Announcement 3: Family Court Pilot Program Proposal

I’m up in Oregon today taking my daughter back to college and helping her move into her apartment, and just coincidentally we’re here for the eclipse.  Also coincidentally, but I think auspiciously, I am making the third in a series of three announcements.

The first announcement was for The Childress Institute which will be offering Training and Certification in AB-PA.

The second announcement was for the Contingent Visitation Schedule, a Strategic family systems intervention that makes the child’s custody visitation time with the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent contingent on the child being symptom-free.

Within the structure of the Contingent Visitation Schedule, if the child begins to show elevated symptoms of concern as documented on the Parent-Child Rating Scale, then the child’s custody visitation time with the allied narcissistic/(borderline) will be reduced in order to reduce the pathogenic influence of this parent’s problematic parenting on the child, and the child’s time with the targeted parent will be increased in order to repair the parent-child relationship that is being damaged by the pathogenic parenting of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule requires a court order as a structured treatment modality, and it is directed by an Organizing Family Therapist (an AB-PA Certified mental health professional who is trained in AB-PA and in the management of the Contingent Visitation Schedule)

Announcement 3 is the availability of a booklet on Amazon.com that briefly describes a proposal for a pilot program in the family courts to solve high-conflict divorce:

The Key to Solving High-Conflict Divorce in the Family Courts: Proposal for a Pilot Program in the Family Law Courts

Cumbersome title, but it’s not for you.  It’s a support booklet.  Fifteen pages of text, short and to the point.  Twenty-five pages of appendices – 7 Appendices.

In seven pages this booklet describes the nature of the pathology.

In eight pages this booklet describes a proposal for a pilot program in the family courts of teaming an AB-PA Certified mental health professional with an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney and inserting this team of high-caliber professional expertise into families evidencing attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

The Key Solution

When the Court is presented with a case of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, it first orders a Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol (Appendix 1) from an assessing AB-PA Certified mental health professional.

This structured six- to eight-session Treatment Focused Assessment protocol produces a report to the Court documenting the family’s treatment-related needs with recommendations (Sample Reports; Appendix 2).

If the assessing AB-PA Certified mental health professional finds evidence for the attachment-related family pathology of AB-PA, as documented on the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting (Appendix 3) and supported by the Parenting Practices Rating Scale (Appendix 4), then the assessing AB-PA Certified mental health professional will recommend the creation of a Key teaming of a treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional and an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney.

If the assessing AB-PA Certified mental health professional finds that the pathology in the family does not meet symptom criteria for AB-PA, then alternative recommendations will be made based on the treatment-related needs of the family, which may include a recommendation for a six-month Response-to-Intervention (RTI) trial with a Contingent Visitation Schedule to clarify diagnostic considerations and the treatment-related needs of the family.

If the recommendation from the Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol is for the Court to assemble a Key team of an AB-PA Certified mental health professional and an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney, then the Court and the parties will select a new AB-PA Certified mental health professional (not the assessing mental health professional) to be the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional.

If the recommendation from The Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol is for a 90-day protective separation, then the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional will treat and recover the child’s healthy development, and will then coordinate the reintroduction of the child’s contact with the psychologically abusive allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  If practical, the targeted parent and children will begin the 90-day protective separation period with the High Road protocol to restore the children’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within the first few days of the protective separation period, and the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional will then provide follow-up recovery stabilization therapeutic support.

If the recommendation from The Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol is for a six-month Response-to-Intervention trial with the Contingent Visitation Schedule, then the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional will become the Organizing Family Therapist for the Contingent Visitation Schedule.  If the six-month RTI trial with the Contingent Visitation Schedule does not succeed in resolving and stabilizing the family’s pathology, then a 9-month protective separation with a High Road augmented recovery response is warranted, and the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional becomes the treating family therapist for the family.

During all interventions, either a protective separation period, a Contingent Visitation Schedule, and follow-up recovery stabilization, the narcissistic/(borderline) parent should be court ordered into collateral individual therapy (and possibly conjoint co-parenting therapy) with the treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional.

Working as a team, the AB-PA Certified mental health professional and the AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney will ensure all Court orders necessary for effective treatment.

The Key team of an AB-PA Certified mental health professional and the AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney will continue their active involvement with the family over at least a five-year period (possibly longer, depending on the psychological needs in the family) of stabilizing the family’s ability to make a successful transition to a functional and successful separated family structure of effective and nurturing co-parenting.

All family conflicts regarding co-parenting will be resolved through the mediating treatment-related influence of the AB-PA Certified mental health professional, with legal interface and support from the AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney.  The goal is to foster effective and successful co-parenting and conflict resolution skills, and the family’s successful transition to a relatively healthy separated family structure that does NOT triangulate the child into the spousal conflicts, and that will substantially limit the family’s reliance on litigation as a problem-solving approach.

The Three Pieces of the Solution

Announcement 1 establishes the foundation for creating the AB-PA Certified mental health professionals and AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorneys for the Key Solution Pilot Program for the Family Courts.

Announcement 2 provides a potential compromise solution to a protective separation period, the Strategic family systems intervention of the Contingent Visitation Schedule, as a Court-ordered intervention that will be directed by an AB-PA Certified mental health professional.

Announcement 3 is a pilot program proposal for the family law courts that brings all of these component pieces into an organized and replicable framework for successfully resolving all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding high-conflict divorce.

On October 20th in Houston, Texas, I will be presenting a 4-hour seminar hosted by Children4Tomorrow regarding AB-PA and the Pilot Program Proposal for the Family Courts.  The booklet now available on Amazon is a support booklet for the October 20th seminar in Houston.

The Key to Solving High-Conflict Divorce in the Family Courts: Proposal for a Pilot Program in the Family Law Courts

Appendix 6 of the booklet describes the program evaluation data component of the pilot program, and Appendix 7 provides copies of program Outcome Questionnaires.  If the pilot program proposal is accepted in the Houston area family courts, the collaboration of The Childress Institute and Children4Tomorrow will implement the pilot program and will be seeking local university involvement to support program evaluation research and additional research activities as appropriate.

Registration for the October 20th seminar on the Pilot Program Proposal for the Family Courts is being managed by Children4Tomorrow in Houston.

If any legal professionals and court-involved mental health professionals in other geographic jurisdictions are interested in learning more about a comprehensive integrated family law/mental health solution to attachment-related family pathology surrounding high-conflict divorce, a solution that is replicable across the country (and internationally), I would urge you to attend the October 20th seminar in Houston if you possibly can.

The booklet, The Key to Solving High-Conflict Divorce in the Family Courts, is a support booklet for the October 20th seminar, but it will provide a brief overview for the structure of the program, and might be useful in generating interest in other parts of the country (and internationally).

The Childress Institute is currently collaborating with Children4Tomorrow in Houston, Texas.  The Childress Institute will also collaborate with any agency in any other jurisdiction in their efforts to bring a Key Solution to High Conflict Divorce pilot program to their family court system.  The Key Solution pilot program has a data-driven program evaluation component integrated into the pilot program.  Once the pilot program is implemented and its effectiveness is demonstrated, then it is a replicable model for the solution across jurisdictions.

The first step to solving the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) is to restore an appropriate mental health system response to the pathology from within the required domains of professional expertise.  The appropriate mental health system response can then be leveraged to restore an appropriate legal system response of clear and effective action.  Working in an effective collaboration, the expertise of professional psychology and the effective support of the legal system can successfully resolve the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA for all children and all families in all cases, everywhere.

That is the goal, and it is now an achievable goal.  We just need approval to set up a pilot program within the court system.

Step-by-step.

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

The Contingent Visitation Schedule

Announcement 2

A new booklet is now available through Amazon that will become an integral part of the solution:

The Contingent Visitation Schedule

This booklet has 30 pages of text description and 25 pages of Appendices.  The first 20 pages of text describes the pathology.  The next 10 pages of text describes the structure of the Contingent Visitation Schedule (a treatment-related solution to “parental alienation”; AB-PA).

You will want to get this booklet into the hands of all family law attorneys, judges, guardians ad litem, parenting coordinators, minor’s counsels, and “reunification therapists” everywhere.

This booklet will not only explain the pathology to them, it will explain the solution; a Contingent Visitation Schedule.

The Contingent Visitation schedule is a Strategic family systems intervention designed to reverse how the child’s symptomatic rejection of the targeted parent confers power within the family system (described in pages 20-26 of the booklet).

While the standard of practice and “duty to protect” the child in all cases of child abuse requires the child’s protective separation from the abusive parent, in treating the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA surrounding divorce a Strategic family systems intervention is potentially available to resolve the family pathology and simultaneously protect the child from the abusive pathogenic parenting of the allied parent.  This Strategic family systems intervention involves a Contingent Visitation Schedule in which custody visitation time with the allied pathogenic parent is made contingent upon the child remaining symptom-free as determined by ratings on the Parent-Child Rating Scale.

As long as the child remains symptom-free, as determined by daily/weekly ratings on the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale, then the standard Court-ordered visitation schedule is in effect.  For treatment purposes, a balanced 50-50% shared custody visitation schedule provides the best treatment-related support.  A successful symptom-free day is defined as ratings of 4 or higher on all three relationship scales of the Parent-Child Rating Scale;

1) Hostility to Affection
2) Defiance to Cooperation
3) Withdrawn to Social

A successful symptom-free week is defined as five successful symptom-free days during a seven-day week period.  As long as the child has a successful symptom-free week with the targeted parent, then the 50-50% Court-ordered visitation schedule is followed.

If, however, the child fails to have a successful symptom-free week with the targeted parent (less than five successful symptom-free days during a seven-day period), then the transfer to the allied parent’s pathogenic care is delayed pending resolution of the child’s increased symptoms.  Before the child is transferred back to the pathogenic care of the allied parent, the child must evidence three consecutive successful days with the targeted parent.  Once the child exhibits three consecutive successful days with the targeted parent, then the normal Court-ordered custody visitation schedule is resumed. Any custody visitation days missed by the allied pathogenic parent are lost and no “make-up” days are scheduled.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule is essentially a graduated protective separation from the psychologically abusive pathogenic parenting of the allied parent that is based on the child’s display of symptoms or absence of symptoms.

As long as the child remains symptom-free, then the standard Court-ordered visitation schedule is followed.  If the child becomes symptomatic (with the presumed cause being the pathogenic parenting of the allied parent, as determined by a Treatment-Focused Assessment protocol), then the child’s time with the allied pathogenic parent is REDUCED in order to reduce the pathogenic influence on the child of the allied parent who is creating the child’s symptoms, and the child’s time with the targeted-rejected parent is INCREASED in order to provide more treatment-related time with the targeted parent to restore the parent-child bond of shared affection between the child and the targeted parent that is being damaged by the pathogenic parenting of the allied (and psychologically abusive) parent.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule can be used as a six-month Response-to-Intervention trial (RTI).  If the Contingent Visitation Schedule successfully resolves the child’s pathology during the six-month RTI, then no additional intervention is needed.  The Contingent Visitation Schedule should nevertheless be extended for another six-months to ensure the family’s relationship stability.  As long as the child remains symptom-free, then the standard Court-ordered custody visitation schedule is followed.

If a six-month RTI with the Contingent Visitation Schedule is not successful in resolving the child’s attachment-related pathology, then a move into a 9-month protective separation period would be warranted as a standard of practice response to the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse which, based on the results of the RTI with the Contingent Visitation Schedule, cannot otherwise be resolved without a protective separation of the child from the abusive pathogenic parent.

Courts tend to be reluctant to order a protective separation from the allied parent (who superficially appears to have a “bonded” relationship with the child).  The Contingent Visitation Schedule offers the Court an alternative compromise solution in which the pathogenic negative influence of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent is addressed without the need to entirely separate the child from that parent.

The treatment-related Contingent Visitation Schedule is implemented through the direction of an Organizing Family Therapist, and it will require a Court order for use by the Organizing Family Therapist (who becomes empowered to implement the Contingent Visitation Schedule within a structured decision-making protocol based on data from the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale – i.e., data-driven decision-making regarding the treatment-related response).

The Contingent Visitation Schedule will become a vital treatment response to the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

The two current challenges will be:

1) Finding an Organizing Family Therapists who is capable of directing the Contingent Visitation Schedule.

This will be one of the instructional components on Day 2 of AB-PA Certification through The Childress Institute.  All AB-PA Certified mental health professionals will be capable of serving as the Organizing Family Therapist for the Contingent Visitation Schedule.

We just don’t currently have AB-PA Certified mental health professionals. My first AB-PA Certification seminar is scheduled for November 18-19. More will follow, I’m anticipating two Certification seminars per year (and more through Announcement 3).

In the meantime, until we have AB-PA Certified mental health professionals, I am available for professional-to-professional consultation.

We’re building the plane while we’re flying it. We need the Contingent Visitation Schedule for AB-PA Certified therapists to use, and we need AB-PA Certified therapists who are trained in using the Contingent Visitation Schedule.

Piece-by-piece, step-by-step, we are constructing the solution. Soon all of the pieces will be in place. Also, Announcement 3 is coming.

In the meantime, you will want to get this booklet into the hands of all family law attorneys, judges, guardians ad litem, parenting coordinators, minor’s counsels, and “reunification therapists” everywhere. All of them. Every family court-involved legal and mental health professional dealing with attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce needs to be aware of the Contingent Visitation Schedule option.

Not only will this booklet explain the pathology to them, it will explain the solution.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule offers a treatment-related compromise solution to a full protective separation. If used as an RTI (Response to Intervention), then it can determine whether or or not a more formal full protective separation is needed to resolve the pathology.

2. The Contingent Visitation Schedule will require a Court order because it involves a treatment-related adjustment to the visitation schedule based on a structured protocol for data-driven decision-making.

The decision on the treatment-related needs of the family should be based on a structured six- to eight-session Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol, described in the booklet at described at:

Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol

One of the first questions I can hear people asking is, “Has the Contingent Visitation Schedule been used before?” The answer is no, it’s new.  Look at it’s logic – described in the booklet.  Make a decision based on the logic presented for the intervention.

The alternative is to order a full 9-month protective separation.  If the Court does not want to order a data-driven Contingent Visitation Schedule to solve the family pathology, then the Court can order a 9-month protective separation from the allied pathogenic and psychologically abusive parent (based on a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse), or it can allow the child to remain with a psychologically abusive parent and the Court can do nothing while the child’s life to be destroyed.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule is trying to be cooperative with the Court’s reluctance to order the necessary protective separation period.  Once targeted parents and their attorneys begin seeking the Contingent Visitation Schedule, and once Courts begin to order the Contingent Visitation Schedule, then it will have been used, and over time it will become the standard of practice.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule is evidence-based practice because it is a data-driven decision-making protocol.  The treatment-related decision to trigger the Contingent Visitation Schedule structure is based on the documented level of child symptoms.

A symptom-free child and the standard Court-ordered visitation schedule is in effect.  An increase in child symptomatology above a specified level triggers the structured response of the Contingent Visitation Schedule.  When the child’s symptoms return to normal-range child behavior, the treatment-related response of the Contingent Visitation Schedule is ended and the family returns to the Court-ordered visitation schedule.

Data-driven decision making represents “evidence-based” practice.

Announcment 1: Training and Certification in AB-PA is coming soon (including training in directing the treatment-related Contingent Visitation Schedule).

Announcement 2: The Contingent Visitation Schedule is now available.

Announcement 3:…

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

The Terrorist Mind and Pathological Anger

Barcelona, Orlando, Paris, Manchester, Mumbai, 911; the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger.

The research says that the terrorist mind does not reflect any consistent form of pathology.  That’s not true, they just don’t know where to look.

It’s an attachment trauma pathology moving through generations, similar to the pathogen creating AB-PA, but with important variations.  The pathogen creating AB-PA results in the child’s “alienation” from a parent, created by the actions of the other parent.  The pathogen creating the terrorist mind triggers in adulthood and results in the adult’s “alienation” from society – and at a deeper level, from the self.

They are both pathogens of “alienation” – and both are created in and expressed through a profound absence of empathy.  A trauma pathogen, created in generations past and moving from attachment system to attachment system – like a computer virus – across generations.

Remain hidden.  Seek allies.  Attack perceived threats with great viciousness.

I know this pathogen’s structure.  The AB-PA pathogen and the terrorist mind pathogen are different, but they are variants of a basic core trauma pathology moving through generations.  There are a few key structures in the pattern of damaged and broken information structures creating the terrorism mind and the extremism of pathological anger that I’ve yet to work out, but I recognize the core structure.

In Charlottesville, militant White supremacists and neo-Nazi’s marched in open provocation – look at me – pay attention to me – I’m special – I’m provoking you to anger.  Stop me or I will destroy you.

Hundreds of attachment networks infected with a particular set of damaged and broken information structures, linked into a common group-mind by the pathogen.  But only one activated into an act of terrorism.  But the potential is there in all of them.  Which one will activate into violent action?  And when?

Diagnosis.  In my literature review on the terrorist mind the extremism of pathological anger, the research says there is no pattern of psychiatric disturbance.  Nonsense.  They’re simply not looking in the correct place.  An assessment first needs to know where to look, and what to look for.

In working out the diagnostic indicators for AB-PA, I began by first working out the structure of the pathogen, and I then identified the most parsimonious, distinctive, and definitive expressions of the underlying pathogenic structure.  We first need to work out the structure of the pathogen so we know where to look and what we’re looking for.

From what I see, there appears to be two gender-linked strains, a male variant and a female variant, with the male variant being more malevolent.  Within the male variant strain there also appears to be two severity-strains, one leads to an inspired-inflation leadership mindset (the Kahlied Sheik Mohammed mindset; the organizer, the leader) while the other leads to the righteous-soldier mindset.

What I still need to work out is the righteous-holy-warrior structure of the terrorist mind, Himmler’s obsession with religious symbols, the KKK and the burning cross, the holy jihad of Muslim extremism.

The attachment system is a primary motivational system in the brain.  Other types of pathology have their origins in other parts of the brain.  ADHD is a pathology in the regulatory systems of the brain for impulse control, attention regulation, and behavioral regulation.  Autism-spectrum pathology emerges from hardware malfunctions.  Attachment-related pathology, on the other hand, is a pathology in the love-and-bonding system of the brain, a primary motivational system of the brain.  Pathogenic structures in the attachment networks have access to motivations.  They act with intent.

Cruel intent, the intent to cause suffering.  Alienation forming a bond through creating suffering.  Distorted, damaged, broken information structures in the love-and-bonding system of the brain.

The absence of empathy.  Trauma.

Attachment trauma moving through generations – hidden – until it emerges as traumatic suffering intentionally created.

The terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological hatred ultimately ends in self-destruction after causing its burst of immense suffering in others – the Nazis leading Germany into self-destruction following the immense cruelty of the holocaust – the suicide end of the 911 terrorists in the cruelty of their terrorist act.  Self-destruction.  Self-loathing.  Primal self-alienation.

Remain hidden – seek allies – attack perceived threats with great viciousness.   I know this pathogen.

There are four primary emotions; anger, sad, afraid, and happy.

Professional psychology is aware of and is actively addressing pathological sadness – depression and suicidality.  There are DSM diagnoses for pathological sadness.  Professional psychology is aware of and is actively addressing pathological anxiety – panic attacks and phobias.  There are DSM diagnoses for pathological anxiety.  Professional psychology is aware of and is actively addressing pathological happy – the mania of bipolar disorder.

But there is no DSM diagnosis for any type of pathological anger – for the intent to be cruel – for the intent to create suffering – for pathologies of love-and-bonding in which creating suffering in others alleviates alienation and serves as a perverse-bond.

Professional psychology is currently far to indolent and ignorant regarding pathological anger.  The defensive structure of the pathogen is to remain hidden.  Pathological anger has shrouded our observation of it by a veil of concealment.  I know this pathogen.

I have had several clients with the extremism of pathological anger.  I have unlocked key components.  Working with the pathogen of AB-PA has also taught me a lot about this pathogen’s structure.  But to unlock the final set of key structures, particularly surrounding the righteous-holy fervor, I still need to sit in the same room with it –with the terrorist mind of extremist pathological anger.  I need to speak directly to this particular variant of the pathogen, let it speak to me, let it tell me about itself.

To assess and diagnose, we first need to know where to look and what to look for.  The terrorist mind is an attachment-related pathology – a pathogen in the love-and-bonding system of the brain.  I know this pathogen, but I need to speak to it directly to unlock a few key features.

If there’s any doubt that I can unlock the pathogen of the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological hatred, simply look at what I did in unlocking the pathogen of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) in Foundations when I was able to speak to the pathogen directly.  With the pathogen of the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger, I know exactly where to look and I know what I’m looking for, I just need to talk directly to the pathogen.

The really challenging part will be the treatment.  Catalytic transformative meme-structures that extract trauma pathogens may be helpful… Dorcy?  APA, learn what Dorcy is doing, how she extracts the pathogenic structures of trauma.  It’s as different from psychotherapy as a silicon-based life form is from our carbon-based life forms.

But just like the Center for Disease control begins by first unlocking the structure of the virus, which then leads to the construction of the anti-pathogen treatment, we also need to begin by unlocking the “viral” structure of the pathogen creating the terrorist mind, the pathogen structure that is creating the extremism of pathological anger, with its the intent to be cruel, its purposeful intent to create suffering as a perverse-bonding in its attachment networks to satisfy its “alienation,” a comfort for its deep-level suffering, its self-loathing.

But first things first.  We first need to end the pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) for all children everywhere.

But once it’s solved…

Barcelona, Orlando, Charlottesville, Paris, Manchester, Mumbai.  Variants of an underlying pathogenic structure creating the extremism – the cruelty – the violence – of pathological anger.

The attachment system is the brain system for love-and-bonding.  The terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger is a pathology in the love-and-bonding system of the brain.  It is an attachment-related pathology – the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma – a “computer virus” in the attachment system created in trauma and being passed from generation to generation.

The attachment system is a primary motivational system of the brain.  Pathogens in the attachment system have access to motivational networks.  Pathogens in the attachment networks act with intent – the intent to be cruel – the intent to creat suffering.

The Childress, Institute is more than AB-PA.  But it starts with AB-PA, and with solving AB-PA for all children and all families everywhere.  There are two more announcements coming in the comprehensive solution to AB-PA.

Once AB-PA is solved for all children and all families everywhere – and it will be solved – then we’ll turn our attention to other matters of importance.

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

I have three announcement upcoming.  My first announcement is that The Childress Institute website is live.

The Childress Institute

The Childress Institute is established to organize the Training and Certification of mental health professionals in AB-PA.

Of particular note is the Registration page.  The first Basic Certification in AB-PA is scheduled for November 18th and 19th at the Westin hotel in Pasadena.

There is a third day optional seminar on November 20th for Advanced Certification in AB-PA.  This is the day that contains what I consider to be all the really cool stuff.

Enrollment in these seminars is limited to 20 participants to ensure the ability for direct discussion and dialogue during the seminar.

You’ll note when you scroll down the Homepage of The Childress Institute that the Current Focus is Parental Alienation in High-Conflict Divorce, and also that there are Future Projects and Directions.

The reason there are Future Projects and Directions is because we are going to solve “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce.

There will come a point in time, hopefully within the next two years, when “parental alienation” will be solved.  We will have a systematic early intervention model in place, and the mental health and legal systems will work together efficiently in an effective collaboration to solve the pathology and return children and families to a normal-range trajectory within six months of their first encounter with the mental health or legal system.

All done.  Solved.  An efficient and effective response to the pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) surrounding divorce.

There will be no more need for The Childress Institute to focus on this issue, because it will be solved.  That is my vision, that is my goal, and I fully anticipate achieving that goal.

At that point, once “parental alienation” (AB-PA) is solved for all children and all families everywhere, I’ll turn my attention to solving other things, like the horrific pathological anger of the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger that we recently witnessed in Charlottesville, in Paris, in Orlando, in Manchester – (The Terrorist Mind and the Extremism of Pathological Anger).

And there will be other projects to keep me busy for as long as the universe allows me to do its work.

My goal is to get “parental alienation” done and solved as quickly as is humanly possible because the tragedy of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) needs to end – now – today – and because I want to then move on to solving other things before I leave and return home.

Training and Certification in AB-PA is part of that solution to solving “parental alienation.”  It ensures the necessary level of professional expertise.  By the time we’re done, there will be a substantial number of AB-PA Certified mental health professionals everywhere.  I don’t want to be the expert, I want to give you lots and lots of experts everywhere, mental health professionals that you can trust because you can be assured that they have the highest level of professional expertise in assessing, diagnosing, and treating the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

November 18th, 19th, and 20th at the Westin hotel in Pasadena we begin.  In the days ahead, I’ll have more to say on the content of these Training and Certification seminars and their role in the integrated solution.  But I’ll need to make two additional announcements first, so that the entirely integrated solution will become clear.

Currently, The Childress Institute is a DBA.  I have my attorney working on the application for 501c3 nonprofit status.  The estimate for this is about 9 months, sometime late spring early summer of 2018, although various approvals will come along the way.

Down the road, once we solve “parental alienation” (AB-PA), I want a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to solve the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger.

I want a grant from the Gates Foundation to solve the currently dysfunctional education system and elevate the U.S. educational system into an utterly amazing 22nd Century status.  Children have a developmental right to an amazing education.

I want to construct an online parenting website that provides training and educational seminars that solve ADHD, that solve oppositional and defiant child behavior, that solve school failure, that solve delinquency, that solve pretty much all the troublesome stuff of childhood and adolescence, along with supportive seminars for educating foster parents, and training for child and family therapists in neuro-developmentally supportive child and family therapy as a replacement therapy model for play therapy and behavior therapy.  All housed in an online website of accessible seminars and trainings.

And Dorcy and I are going to get to work on substantially reducing the trauma-mindset that leads to prison recidivism, using a catalytic model of transformative and healing change – and ultimately, through improvements in parenting and direct catalytic interventions, I want to reduce prison incarceration in the first place.  Our kids – even if they’re now grown-up adult kids – should not be in cages.  That would be abhorrent for my son or daughter – and I consider all kids to be “my sons” and “my daughters” (you all just have the privilege of raising “my kids”).

And the super-long range goal is to solve Syria, the Ukraine, Nigeria, and the Sudan; ethnic violence and inter-nation violence and conflict.

Are these solutions possible?  Yep.  I see the path to solution in each of these areas.  My goal is for The Childress Institute to serve as a catalyst for the solution in each of these areas, as I have served as a catalyst in the solution to “parental alienation” (AB-PA) that is on its way.

But first things first, we need to solve the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) for all children and all families everywhere.  Is this possible?  Yep.

The Childress Institute website is the seed structure.  We start by laying the foundation.  The Childress Institute is the seed foundation for these solutions.

The important feature of getting The Childress Institute website up is getting the online Registration function for seminars.  As long as I’m constructing a website foundation, might as well have a bookstore page.  The bookstore page provides discounts for my books.  There’s also a donations page.  The Childress Institute is not currently a 501c3 nonprofit, donations to The Childress Institute are not tax deductible yet.

I figure I have about another decade of shelf-life, maybe less, before I return home.  My goal is for us to solve the pathology of “parental alienation” as soon as we possibly can, and then I’ll shift my focus to these other areas and set as many of the solutions in as many of these other areas into motion as I can, and then I’ll leave the planet and return home, leaving the work to be completed by the next generation coming forward – to our children.

Announcement 1.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Psychologist, PSY 18857

Really Bad Clinical Psychology

To:  Clinical psychologists who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (AB-PA)

Re:  Professional Competence


I am appalled that clinical psychologists are not recognizing and diagnosing a psychotic pathology that is sitting right in front of you in your office – an encapsulated persecutory delusion.

A psychotic pathology.   Right in front of you.  And you are totally missing recognizing it and diagnosing it.

Wow.  You know what?  You are a really bad clinical psychologist.  Just awful.

We’re not talking some strange esoteric form of pathology.  We’re talking psychotic pathology, right in front of you.  And you are entirely missing it.

I mean, seriously… psychotic pathology.  Wow.  You are a really bad clinical psychologist if you can’t even recognize and diagnose psychotic pathology when it’s sitting right in front of you.

The child is displaying an encapsulated persecutory delusion – a fixed and false belief that the child is being malevolently treated – being “victimized” – by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent.

Here, let me take you by the hand and lead you through this…

Does the child believe that he or she is being malevolently treated – being “victimized” – by the targeted parent? – Yes.

Persecutory belief.

Is this true? – No.

False belief.

Does the child evidence the ability to change this false persecutory belief in response to the actual reality that the child is NOT being malevolently treated – is not being “victimized” – by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent?  – No.

Persecutory delusion.

Does the child evidence delusions in other areas of life? – No.

Encapsulated persecutory delusion.

See how this diagnosis thing works?  Jeez Louise, you’re supposed to be a clinical psychologist.  This is your job.  Holy cow.

But you are looking squarely at a psychotic pathology – an encapsulated persecutory delusion – and you are totally missing it.

Wow.  I am absolutely floored.  You are a really bad clinical psychologist if you can’t even recognize and diagnose a psychotic pathology.

Does the child have an endogenous psychosis, like schizoprhenia?  No.  Wait… You can’t possibly be such an awful clinical psychologist that you would actually think that the child’s encapsulated persecutory delusion represents an endogenous psychosis originating in the child… can you?  I don’t know.  I’m so stunned that you can’t even recognize and diagnose psychotic pathology that I’m not sure quite how bad things are with you.

But no, the child does not have an endogenous psychotic pathology.  So if the psychotic pathology is not arising spontaneously to the child, then what is the source for the child’s encapsulated persecutory delusional belief that the child is being “victimized” by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent?

Okay, take my hand again and let me walk you through this…

Can the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent create a delusion in the child – a false belief – that the child is being “victimized” by the normal range parenting of the targeted parent?  No.  Normal-range parenting cannot create a delusion.

Have you ever heard of any case in which a normal-range parent created a persecutory delusion in the child by normal-range parenting? – No.  Normal-range parenting cannot create a delusion.

Okay, then we can safely rule-out the targeted parent as the source of this delusional belief evidenced by the child.

So now we’ve ruled out the child having an endogenous psychosis (or are you still thinking that this might be childhood schizophrenia? – It’s not – but you’re such a bad clinical psychologist I don’t know what you’re thinking – but it’s not. There is no evidence to suggest that the child is independently psychotic).

And we’ve ruled-out the targeted parent as the source of the child’s encapsulated persecutory delusion.  Care to hazard a guess as to the next possible source to explore?  Right, the allied and supposedly “favored” parent.  Yay for you.

So, is it possible that the allied and supposedly “favored” parent has a false belief that the child is being “victimized” by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent?  Yes, that’s possible.  Hmmm, how could we go about checking this out, to see if the allied and supposedly “favored” parent has the same beliefs as the child that the child is being “victimized” by the supposedly bad parenting of the targeted parent?

Hey, I know… how about we interview the allied parent and obtain this parent’s perceptions of the child’s supposed “victimization” by the parenting practices of the other parent.  Whaddya think?  Good idea?

And you know what, the allied and supposedly “favored” parent evidences exactly the same beliefs as the child.  Wow.  What a coincidence, eh?  They both share the same persecutory delusional belief surrounding the child’s supposed “victimization” by the normal-range parenting practices of the targeted parent.

Okay, now here’s a tough diagnostic question… what is the pathology called when two people (who live together and are closely related by blood, and are in a close relationship in which one of them is dominant over the other one) – what is the clinical psychology pathology called when these two people share the same delusion? — Right, a shared delusion.  Whew, I’m so proud of you.  You’re doing great.  When two people share the same delusion, the clinical pathology is called a shared delusion.

So we’ve now diagnosed a shared persecutory delusion – shared between the child and the allied and supposedly “favored” parent.

Okay, so we’re about to close out this diagnostic walk through, but before we do… you know what I find so amazing – and so incredibly appalling?  That you never-ever reached this point in the diagnosis of the psychotic pathology that is sitting right in front of you.  I am stunned.

You’re supposed to be a clinical psychologist, yet you entirely miss recognizing and diagnosing a psychotic pathology that’s sitting right in front of you with a flashing neon sign that says “Delusion – Encapsulated Persecutory Delusion” – and you’re just oblivious.  Wow.

You are a really bad clinical psychologist.  Really bad.

Okay, but let’s finish off this hand-holding diagnostic walk-through…

The child has an encapsulated persecutory delusion.  We’ve ruled-out that the child has an endogenous psychosis (like schizophrenia – you’ll agree with me on that, right?), and we’ve ruled-out the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent as a potential source for creating a persecutory delusion in the child, and we’ve identified that the child and the supposedly “favored” parent share the same delusion, so… what do we know about a shared delusion?

Let’s turn to the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM-IV TR.  Yes, I know we’re using the DSM-5 now, but for more than a decade the diagnosis of a shared delusion (which they call a Shared Psychotic Disorder) was acknowledged by the American Psychiatric Association, let’s just look at what they say about the pathology:

From the American Psychiatric Association: “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.”

So, who is “dominant” in this case?  A:  The allied and supposedly “favored” parent.

And did the child’s persecutory delusion toward the targeted parent develop gradually over time?  A: Yes.

So this would seemingly indicate that the allied and supposedly “favored” parent is the “inducer” and the child is “the more passive and initially healthy second person.”

From the American Psychiatric Association: “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.”

Are the child and the allied parent “related by blood”?  A: Yes.

Have they “lived together for a long time?”  A:  Yes.

So far the pathology fits perfectly.

From the American Psychiatric Association: “If the relationship with the primary case is interrupted, the delusional beliefs of the other individual usually diminish or disappear.”

Oh wow, here we’re getting some potentially useful treatment recommendations.  If we separate the child from the pathology of the parent, the child’s encapsulated persecutory delusion regarding the targeted parent will “diminish or disappear.”  Good to know, don’t ya think?

From the American Psychiatric Association: “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.” (p. 333)

“…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.”

Wow.  Sounds pretty much like an exact fit to me.

Does the American Psychiatric Association have anything to say about the course of a shared delusional belief?  Why yes they do.

From the American Psychiatric Association: “Without intervention, the course is usually chronic, because this disorder most commonly occurs in relationships that are long-standing and resistant to change.”

Pretty spot on, don’t ya think?  Does the American Psychiatric Association have anything to say about treatment?  Whaddya know, yes they do.

From the American Psychiatric Association: “With separation from the primary case, the individual’s delusional beliefs disappear, sometimes quickly and sometimes quite slowly.” (p. 333)

Well, there ya go… “With separation from the primary case, the individual’s delusional beliefs disappear…”

So, according the the American Psychiatric Association, the child’s persecutory delusional beliefs that the child is being somehow “victimized” by the normal-range parenting of the targeted parent will “disappear” with the child’s “separation” from the “inducer” of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent.

Wow.  From the American Psychiatric Association.  Shared delusional pathology fits exactly.  Seriously, I can’t imagine a more perfect diagnostic fit.  With treatment recommendations even.  American Psychiatric Association… the child’s symptomatic rejection of the targeted parent will “disappear” with the child’s “separation” from the allied parent.  Wow.  There ya go.

All that’s needed is a competent clinical psychologist.  Dang, instead we have you.  Dang, dang, dang.  Tough luck for the family then, because they have an ignorant and incompetent clinical psychologist who is going to sacrifice the child to a psychotic psychopathology because of flat out ignorance and incompetence.  Dang.

And did you also know that the diagnosis of Shared Psychotic Disorder is still in the ICD-10 diagnostic system (a diagnostic code of F24) of the World Health Organization, so you can still make that diagnosis if you want to, just use the ICD-10 diagnostic system.  The ICD-10 diagnostic system is a fully credible and accepted diagnostic system.  Internationally accepted.  World Health Organization.  All insurance companies in the U.S. require an ICD-10 diagnosis.  You’d be completely on solid ground making the ICD-10 diagnosis of F24 if you wanted to.

But you know what?  You are such a really-really bad clinical psychologist that this isn’t even an option for you because you can’t even recognize when you have a psychotic pathology sitting right in front of you.  Whoosh, nothing.  Completely oblivious to a psychotic pathology sitting right in front of you.

In Chapter 6 of Foundations I even describe in detail exactly the communication dynamic between the child and the allied parent that creates the child’s persecutory delusional belief, and in Chapter 7 of Foundations I describe in detail the origins of the delusional belief in the false trauma reenactment narrative contained in the internal working models of the allied parent’s attachment networks.  I explain it all for you in Foundations.

But here’s the thing… bottom line…

You’re supposed to be a clinical psychologist, but you can’t even recognize and diagnose psychotic pathology when it’s sitting right in front of you.  You seriously need to review your diagnostic skill set and you need to start to care about developing basic, minimal, standards of professional competence.

Start with the psychotic disorders – the really clear stuff.  Schizophrenia, hallucinations, delusions.  Then move to the mood disorder pathologies, major depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks.  Don’t take on the subtler diagnostic stuff like PTSD or autism-spectrum disorders until you get the really clear and basic stuff down.  Get your feet under yourself first.

Seriously, if you cannot even recognize psychotic pathology when it’s sitting right in front of you, you shouldn’t be practicing clinical psychology – because you’re a really bad clinical psychologist – and when you’re such a really-really bad clinical psychologist, you are then directly responsible for destroying the lives of children and families who come to you for help.

You shouldn’t destroy the lives of children and families.  Go become a plumber or a shopkeeper, because you should not be a clinical psychologist.  If you cannot diagnose psychotic pathology that’s sitting right in front of you, then you are a really bad clinical psychologist who will destroy the lives of the children and families who come to you for help.

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

The Solution: The Dominoes

In a line of dominoes, the moment the first domino falls I know with absolute certainty that all the other dominoes will fall.

The moment the paradigm shifts with regard to how the pathology of “parental alienation” is defined in professional psychology – in fact, with the moment that Foundations was published in 2015 that activated Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code – I knew, with absolute certainty, that the solution to “parental alienation” – the last domino – would fall.

The only question that now remains is how long it will take.  This is in part dependent upon the collective efforts of targeted parents.  The key first domino that must fall is the paradigm shift.  As long as the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model remains on the field as the dominant diagnostic paradigm that defines the pathology, the first domino of the paradigm shift is in the process of falling, but has not actively tipped the second domino – yet.

As long as professional psychology remains ignorant of AB-PA, that first domino is in the process of falling, but the second domino has yet to be toppled into activation by the paradigm shift.

The speed by which the solution arrives is also dependent upon the Gardnerian PAS “experts.” If they switch to the AB-PA diagnostic paradigm and begin actively and forcefully advocating for the AB-PA diagnostic paradigm, then the solution arrives more quickly.  If they remain on the field sowing confusion in professional psychology, then the shift in paradigms will take longer.

So far, the Garderian PAS “experts” have withheld their support, and so far they appear to be sowing confusion within professional psychology by co-opting constructs from AB-PA and inaccurately applying them to Gardnerian PAS as if these constructs are relevant when applied to Gardnerian PAS, when they are not.  This sows confusion within professional psychology which must then be overcome in enacting the paradigm shift, thus slowing the paradigm shift and slowing the falling of the first domino.

Setting up a chain of dominoes takes time and precision.  That’s what I’ve been doing over the past decade; setting up all the dominoes.  In 2015 with the publication of Foundations, I set the first domino in motion and it is currently falling.  It will – inevitably – tip the second domino, which will – inevitably – tip the third domino, and eventually all the dominoes will fall and we will have the solution to “parental alienation” for all families everywhere.

In this blog post I will describe the other dominoes that will inevitably fall, one after the other, to create the solution to “parental alienation.”  How long it takes for all the dominoes to fall is, to some extent, in your hands.  When targeted parents come together as a force for change, you have more power than you know.  But you must come together, you must act not only to solve this pathology for your family and for your children, but for all families and all children.  You must work together and fight for each other.

I am a catalyst.  I am your weapon.  I am not your warrior.  With Foundations I have given you power with professional psychology.  I have activated Standards 2.01a and 9.01a of the APA ethics code for you.  I have put all of the dominoes in a line and started the fall of the first domino.  But these are your children.  I am your weapon in your fight against the pathology, you are the warrior.  You must pick up the weapons I have forged for you in your fight against the pathology.  You are the warrior for your children.  I admire you and I respect you for your love, and for your enduring heartbreak.  Your are the chosen ones in this battle.  You are on the battlefield now so that no other parent, no other family, must ever endure the heartbreak and emotional trauma that you’ve endured.

Here are the next dominoes to fall…

Domino 2:  Assessment

Once the paradigm shifts, we can then require professional competence in assessment using Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code.

Standard 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.

The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  A child rejecting a parent is fundamentally an attachment-related pathology.

The attachment system never spontaneously dysfunctions.  The attachment system ONLY becomes dysfunctional in response to pathogenic parenting (patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation).  Pathogenic parenting is the creation of significant psychopathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices.  Pathogenic parenting is an established construct in both developmental and clinical psychology and is most often used in reference to attachment-related pathologies, since the attachment system never spontaneously dysfunctions but ONLY becomes dysfunctional in response to pathogenic parenting.

Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code requires that all psychologists base their diagnostic statements and forensic testimony on “information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings.”

If the psychologist has not even assessed for pathogenic parenting by an allied parent in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other parent, then the diagnostic statements and forensic testimony of this psychologist CANNOT possibly be based on “information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings” and would therefore be in violation of Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code.

Notice I never used the construct of “parental alienation.”  No tooth fairy mythical pathologies.

In ALL cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, ALL mental health professionals must assess for pathogenic parenting by an allied parent who is in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other parent in order to base their diagnostic statements and forensic testimony on “information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings” in compliance with Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code.

The easiest and most efficient way to assess for pathogenic parenting by an allied parent in a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other parent is to use the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

Notice the name of this instrument.  It is NOT an assessment of “parental alienation.”  It is a diagnostic checklist for pathogenic parenting.  This is NOT an accident.

We are NOT assessing for “parental alienation,” we are assessing for pathogenic parenting; for parenting that is so aberrant and distorted that it is creating significant psychopathology in the child.

In all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, the assessing mental health professional can use the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting as an efficient means to document the child’s symptoms to remain compliant with Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code. 

Notice that a Secondary Diagnostic Criterion for the attachment system suppression of diagnostic indicator 1 is that the parenting practices of the targeted-rejected parent are broadly normal-range.  In order to assess this component of pathogenic parenting, the assessing mental health professional should document their clinical judgement regarding the parenting practices of the targeted parent using the Parenting Practices Assessment Scale.

This creates a standardized assessment protocol of:

The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

Parenting Practices Rating Scale

All mental health professionals will then be speaking with a single voice to the Court.

As this second domino becomes integrated into a standard of practice for assessing attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, the 12 Associated Clinical Signs will become increasingly prominent diagnostic considerations.  They are not diagnostic indicators, but some of them are almost 100% diagnostic of the pathology.

As I discussed in my afternoon presentation in Dallas, diagnosis is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.  While the puzzle Cats in the Garden will always have three specific pieces in three specific locations – and no other puzzle will have these three specific puzzle pieces in these specific locations – the puzzle is not Cats in the Garden because of these three pieces.  It’s the puzzle Cats in the Garden because when we put all of the puzzle pieces together they create a picture of three cats playing in the garden, with a watering can over here, and butterflies over the flowers.

The key diagnostic indicators are the three symptoms of pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  The 12 Associated Clinical Signs are all of the other puzzle pieces which form a picture of three cats playing in the garden, with a watering can over here, and butterflies above the flowers.

Domino 3: Diagnosis

Assessment leads to diagnosis.

Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 1), personality pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 2), and delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 3) is a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

If anyone wants to argue that producing a delusional psychiatric pathology in the child is NOT psychological child abuse, they can try.  But I don’t see that as a credible argument, especially since the child’s encapsulated persecutory delusion is resulting in the loss for the child of an affectionally bonded relationship with a beloved and loving normal-range parent who is a vital component for the child’s healthy emotional and psychological development.

Compelling Professional Competence

Notice how we are compelling the assessment of pathogenic parenting by leveraging Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code which was activated by the paradigm shift to AB-PA.  Mental health professionals don’t have a choice, they MUST do a competent assessment.

Then notice how the assessment and subsequent identification of the symptoms of pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent then compels that an accurate diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse be made. 

We are guiding all mental health professionals into professional competence that provides a single voice to the Court from all of professional psychology.

Domino 4: Treatment

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.  This is a foundational principle of clinical psychology.

In all cases of child abuse, physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, and psychological child abuse, the professional standard of practice and “duty to protect” requires the protective separation of the child from the abusive parent.

When domino four falls, we will have all mental health professionals speaking with a single voice to the Court.  The pathology is AB-PA, the diagnosis is Child Psychological Abuse, and the treatment is a protective separation from the abusive parent.

Domino 5:  Child Protective Services

Whenever a mental health professional diagnoses child abuse, this activates a legally obligating professional “duty to protect” that requires the mental health professional take affirmative action to protect the child.  One such affirmative action that the mental health professional could take in order to discharge his or her “duty to protect” is to file a suspected child abuse report with Child Protective Services (CPS).

Once the paradigm shifts to an AB-PA diagnostic model, the CPS system will increasing be receiving suspected child abuse reports from mental health professionals with a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.

Initially, the CPS system won’t know what to do with these reports and they will not adequately investigate these reports nor will the CPS system appropriately address these child abuse reports from mental health professionals.  Eventually, however, the CPS system will become sufficiently annoyed by the continuing flow of these reports into the CPS system that they will seek to become more knowledgeable about AB-PA which is generating all of these reports of child psychological abuse from mental health professionals, and these CPS agencies will then seek additional training in AB-PA.

I would recommend to CPS that within each CPS agency, a select group of 3 to 5 social workers be identified as AB-PA specialists who are trained to a high-level of competence in the assessment and diagnosis of the AB-PA pathology.  Every referral from a mental health professional with a diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse should then be assigned to one of these AB-PA specialists within the CPS system for investigation.

The AB-PA specialist social worker in the CPS system can then efficiently apply the same diagnostic criteria of AB-PA (the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting) and will confirm the diagnosis made by the referring mental health professional.

Notice that the CPS system does not need to make the diagnosis. The CPS system is already receiving a referral from a mental health professional who has made a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse.  The CPS specialist in AB-PA simply needs to apply the diagnostic criteria and confirm the diagnosis of psychological child abuse already made by the mental health professional.

Once the CPS social worker confirms the diagnosis of child psychological abuse made by the mental health professional, then we have two independently made diagnoses of child psychological abuse, one of which is from CPS.

The CPS system can then initiate the child protection response of the child’s protective separation from the psychologically abusive pathogenic parent. 

The Court then receives a request from CPS for removal of the child based on two independently made confirmed diagnoses of child psychological abuse from the mental health system, and a request from CPS to place the child in the protective “kinship care” of the normal-range and affectionally available targeted parent.

The mental health system is then speaking to the Court in a single unified voice.  The pathology is AB-PA, the diagnosis is Child Psychological Abuse, and the treatment is a protective separation from the abusive parent.

When the Court receives a clear and consistent communication from the entire mental health system, then the Court can act with the decisive clarity necessary to solve the pathology.

When we eventually reach this stage of the solution, the targeted parent won’t have to prove “parental alienation” in Court because the entire pathology is being systematically handled within the mental health system. 

The moment an attachment related pathology surrounding divorce is identified by the Court or anywhere within the mental health system, a standard of practice Treatment-Focused Assessment is conducted using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

If the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA are present, then the mental health professional completes a Treatment-Focused Assessment Report for the Court if the assessment is Court-ordered, and the mental health professional files a suspected child abuse report with CPS with a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse in order to discharge the mental health professional’s “duty to protect.”

CPS then assigns this incoming child abuse report from a mental health professional that contains a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse to a trained AB-PA specialist social worker in the CPS system. This trained AB-PA specialist social worker then assesses for the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA, documenting the symptoms’ presence or absence using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

If CPS confirms the mental health professional’s diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, then the CPS system initiates a child protection response of protectively separating the child from the psychologically abusive pathogenic parent and placing the child in the “kinship care” of the normal-range and loving targeted parent.

The targeted parent does not need to file a suspected child abuse report – that report is coming from the mental health professional who has done a standardized assessment of the family’s attachment-related pathology.

The targeted parent does not need to seek a protective separation – the request to the Court for a protective separation is coming from the CPS system.

Additional Dominoes

Sometimes a line of dominoes splits into two paths.  The solution to AB-PA has some of these split pathways into related solution pathways.

False Allegations of Child Abuse

Currently there is no negative consequence for filing a false allegation of child abuse into the CPS system, and often these false allegations have the “secondary gain” for the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent of terminating the targeted parent’s involvement with the child pending the outcome of the CPS investigation.

With the paradigm shift to AB-PA, however, a false allegation becomes a double-edged sword for the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  If a CPS investigator believes that the allegation of child abuse may be a case of AB-PA, then this CPS investigator can refer the case to the CPS specialist in AB-PA for additional investigation.  If the CPS specialist in AB-PA confirms child psychological abuse by the allied parent who filed the false allegation, based on the symptom indicators of AB-PA, then CPS may seek a protective separation of the child from the psychologically abusive allied parent who filed the false allegation of abuse.

This could potentially reduce the motivation of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent for filing false allegations of child abuse, since these false allegations might result in the child’s protective separation from the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

Contingent Visitation Schedule

In August of 2017, a 50-page booklet will become available through Amazon.com that describes a Strategic family systems intervention of a Contingent Visitation Schedule

While the standard of practice and “duty to protect” the child in all cases of child abuse requires the child’s protective separation from the abusive parent, in treating attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce a potential Strategic family systems intervention may be available to simultaneously resolve the family pathology while also protecting the child from the abusive pathogenic parenting of the allied parent. 

This Strategic family systems intervention involves a Contingent Visitation Schedule in which custody visitation time with the allied pathogenic parent is made contingent upon the child remaining symptom-free.

As long as the child remains symptom-free (as determined by daily/weekly ratings on the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale), then the standard Court-ordered visitation schedule is in effect.  For treatment-related purposes, a balanced 50-50% shared custody visitation schedule would provide the best treatment-related support. 

A successful symptom-free day is defined as ratings of 4 or higher on all three relationship scales of the Parent-Child Rating Scale, 1) Hostility to Affection, 2) Defiance to Cooperation, and 3) Withdrawn to Social. 

A successful symptom-free week is defined as five successful symptom-free days during a seven-day week period.  As long as the child has a successful symptom-free week with the targeted parent, then the Court-ordered visitation schedule is followed.

If, however, the child fails to have a successful symptom-free week with the targeted parent (less than five successful symptom-free days during a seven-day period), then the transfer to the pathogenic care of the allied parent is delayed pending resolution of the child’s increased symptoms.  Before the child is transferred to the custody care of the pathogenic allied parent, the child must evidence three consecutive successful days with the targeted parent.  Once the child exhibits three consecutive successful days with the targeted parent, then the normal Court-ordered custody visitation schedule is resumed. 

The Contingent Visitation Schedule is essentially a graduated protective separation from the psychologically abusive pathogenic parenting of the allied parent that is based on the child’s display of symptoms or absence of symptoms.  As long as the child remains symptom-free, then the standard Court-ordered visitation schedule is followed.  If the child becomes symptomatic, with the presumed cause being the pathogenic parenting coalition with the allied parent, then the child’s time with the allied pathogenic parent is reduced in order to reduce the pathogenic influence of the allied parent who is creating the child’s symptoms, and the child’s time with the targeted-rejected parent is increased to provide more treatment-related time with the targeted parent to restore the parent-child bond of shared affection that is being damaged by the pathogenic parenting of the allied psychologically abusive parent.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule can be used as a six-month Response-to-Intervention trial (RTI).  If the Contingent Visitation Schedule successfully resolves the child’s pathology during the six-month RTI, then a protective separation period is not required.  As long as the child remains symptom-free, then the standard Court-ordered custody visitation schedule is followed.

If, however, a six-month RTI with the Contingent Visitation Schedule is not successful in resolving the child’s attachment-related pathology, then a move into a 9-month protective separation period would be warranted as a standard of practice response to the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse which, based on the results of the RTI with the Contingent Visitation Schedule, cannot otherwise be resolved without a protective separation of the child from the abusive pathogenic parent.

AB-PA Pilot Program for the Family Courts

I am current collaborating with Children4Tomorrow in Houston, Texas to establish a pilot program in the Houston family court system using AB-PA as the intervention model for attachment-related pathology in high-conflict divorce.  On October 20th I will be presenting a 4-hour seminar in Houston, hosted by Children4Tomorrow, on AB-PA and the family court pilot program proposal.

In August of 2017, a 50-page booklet will become available through Amazon.com describing the proposal for a family court pilot program for resolving attachment-related pathology in high-conflict divorce. 

The pilot program proposal for the family court system is to team an AB-PA Certified mental health professional with an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney.  At the first indication of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, the Court orders an assessment with an AB-PA Certified mental health professional using the six-session Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol.  If the assessing AB-PA Certified mental health professional identifies the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA (using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting) then the Court will assemble a Key team of a new, treating AB-PA Certified mental health professional and an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney to stabilize the family’s functioning and to assume leadership in assisting the family in transitioning to a stable and healthy separated family structure.

The AB-PA Certified mental health professional would be trained in creating and managing a Contingent Visitation Schedule if this is ordered by the Court, and would be trained and capable of restoring the child’s normal-range attachment system through family therapy with the targeted parent if a protective separation is ordered by the Court.  The AB-PA Certified mental health professional would be responsible for managing the family’s conflict in coordination with the amicus attorney serving as the interface into the legal system.

The AB-PA pilot program proposal for the family courts includes an outcome evaluation research component integrated into the program’s structure, and if it is accepted as a pilot program model then it can serve as a high-conflict family intervention model for family courts in other jurisdictions.  If this pilot program proposal is adopted as an intervention model for high-conflict divorce in the family court system, then this approach can also potentially serve as an intervention model internationally for addressing attachment-related pathology in high-conflict divorce.

Comparison of Pathways to Solution

These four blogs describe the pathway to a solution offered by a paradigm shift to AB-PA:

The Solution: The Requirements

The Solution: AB-PA Meets the Requirements

The Solution: The Return to Professional Practice

The Solution:  The Dominoes

I have asked that by September 2, 2017 the Gardnerian PAS “experts” describe the pathway to solution that they envision using the Gardnerian PAS model so that we can put the two paths to solution side-by-side, compare them, and reach a reasoned decision on the path forward.

For three years I have been asking the Gardnerian PAS “experts” to describe the pathway to a solution that they envision using the Gardnerian PAS model and for three years the Gardnerian PAS “experts” have refused to describe the path to a solution that they envision using the Gardnerian PAS model, and at the same time they refuse to support the AB-PA diagnostic model

It is important to the solution offered by AB-PA that all mental health professionals be accountable to professional standards of practice for professional competence in attachment-related pathology, personality disorder pathology, and family systems pathology.  This includes the Gardernian PAS “experts.”

They are free to add to and expand on the core of AB-PA however they may want. But they are not exempt from professional standards of practice regarding real pathologies of the attachment system, personality disorders, and family systems.

I look forward to the response from the Gardnerian PAS “experts” describing the path to solution that they envision using the Gardnerian PAS model.   We can then place these two paths for a solution side-by-side and make a reasoned decision on our path forward.

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

The Solution: The Return to Professional Practice

In two previous blog posts (The Solution: The Requirements and The Solution: AB-PA Meets the Requirements) I describe how the diagnostic model of AB-PA will solve the pathology.

In this post I’m going to describe the paradigm shift that needs to occur to solve the pathology of “parental alienation.”

As a foundational premise, I want to highlight a post by Jason Hofer to my Facebook page that provides a spot-on accurate description of the solution offered through AB-PA.

Jason 100% sees it.

“AB-PA is not the solution. The PAS mindset is “one model to solve them all,” but that is not what AB-PA brings to the table.

The solution is the psychological knowledge behind AB-PA.  Attachment theory, family systems theory, personality disorders, all of it.  When a therapist has all of that knowledge they can use all of it to make whatever diagnosis is necessary, whether it leads to AB-PA or something else.

The usefulness of the knowledge behind AB-PA far, far outweighs the usefulness of AB-PA itself.  If you were to have a therapist study everything found in the reference section of “Foundations”, but not read “Foundations” itself, I guarantee they’ll be able to make the right diagnosis that child psychological abuse is taking place.  That’s the beauty of it.  The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.  The solution to PA is not AB-PA.  AB-PA points to the solution, but it is not the solution in-and-of itself.

The real solution is having therapists with a deep understanding of all of the psychological components that make up AB-PA.  Whether they *use* AB-PA itself or not doesn’t really matter.  All AB-PA provides is a well-thought out way to use all that knowledge to make a certain specific type of diagnosis.  So, AB-PA may not account for all the subtler cases, but the knowledge required to use AB-PA certainly does, and then some.”

When I read that from Jason, it floored me.  The clarity and complete accuracy of that is spot on.

So let that sink in for just a bit before I move to the path…


The path to the solution is like a set of dominoes, as each one falls it tips over the next domino. 

Domino 1:  The Paradigm Shift

The first and most critical domino is the paradigm shift away from Gardnerian PAS over to AB-PA as the diagnostic model for the pathology.  As Jason points out, this is not actually a paradigm shift to AB-PA, it’s a paradigm shift back to the full richness of the entire field of professional psychology, its full literature and research base on all forms of pathology. 

When we’re dealing with a child rejecting a parent, we’re in the realm of the attachment system.  The attachment system is the brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  The attachment system is a primary motivational system of the brain.  It functions in characteristic ways, and it dysfunctions in characteristic ways.

Prior to entering private practice, I was the Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center (ages 0-5) dealing primarily with children in the foster care system. Early childhood is the period when the attachment system actively acquires its “internal working models” regarding expectations for love and bonding, which are then applied throughout the lifespan.  With my specialty background in early childhood mental health, I know the attachment system.

What’s more, I worked with young children in the foster care system.  I’ve seen how all the various forms of trauma affect the attachment system, and I’ve worked with restoring the normal-range and healthy attachment system of children who’s attachment networks have been damaged by trauma from aberrant parental behavior – profound neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse.

You’ve seen what I’ve done relative to my work on uncovering the pathology of “parental alienation” (Dr. Childress Personal Reference List: AB-PA).  Prior to my work on “parental alienation,” I was working for decades with the regulatory pathology of ADHD and with the trauma-related pathologies in early childhood as my primary field.  If I’ve put in this amount of work on uncovering the core pathology of “parental alienation,” imagine what I know in these other domains. 

If you look at the very end of my AB-PA reference list, you’ll see a set of references for Neuro-Developmentally Supportive Psychotherapy.  Books like:

The First Idea: How Symbols, Language and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind

Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are

Childhood Trauma, the Neurobiology of Adaptation, and “Use-Dependent” Development of the Brain: How “States” Become “Traits”

Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development

These are on my reference list for AB-PA.  These references for Neuro-Developmentally Supportive Psychotherapy are just the tip of the iceberg of core references that are in another set of references relative to another topic area.  I have them on my AB-PA reference list just in case I want to talk about something from the neuro-developmental research.

I love knowledge.  Knowledge feels good in the brain as the threads form into a rich tapestry of comprehension.

I’m not from the field of high-conflict divorce.  I come from ADHD and early childhood mental health.  In these fields, excellence and knowledge are expectations.  It was only after I left the position as Clinical Director and entered private practice that I ran across my first case of the pathology called “parental alienation” in high-conflict divorce, a targeted parent mom and her 10 year-old son.

In the very first session with the targeted parent mom and her son I immediately recognized the child’s inauthentic attachment system.  The brain doesn’t work like that; the attachment system doesn’t work like that.  The child is displaying an inauthentic brain.

Since I come from the world of childhood attachment trauma, I know what childhood trauma does to the attachment networks of the brain, I know what authentic attachment trauma looks like in the child’s symptom display.  This child’s attachment-related symptoms were clearly not the product of any form of trauma.  This child was presenting an inauthentic display of attachment behavior.  The brain does not work that way. 

As an aside: With a normal attachment system, “protest behavior” (angry-oppositional behavior) emerges from the neuro-developmental function of eliciting increased parental involvement (the baby cries to elicit – to obtain – the mother’s involvement).  But in the case of this child, the child’s “protest behavior” was seeking to end – to sever – parental involvement.  The child was rejecting the parent.  Children don’t reject parents.  Not even attachment-trauma kids who’ve been abused by their parents.  Bad parenting creates an “insecure attachment” that MORE strongly motivates the child to form an attachment bond to the bad parent.  Children don’t reject parents, even bad parents.  That’s not how the attachment system and protest behavior works.  That is not an authentic brain.

But then the question emerges, why is the child displaying an inauthentic attachment system relative to his mother?  The answer:  Because the child is being influenced and psychologically compelled by the father to adopt this attitude toward the child’s mother.  The child is displaying his father’s anger and rejection toward the other spouse, toward the mother.  The child’s presentation is not an authentic display of the child’s authentic attachment motivations towards his mother, it is an imposed display of rejection created by the father’s psychological control and manipulation of the child to meet the father’s needs for revenge and retaliation on the mother for divorcing him.

This immediately leads to an application of the standard and established constructs and principles from family systems therapy to the child’s symptom display.  This is likely a cross-generational coalition of the child with the father against the mother, with the father “diverting” his spousal anger toward the mother through the child.

In family systems therapy, the child draws power from the cross-generational coalition with one parent, and this power acquired from parental support elevates the child in the family hierarchy to a position above the targeted parent, leading to a very characteristic symptom of a cross-generational coalition called an “inverted family hierarchy.”  In normal and healthy family structures, parents occupy positions of executive leadership in the family hierarchy.  In normal and healthy families, parents judge children’s behavior as appropriate or inappropriate and deliver consequences, rewards and punishments, based on parental judgements of child behavior.

In an inverted hierarchy, the child becomes empowered by the coalition with the allied parent to an elevated position in the family hierarchy from which the child then judges the targeted parent, and it is the child who then delivers consequences to the parent, rewards and punishments, based on the child’s judgements of the parent’s behavior – an inverted hierarchy.

While the symptom of an inverted hierarchy involves parent-child conflict, the surrounding behavioral, communication, and relationship features of the parent-child conflict are very different from authentic oppositional-defiant parent-child conflict created by other sources, such as from problematic parenting.  So while a lay person might just see parent-child conflict, a knowledgeable and competent clinical psychologist will clearly see the surrounding symptom indicators of an inverted hierarchy as opposed to problematic parenting as the source cause of the parent-child conflict.

When the empowering coalition with the allied parent (that is creating the inverted hierarchy) is examined further, the allied parent feigns parental incompetence (“What can I do, this is between the child and the other parent”) and the allied parent offers displays of supportive understanding for the child’s position in the conflict with the other parent (“If the other parent were just nicer to the child this wouldn’t happen”).  This pattern of symptom features for the inverted hierarchy, feigning of selective parental incompetence by the supposedly “favored” parent and the allied parent’s tacit approval and support for the child’s conflict with the other parent, is the characteristic symptom set associated with the child’s “triangulation” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational” coalition with one parent against the other parent.

This is all standard family systems therapy – Bowen, Minuchin, Haley, and many others.

In addition, as I conducted my first session with the mother and child, what was particularly striking about the child’s symptom display was a profound absence of empathy from the child for his mother’s suffering, which allowed the child to say incredibly cruel things to his mother.  An absence of empathy?  There are only three pathologies that have an absence of empathy as a component – the sociopath (antisocial personality disorder), autism, and narcissistic personality pathology.  The child did not evidence symptoms of sociopathy, and the child was clearly not autistic or autistic-spectrum.  Narcissistic? 

The child evidenced a grandiose sense of entitlement in judging the mother’s adequacy as both a parent and as a person, and the child displayed an attitude of haughty and arrogant contempt for his mother.  Grandiosity, entitlement, absence of empathy, haughty and arrogant attitude.  Holy cow.  I’ve got a child displaying symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.  This isn’t oppositional-defiant disorder pathology, this is narcissistic personality pathology 

How does a child acquire narcissistic personality pathology?  Answer: from the influence of a narcissistic parent.  It’s the father who has the narcissistic attitudes toward the mother – it’s his judgement of her inadequacy as a spouse, it’s his absence of empathy for her suffering caused by the child (she “deserves” it), it’s his attitude of entitlement that her role as his spouse was to meet his needs and she didn’t, and it’s the father’s attitude of haughty and arrogant contempt for the mother that the child is displaying.  The child is acquiring and displaying these attitudes toward his mother through the father’s psychological control and influence on the child in the cross-generational coalition against the mother.

That was Session 1.

Notice in none of this did I rely on a pathology called “parental alienation.”  This is all based entirely on the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

I then scheduled a session with the father to assess that component of the family system and check out the clinical hypotheses formed in my first session with the mother and child.  During the session with the father, he displayed all the associated behaviors consistent with the clinical hypotheses formed in the first session with the mother and child.  I had my confirmation of the child’s “triangulation” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” with a narcissistic/histrionic father against the mother in which the father’s spousal anger toward the mother for the divorce was being diverted through the child.

That was Session 2.

I then met with the child and mother again and began examining more fully the child’s belief systems that the mother was an inadequate parent who “deserved” his rejection.  In response to the child’s inappropriate judgements of the mother (that were acquired from the father’s hostile-negative judgements of the mother), I offered the child normalized and balanced interpretations of the parenting the child was receiving from the mother, to assess the child’s response to these clinical probes of alternate and disconfirming information.  The child, however, maintained his rigidly held fixed and false belief in his supposed victimization by his mother’s supposedly bad parenting (parenting that was fully normal-range parenting). 

A fixed and false belief that is maintained despite contrary evidence is a delusion.  For 15 years in my early career I rated the delusions of schizophrenic patients on a 7-point scale (the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale) from not-present to severe and I participated in annual reliability training in these symptom ratings through my role as a research associate on a longitudinal research project on schizophrenia at UCLA.  Fifteen years.  Weekly ratings.  Annual reliability training.  I know what a delusion looks like.  I know what the difference between a rating of a 3 or a 4 is.  I know what the difference between a rating of a 5 or 6 is.  I know what an encapsulated delusion looks like.  I know what non-bizarre and bizarre delusions look like, delusions of reference and somatic delusions.

A false belief in being victimized is a persecutory delusion.  A delusion that affects only one area of life is an encapsulated persecutory delusion.  The child was displaying an encapsulated persecutory delusion.

How does a 10 year-old child acquire an encapsulated persecutory delusion?  Answer: The same way the child acquired the narcissistic personality traits, through the psychological control and influence exercised on him by his father in the cross-generational coalition with his father against his mother.  It is the father who has the persecutory beliefs of victimization by the spouse/(mother) during their marriage.  She was a bad souse (translated into the child’s symptom of her being a bad mother) and she deserves to suffer for her badness.

And this attitude of the father toward the mother was on full display during my individual session with him.

This was Session 3.

This is called diagnosis.

The pathology everyone is calling “parental alienation” is not some “new form of pathology.”  If you’re a mental health professional, it’s only a “new form of pathology” if you’re ignorant regarding real forms of pathology.

Once the father realized that I wasn’t colluding with the child’s story of supposed victimization by the mother (probably from downloading the child for the content of the mother-son sessions), the father then manipulated minor’s counsel and the Court to have me removed from the case.  A little manipulation of the child and the child starts refusing to come to therapy with Dr. Childress because he doesn’t like Dr. Childress – I’m supposedly not “understanding” enough regarding the child’s victimization by his bad mother – and what can the father do?  He can’t “force” the child to come to therapy with Dr. Childress. 

A little collusion with the pathology from the minor’s counsel, and I’m off the case.  Off they go to look for a therapist who is more “understanding” for the child’s (delusional) beliefs in his victimization by his mother’s supposed badness as a parent (spouse).

I may not be meeting with that child anymore, but that doesn’t mean that child is not still my client.  I’m still working for that child.  That kid is “my kid” – and you don’t create that level of pathology in “my kid.”  All your kids are “my kids” – and destroying the lives of “my kids” is simply not okay.

That’s when I began to look into the broken legal system response.  I was doing a google search on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (the creation of pathology in the child by a parent for “secondary gain”) and that’s when I first ran across the construct of “parental alienation.”  I then began my research on “parental alienation,” which led me into the history of controversy surrounding Gardner and his proposals regarding false allegations of abuse that tore professional psychology apart, creating divisions within professional psychology, including his extremely distasteful professional statements about children’s sexuality.

I looked at Gardner’s proposal for a “new form of pathology” – a new syndrome in psychology.  Oh my God – that’s a really bad model for a pathology. 

I teach graduate level courses in diagnosis and psychopathology.  If a student submitted a paper that proposed the PAS model of pathology I’d give it D grade.  Perhaps D-.  That’s an incredibly bad model for a “new form of pathology.” 

1.)  The diagnostic model is far-far too symptom-focused without sufficient foundational support in providing an explanatory framework for why the symptoms are present, for how they develop, and for the psychological-emotional ground which creates each of the symptoms.  The eight supposed symptoms are just reported without adequate explanation for their development.

2.)  The diagnostic model offers no explanatory linkages into established constructs and principles.  It is proposed as a pathology ex nihilo (out of nothing).

3.)  The new and unique symptoms that are completely made up symptoms for this supposedly “new form of pathology” are way too vague and way too arbitrary to be useful as diagnostic symptoms. 

4.)  Some of the proposed “new symptoms” are symptom features of other established forms of pathology (absence of ambivalence is “splitting” and lack of guilt is an absence of empathy, both symptoms are characteristic of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology), and some of the “new symptoms” are simply bizarre (the “independent thinker” symptom).

5.)  It proposes a dimensional diagnostic framework but with no criteria for definitions of mild, moderate, and severe forms along the continuum, any symptom can be present or absent, and there are no set number of symptoms for determining the different dimensional points along the continuum.  It is way-way too arbitrary to serve as a diagnostic model.

Gardnerian PAS is an extremely bad diagnostic model for a supposedly “new form of pathology.” 

What’s more, the pathology we’re dealing with is NOT a “new form of pathology.”  Gardner was simply a poor diagnostician.  Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.  This pathology is fully describable using standard and established constructs and principles from professional psychology.  There is absolutely zero need to propose a “new form of pathology”

But in proposing a supposedly “new form of pathology” that is unique in all of mental health, Gardner skipped the step of professional diagnosis.  He did not apply the profession rigor necessary to define the pathology using standard and established constructs and principles from professional psychology.  His approach to diagnosis was simply lazy and indolent.

Do the work.  This is clearly an attachment-related pathology.  The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of love and bonding across the lifespan, including grief and loss.  A child rejecting a parent is clearly an attachment-related pathology, not a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health.  Do the work

Splitting (lack of ambivalence) and an absence of empathy (lack of guilt) are characteristic symptoms of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology.  Do the work to unravel the links between attachment pathology and the development of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology.

An inverted hierarchy in which the child becomes empowered to judge a parent is a characteristic symptom feature of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent that is “triangulating” the child into the spousal conflict.  Do the work.

Attachment system suppression is a feature of “pathological mourning” – the disordered processing of sadness surrounding loss. 

Narcissistic and borderline personality pathology is associated with the disorganized incapacity to process the emotion of sadness surrounding loss. 

The triangulation of a child into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent occurs when the family cannot successfully adapt to a transition.  In the case of this attachment-related pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce, the family is unable to successfully transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure because of the aberrant and pathological processing of sadness by the narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent, who is then triangulating the child into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the child to stabilize the collapsing personality structure of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, which is collapsing in response to the rejection and abandonment inherent to the divorce. 

Do the work.  Proposing a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health, which is supposedly identifiable by an equally new and unique set of symptoms that are simply made up out of thin air to be specific for this pathology alone, with no symptom associations to any other form of pathology in all of mental health, is diagnostically lazy and indolent.

Don’t be lazy.  Do the work. 

On my first ever encounter with the pathology I essentially unraveled the nature of the pathology in my first three sessions.

Session 1: Attachment pathology, an inauthentic attachment system display, narcissistic pathology, an inverted hierarchy suggesting a cross-generational coalition of the child and father against the mother.

Session 2: Confirmation of the personality disorder traits of the allied parent, the allied parent’s belief in his supposed “victimization” by the other spouse (the targeted parent) during the marriage, and confirmation of the symptom pattern for the cross-generational coalition of this parent with the child.

Session 3:  Assessed and confirmed the encapsulated persecutory delusion of the child.  When the child’s symptom is combined with the persecutory beliefs evidenced by the allied parent in Session 2, the diagnosis becomes a Shared Delusional Disorder (ICD-10: F24).

Fixing the Broken Systems

Why is the legal system response so broken? 

Because the mental health system response is broken.  The legal system is not receiving a clear communication from professional psychology regarding the nature of the pathology and the necessary steps for the resolution of the pathology.  Instead, the legal system is receiving a variety of mixed information from professional psychology (“parental alienation is a discredited form of pathology” – “the pathology in the family is only moderate parental alienation, we should try reunification therapy” – “both parents are contributing to the child’s conflict with the targeted parent” – “separating the child from the favored parent would be traumatic for the child”).

Why is the mental health system response broken?  Because professional psychology was led away from the path of fully established and real forms of pathology and into the world of “new forms of pathology” – new syndromes that are supposedly unique in all of mental health, with new made up symptoms.  The moment we leave the path of established professional psychology and enter the make-believe world of supposedly “new forms of pathology,” then everyone is allowed to just make stuff up.  If the Gardnerians can just make up their eight symptoms of a “new form of pathology,” then it becomes a free-for-all where everyone is allowed to just make up symptoms for this supposedly “new form of pathology.”  This INVITES rampant and unchecked professional ignorance and incompetence, which is exactly what we’re seeing.

Instead of becoming knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, and personality disorder pathology, and family systems therapy so they can diagnose and confirm the pathology in the first three sessions, mental health professional are allowed to be ignorant and incompetent regarding real forms of pathology as long as they profess their competence in a make-believe form of pathology, “parental alienation.”

Notice, from the very first day I began writing about this – almost a decade ago – I have always put the term “parental alienation” in quotes.  That’s because I consider it to be a “make-believe” form of pathology – unicorns and mermaids.  That doesn’t mean that the pathology doesn’t exist.  Oh, it very much exists.  It’s just not a “new form of pathology” unique in all of mental health.

If any mental health professional thinks this is a “new form of pathology” – it’s not.  It’s only new to them because they are so incredibly ignorant regarding real forms of pathology.  There is no such thing as the tooth fairy.  Yes, there’s a quarter under your pillow.  Your mom put it there.  I know it’s sad to lose the fantasies of childhood, but it’s time to grow up now.  There is no such thing as the tooth fairy.  Sorry sweetie, it’s time to become a grown-up mental health professional.  Grown-up mental health professionals do the work.  No “new forms of pathology.”  No tooth fairies.

There is no such thing as “parental alienation.”  There is attachment-related pathology.  There is personality disorder pathology.  There is family systems pathology.  There are a lot of real forms of pathology.  But there is no such thing as the tooth fairy.  It’s time we expect a professional-level of knowledge and competence from all mental health professionals.

Because once we return to established constructs and principles of professional psychology, once we return to assessing, diagnosing, and treating real forms of pathology, we can then bring ALL of professional psychology into a single voice by leveraging Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code:

APA Standard 2.01: Boundaries of Competence
(a) Psychologists provide services, teach, and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience.

Every ethics code for ALL mental health professionals everywhere, including internationally, have a Standard that requires – REQUIRES – professional competence (Professional Competence).

Once we return to defining the pathology from entirely within the standard and established constructs of professional psychology, then we immediately activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code, and all of the competence Standards in all of the other ethics codes – including internationally – that require professional competence.

Here is the leverage that AB-PA provides:

Competence in the Attachment System

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the attachment system, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically dysfunctions.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the attachment system when assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Competence in Personality Disorder Pathology

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology as it is affecting family relationships need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in personality disorder pathology, what it is, how it functions, and how it characteristically affects family relationships following divorce.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding personality disorder pathology when assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder related pathology in the family would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Competence in Family Systems Therapy

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating families need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the functioning of family systems and the principles of family systems therapy when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family pathology would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Competence in Complex Trauma

Mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating the trans-generational transmission of complex trauma need to be professionally knowledgeable and competent in the nature of complex trauma, as expressed both individually and through family relationships.

Failure to possess professional-level knowledge regarding the trans-generational transmission and expression of complex trauma when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family pathology involving complex trauma would represent practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of professional standards of practice.

Once we return to the established constructs and principles of professional psychology to define the pathology, we immediately – today – right now – activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code for ALL psychologists everywhere, and we activate all of the other ethical codes for all of the other mental health professionals – everywhere, including England, Australia, the Netherlands, Poland, Mexico, South America, Asia; everywhere – that require professional competence.

The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model for a supposedly “new form of pathology” does NOT activate these Standards requiring professional competence, because the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model is proposing a diagnosis of unicorns and the tooth fairy – a new form of pathology unique in all of mental health.

In order to activate the ethical code Standards requiring professional competence that are in all of the ethics code for ALL mental health professions everywhere  – we MUST return to the path of professional psychology by defining the pathology entirely using the established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

The moment – the very moment – we do this, we immediately activate Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code and all of the other Standards for professional competence in all of the other ethics codes.

And the truth is, the moment Foundations was published in 2015, all of these Standards for professional competence were activated.

When I presented in Dallas, Slides 43–45 of my Keynote address also once again activated all of the Standards for professional competence in all of the ethics codes everywhere (Unpacking Dallas and Leaving Oz)

When I presented in Boston, Slides 62–65 of my presentation with Dorcy Pruter once again activated all of the Standards for professional competence in all of the ethics codes everywhere.

Truth is, all of the Standards in all of the ethics codes everywhere have already been activated for you by AB-PA.

And it is NOT your responsibility to educate mental health professionals, it is the obligation of mental health professionals to “undertake ongoing efforts” to maintain their competence:

APA Standard 2.03: Maintaining Competence
Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

If you have provided the psychologist with a copy of Foundations, you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code.  If you have provided the psychologist with a copy of Professional Consultation, you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code.  If you have provided the psychologist with material from my website describing the pathology (The Attachment-Related Pathology of “Parental Alienation”), you have activated Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code.

All of this is possible – all of this is very much real – because AB-PA defines the pathology from entirely within the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

As Jason Hofer so accurately and incisively understands:

“AB-PA is not the solution… The solution is the psychological knowledge behind AB-PA.  Attachment theory, family systems theory, personality disorders, all of it.”

“If you were to have a therapist study everything found in the reference section of “Foundations”, but not read “Foundations” itself, I guarantee they’ll be able to make the right diagnosis that child psychological abuse is taking place.  That’s the beauty of it.  The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.”

AB-PA is entirely contained within my reference list (Dr. Childress Personal Reference List: AB-PA).  If anyone asks you for the peer-reviewed research for AB-PA, give them this reference list.

If they read the material in this reference list but never read anything about AB-PA, I guarantee that they will make the correct diagnosis of the pathology.

AB-PA isn’t Childress.  It’s Bowlby, and Millon, and Haley, and Beck, and Minchin, and Kernberg, and van der Kolk, and everyone in that reference list.  These are the people and this is the research base for AB-PA.

I’ve just brought this information into a single place (Foundations) in applying this information to the attachment-related pathology of a child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.  My reference list is the peer-reviewed research for AB-PA.  The finger that points at the moon is not the moon.

To solve the pathology of “parental alienation” – all of professional psychology must speak to the Court in a single unified voice – “The pathology is AB-PA, the DSM-5 diagnosis is V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, and the professional standard of practice and the “duty to protect” requires the child’s protective separation from the abusive parent.”

For all of the variants of “parental alienation” that may be sub-threshold for AB-PA or that may involve other forms of pathology – we solve all of these in EXACTLY the same way that we solve AB-PA, through the application of the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to the set of symptoms.

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