Specialized Expertise

I tell everyone I’m not an “expert” – and that’s true. I’m just a clinical psychologist. I apply knowledge, I don’t create it. I would consider experts to be John Bowlby and Salvador Minuchin, Aaron Beck and Murray Bowen, Marsha Linehan for personality disorders.

I’m just a clinical psychologist. I’m an excellent clinical psychologist, but I’m just a clinical psychologist. I apply knowledge to solve pathology.

But in the court system, I’m an expert. I am in the role of providing the court with applied information from professional psychology to assist in the court’s decision-making.

I’m currently in discussions with an attorney about my possible role in the matter.  He wants me either to do the assessment personally (if the court will order the allied parent and child’s participation in my assessment), or the attorney wants my involvement as a consultant to an assessment performed by someone else because of my “specialized” expertise.

And I do have specialized expertise surrounding this pathology, in four pretty special domains.  I’m going to note them and the vitae citations to this specialized expertise.

1) Trauma and child abuse:

I served as the Clinical Director for a three-university collaboration in treating children ages 0-5 in the foster care system. I have assessed, diagnosed, and treated child abuse and trauma up close and personal, and I was responsible for leading the multi-disciplinary treatment team for these abused and traumatized children in foster care.

10/06 – 6/08:  Clinical Director
START Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Treatment Center
California State University, San Bernardino
Institute of Child Development and Family Relations

2) Attachment pathology:

This vitae citation as Clinical Director for the children’s Assessment and Treatment center also establishes my background with attachment pathology, along with additional trainings in attachment-related diagnostic models and treatment interventions.

Certificate Program: Parent-Infant Mental Health: Fielding Graduate University, 1/14/08; 1/15/08.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DC:0-3R Diagnostic Criteria: Orange County Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DMIC: Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood. Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders: assessment, diagnosis, and intervention for developmental and emotional disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, multisystem developmental disorders, regulatory disorders involving attention, learning and behavioral problems, cognitive, language, motor, and sensory disturbances.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Watch, Wait, and Wonder: Nancy Cohen, Ph.D. Hincks-Dellcrest Centre & the University of Toronto.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Circle of Security: Glen Cooper, MFT, Center for Clinical Intervention, Marycliff Institute, Spokane, Washington.

10/06 – 6/08: Clinical Director
START Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Treatment Center
California State University, San Bernardino
Institute of Child Development and Family Relations

3) Shared delusional pathology:

I have over 12 years of experience assessing and rating delusional-psychotic pathology from my time as a Research Associate with an NIMH-funded longitudinal research project at UCLA on schizophrenia.

9/85 – 9/98 Research Associate
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Principle Investigator: Keith Nuechterlein, Ph.D.
Area: Longitudinal study of initial-onset schizophrenia

4) Munchausen by proxy:

The pathology traditionally called “Muchausen by proxy” is a DSM-5 diagnosis of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another. This is a pathology that is nearly always confined to children’s medical centers, primarily Children’s Hospitals, as the child-patient continues to rise in the level of treatment care provided through the course of unresolved medical pathology (from the Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).

I was trained as a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), including training in Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchausen by proxy), and I was on medical staff as a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Orange County  (Choc).  I am expert in the assessment and diagnosis of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (for example, a parent imposing a delusional pathology on the child for secondary gain).

4/02 – 10/06: Pediatric Psychologist
Children’s Hospital Orange County – UCI Child Development Center

9/00 – 4/02 Postdoctoral Fellow
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

9/99 – 9/00 Predoctoral Psychology Intern – APA Accredited
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Note that these are all work-experience vitae support for professional competence, not “Presentations Given” or attended.  I suspect there is not another clinical psychologist on the planet with this particular combination of directly relevant high-level professional work-experience, expertise in 1) complex trauma and child abuse, 2) attachment pathology, 3) delusional-psychotic pathology, and 4) Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchausen by proxy).

Plus, I am a family systems therapist familiar with all schools; Structural, Strategic, Bowenian, Millan, Contextual, Family of Origin, including post-modern narrative and solution-focused therapies.

Court-Orders for Consultation

The consideration offered in argument to the court is to allow me to consult with the assessing mental health professional surrounding the referral question:

Referral Question: “Which parent is the source of pathogenic parenting practices creating the child’s attachment pathology, and what are the treatment implications?”

My consultation support is necessary because of my specialized professional expertise in specialized areas of professional practice, each domain of specialized exertise supported by direct vitae work for a set of specifically relevant domains of pathology.

Work experience vitae support.

In addition, there is substantial vitae support for my involvement with court-involved family conflict and pathology (“parental alienation” and an attachment-based reformulation based in established knowledge).  Vitae support is provided by the first page of my vitae and from my publications regarding court-involved child and family pathology.

I am likely to be the best trained and most capable clinical psychologist on the planet to be assessing, diagnosing, and treating this complex court-involved family pathology surrounding divorce because of my specialized work experience expertise in multiple domains of highly specialized and directly relevant pathologies.

  • Trauma and child abuse.
  • Attachment pathology.
  • Delusional-psychotic pathology.
  • Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.
  • Family systems therapy.
  • Court-involved family conflict.

I don’t anticipate that you will find anyone with a stronger work-experience expertise in the multiple domains of knowledge needed for professional practice with this pathology.

Moving forward, if someone wants the highest caliber possible of clinical psychology assessment of the pathology, that would be me.  However, it is not practical to take me from my private practice in Southern California for a week to conduct a trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of this pathology.

Instead, a more reasonable use of my specialized professional expertise is through professional-to-professional consultation with the local-area assessing mental health professional, to provide for my additional specialized expertise and support to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations.

As we move forward, it might be helpful for parents and their attorneys to request this consultation support from Dr. Childress in their requests for court orders surrounding assessment, that Dr. Childress be allowed to consult directly with the assessing mental health professional as needed.

I believe the argument for my involvement is sound, I believe my consultation support to the involved mental health professional will be valuable to developing solutions for the family and the court, and I believe this represents the most cost-efficient access to my specialized professional knowledge and expertise.

In the world of clinical psychology, I’m just a clinical psychologist, I assess, diagnose, and treat pathology.  In the world of court-involved clinical psychology, I have specialized professional expertise in multiple specialized domains of pathology that are useful and valuable for the court’s consideration.

We do not know how the court will rule regarding my consultation involvement with the assessing mental health professional in this pending matter.  If the opposing party wishes to engage their own consulting psychologist, that would be fine; one assessing psychologist and two consulting, one for each party.

In professional practice, that’s called a ”second opinion.”  That’s fine.

My court-allowed involvement as a consulting clinical psychologist for attachment-related family conflict may offer a valuable approach to my assisting in the assessment and resolution of complex family conflict surrounding divorce.

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

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