from DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse, and failure to protect the ex-spouse/targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse by the allied parent, using the child as the weapon.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857