The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) have produced a joint statement on the attachment pathology in the family courts.
I am going to provide a response from clinical psychology to this statement from the AFCC & NCJFCJ.
Whenever I review the professional work of forensic psychologists, I always approach my analysis in a structured way. I begin by taking line-by-line notes on my first reading – I don’t want to have to read it twice. I then rely on my notes for the opinions contained in my Summary Report.
I will be producing a Summary Report & Analysis of the AFCC and NCJFCJ Joint Statement on Parent-Child Contact Problems. In order to generate my Summary Report & Analysis from clinical psychology regarding this Joint Statement from the AFCC forensic psychologists and the juvenile and family court judges, I will be creating line-by-line notes from my first reading of their Joint Statement that will then serve as the basis for my opinions.
Rather than wait for the completion of my notes and writing of my Summary Report & Analysis, I will be posting my notes as they are generated. This will provide transparency to my analysis and support for my later Summary Report & Analysis, I will be posting to my blog my line-by-line review and commentary in a serial format as it is generated.
This post, Notes 1, represents the first notes generated. This is my response as a clinical psychologist to the title of their Joint Statement:
AFCC & NCJFCJ Joint Statement on Parent-Child Contact Problems
Judges are not professionally trained to diagnose or treat pathology. In this joint collaboration between judges and the forensic psychologists in the AFCC, the forensic psychologists are providing guidance to the judges regarding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the attachment pathology (“parent-child contact problems”) in the family courts.
We must first diagnose what the pathology is before we know how to treat it. We must first diagnose what the problem is before we know how to fix it. It is the professional obligation of the forensic psychologists of the AFCC who are contributing to this joint statement with judges to provide appropriate professional guidance to the judges regarding the identification and treatment of pathology in the family.
Diagnose = identify
Pathology = problem
Treatment = fix it.
I will not be commenting on the legal aspects of this joint statement as I am trained as a doctor, I went to psychology graduate school, not law school. I’m a doctor, a licensed clinical psychologist, my domain is the diagnosis and treatment of pathology.
The judges and legal professionals on this Joint Statement were guided in their understanding of pathology by the forensic psychologists on the committee. I will be providing a second-opinion review and analysis of the work-product from the forensic psychologists, and their professional guidance provided to the judges and other legal professionals.
These are my line-by-line Notes 1 regarding the title of the Joint Statement on Parent-Child Contact Problems from the AFCC & NCJFCJ.
Line-by-Line Notes 1
From the AFCC & NCJFCJ: “AFCC and NCJFC Joint Statement on Parent-Child Contact Problems”
Dr Childress Notes 1:
There is no such pathology as “parent-child contact problems” – there is no professional definition for that pathology.
- The correct professional-level construct is parent-child attachment pathology – attachment problems.
- The correct professional-level construct is child abuse.
There are two differential diagnoses for a severe attachment pathology displayed by the child:
1.) Child abuse by the targeted parent creating the child’s attachment pathology toward that parent.
If this is the case, identify what the child abuse is, treat it, resolve it, and restore the child’s attachment bond to the parent,
2.) Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51) by an allied narcissistic-borderline-dark personality parent who is creating a shared persecutory delusion in the child that then destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent for the secondary gain of manipulating the court’s decision surrounding child custody – a false attachment pathology imposed on the child – a Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (DSM-5 300.19).
If this is the case, identify the child abuse and protect the child. Then restore the child’s healthy and normal-range development. Then, once the child’s healthy development has been recovered and stabilized, restore contact with the abusive parent with enough safeguards in place to protect the child from a return of the child abuse when contact with the abusive parent is reintroduced.
The differential diagnosis for severe attachment pathology surrounding divorce (“parent-child contact problems”) is child abuse by one parent or the other. Why are the professional organizations of the AFCC and NCJFCJ using euphemisms for child abuse?
By using non-professional constructs and euphemisms for child abuse, the AFCC and NCJFCJ are not identifying the child abuse – they are colluding in the cover-up of the child abuse occurring in the family courts by not clearly identifying the issue of child abuse.
When severe attachment pathology is displayed by a child, the differential diagnosis is child abuse one way or the other. Professionals and professional organizations should use real professional constructs and established diagnoses and should NOT make up euphemisms for child abuse to hide the child abuse from clear identification and disclosure.
The use of the construct of “parent-child contact problems” in a professional capacity is substantially beneath professional standards of practice in clinical psychology and is in violation of Standard 2.04 of the ethics code of the American Psychological Association that requires the application of the established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.
2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline
The established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline is:
- Attachment – Bowlby and others
- Family systems therapy – Bowen and others
- Personality disorders – Millon and others
- Complex trauma – van der Kolk and others
- Child development- Tronick and others
- Self psychology – Kohut and others
- DSM-5 diagnostic system & delusional thought disorders
There is no such pathology as “parent-child contact problems” – it is severe attachment pathology and child abuse. The only diagnostic question is, which parent? The psychologists participating in this Joint Statement are in violation of ethical Standard 2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments of the American Psychological Association.
There is no such pathology (problem) as “parent-child contact problems” defined in the professional literature with research support. It is a made-up diagnostic construct created by forensic psychologists from their imaginings and ignorance without professional research support.
Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information
There is no such pathology as “parent-child contact problems” and the use of that diagnostic construct in a professional capacity is substantially beneath professional standards of practice in clinical psychology, and is in violation of Standard 2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments of the APA ethics code.
Dr. Childress Notes 1.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA PSY 18856