Leading the Treatment Team

I want to tell you all a secret.  I’m working for you.  Kind of self-appointed volunteer work.  I’m leading your treatment team.

For you, the targeted parents.  I’ve kind of appointed myself to head up your treatment team.  In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s lots and lots of grief and emotional trauma in you.  Not good.  We need to do something about that.

What’s causing you all that grief and trauma?  Oh, you’ve lost your kids.  That’ll do it.

How’d you wind up losing your kids?  Oh.  Oh.  My-oh-my, that’s not good.  My professional colleagues are highly problematic.  We’ll need to fix that.

So I set about doing that.

I’m heading up your treatment team – your trauma recovery team – for you, the parents. Hope you don’t mind that I kind of appointed myself to the position of heading up your trauma-recovery.  Somebody had to do it.

Oh, your kids too.  We’ll protect your kids.  Working on that first thing.  Notice how I got us the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, we’ll be able to protect your kids. And kids are resilient – once we get them back they’ll be okay – a little bumpy and worse for wear, but they’ll be fine.

It’s all of you parents I’m concerned about.  Holy cow, the amount of grief and savage emotional abuse you’ve endured – that is immensely painful.  We need to make that stop immediately, if not sooner.

But boy, that pathogen had you all wrapped up, and it has allies, powerful allies.  Gotta navigate them.  Whew, this is dangerous over here, gotta be careful.

So I spent a couple of years figuring out how we’re going to do this, protect you and get your kids back.  I’m heading up your trauma recovery.

I used to do this all the time in foster care when I was the Clinical Director of the treatment center.  As the Clinical Director, I over-saw all cases coming into the clinic.  I’d assign therapists, oversee the work-up of the assessment protocols, I’d supervise treatment plans, allocate resources for home-based and school-based para-professional support.  We had developmental pediatricians, and OT therapists, and speech and language therapists all at the clinic, sometimes a trauma nurse from the local hospital.  The CPS social worker was part of the treatment team.

I put that all together, that treatment team for each kid, and I was in charge.  So I come over here and, whoa.  This is a hot mess.  These parents are being massively abused and traumatized.  Somebody needs to do something, why isn’t anyone doing something?

Oh.  I see.  Okay.

We’ll somebody has to do something.  Guess it’s me.

So I kind of took you all on as my clients – pro bono.  Because it needs to be done.  If other clinical psychologists want to do it, yay.  Join me.  Let’s start solving this for these parents.  In the absence of anyone else, I took charge of your trauma recovery.

You all think this pathology is about the kids.  No, it’s about you.  It is the savage and brutal emotional abuse of you – as the ex-spouse.  The child is the weapon, you’re the target.  Why do you think you’re called the “targeted” parent?  You are the target.

As head of your treatment team you’ve heard me recommend to you that you get some PTSD therapy; complex trauma, traumatic grief.  You need it, this has been brutal on you.  Your therapist will become part of your treatment team; Dr. C and your trauma therapist.  And Dorcy, she’s the best trauma recovery specialist on the planet.  I found her wandering around helping you all, a pleasant surprise and a good thing.  She’s the best.

If you are a person of faith – whichever belief – your minister, or rabbai, or imam, or coven or whatever should also be part of your treatment team.  Whatever support, bring them.  Meet with your faith leader, explain things, ask them to join the Alliance Facebook group, just to listen and attend, to understand.

This pathology lives in darkness and lies, in the absence of human values.  This is most definitely a faith-based issue.

Your attorneys too, this is a child protection issue, so your attorneys are part of your treatment team, ask them to join the Alliance group and listen, to understand.  Ultimately we will be advocating for the appointment of an amicus attorney representing the court’s interest in treatment.   A role for attorneys will be opening on the treatment team for the family, we are starting now in developing that role with the child protection side.

Your kids individual therapists are also part of the treatment team.  They don’t realize it.  Individual child therapists are not always… aware.  Their focus is too narrow to see.  Individual therapists function best when integrated into a treatment team.

So that’s what I’ve been working on, putting together the framework for all of that.  I’m sort of heading up your trauma recovery team, self-appointed – but somebody had to do it. 

I tried to provide as much free information as possible.  I figure the courts and forensic psychology are taking pretty much all your money (it’s part of the abuse; financial abuse added to the emotional abuse), so I’ve tried to take it easy on you, posted almost everything free to my website and blog.

Foundations for $25, and a couple of resource booklets around $10. That’s not bad considering the thousands you’re paying for ignorance and no solutions.

I even put a handout on my website: “Professional Consultation“, it’s online-free, saves you some money from having to have an in-person with me where I say what I say in the handout.  Figured it would save you some coin if I just put it on my website.

If what I’m doing seems different than what every other mental health person is doing…

It is.  They’re exploiting you, and I’m heading up your trauma-recovery team.  Self-appointed, but I’ve done this type of thing before.

We needed a structured assessment protocol, and we needed a whole lot more knowledge over here.  I’ll ground things in established psychology to avoid the controversy and muck generated by “parental alienation” – we’ve gotta deal with the allies of the pathology.

I spent about 2 years from 2008 to 2010 working out the trauma recovery – your recovery.  Holy cow, you are being massively abused and traumatized – you, the parents.

Yeah, I know your kids too.  But your kids will be easy-peasy to recover, it’s the emotional trauma and suffering of parents, wow, that needs to end – now.  Today.  Yesterday, in fact, many-many yesterdays.

The profound absence of empathy from forensic psychology is stunning – and it should never-ever have happened.

In August of 2017, I had some blog and Facebook posts toward the Gardnerian “experts” – they were in the supposed role of leading your treatment recovery when I came on the scene.  I tried to work with them, but they simply refuse.  So in 2017 I asserted leadership of your treatment team – your trauma recovery team.

They didn’t even know that was part of their professional responsibility to you.  Stunning.

I asked for their path to a solution using Gardner’s PAS – (they have none, I knew that). If they don’t have a path to a solution, then I do.  I’m a clinical psychologist, I work trauma recovery, I’m senior staff background, I’ll head up the trauma recovery if they don’t.

We need to solve this as fast as is humanly possible – now – because lots and lots of parents are in active IPV spousal abuse – brutal and savage IPV spousal abuse.

And… children are losing their childhoods.  That is bad-bad-bad developmentally.  We need to get this stopped today.

That’s why I went with a diagnostic solution.  It is available today.  Right now. Always has been available.  No “new theory” – no need to prove something to someone.  And with diagnosis we can hold all ALL mental health professionals… accountable.

I’ve constructed a carrot-and-stick approach to motivation.  The APA ethics code is the stick of danger for the mental health person – the three diagnostic indicators are the carrot of safety.

That’s not an accident.  My Master’s degree is in Clinical-Community Psychology, the Community part is specific training in how to address pathology by changing community systems… like adjusting the family court’s response to pathology.

I know exactly what I’m doing, because I’ve been specifically trained to do exactly this. I can explain it, if you’d like.

I’ve even done something similar for juvenile firesetting behavior – another court-involved pathology – developed a whole mental health assessment protocol – a national model for assessment of juvenile firesetting behavior – for FEMA and the Department of Justice. I’ve posted work product from that.

Firesetting: Child Interview Protocol

Look at the back of this semi-structured interview protocol, see those boxes – Before – During- After / Thoughts – Feelings – Behavior.  That’s called a “behavior-chain interview” and we’ll be bringing that technique over here to assessment with your families.

Firesetting: Summary

I’m really proud of that Firesetter Summary.  That’s a summary form for the information produced by the assessment protocol. That’s a pretty comprehensive assessment for the motivational issues surrounding the kid’s fire setting.

This is not the first clinical psychology assessment protocol I’ve developed for a court-involved pathology.  I can explain it all if anyone is interested.  The six-session clinical psychology Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce is a solidly assessment booklet picturegrounded clinical psychology assessment protocol for the family conflict.

What we want to do in developing an assessment protocol is provide a structured approach that is standardized in both its administration and in the interpretation of the data across the people conducting the assessment – this is called inter-rater reliability.  So all mental health people do the same thing and achieve the same results from the assessment based on the same data.

If you disagree with the diagnosis, get a second opinion, that’s the inter-rater reliability component.  Two raters, are these symptoms present, absent, or somewhat present?

 If we’re developing an IQ test, we need all of the assessment administrators to do the same thing, ask the same questions, in the same way… that’s called standardizing the assessment procedures.  And all of the assessment people need to score the responses in the same way and they need to interpret scores in the same way.  All of that is called standardization of the assessment.

If everybody is doing any old thing and interpreting the outcome in any old way, that’s not assessment that’s just a mess.

The child custody evaluators standardize their procedures just fine – but NOT the interpretation of data.  THAT is left entirely to their personal discretion, ignorance, and massive bias.  No controls are placed on the interpretation of data at all.  HUGE problem in assessment.

What I did with AB-PA was to identify three symptoms that are ALWAYS present with this pathology and are NEVER present at any other time, the three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA.  This allows us to standardize the assessment procedures and the interpretation of the data… called diagnosis.  If there is a question, get a second opinion.

Then by limiting the scope of the referral question to a clinical psychology treatment question rather than a child custody question, the treatment focused clinical psychology assessment protocol can be brought in much more efficiently, for around $2,500 rather than the $20,000 to $40,000 of child custody evaluations, and at four to six weeks rather than six to nine months to complete, the limited-scope clinical psychology assessments can provide significantly more timely and useful information for decision-making.

That’s my job.  I’m heading up your trauma recovery team.  I developed an assessment protocol for this pathology. First I had to ground the Foundations, to do that I had to make sure all of the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck links were solidly grounded.

Personal Reference List of Dr. Childress for AB-PA

There’s all your “peer-reviewed” research.  All the symptoms are fully grounded professional symptoms, attachment pathology, personality disorder traits, a persecutory delusion.  Everything is fully established knowledge so that when we reached this point everything is in place.

I knew the pathogen and its flying monkeys would focus on AB-PA as new theory (I even provided a mimicking of PAS-Gardner by AB-PA-Childress), but there is no such thing as AB-PA; it is entirely Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck – established knowledge.

We have to present a toddler with a new food 11 times before they’ll try it.  Same with knowledge – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.  By the 4,823’d time people are staring to become familiar with family systems constructs – cross-generational coalition – emotional cutoff. Some of them are starting to realize that there may be ethical code violations involved with what they’re doing (and not doing).

When I arrived, I found two massively broken systems, the family court system and the professional psychology system in the family courts.  Based on my analysis of the factors, the primary problem was a failure in forensic psychology that then led to the failure of the family court’s response.  Forensic psychology was abjectly ignorant and hugely incompetent.

We needed to fix the professional psychology response to the pathology to then leverage a fixed mental health system to fix the legal system’s broken response.  I had a lot of work to do.  All done.

We are now taking the fixed mental health system response into the family courts.

And I have a secret weapon I haven’t discussed yet.  There are lots and lots of really good mental health professionals out there too, they see the pathology and are trying to help, but structures are preventing them from solving things.  We’re going to release some of those barriers for them.  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone yet, I don’t want the pathogen to know that there are thousands of excellent mental health professionals who will suddenly start appearing.  I haven’t said a word about them up until now.

Ooops.

We are not looking to educate ignorance. We are going to move right past it into solution,  Ignorance can stay right where it is, it’s irrelevant. The solution of knowledge is coming from a different direction than educating ignorance.  There are many-many excellent mental health professionals out there.  I’ve worked with them my entire life.

So I guess I’m fessing up now.  I’m not actually just a clinical psychologist, I’m also heading up your trauma recovery, your treatment team – you – the parents.  The ones with all that massive grief – that pain feeling.  Yeah, that.

Your children too.  That’s why it hurts so much. We have to rescue your kids and protect your kids.  Got it.  No worries, working on it top priority.  And we need to get you some trauma recovery help in here – you parents have been massively abused and traumatized by this family court pathology – IPV spousal abuse using the child as the weapon.

From 2020 to 2022 I’m going to be making noises about putting your treatment team in place.  That will be your organizing family therapist, your PTSD individual therapist, the child’s individual therapist (if needed, I don’t think we need them), the amicus attorney (your attorney until we get an amicus attorney), faith-community if it’s a support for you, teachers too, teachers can join the Alliance group and learn (we’ll develop information for them).

To my professional colleagues, those excellent ones I know are there, you don’t need to wait on me.  These families – your clients – need local-area support… you.  I’m only an email away, I’ll be doing training seminars… but you know what’s right.  Start with diagnosis… make the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse when it is warranted, then the parent is empowered to protect their child.

The pathogen’s never dealt with an actual clinical psychologist before.  Surprise pathogen.  Lots and lots of surprises.  Until somebody steps up to relieve me, I’m assuming professional responsibility for heading up the trauma recovery team for these parents and their children.

I’m bringing Dorcy, she is the top trauma recovery specialist on the planet. That’s two, add your PTSD therapist, that’s three.  Add your attorney, that’s four.  Add your minister, that’s five.  Add your school’s teacher, that’s six. Then let’s get you an organizing family systems therapist to guide the recovery of your family into normal and healthy development.

That’s the plan.

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

Trauma Recovery Leadership; Parents & Children in Court-Involved Family Conflict.

 

 

Dr. Childress: Professional Background

My professional background is perfectly suited to what I’m doing with this court involved pathology. I want to point out some specific things.

1. Master’s Degree in Community/Clinical Psychology

In addition to my Psy.D. doctorate which I will discuss shortly, I also have a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology. I have three degrees in Psychology.

I have a Master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology.  Clinical psychology is the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology. What is the Community Psychology component of that advanced post-graduate training?

Community Psychology is solving pathology by altering community systems, such as solving pathological family conflict by altering how the community systems  (such as family courts and forensic psychology) respond to the pathology.

I am specifically trained to do exactly what I am doing.  I am trained to alter systems within the community, such as the family courts and forensic psychology, to solve pathology.  Do you know what that means?  That means I know exactly what I’m doing, because I am trained to do exactly this thing, affect pathology by changing community systems.

The Community component also included a focus on Organization Development, a field of psychology providing consultation to businesses to improve their functioning and operation.  For example, an Organization Development psychologist might be hired by Apple or Nike (or community agencies, such as the family courts) to improve functioning in a particular division of their organization.

If you look into my work with juvenile firesetting behavior for FEMA and the Department of Justice (Firesetting Child Interview; Firesetting Reinforcement Summary) you will see three psychologists listed, Dr. Fineman (the content expert on juvenile firesetting behavior), Dr. Childress as the Clinical Director for the project, and Dr. Patterson as the Organizational Development Psychologist working with the fire agencies.  Dr. Patterson was a post-doc at the time, I supervised his work in Organizational Development because I’m trained to do that.

I am trained in the specific professional skills needed to change and alter systems and organizations (such as the family courts and forensic psychology) to address and solve pathology. In my work with this court-involved pathology, I am following a set of procedures for system change in community organizations. I can explain it all if anyone is interested.

But in lieu of an explanation, I will simply offer this question… how is it that Dr. Childress, a single lone clinical psychologist, working without any help or support, is changing the very fabric of how professional psychology and the family courts respond to pathological family conflict?

The answer is because I am specifically trained through my Master’s program to do specifically that, to solve pathology by altering community structures.
I know exactly what I am doing. I can explain it all if anyone is interested.

2. Twelve Years of Rating Psychotic Symptoms

During my Master’s degree I worked full-time in adolescent psychiatric hospitals to work my way through school and pay for my education.  I have experience working with that spectrum of child and adolescent pathology; psychiatric hospitalization for severe emotional and behavioral problems.

Once I obtained my degree, I wanted to take a break from school AND work, and simply enjoy the fruits of my academic labors before returning once again to graduate school for my doctoral degree.  I secured a position as a Staff Research Associate on a schizophrenia clinical research project at UCLA.  My responsibilities on this project were to manage all aspects of data collection, data processing, and data organization.  I managed the research side of a 16-hour two day test battery which occurred at patient intake, remission, exacerbation or relapse points, and additional time-points, such as 1-year and 3-year treatment points, integrating multiple researchers at multiple sites into the data collection and data processing.

I have a strong research background (despite having a non-research Psy.D.) This background in managing a major longitudinal research project at UCLA has allowed me to structure AB-PA to be research friendly.  There are ports-of-entry built into AB-PA to accept and anchor research. Once university research adopts an AB-PA model for the pathology, they will find conveniences in organizing their research projects.

During my twelve years spent at this UCLA research project on schizophrenia we were trained to clinical reliability every year by UCLA and the Brentwood VA Diagnostic Unit on rating psychotic symptoms (and all symptoms; 24 different symptoms of pathology) using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS).

The BRPS is considered the professional “gold standard” in symptom rating for all clinical research. Wikipedia describes the BPRS as “one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms.”

From Wikipedia: “The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) is a rating scale which a clinician or researcher may use to measure psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hallucinations and unusual behaviour. Each symptom is rated 1-7 and depending on the version between a total of 18-24 symptoms are scored. The scale is one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms and was first published in 1962.”

I have over a decade of direct experience rating psychotic symptoms on the 1-7 scale of the BRPS, from not present to extremely severe and each gradation in-between.  I was trained annually for over 12 years by UCLA in the assessment and diagnosis of psychotic symptoms. Vitae entry:

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

The pathology with this court-involved, high-litigation, high-intensity family conflict surrounding divorce involves the child pathology of an encapsulated persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent (a likely BPRS rating of 5 Moderately Severe because the child evidences “full conviction” in a false persecutory belief).
This is the definition from the American Psychiatric Association for a persecutory delusion:

From the APA: “Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treatment in some way.”

The child’s encapsulated persecutory belief is part of an extended sub-system to the pathology with the allied parent, who also holds a persecutory delusion and who represents the “primary case” of a shared delusion created in the child (an ICD-10 diagnosis of F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder). Here is the description by the American Psychiatric Association of a shared delusion:

From the APA:  “Although most commonly seen in relationships of only two people, Shared Psychotic Disorder can occur in larger number of individuals, especially in family situations in which the parent is the primary case and the children, sometimes to varying degrees, adopt the parent’s delusional beliefs.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)

From the APA: “Usually the primary case in Shared Psychotic Disorder is dominant in the relationship and gradually imposes the delusional system on the more passive and initially healthy second person.  Individuals who come to share delusional beliefs are often related by blood or marriage and have lived together for a long time, sometimes in relative isolation.” (APA, 2000, p. 332

The American Psychiatric Association also provide guidance on treatment for a shared delusional belief

From the APA: “If the relationship with the primary case is interrupted, the delusional beliefs of the other individual usually diminish or disappear.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)

From the APA: “Course: Without intervention, the course is usually chronic, because this disorder most commonly occurs in relationships that are long-standing and resistant to change… With separation from the primary case, the individual’s delusional beliefs disappear, sometimes quickly and sometimes quite slowly.” (APA, 2000, p. 333)

Of all the most-expert professionals on the planet who are skilled, trained, and experienced in the assessment of delusional-psychotic pathology, I’m one of them.

Twelve years of annual training by UCLA and the Diagnostic Unit at the Brentwood VA in the assessment of psychotic symptoms.

3. Child Abuse & Trauma

The pathology asserts that the targeted-rejected parent is abusive of the child, which is supposedly thereby creating the child’s attachment pathology toward this parent (i.e., rejecting the parent; attachment bond rejection by the child).

I have direct child abuse and trauma background.  I served as the Clinical Director for a three-university collaborative assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system.  In that capacity, I supervised and directed the clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of child abuse and complex trauma.

I have exactly the professional background and expertise to address the potential child abuse and child maltreatment concerns of the allied parent (and the court).  I know exactly what child abuse looks like in the symptom patterns of the child.

The child in this court-involved family conflict is presenting as being “victimized” by a parent.  If true, this is a likely DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse.  There are four DSM-5 diagnoses of child abuse in the Child Maltreatment section of the DSM-5;

V995.54 Child Physical Abuse,

V995.53 Child Sexual Abuse,

V995.52 Child Neglect,

V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.

If a parent is “victimizing” a child, it is hard to imagine a scenario where that would not also be child abuse.

If, however, the belief in “victimization” is false, how false? A false belief in “victimization” is a persecutory belief, is it a persecutory delusion? Use the BPRS to anchor symptom rating.

I am experienced in the assessment and diagnosis of authentic child abuse from my professional background leading a three-university collaborative assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system. I am also experienced assessing and diagnosing delusional psychotic pathology.

I have exactly the relevant background, training, and experience needed to assess and diagnose both sides of the differential diagnosis, if the belief in “victimization” is true (child abuse), and if it is false (a persecutory delusion).

4.  Attachment Pathology

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

The attachment system forms its basic wiring during early childhood (the period from zero-to-five years old), yet we use the attachment system throughout our lives to guide and mediate our approach to love-and-bonding with other people. The domain of professional psychology most directly involved in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment pathology is early childhood, especially child abuse (attachment trauma) in early childhood, which is exactly my background.

This is exactly the pathology I worked with as Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center (ages zero-to-five) working with children in the foster care system (attachment trauma). I have a high-level of professional training, background, and experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating attachment pathology.

I have been trained in two additional diagnostic systems for early childhood and attachment pathology, the DC:0-3 and the ICDM diagnostic system, I have been trained in two standard evidenced-based attachment therapies, Watch-Wait-Wonder and Circle of Security, and I have additional Certification training in Infant psychology, which is a whole additional domain of complexity created by the rapidly changing neuro-development of the infant’s first year.

Of all the most expert professionals on the planet regarding attachment bonding pathology, I’m one of them.

5.  PsyD versus PhD

A PhD is a Doctorate in Philosophy, combining psychology and research coursework, a PsyD is a doctorate in clinical Psychology, no research.

A PhD in clinical psychology (there are other PhD categories in psychology that are entirely research-focused) is trained in both clinical psychology (the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology) and in research methodology and research statistics. It’s called the “scientist-practitioner” model and it allows these psychologists to both treat pathology and to be a university researcher as well.

The PsyD, on the other hand is an advanced specialization focusing solely on clinical psychology and the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology.  PsyD doctors sacrifice the research side of the vitae (meaning any university professorships) in order to obtain additional specialized training in pathology and its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.  A PsyD doctorate is the most advanced degree possible in clinical psychology, more advanced than a PhD.

Our advanced training in clinical psychology has cascading implications.  Let me explain.

Pathology teaches.  Coursework prepares the psychologist to learn, but it is direct experience with the pathology that teaches.  Following doctoral coursework, clinical psychologists must complete two full years of supervised training, one pre-doctoral (the “pre-doctoral internship;” some are APA accredited, some are not), and one post-doctoral (the “post-doctoral fellowship”).  I did both my pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (APA accredited predoctoral internship), with medical rotations in spina bifida (pre-doctoral internship) and pediatric cancer (post-doctoral fellowship), and a mental health specialty of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The pathology teaches. We learn the features of the pathology from our assessment of it, we learn its core from treating it.  That’s why we have two full year of supervised training, the clinical supervisor guides the intern and post-doc in their learning directly from the pathology.

Our coursework prepares us to learn, the pathology (whatever the pathology is we’re working with) teaches us.

The PsyD has additional coursework in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology in place of the research coursework of the PhD psychologist.  Because we sacrificed coursework in research for this additional training in pathology and its treatment, that means we enter our internships better prepared to learn from the pathology than a PhD trained clinical psychologist.  This has implicatons.

Our better preparation means that after the first year of pre-doctoral supervised training, the PsyD clinical psychologist has learned more than the PhD clinical psychologist, because we are better prepared to learn from the pathology, we know,more going in.

That means when we begin our second year of supervised post-doctoral training, we are even more advanced in our preparation because of our more enriched learning during the internship supervised training, so we learn even more from the pathology than the PhD during our second, post-doctoral training year.

That means when we enter independent licensed practice, we’re even more advanced over the PhD than when our supervised training began.  The PsyD doctorate provides better preparation to learn during the two years of supervised training, so we learn more during these two training years than the PhD.

That’s why we sacrifice the research side of our vitaes.  You will never see a PsyD as a professor at a university.

Except me.  I’ve taught graduate level courses in Assessment & Diagnosis – Models of Psychotherapy – Psychometrics of Assessment – Cultural Psychology – Law and Ethics – Research Methodology – Theories of Personality – and Child Development.  In order to teach a graduate-level course in a subject, the professor needs to first know the subject.  I know everything in each of those content areas because I taught those content areas at the graduate level.  I enjoy teaching and mentoring students, so I found a way to stay active and do that.

The PsyD doctorate is a more advanced degree in clinical psychology, in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology – significantly more advanced – than the PhD.  A PsyD doctorate degree (Doctor in Psychology) is the top there is in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology, there is none better.

I have a B.A. degree in Psychology from UCLA. an M.A. degree in Community/Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.

In the doctoral program at Pepperdine, we selected two of the four primary schools of psychotherapy as our specialty training focus. I chose Family Systems Therapy and Humanistic-Existential psychology (personal growth and self-actualization; I am trained as a Gestalt therapist from my Master’s training years).

My specialty in psychotherapy as a PsyD advanced-level clinical psychologist is… family systems therapy.

This court-involved high-intensity family conflict is…. a family conflict .

Family therapy is THE appropriate school of psychotherapy to apply to solving family conflict, and I am an advanced-level Psy.D. family systems therapist… with a background in diagnosing delusional-psychotic pathology, with a background in assessing, diagnosing, and treating complex trauma and child abuse, with a background in assessing, diagnosing and treating attachment pathology.

And I have been specifically trained through my M.A. in Community/Clinical Psychology to solve pathology by creating change in community systems and organizations, like the family courts and forensic psychology.

I have exactly the proper professional background to do exactly what it is I’m doing.

6.  AB-PA is True and Accurate

An attachment-based description of this court-involved family conflict pathology (Foundations; AB-PA) is 100% accurate.  Foundations and its description of AB-PA is a comprehensive, true and accurate description of the pathology, that is a fact.

You will find three symptoms, three disparate and impossible symptoms, with this pathology, (each of these symptoms is impossible, yet nevertheless present),

1)  Attachment: attachment bond suppression toward a normal-range parent (an impossible symptom),

2) Narcisistic: five specific narcissistic personality traits in the child’s symptom display (an impossible symptom), 

3) Delusional: an encapsulated persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent (an impossible symptom).

All three symptoms are impossible.  The prevalence rate for any of those symptoms in the general population is zero.  We should never see those three symptoms because they are each impossible.  Yet AB-PA (Foundations) predicts the presence of all three impossible symptoms in the child’s symptom display.

Diagnostically, Foundations and AP-PA are analobous to a batter calling the home run to left field before the pitch, designating the Section, Row, Seat, and in the cupholder… and then doing it, putting it right in the cupholder of Seat 23, Row E, Section 104.

Foundations and an attachment-based model for this court-involved family conflict pathology is 100% a true and accurate description of the pathology.  That is a fact.

I know exactly what I am doing, and I can explain it to anyone who is interested.
The solution is a done-deal, it on its way.  That too, is a fact.  It has been for several years now.  It’s not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when, and when the paradigm shifts to an attachment-based diagnostic model, the field of professional psychology will shift quickly.

The solution is available immediately – today.  It simply requires we apply the established knowledge of professional psychology.  If we apply knowledge, we solve pathology.  Ignorance solves nothing.  There are standards of practice in clinical psychology, codified by the APA ethics code. The APA ethics code is mandatory – required.  It is NOT optional.

Standard 2.04 requires the application of the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology – that would be Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), Tronick (neuro-development of the brain), and the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association).
Standard 2.01a requires this information for professional competence – mandatory, not optional.

Standard 9.01a requires that psychologists’ assessments and diagnostic statement, including forensic testimony, be based on information “sufficient to substantiate their findings” – that would be the application of Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), Tronick (neuro-development of the brain), and the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association).

Standard 3.04 requires that psychologists harm no one – no one – not even parents, not even if the forensic psychologist thinks the parent “deserves” to be harmed.  No one.  Not even terrorists (3.04b).  No one.

To limit or restrict a parent’s time an involvement with their child hurts the parent, and the child.  That is not allowed under Standard 3.04.  The ONLY appropriate custody recommendation from professional psychology is that each parent should have a much time and involvement with the child as possible.

The only professionally justifiable reason for restricting a parent’s time and involvement with their child is child abuse – a child protection justification.

If there is no child abuse… then parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, personal values, and religious values. 

If there is no child abuse or child protection concerns, then the ONLY allowable recommendation for a child custody schedule from professional psychology pursuant to the requirement of Standard 3.04 of the APA ethics code to Avoid Harm – mandatory, not optional – is that each parent should have as much time and involvement as possible.

Furthermore, Principle D: Justice of the APA ethics code requires – not optional, requires – that all clients have the right to equal access to professional services.  The excessive $20,000 to $40,000 cost of a child custody evaluation denies equal access to lower SES parents, and provides a higher-quality of service to more affluent clients, in violation of Principle D: Justice.

Principle D: Justice of the APA ethics code also requires that all clients receive equal quality in professional services. Required – not optional.  The absence of inter-rater reliability for child custody evaluations, and professionals who just “dabble” in professional psychology leading to a “wide range of variability in services” violates this fundamental Principle of Justice and professional ethics.

From Stahl & Simon: “The American Board of Forensic Psychology is a subspecialty board of the ABPP. In the fall of 2011, there were approximately 250-300 ABPP board certified forensic psychologists in the United States and an unknown number of psychologists who specialize in forensic work but are not board certified. On top of that, there are many psychologists who dabble in forensic practice, occasionally performing child custody or other types of forensic evaluations, and who find themselves called to testify in court on occasion. While we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work, it is clear that forensic psychology is a growing area of specialization.” (Stahl & Simons, 2013, p. 9)

Stahl, P.M. and Simon, R.A. (2013). Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony, Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association.

Stahl & Simon openly acknowledge there to be “many psychologists” who merely “dabble in forensic practice” and they openly acknowledge that “there is a range of quality in their work.”  This, then, would represent a violation of Principle D: Justice, that requires “equal quality” in the psychological services provided to all clients.

7.  Duty to Protect

When a parent creates a persecutory delusion in the child that destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent (in spousally motivated revenge and retaliation for the failed marriage and divorce), that is a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.  Creating significant psychopathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting is called “pathogenic” parenting (patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation).  Creating delusional-psychotic pathology in the child through deviant, distorted, and pathogenic parenting practices is Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51).

Failure to diagnose child abuse and protect the child when it is warranted by the child’s symptoms represents a failure in the professional’s “duty to protect” the child.

Failure to diagnose and protect the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse (Intimate Partner Violence; “domestic violence”), i.e., the brutal emotional abuse of the ex-spouse/targeted parent using the child as the weapon, would also represent a failure in the professional’s “duty to protect” the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse, using the child as the weapon.

From my professional background as noted above, forensic psychology is in clear and ongoing violation of Standards 2.04, 2.01a, 9.01a, 3.04, Principle D: Justice, and the duty to protect on two separate and independent counts, failure to protect the child from DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse, and failure to protect the ex-spouse/targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse by the allied parent, using the child as the weapon.

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

Betrayal of Children

What’s the going price for the betrayal of children these days?

Apparently it’s 20,000 to 40,000 pieces of silver. It appears the price of betrayal has gone up.

Dr. Childress diagnoses child abuse when it is present.  When a parent creates delusional-psychotic pathology in the child that damages the child’s bond to the other parent, that is a DSM-5 diagnosis of Psychological Child Abuse (V995.51). When the purpose is to make the other spouse-and-parent suffer, that’s IPV emotional abuse of the ex-spouse, using the child as the weapon.

Dr. Childress diagnoses child abuse when it is present.

Dr. Childress diagnoses IPV spousal abuse when it is present.

Do you forensic psychology?  In your child custody evaluations, do you diagnose a persecutory delusion in the child and a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse?  Do you diagnose the brutal and savage emotional abuse of the ex-spouse/targeted parent, the IPV spousal abuse of the ex-spouse, using the child as the weapon?

I do.

But you don’t.

Why not?  Why aren’t you diagnosing child abuse in your custody evaluations?  Why aren’t you diagnosing the persecutory delusion?  Why aren’t you protecting the child?  Why aren’t you diagnosing the brutal and savage emotional abuse of the ex-spouse/targeted parent, using the child as the weapon?

For 20,000 to 40,000 pieces of silver, you betray the parents who come to you to protect their children, for 20,000 to 40,000 pieces of silver you betray the child.

Why aren’t you diagnosing child abuse, why aren’t you diagnosing spousal abuse?

I do.  You don’t.

A treatment focused assessment of family pathology with a diagnosis and treatment plan costs around $2,500 and could be completed in four to six weeks.  This lower cost and better efficiency would allow a second opinion assessment and diagnosis to confirm the diagnosis if desired.  Two independent diagnoses could be returned in six to eight weeks at a cost of around $5,000.

Yet, forensic psychology, you cannot even produce a single diagnostic opinion in six to nine months, for a cost of $20,000 to $40,000. Why is that, forensic psychology? Why can’t you come up with a diagnostic opinion on the family conflict in less time and for less money?

I can.  We all can.  We do it all the time in clinical psychology.  All the time.

Clinical psychology can return a diagnosis and treatment plan for a limited-scope assessment of family pathology in six to eight weeks for about $2,500. What do you want an assessment for?  Autism?  ADHD?   School learning problems?  Juvenile justice problems?  Eating disorders and depression?  Anxiety disorders?  Trauma?  What?  Just tell us what you want the focus of assessment to be, and clinical psychology can return a diagnosis and treatment plan within four to six weeks for around $2,500.  Choose any pathology you’d like.

This one?  This court-involved family conflict?  Sure, we can do that.  A limited-scope clinical psychology assessment of the family conflict pathology for a diagnosis and treatment plan? – no problem.  Four to six weeks, for around $2,500.

So… what’s the presenting problem?  A child rejecting a parent.  That’s an attachment bonding pathology, a child rejecting a parent.  That could also extend into a child abuse pathology relative to the targeted-rejected parent.  Immediately, just from the referral presenting problem, we have possible child abuse as a differential diagnosis.  This is serious.  Trauma background and application is essential to the assessment and diagnosis.

Go on, is there any other potentially relevant information?  There is conflict surrounding child custody following divorce, and this is the primary issue that the court and family would like resolved.  Court involvement?  I now have two clients on the assessment, the child and the court.

Okay.  The custody conflict is a symptom.  It would strongly suggest a profound failure of parental empathy in at least one parent.  All it takes is one to create the conflict, sometimes two participate.  A profound failure of parental empathy is involved.

Surrounding divorce?  Divorce is rejection (abandonment), this will trigger narcissistic and borderline pathology into full activation.  Narcissistic and borderline pathology is extremely high-conflict, both personality pathologies also involve a profound failure in parental empathy, both are caused by unresolved childhood attachment trauma.  This is potentially a differential diagnosis of trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma from a narcissistic-borderline parent to the current family relationships in order to stabilize their own fragile self-structure and to work through their own unresolved childhood trauma issues.

If that’s the case, then we would potentially have a narcissistic-borderline parent using the child as a regulatory object to stabilize the parent’s own fragile self-structure which is collapsing in response to the rejection and abandonment inherent to divorce.

Okay.  We can assess that.  It’ll take about four to six weeks of clinical interviews with everyone involved, probably about six 90-minute clinical interviews will be enough, might be eight if there’s complex history or multiple child pathologies, such as the addition of autism or an eating disorder.

But for just that “rejection” attachment bonding pathology, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan… four to six weeks for about $2,500.  Here is the referral question we will accept on that (we always assess to answer the referral question):

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

Clinical psychology can answer that limited-scope treatment related question in about four to six weeks for about $2,500.

So… forensic psychology… why does it take you six to nine months and $20,000 to $40,000 to return no diagnosis and no treatment plan… and to solve nothing?

Does the child have a persecutory delusion, forensic psychology?  Did you even look?

Is this IPV spousal abuse of the targeted parent?  Do you even care?

Or do you simply do what you do, your child custody evaluation procedures, not looking, not caring.  A betrayal of your obligation to protect the child.  A betrayal of your obligation to protect the parent.

What’s it cost now days, betrayal?  What’s the going price for that?  20,000 to 40,000 pieces of silver?

Hardly seems worth it.

I diagnose child abuse,  I protect children.

I diagnose the brutal and savage emotional abuse of the ex-spouse using the child as the weapon.

Do you?

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

My father’s rippling

A professional vitae does not tell everything about a person, and I want to share a little more about my background for general understanding.  I ripple both my mother’s and father’s traumas, as you do for yours.  I want to tell you of ripples from my father, you see many and never know it.

My father was born in 1912.  He was a young man during the Great Depression of the 1930s. That was his formative time.  Later he joined the FBI for a while, that had an impact, he carried an authority in his presence.  He tried to become an artist with Disney, but they turned him down.  He was the first graduating class out of UCLA’s Westwood campus, and he played banjo in a band at night to put himself through Loyola law school.  He entered the federal court system and became a career civil servant in the federal courts, retiring and then working as a magistrate with the state bar.

You can see his ripple of the Great Depression in me.  There’s an energy, an anxiety, that drives my work ethic.  I am always working.  The way I relax, is to be working.  Not hard work, fortunately.  Meeting with a client, love that.  Writing; it’s okay, it’s not digging ditches, and reading, learning.  But I’ve got to be doing something, working.  I don’t like socializing, I should be working.  That’s the Great Depression, the need to find a job.

I was about 45 when I realized it, that want, that need to be “working” came from scars left by my father’s struggles during the Great Depression.  I’ve treated some Eastern European and Armenian families that have rippled starvation from a generation before. Once you see the influence of trans-generational trauma, its themes become clearly evident.  It’s like a color given to a pane of glass, the world is seen through the lens of want and need.

Hunger and starvation is neglect trauma.  I hate treating neglect child abuse. That is the worst, ugliest… Often, almost always, a symptom of neglect trauma is hoarding of food.  The child will take food and hide it in their room.  This is years after rescue, the child is still hoarding food (and stealing, children from neglect steal without thought, no impulse control, they take).  I hate treating neglect, it’s hard.

I have two older brothers born in the 1940s, ’47 and ’48, true baby boomers, both gone now.  I came along seven years later, born in 1955.  I’m Kennedy’s Camelot, the Vietnam war, and rock-n-roll from 1965 on.  I span the cultural revolution of authenticity and voice, one foot on either side   But my roots go back to the Great Depression and World War II, James Cagney and John Wayne, a different world, I ripple a different world, I span two worlds, two cultures.  Benny Goodman, Doris Day.  A different world.

I grew up watching I Love Lucy and Jackie Gleason on a black-and-white TV with rabbit ears that we had to fiddle with to reduce the snow.  It was amazing when we got our first color TV.  Only two shows were in color, both on Sunday night, Bonanza and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.  I owned a Daniel Boone coonskin hat (Fess Parker).  A different era.

Then things began to change, I was 10 in 1965, the Vietnam war began to emerge.  My brothers were 17 and 18.  They both went through the hard-core draft period of the war, Gary was never drafted, my brother Mark was, he served a tour over there.  We knew people, friends, “Did you hear about John?”  It’s quite the social trauma to have your high school friends come home in body bags.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of noise about that.  They shot some students on a college campus for making noise about our friends coming home in body bags.  We were killing our own children.  Neil Young; Ohio.

Just as an aside, lemme tell ya, there is no rush of excitement that can compare to coming home with the latest record by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones and putting it on your record player and hearing it for the first time.  Too unimaginably cool, that excitement.

The world grew authentic.  The alcohol fueled era of Frank Sinatra post-war trauma exploded into the children’s cries of pain, they broke free from false faces and found authentic voices, in race, in gender, in love.

Then the pendulum swung in corrective stability, a back-and-forth weave with change and consolidation, Reagan and the me-era, discos and coke spoons worn as jewelry about the neck.

Values changed.

During the cultural transformation of authenticity, values changed.  A re-stabilization occurred in some values, but not all.  Fueled by the authenticity of voice discovered and empowered in the 1960s and 70s, the 1980s began the era of divorce and the break-up of the family.

In the 1940s and 50s, parents stayed together “for the children” and divorce was a scarlet letter.  Alcoholism and domestic violence were high, but we just looked the other way, if we don’t acknowledge it then it doesn’t exist.  James Dean and Natalie Wood.

In the 1980s and 90s, things changed, it’s “better to get out of a bad marriage” than subject the children to all the fighting and conflict became the theme.  Our values had changed.  We were no longer tolerating an absence of love, we wanted love in the marriage.

Good, bad, or indifferent, that doesn’t matter.  It occurred, families are evolving.  What it means to be family is reorganizing itself.

We remain in a cultural battle surrounding race, and gender, and love, as well as a voice for moral standards on a variety of sides, but we are NEVER going to return to the low divorce rates of the 1930s and 40s.  The world has changed, and cultural values surrounding family have changed, and are changing.

Divorce is part of our family landscape.  Divorce ends the marriage, not the family.  As long as there is a child, there will always be a family, because that child unites two families, two family lineages, two family heritages, into the very fabric of the child’s being.  For a child to reject either side of family is to reject half of themselves.

Divorce ends the marriage, not the family.   When there is a child, there will always be a family.

Normal

We must integrate divorce, the family’s successful transition into a healthy separated family structure, into our family courts.  In most normal-range divorcing families, the child custody visitation schedule is agreed upon by the parents prior to the legal proceedings to dissolve the marriage.  That’s normal and healthy.

In normal-conflict families, the parents cannot reach an agreement between themselves on a custody visitation schedule, and they need the judge to decide. This represents a failure in their parental obligations. It doesn’t matter who, if it matters who then it’s you.  In divorcing and divorced families it is the obligation of the parents to keep inter-spousal conflict low for the child’s benefit.  If you’ve got to split as a spousal couple, that’s fine, just do it.  Don’t make a lot of noise and conflict about it, that’s not to the child’s benefit.  If you’re going to litigation rather than finding a cooperative mediated agreement, that’s a failure in parental obligation.

I don’t care by who.  If you care about who, it’s you.  You need to solve this between the two of you or in mediation, figure it out, that is your responsibility as a parent.

Yet normal-range parental conflict surrounding the divorce event is understandable. It remains normal-range because of the context of spousal conflict surrounding divorce.  Both parents love the child, that’s a good thing.

Normal-range conflict surrounding the divorcee event is often because one-or-both parents wants a primary school-week schedule for themselves, with every-other-weekend provided to the other parent.  The most common argument offered is that the child needs “stability” relative to their school-week.

A number of logistical factors affect the initial court order for custody visitation.  It doesn’t matter.  To clinical psychology, either schedule, any schedule, is entirely fine, we can create healthy families and healthy parent-child bonds with any reasonable custody visitation schedule.  As far as clinical psychology is concerned, the court is free to select whatever schedule seems appropriate to the circumstances, that’s typically either a 50-50 variant or an every-other-weekend schedule.

If you want the recommendation from clinical psychology, as clinical psychologists we’re not allowed to hurt people, anyone.  To restrict a parent’s time and involvement with their child would hurt them, and the child.  We’re not allowed to hurt people.  So the recommendation from clinical psychology is that each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.

That way, no one is hurt.  If there’s arguments, we fix them. If there’s child abuse, we diagnose it and protect the child.  If there’s no child abuse, then each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.

Normal-range conflict families cannot agree on the initial post-divorce schedule because both parents love their child and want to spend oodles-and-oodles of time with the child.  That’s fine.  The judge makes a decision and everyone lives with it, and everything is okay.  Because family conflict is not caused by child custody schedules.  Whatever it is, week-on/week-off, mixed 50-50, every-other-weekend and a day during the week, even school-period/vacation-period if it has to be that way, all of them work just fine.

We can have wonderful healthy relationships in all of those different custody visitation schedules.  So in normal post-divorce family conflict where the parents can’t agree with each other about who has when with the child, then the court decides and that’s it, and everybody adjusts and it’s fine.

A Pathological Parent is Present

Then there are the so-called “high-conflict” divorce cases.  These are families with high-intensity spousal conflict, often having overtones of child abuse or IPV spousal abuse allegations, and they are extensively litigated post-divorce conflicts.  Divorce requires one round of court involvement, perhaps two for complex financial entanglement, or three.  But beyond that it starts to become excessive except in the more complicated of financial entanglements.

In most cases, dissolving the marriage and the division of property is relatively straightforward.  As for the child custody schedule, pick the one that seems most appropriate, the recommendation from clinical psychology is that each parent should have as much time as possible.

In the normal-range conflict surrounding the divorce event period, the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule so they come to a judge for a decision.  That’s a problem, but understandable, the court can render a decision and move them forward.

Normal parents don’t litigate disagreements in court. They talk it out, and they work it out.  Because they are normal humans.  Normal humans have the capacity to reach agreements.  We’ll forgive you this time and the judge will help you along becasue we realize the spousal stresses of a divorce.  But don’t make it a habit.  It’s your parental responsibility to reach agreement.

Surrounding the divorce event it’s easy to see where active spousal tensions causing the marital break-up can add stresses, and with both of them loving their child so much, they want to be with the child, it is relatively understandable that sometimes parents can’t reach agreement on the post-divorce visitation schedule. Then talk to the judge about this as part of the divorce and marital dissolution process and the judge will make a decision for you on the custody visitation schedule.

Normal people follow court orders.  Once the judge decides and says what the custody visitation schedule is, normal people accept that and work with that.  Judge says.  That’s the end of it.  Judge says, then that’s what we do, end of story.

But then… there are a group of families who come back to further litigation.  Why?  That’s not normal.

It’s because the child is refusing the visitation schedule ordered by the court.  THAT, is something severe.  I’m a clinical psychologist, and my presenting problem is defiance of a court order and rejection of a parent.  Something very bad is going on in that family with that child.

Normal parents solve child custody and visitation without court involvement.  Children don’t reject parents.  Both of those are highly abnormal.  There is something severe here.

In a normal-conflict family, the parents need the court to make the initial determination of the custody visitation at the divorce event.  Then everyone abides by the court ordered custody visitation schedule.

That’s it.  That is the range of normal. Normal-normal and normal-conflict, they agree or the judge helps.

So what’s this about a child defying a court order?  It’s because the child is rejecting a parent?  That is severely pathological.  Something bad is going on with this child, that is not normal.

If a child is rejecting time with a parent, that’s a potential child abuse situation by the targeted-rejected parent.  We need to get on that immediately for a child abuse risk assessment of the targeted parent.  Are you kidding me, a child is defying a court order – a child – is defying a court order.  THAT is mega-serious.  The child is rejecting a parent. THAT is mega-serious.  That is two mega-serious things.

Now if… if… the targeted parent is NOT an abusive parent, then that makes it simply that the child is defiant of a court order.  No child abuse, the child is simply defiant of a court order.

How does a child become empowered to defy a court order?  Who stands to benefit from the child’s defiance of a court order?

If there is child abuse, protect the child.  If there is no child abuse, then who is teaching the child that it is okay to defy court orders?

It has to do with our values.  Court orders are to be followed.  That is a fact.  We teach our children that.  That is a foundational social value.

If a parent cannot teach their child to follow court orders, that is a pretty serious failure in parenting, and perhaps the court should consider the other parent as a more fit parent simply based on the ability to teach the child to follow court orders.

Normal conflict accepts the judgement of the court. One of these parents is outside of normal-range.  Either a parent is abusive of their child, or the psychopathology of a parent does not recognize the court’s authority, and it is seeking to manipulate its desired outcome by creating pathology in the child.  The parental psychopathology returns to court with additional conflict, attachment bonding conflict, surrounding the established custody visitation schedule.

Look to the allied parent – the one who stands to gain – as the source of the extended litigation conflict, the one who is “protecting” the child, i.e., empowering the child to reject the other parent and defy court orders.

A child rejecting a parent is an immediate differential diagnosis of child abuse by the targeted-rejected parent.  That needs an immediate risk assessment by a clinical psychologist.

If it is not true, if the targeted parent is not abusing the child, then the child is being taught by the allied parent that defiance of court orders is acceptable.   From a clinical psychology perspective, that is extraordinarily bad parenting.

Teaching Children Values

Our traditional family structures changed in the 1970s and 80s, during a period of revolution in self-authenticity (Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In; Eric Clapton and Cream).  The world is not going back – divorce, and the reorganization of family structure is here.

And there are values.  We, as parents, teach our children values.

We respect the law and the authority of the court.  That is a fundamental social value we teach our children.  I understand authenticity challenging unjust laws, that’s not here, in this.  This is about a parent-child relationship and a court’s decision on the visitation schedule.  Court authority is not subject to rejection by the child.  We teach our children to respect parental authority, and most definitely we teach our children to respect court authority.

My father worked for 30 years in the federal courts, and then for the state bar.  I ripple his values of respect for our legal system.  There are three co-equal branches in this government of the people, we respect the courts.  I understand there was Dred Scott. We change.  I respect our courts.

I span the cultural epoch from I Love Lucy to marriage equality.  We have stumbled through many cultural transformations.  We need to take a breath, look, and begin to make reasoned decisions on our path forward with families.

If a family returns to court after the initial divorce event is settled by court judgement, there’s very likely to be pathology.  Normal is solving everything without court involvement.  Normal-conflict is having a judge decide.  The judge decided.  Now what’s the problem?  That’s not normal.  Attachment pathology in the child?  Look to the allied parent, they have the most to gain from creating pathology in the child.  Have an immediate risk assessment of the targeted parent’s parenting practices.

If the targeted parent is not abusive, then the allied parent is attempting to nullify the court’s authority and court’s decision by creating pathology in the child.

Work Ethic; An Invisible Courage

My father commuted from the suburbs of L.A. to downtown for thirty years, couple hours each way in Los Angeles.  Gas was 23 cents a gallon.  He was exhausted from the commute and stress at work, working for and with federal judges can be intense for 30 years with a drive.  I remember him lying bearlike on the living room floor, propped on an elbow eating a large bowl of cereal and reading his Scientific American to relax.

My dad was a quiet hero, working hard, providing for his family, the values of the 1930s and 40s; the steel worker in Ohio, the autoworker in Detroit, the farmer in Kansas, a 1930s and 1940s mentality of work ethic – a lifetime given to one company, raising a family, and getting your pension.

He died in the 1980s, my mom died in 2010.  His federal pension took care of her for thirty years.  I’m impressed by that, he took care of her for thirty years after he died, because that’s the mentality of the 1930s and 40s.  Work hard, do the right thing.

There were also many-many things wrong with the mentality of that time, from racism to fascism, mustard gas and child abuse.  And there are the founding principles of our social compact, our laws and our system of justice, there are values that if not always enacted still remain as our guide for what we do, now.

Divorce ends a marriage, not the family.  When there is a child, there will always be a family.  We must help families transition through the end of the spousal bond and into a healthy separated family structure following divorce – a normal-range divorce.

Key to accomplishing a normal and healthy family is teaching the child appropriate values of right and wrong.  The court’s authority is to be respected, and the court’s orders are to be obeyed.  That is a fundamental value we teach our children.

Who has influence on the child, the targeted parent or the allied parent?  Who has influence and is teaching the child values, the targeted parent or the allied parent?  From whom has the child learned that it is acceptable to defy court orders, the targeted parent or the allied parent?

If a parent is not sufficiently competent as a parent to be able to teach their child fundamental values of social requirement, then perhaps the court should consider this an indication of unfit parenting and reconsider decisions regarding the degree of parental influence on the child.

I don’t know about you, but my father taught me to respect the authority of the court.  If the court has ordered a custody visitation schedule, a child’s empowerment into defying the court’s authority is deeply troubling.  The first concern with a child rejecting a parent is child abuse by the targeted-rejected parent.  Get that assessed immediately, is there active child abuse?

If, however, there is no child abuse.  Then a child’s empowerment to defy court authority is a deeply troubling indictment of the allied parent’s parenting capacity.

Revisiting Divorce – Revisiting Families

It’s time for professional psychology and the legal profession to revisit their collaboration in solving family pathology.  The judge is not the family therapist, the judge decides, and the court’s orders are to be followed.  Each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.

Altering child visitation schedules is only warranted for child protection considerations, such as parental failure in an area of primary parental responsibility, such as getting the child to school, to medical appointments, and in following requirements set by the court, and in cases of child abuse, which requires an immediate child protection response and should be accompanied by a DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse.

If there’s conflict, we fix it.  Normal people have the capacity to fix things.

We start with teaching the child basic values.  There’s right and wrong.  We teach our children to respect the authority of the court and to follow court orders. If a parent can’t do that, can’t teach the child that fundamental social value of respecting the authority of the court, then that is an extremely problematic failure in a fundamental parental responsibility.

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

Dublin 2020: Dr. Childress and the Gardnerian Debate

There’s going to be a Gardnerian Conference in Dublin in April.

I think I’ll go over and do a seminar on the Saturday before their conference thing, that way interested people can hear Dr. Childress and then hear the Gardnerian PAS “experts” and do a direct side-by-side comparison of us both, and what we are saying.

I figured I’d start now on this examination of differences, compare and contrast, by taking a look at the roster for their conference.  Looks impressive, doesn’t it.

I’m not impressed with the psychology side, seems pretty non-existent.  A couple people there, we’ll see who they are.  Medicine is heavily represented by Bill Bernet, M.D. and Steve Miller, M.D.  There’s multiple legal representation, but not much psychology.

But I’ll cover all of that, running down each of the presenters.  I’ll provide my comments over a series of blogs, going down that list.  Taking a look at the pathogen’s “loyal opposition.”

Gardnerian PAS Dublin Conference

Top Tier

Across the top row of their poster are three apparent heavyweights, William Bernet, M.D.  A psychiatrist.  Judge Phillip Marcus (Israel, retired).  A legal professional.  Steve Miller, M.D. A physician.

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Of intriguing note is that Bill Bernet, an M.D. psychiatrist (medical doctor) is being presented as a “Professor” rather than a psychiatrist, and Steve Miller, and M.D. internal medicine physician is being preseted as an expert in “Psychology” – the first word under his name, “Psychology” – he’s not a psychologist.

I have tremendous respect for the court and I do not know Judge Marcus.  I would be interested in learning from his perspective.  I will address the involvement of the legal professionals at the Gardnerian PAS Conference separately.

Of note is that two medical physicians, M.D. doctors, are headlining the conference, but you’d never know that just by reading their flyer.  One’s listed as “Professor” with no degree listing, and one’s listed as Dr. with no degree listing, and he’s presented as an expert in “Psychology.”

I assert that the failure to identify their professional degree is a misrepresentation of their professional background, and in Dr. Miller’s case may be an intentional misrepresentation in order to present as a more credible expert in “Psychology” when, in truth, he is an M.D. internal medicine and emergency room physician.  He may be a very skilled internal medicine physician and ER doctor, apparently even teaching medicine at Harvard Medical School, and I’m assuming it would be internal medicine and emergency room medicine.

None of that professional background, however, is relevant to clinical psychology, family conflict, and family therapy.

I did a google search on Steve Miller, M.D.  Here is his bio from another “parental alienation” conference.

Steven Miller, M.D. bio

STEVEN MILLER, M. D.
Dr. Miller has degrees in both Psychology and Medicine from Brown University and did residency training at Brown University and Harvard Medical School. For more than 30 years he was on the teaching faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine; in addition, he has many years of experience practicing Behavioral Medicine — a specialty that focuses on the interface between medicine and psychology. That background is particularly relevant to child maltreatment, child protection, child alignment, parental alienation, pathological enmeshment, and related issues since those clinical conditions are very much related to behavior, including dysfunctional, pathological, and abusive behavior. Likewise, he has several decades of experience practicing Forensic Medicine. A popular speaker, he has directed several hundred continuing education courses for physicians and other clinicians and presented over one thousand lectures on clinical reasoning, clinical problem-solving, and clinical decision-making. An internationally-known expert on alienation and estrangement – and how to distinguish one from the other – he is also an experienced expert witness, litigation consultant, and trial strategist.

So, let’s walk through this.  He has “degrees in both Psychology and Medicine” but I only see the M.D. listed.  That’s his medical degree.  What is his “Psychology” degree?  Is it a bachelor’s degree from Brown University before going on for his medical degree?  I’d like to find out more about that, what is his “Psychology” degree?

Because if it’s just a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, he’s no more qualitifed than my daughter is in Psychology. She has a BA in Psychology too.  If he has a Master’s degree in Psychology, then why isn’t he listing it? 

Oh well, let’s see what he actually does for a living.

“For more than 30 years he was on the teaching faculty at Harvard Medical School.”

Very impressive.  That’s a physician.  So whatever his “Psychology” degree is, it’s not what he actually does.  He’s a physician.  What type of physician?

“He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine;”

That has nothing to do with psychology.  If he is teaching at Harvard Medical School, it’s about “Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine” not psychology.

I am concerned that Steven Miller, M.D. may be overstating his professional background and qualifications in professional psychology, altering or obscuring the truth in order to gain personal credibility that is not justified by professional training and background.

He is a physician, “board certified in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine.”  I’m not seeing where his professional background is relevant to his opinions about matters of clinical psychology, family conflict, and family therapy.

“…in addition, he has many years of experience practicing Behavioral Medicine — a specialty that focuses on the interface between medicine and psychology.”

So if he is a physician, board certified in “Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine,” then he is coming from the “Medicine” side of that “interface between medicine and psychology,” and I would be on the “Psychology” side of that interface.

I am a clinical psychologist.  I come from Children’s Hospitals.  I know what Behavioral Medicine is.  The operative word in Behavioral Medicine is “Medicine.”  It is medically involved applied behavioral principles.  The school of psychotherapy for Behavioral Medicine is behavioral psychology, Behavioral Medicine is the “behavioral psychology” part of medicine.

I am a trained behavior therapist.  In fact, I’m an exceptionally well-trained behavioral psychologist. 

Good idea, Dr. Miller, let’s use the principles of behavioral medicine.  Let’s start by identifying the cue structure for the pathology, you know, the “stimulus control” for the behavior.  We can do that with a behavior-chain interview.  Or would you prefer to do a Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) instead?

Behavioral medicine?  You want to apply that, Dr. Miller?  Fine by me.  Start with identifying the cue structure and reinforcers for the behavior, that would be Applied Behavioral Analysis, or you can look at the function served by the behavior, that would be a Functional Behavioral Analysis.  I’m the psychology side of that interface,

Prior to my doctoral degree and practice as a clinical psychologist, I received prior training for a Master’s degree in Clinical-Community Psychology.  I then received an additional four years of doctoral training in Psychology at Pepperdine University; the doctoral program is a Psy.D., which is the most advanced degree possible in clinical psychology pathology and its treatment… Not an M.D., not a medical degree, a Psy.D. a Psychology Doctorate.

A PsyD sacrifices coursework in research and statistics for additional training in pathology and its treatment.  When it comes to pathology and treatment, a PsyD degree is the top tier clinical psychologist.  I have a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University, where I was trained on the family systems therapy track.  I am a trained family systems therapist, with doctoral coursework in family systems therapy supported by placements in practicums, clinical internships, and post-doctoral training.

It’s nice that Steve Miller, M.D. who appears to be an excellent internal medicine and emergency room physician, also has some background experience in the field of behavioral medicine.  That’s nice.  That hardly qualifies him as an “expert” in Psychology.

What is your degree in Psychology, Dr. Miller?  Is it a bachelor’s degree?  You indicate in your bio that you have “degrees in both Psychology and Medicine from Brown University” – a single university.  Is your degree in Psychology your bachelor’s degree?

My daughter has a bachelor’s degree in psychology.   You should invite her to your Conference.

Seriously, Dr. Miller.  Tell me you are not claiming to be an “expert” in Psychology because you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology?  No, please, tell me that’s not true.

If you are claiming to be an “expert” in Psychology because you have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I am going to assert that you are misrepresenting your professional qualifications.

My doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology included a year of pre-doctoral internship training at the APA accredited internship program at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) in clinical child and family psychology.  I then received an additional year of post-doctoral training at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, switching from spina bifida to pediatric cancer as my medical rotation, and focusing on ADHD as my primary mental health pathology.

And do you know what, Dr. Miller?  My training at CHLA included training (and experience) with the diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (DSM-5: Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).  That’s right, I am a top tier expert in Munchusen by proxy.

Where do you think Munchausen by proxy shows up?  Children’s Hospitals, right.  The early medical people can’t figure out what’s going on medically, so they keep passing it up for diagnostic analysis, trying to figure out what’s going on.  Ultimately it arrives at the top, the Children’s Hospital.  At that point, we have a thick-thick medical chart with no clear diagnosis, lots of tests, nothing showing up.

Call for a psych consult, it may be Munchausen by proxy.  So the treating physician calls down to the Psychology Department at the Children’s Hospital requesting a “psych consult” for possible Munchausen by proxy.  Who is that?  Who is that “psych consult” person the physician calls for?

Me.  That would be, me.

Pediatric psychologists at Children’s Hospitals are THE most expert people on the planet regarding the diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (DSM-5: Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).

So with all due respect to your medical degree, Dr. Miller, and your specialty in internal medicine and emergency room medicine, I’m going to assert as a clinical child and family psychologist, that my background as a pediatric clinical psychologist at two separate Children’s Hospitals is more relevant professional experience than being board certified in internal medicine and emergency medicine.

Also, I have direct trauma experience, working directly with child abuse trauma in the foster care system.  I was the Clinical Director for a three-university collaborative assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system.  That’s child abuse pathology in the foster care system, Dr. Miller. The children in the foster care system are there because of child abuse.

I’m the guy who led the treatment teams for that, all the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for the child and family, that would be me.  Clinical Director, three-university assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system.

So when DCS removed children and placed them in foster care because of child abuse, Dr. Miller, they sent the children, parents, and foster parents to me, at our clinic, for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of complex trauma and attachment pathology surrounding child abuse.

“That background is particularly relevant to child maltreatment, child protection, child alignment, parental alienation, pathological enmeshment, and related issues since those clinical conditions are very much related to behavior, including dysfunctional, pathological, and abusive behavior.”

Is it?  I’m going to dispute you on that Dr. Miller. 

From my professional background as a clinical psychologist with both Children’s Hospitals and “Behavioral Medicine,” and serving as the Clinical Director for an assessment and treatment center for children in the foster care system – actual child abuse trauma… they’re not the same.

Not anywhere close to the same.

To work with child abuse trauma, you need actual real-world training in complex trauma and child abuse.  Not “behavioral medicine.” Nope.  Not enough.  Not anywhere near enough.

It’d be analogous to asking a physician’s assistant in the local general practitioner’s office to do open heart surgery.  No…, a cardiac surgeon should do open heart surgery, not a physician’s assistant at the GP’s office.

It’s nice that you have some background in behavioral medicine, that’s sweet.  That is not professional-level expertise in trauma and child abuse.  If you want top-tier expertise in trauma and child abuse, go to someone who has assessed, diagnosed, and treated childhood complex trauma, attachment pathology, and child abuse… like me.

I’ve done that.  My professional background as a clinical psychologist includes directing the treatment team assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of complex child abuse trauma in the foster care system. That would be me.

I am also a family systems therapist, trained in all three sub-domains of family systems therapy, Structural (Minuchin), Strategic (Haley, Madanes), and Bowen’s foundational models for family systems therapy (Bowen) – as well as Satir, Framo, Boszormenyi-Nagy, and others.

Dr. Miller, did you know that Boszormenyi-Nagy has literally written the book on loyalty invisible loyalties coverconflicts in the family? He also developed an approach to family therapy called “Contextual Family Therapy.” 

So what do you think, Dr. Miller?  Do you think it would be important to know about how family loyalties operate if you’re going to be an “expert” in psychology and family conflict?

Do you think it would be valuable to know Boszormenyi-Nagy and Contextual Family Therapy?

It is.

What a surprise.  Who would have thought knowing about family loyalties and loyalty conflicts would be useful in treating loyalty conflicts in the family.  You are an expert in Boszormenyi-Nagy aren’t you, Dr. Miller?  Because you wouldn’t be an “internationally-known expert” in family conflict pathology and not know about family loyalty conflicts, would you, Dr. Miller.  

And Dr. Miller is what passes for an “expert” in forensic psychology world, an internal medicine and ER physician is the “expert” in psychology because he has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Okay.

“Likewise, he has several decades of experience practicing Forensic Medicine.”

Forensic medicine.  Not forensic psychology – forensic medicine.  That means court-involved medicine.  He’s an internal medicine and ER physician (“He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine”).

So he’s doing forensic medicine? Of what relevance is forensic medicine to attachment trauma pathology and family systems therapy? Does he conduct child custody evaluations? Probably not, otherwise he’d say he does forensic psychology, and besides, he’s a physician not a mental health professional.

It sounds like he’s trying to obscure and confuse about his actual background to make it appear he is more credible than he is.  If that is the case, that is truly an unfortunate professional standard of practice, to mislead the public about one’s true qualifications and the limits to those qualifications.

I don’t practice medicine, and Dr. Miller should probably not practice psychology unless he has the background education and training to do so.

“A popular speaker, he has directed several hundred continuing education courses for physicians and other clinicians and presented over one thousand lectures on clinical reasoning, clinical problem-solving, and clinical decision-making.”

A popular speaker is not relevant to his professional qualifications.  I see no professional qualifications in professional psychology whatsoever, yet he is claiming to be an “expert” in “Psychology” – right there, under his name, without specifying that his “Dr.” is as a medical physician – an internal medicine and ER doctor.

A “popular” speaker can be selling snake-oil from the back of their wagon, drawing crowds at every stop.  A “popular speaker” is not a professional qualification, and so far I see no professional qualifications in professional psychology.

He has presented over a thousand lectures on “clinical reasoning, clinical problem solving, and clinical decision-making.”  That’s nice.  How many lectures has he presented on the DSM-5 diagnosis of pathology?  My guess is zero, he is an internal medicine and emergency room physician.

Over a thousand lectures on reasoning and problem solving.  He must like this topic a lot.  I’ve listened to him on this some, very erudite, and way too complex for practical application.  We cannot ask all these mental health people to learn complex reasoning analyses.  That is simply not practical. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Dr. Miller, but this is a pathology requiring diagnosis, not a philosophical discussion for Socrates.

I suppose if you care about logical reasoning fallacies in decision-making, Dr. Miller is your guy.  Doesn’t particularly interest me.  I understand what he’s saying, it just doesn’t lead to anything practical… just kind of his own special thing, I guess.

When we have our Christmas party, I suspect Dr. Miller will be over by the punch bowl muttering about the logical fallacies of Santa coming down the chimney, “The chubbiness quotient is inconsistent with the chimney portal dimensions, the chimney portal will not support the mass to energy ratio needed for transportation of said Santa.” 

Okay, great Steve.  How’s the wife?

High Quality Specialist

I’ve watched some of Dr. Miller’s YouTube stuff as well.  He calls for the creation of a high-quality professional for this pathology.

That would be me.

Seriously, I am EXACTLY the person he’s calling for.

I am a clinical psychologist, Psy.D., one of the best.  I have extensive clinical training in all forms of pathology, including complex trauma and child abuse. I have background training in the assessment and diagnosis of delusional pathology.  I am extensively well-trained in family systems therapy; all approaches… and… I’ve been working with this specific court-involved family conflict for over ten years now.

That’s one of his qualifications he proposes, extensive experience with the pathology.  That’s me too, over ten years experience.  I entered court-involved clinical psychology back in late-2008,

It’s a mess over here, this forensic psychology world.   Everyone chased this white rabbit of “parental alienation” and fell down the rabbit hole into an awful trauma world of parallel process.

I’ve been working with this court-involved family conflict for over ten years, advocating consistently for a return to established knowledge.  You can see handouts up on my website from 2013 that are saying exactly the same things I’m saying now, Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.

That was one of Dr. Miller’s criteria for top-tier expertise, that the clinical psychologist have extensive experience working specifically with this type of family pathology – that would be me too – Dr. Childress has over ten years experience working with specifically this type of court-involved family conflict pathology.

I meet Dr. Miller’s exact criteria.  Consider…

I have background as a PsyD clinical psychologist trained at a top graduate school.  I am specialized in child and family pathology and treatment.  Trained at Children’s Hospitals in Munchausen by proxy (DSM-5: Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).

I have over 12 years of experience in rating delusional pathology, trained annually by UCLA and the Diagnostic Unit at the Brentwood VA in using the Brief Psychiatric Scale (BPRS) in rating psychotic and delusional pathology.

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

I also have trauma and child abuse diagnosis and treatment background:

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

Clinical director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center providing comprehensive developmental assessment and psychotherapy services to children ages 0-5 years old. Directed the clinical operations, clinical staff, and the provision of comprehensive psychological assessment and treatment services across clinic-based, home-based, and school-based services. A three-university collaboration with speech and language services through the University of Redlands, occupational therapy through Loma Linda University, and psychology through Calif. State University, San Bernardino.

I am exactly – exactly – the specialized advanced-knowledge professional Dr. Miller is calling for.   “That’ me.”

He surely doesn’t mean that internal medicine physicians and ER doctors represent this top tier of professional expertise in complex family conflict surrounding divorce.

Clearly, the expertise would be from clinical psychologists, with a PsyD degree representing the most advanced.  We’d want extensive experience with child and family therapy, extensively grounded knowledge of attachment pathology, with delusioonal pathology experience, a complex trauma background, and child abuse, and solidly grounded knowledge for all of the principle schools of family systems therapy.

That would be a top-tier professional.

That’s me.  That is exactly my background.

I am exactly the top-tier professional expertise that Dr. Miller is calling for.

Top Tier Professional

So… Dr. Miller, listen carefully to what this sought-for high-level professional expertise is saying to you…

Stop using the construct of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity.

Doing that, using that construct, is harmful to the patients.

You are an internal medicine and ER physician.  A wonderfully good one, I’m certain.  Your ideas about logical fallacies are fascinating.

The expertise in professional psychology that you are seeking is telling you, as an internal medicine physician and ER doctor, to stop using the construct of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity.

Dr. Miller, with all due respect to your medical degree and “board certifications in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine,” please use the standard and established constructs of clinical psychology when discussing clinical psychopathology.  It becomes less confusing to the general public and to the courts when we ground ourselves in the scientifically established knowledge of the discipline (as required by Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code).

APA Ethics Code
Standard 2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.

That would be Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, and Tronick; attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorder pathology, complex trauma, and the neuro-development of the brain in the parent-child relationship.

Dr. Miller, I’m not seeing reference to your professional background in any of those areas.  I’m not sure you’re competent at a basic level, needless to say an “expert” in “Psychology.”

Right below your picture there, Dr. Miller… it says “Psychology” – that’s not true, is it, Dr. Miller.  You’re actually a physician with board certifications in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine, aren’t you?  And your “degree” in Psychology is just a bachelor’s degree, isn’t it?  And you just have some opinions about logical fallacies, don’t you, so you’re kind of attaching those to a pathology you don’t actually understand very well.

And you’re a headlining “expert” at the Dublin Conference.

Dr. Miller, this is by instruction from that top-tier professional expertise you’re seeking (you know, the person who is a combination of top-level clinical psychology background, background expertise in Munchausen by proxy, background expertise in family systems therapy (all forms), extensive background in delusional pathology, and background expertise in complex trauma, child abuse, and attachment pathology)… the correct terms to use from family systems therapy are that the child is being “triangulated” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” of the child with the allied parent, resulting in an “emotional cutoff” in the child’s relationship to the targeted parent.

There is zero need to resort to the term “parental alienation” in your descriptions of the pathology.

Alternatively, Dr. Miller, if you choose to apply the information sets from attachment and complex trauma, then the professional-level description of the pathology becomes the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma from the childhood of the allied narcissistic-borderline parent to the current family relationships, mediated by the personality disorder pathology of the allied parent that is itself a product of this parent’s childhood attachment trauma.

Again, there is zero need to resort to using the term “parental alienation.” The pathology is fully describable using the established constructs of professional psychology without resorting to creating a “new form of pathology” with entirely new and unique symptom identifiers.  And I would suggest to you that you are a little beyond the scope of your training and competence to be suggesting we adopt new forms of psychological psychopathology.

Dr. Miller, I shouldn’t even have to say this to you, but it is beneath professional standards of practice to NOT apply the established knowledge of professional psychology, and to mislead the public into believing “new forms of pathology” that are not sufficiently grounded in the scientific literature for professional acceptance.

APA Ethics Code
Standard 2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.

The “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” is not Richard Gardner, Dr. Miller.  It’s Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick… Million, Linehan, Stern, Siegel, Fonagy, Kernberg, Bowen, Madanes…

Not Richard Gardner and PAS, Dr. Miller.  You will have all the same logical fallacy arguments when you base your descriptions of the pathology in established constructs and principles of professional psychology as you do proposing that everyone accept a “new form of psychopathology” developed unilaterally by a psychiatrist (M.D. doctor) in 1985 and which has been rejected by both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Miller, I am in full agreement with the American Psychiatric Association when they rejected “parental alienation” as a valid diagnostic construct.

Do you, – an internal medicine physician and ER doctor -, dispute the carefully considred decision of the DSM-5 diagnostic committees of the American Psychiatric Association regarding what is and is not an established pathology?

Because if you accept the decision of the American Psychiatric Association… then there is no such pathology as “parental alienation” – so stop using the construct in a professional capacity.  Also, please start clearly identifying yourself as an internal medicine physician and ER physician, not as an “expert” in “Psychology.”

Dr. Miller, I have professional obligations under Standard 1.04 of the APA ethics code.  I understand that you are not a psychologist and that the ethical standards of professional psychology do not apply to you.  I also consider my ethical obligations under Standard 1.04 to be discharged.

I realize that professional psychology is not your field, Dr. Miller, and that you are an internal medicine physician who is opining on matters of clinical psychology and family therapy, beyond the scope of your training and background, so your confusion about professional constructs might be understandable for a limited time.  But professionals are required to apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline,” and I am asking you to do so.

APA Ethics Code
Standard 2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.

I know that the ethics code for professional psychology doesn’t apply to you, Dr. Miller, because you are a physician with a specialty in internal medicine and emergency room medicine, not psychology.  But if you are going to enter the realm of clinical psychology, Dr. Miller, at least practice at the level of a professional over here, at least abide by the APA ethics code for the “Bases of Scientific and Professional Judgement

The “established scientific and professional knowledge” is not Richard Gardner, Dr. Miller, it’s Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck…

I am exactly – exactly – the high-level professional experience you’re asking for.

No more Richard Gardner, please.  That is beneath professional standards of practice.

“An internationally-known expert on alienation and estrangement – and how to distinguish one from the other – he is also an experienced expert witness, litigation consultant, and trial strategist.”

An “expert on alienation” and “estrangement” – yet neither of those supposed pathologies exist, citations requested for these supposed new pathologies, Dr. Miller.

There is no such thing as “estrangement” – you should become familiar with Dr. Tronick’s work at Harvard on the breach-and-repair sequence.  There are only repaired breaches and un-repaired breaches – un-repaired breaches are the “ugly” that Dr. Tronick describes, not some “estrangement” pathology you are creating.

There are parent-child conflicts over in juvenile justice pathology, over in school-based psychology, over in trauma psychology, over in autism and developmental psychology, and in family systems therapy with normal-range families.  These breaches to the parent-child bond are either repaired or non-repaired.

There is no pathology of “parental alienation” – there is no pathology of “estrangement” – please stop making up new forms of pathology.

This is a direct instruction from exactly the high-level professional expertise you are asking for.

I am a clinical psychologist (PsyD)

My specialty is child and family therapy.

I am a trained and experienced family systems therapist in multiple schools of family systems therapy (Structural, Strategic, Bowen).

I am extensively trained and experienced in the rating of delusional pathology (12 years on a schizophrenia research project at UCLA)

I am trained and experienced in Munchausen by proxy, DSM-5 Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospitals).

I am extensively trained and experienced in complex trauma, child abuse, and attachment trauma pathology.

And I have over ten years of experience treating exactly this court-involved family conflict pathology.

That knowledge and expertise, Dr. Miller, is instructing you from that knowledge and expertise, please stop using the construct of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity.

Please properly identify your professional qualifications.  You are not an “expert” in psychology.  You are an internal medicine and ER physician with wonderful ideas about logical fallacies.  You are not an expert in “Psychology” as the flyer for the upcoming Dublin conference suggests, you are misleading the public as to your professional qualifications.

What is your Psychology degree, Dr. Miller? (“Dr. Miller has degrees in both Psychology and Medicine from Brown University”).  Are you claiming to be an “expert” in Psychology because you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology?  Is that your standard for what it takes to be an “expert” in Psychology?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November

I want to talk about my November seminar series with Dorcy. 

Here is what I’m going to talk about.

I’m going to start the morning of the first day talking about the foundations of the pathology.  I will assume everyone at the seminar knows Foundations, so I’m going to take a line that moves into diagnosis, that will be on the attachment trauma line, the reenactment narrative and delusional pathology.

In the afternoon of the first day I’m going to cover diagnosis.  I am going to assume everyone knows the three diagnostic indicators.  I am going to focus on the clinical diagnosis of the attachment pathology in the child, and the 12 Associated Clinical Signs (ACS).  Each of the ACS symptoms has a reason.  I will explain the reason for each of them.

The morning of the second day, I’m going to start Assessment.  I’m a clinical psychologist, my goodness, assessment is what we do.  If you want to know the sweet-spot of professional expertise in assessment… that’s clinical psychologists.  Personality assessments, educational assessments, MMPIs, Rorshachs.  Want a Rorshach Inkblot Test?  Sure I can do that.  Time consuming and better ways to get the information, but sure, I can do that.  The most interesting case I ever had where I used the Rorshach was to diagnose possible childhood schizophrenia.  It can be difficult to separate psychosis from pretend-fantasy in a child, and the Rorshach helped.

I was mostly over in learning disability, ADHD, and educational assessments, intelligence tests, child behavior tests.  That’s what psychologists are trained to do, specifically that.  Assessments.  Design assessments, develop assessment instruments, research assessment, clinical assessment, personality, behavioral… that’s what we do.  All things assessment, that is spot-on the professional specialty of clinical psychologists.

Psychiatrists  prescribe medication, MFTs provide therapy, architects build buildings, plumbers fix sinks, psychologists do assessment.  That’s what we do.  Day two with Dr. Childress is assessment of this pathology.

I’m going to start with a collection of skill sets.  So the morning of day two I’m going to discuss the behavior-chain sequence and behavior-chain interviewing (before-during-after; thoughts-feelings-actions) and I’m going to describe stimulus control.  This is from Applied Behavioral Analysis. 

Another assessment skill will be response to intervention.  This diagnostic skill will be used during the afternoon’s discussion of the six sessions of the clinical assessment protocol, it’s used during the sessions with the children and parent together.  Change things and see what happens.  Change what things?  That’s what we’ll talk about.  It’s called response-to-intervention (RTI). Used extensively in school-based psychology and is sometimes used by psychiatrists with medication in achieving diagnostic clarity.

I will close the morning by discussing the Assessment Report.  There are structures for these things.  I will offer examples of several alternative structures for reporting on the results for court-involved pathology… for court-involved pathology.  If the report were headed to the school system and IEP hearings, that has a structure and format based on its function.  These assessment reports should be assumed to be headed to the court.  There’s a format to clinical psychology reports.

If a report is to be used in court-involved family conflict, then it should consider certain professional standards of practice in format.  Clinical psychology reports are not child custody reports.  We are streamlined and we are efficient, and we do not disclose private information without a purpose.  If private information is not relevant to the diagnosis or treatment, then it is not relevant for disclosure in a report for distribution.  If the content area is of note, then we frame the issue with as much protection of privacy as possible in the report.

Clinical psychologists are not forensic psychologists.  We don’t disclose privacy unless it’s relevant to the solution, and then only as much privacy as is relevant to the solution.  Even if we can, we don’t.  That’s clinical psychology.  We’ll talk about reports from clinical psychology on the morning of the second day.

On the afternoon of the second day, I’m going to talk about each of the six sessions of a treatment-focused assessment protocol.  Sessions one and two are with each parent individually.  Doesn’t really matter which one you start with, advantages and disadvantages to each option.  Then two sessions with the targeted parent and child together.  You want to see the child’s symptoms directly, and the targeted parent’s behavior.  This is where behavior-chain interviewing and response to intervention probes come in.  Then two sessions to finish the assessment protocol, one with each parent.  Provide them with feedback from your assessment and note their response. This is an assessment of their schema organization for processing information.

That’s the afternoon of the second day.  Day two is entirely assessment.

Then I have a day off.  Dorcy is going to talk to them.  Yay for that.  They will learn oodles from her.

I’ll let Dorcy decide on what she tells the mental health people.  I’ll be with my popcorn in the back.  She has dealt with mental health professionals for so long, some huge number of ineffective mental health people in childhood family conflict, and lots and lots of mental health people now that she’s working with this court-involved pathology.  I have complete confidence that she know exactly what they need to learn.

She was that child, in that family.  She recovers that child, in that family.  I am a psychologist consultant to her. I have co-presented with her at the AFCC national convention in Boston, and at the APA national convention in Chicago.  I have received a client from the High Road workshop and I served as the maintenance care provider for the family.

As far as I’m concerned, the High Road workshop is evidence-based practice for recovery of children from complex trauma and child abuse.  The High Road ABA single-Slide1case data is remarkable and compelling.  The High Road workshop is phase B on that chart.   A rocket from 1s and 2s to 5s and 6s. Two days.

She recovered the child’s healthy normal-range emotional and psychological development in two days, after three years of documented child abuse by the father, documented by three separate mental health professionals over the three year period.  Two days, full recovery.

Not a doubt in my mind that Dorcy will provide the mental health professionals with valuable information for recovering kids from complex trauma and child abuse.

She also has three things beyond her knowledge, the High Road workshop, a parenting curriculum, and the Custody Resolution Method.  Court-involved psychologists should learn about all three.  Learning the skill sets for maintenance care is also valuable in case you get a client out of a High Road workshop.  She is not training in how to do the High Road workshop.  She is providing knowledge on recovering children from complex trauma and child abuse.

You’ll get more practical information from Dorcy in ten minutes than you’ll get from hours of AFCC lectures.  If they could solve it, they’d solve it.  Dorcy solves it, empirically validated.  She collects PC-RRS outcome data on every single workshop client.  Collect follow-up PC-RRS data, and there’s your replication. Every single workshop is a single-case ABA research quality clinical intervention, N=1.  That is the highest quality of clinical intervention, a single-case ABA design.

Yeah, she’ll figure out what to tell them.

Fourth day, Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter talk treatment and solutions in a family therapy context.  There will be discussion of solution-focused therapy and trauma pathology, of parent and child support, and of written treatment plans.  Examples of written treatment-plan components will be discussed.  Outcome measures will be discussed. 

Family therapy insights from Cloe Madanes, from her 2018 book Changing Relations: Strategies for Therapists and Coaches will be discussed.  Strategic family systems therapy.  Very powerful.  I’ll introduce the Contingent Visitation Schedule, a Strategic family systems intervention designed for this type of trans-generational trauma pathology.  Fourth day morning, family therapy and family solutions.

On the afternoon of the fourth day, I will discuss the ABAB single case clinical intervention and assessment protocol.  Dorcy absolutely loves the single-case ABAB design, and she’s right.  Single case research methodology applied in a clinical setting is considered the highest caliber of assessment and intervention. Each case is a research study with an N=1. 

In the application of the single-case ABAB design to assessment and intervention, the child is systematically moved through a structured series of steps, conditions, the A-B-A-B sequence, and the child’s response is measured using a designated outcome measure.  There is no doubt on establishing causality and the solution using the single-case ABAB design. It is an established research design used for exactly this purpose when applied in clinical practice; to determine causality and solution.

Dorcy loves it, the ABAB single-case assessment and remedy.  I keep telling her that she won’t find anyone in forensic psychology world to run an ABAB single-case clinical intervention.  We’d have to grab someone from autism world or school learning disabilities and cross-train over to high-intensity family conflict.  Welcome to the jungle.  My poor little autism therapist or school-based learning disabilities therapist would be over-matched trying to handle this high-intensity family conflict pathology.  Eaten alive.

It’s gotta come from trauma and IPV.  Running the ABAB single case protocol has to come from trauma and IPV pathology, we can cross-train to the program’s structure.  Easy-peasy, simple as pie.  Single-case research protocols are simple.  Define the phases, define transition criteria, identify the outcome measure, move though the sequence of phases collecting data.  Not complicated, just gotta stay structured to the defined criteria, collect data.  The data will answer the questions.

The afternoon of day four, I’ll speak to the ABAB single-case design.  Dorcy likes role-play active experiential learning.  I’m lazy, I’ll let her do that.  We’ll see how much of an Eveready bunny she is on the afternoon of the forth day.

Then, after the first of the year I’ll start online clinical case consultation groups.  These will be with four or five clinicians, once a month clinical case consultation discussions for six months.  I would anticipate each participant in the consultation group to have one or two scheduled case presentations during this period, and still allow time for material of the moment.

These are separate from the November and spring trainings, but enrollment is limited to participants in a training series with me.  I don’t want to teach basic things at the same time as provide clinical psychology consultation on a client.  Know basic things, so we can talk psychotherapy with a complex and difficult client system.  Once we work together in a seminar to establish the basic stuff, then clinical consultation groups with Dr. Childress become available. 

Six month series, four to five therapists, based on demand.  Each participant is anticipated to present a scheduled case presentation at least once during this six month period.  Ongoing case material will also be addressed.  Don’t share identifying patient information, confidentiality is maintained, and a collective decision-making approach of inter-professional consultation on difficult cases improves the quality of professional care by improving the quality of professional decision-making.

The clinical case consultation groups depend on demand.  Four to five clinicians.  One group.  More, two groups.  More, three groups.  No demand, no groups.

I’m a resource.  You’re the ones who need to do this, you, the mental health people. That’s your client in your office. I’m in Southern California.  That family is not my client.  I’m a resource to you, you’re the source of change for this family.  You’re the catalyst, change will occur because you apply knowledge to solve pathology. 

I’ll do what I can to provide support.  You, the mental health professional, are the source of change.  Your power is diagnosis.  You’re licensed to identify and diagnose pathology.  That’s what your license means.  We need an accurate trauma-informed diagnosis for the child and family, so we can develop an effective treatment plan.

The courts and children deserve the highest quality in professional standards of care.  That’s considered standard of practice in clinical psychology.  In clinical psychology, competence is defined as knowing everything there is to know about that pathology, and then reading journals to stay current.  That means if you’re treating attachment pathology, you know everything there is to know about the attachment system, and then read journals to stay current.  Same for the trans-generational transmission of trauma, same for family systems therapy, everything there is to know, then read journals to remain current.

Dust off your copy of Boszormenyi-Nagy’s Invisible Loyalties: Reciprocity in Intergenerational Family Therapy.  Everything to know, and then read journals to remain current.

If that’s too much, then don’t work with children and the courts.  Decisions made by the court are too important in the lives of these children and these parents.  Expected standard of practice for professional competence is to know everything there is to know about the pathology, and then read journals to remain current.

That was the standard of practice at UCLA when I worked there. That was the standard of practice when I worked at Children’s Hospitals.  That was the standard of practice at UCI when I worked there.  That has been the expected standard of practice everywhere I have ever worked… know everything there is to know about the pathology, and then read journals to stay current.  That is the standard of practice for court-involved family conflict.  Because that’s just the expected standard of practice in clinical psychology.

In November, I’ll begin teaching to that standard.

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

Parallel Process: Staff Splitting

Parallel Process

I find it stunning.  I find it appalling.  That I would have to educate my professional colleagues before I can have a professional level discussion with them.

That should not be.  If you are a licensed psychologist, I should not have to first educate you to be able to have a professional-level patient care discussion with you.  That should not be.

I was the Clinical Director for a three-university assessment and treatment center for children ages 0-5 in the foster care system.  I’ve also served as the Clinical Director for a FEMA/DOJ project to develop a national model for the mental health assessment of juvenile firesetting behavior, a court-involved forensic pathology.

I am senior clinical staff. 

If you are a licensed psychologist, I should not have to educate you before I can have a professional-level discussion with you about patient care.

If I have to first educate you in order to have a professional-level discussion about patient care, then I’m recommending you be placed on remediation and that your patient care duties be suspended until a remediation plan has been completed.

I’ll tolerate some ignorance from a pre-doctoral intern, we have supervision pretty tight on them.  I will tolerate only a little ignorance from a post-doctoral fellow, they need to get to work and learn.  I will not tolerate having to first educate licensed staff in order to have a professional-level discussion of patient care with you.

That is a fact.  And yet, in forensic psychology I find myself in exactly that position, of having to educate all of forensic psychology in order to have a professional-level discussion of patient care with them.  I find that stunning.  I find it appalling.  That is not acceptable.

That should never be.  You are an ignorant psychologist, and that is unacceptable in patient care.

Remediation

So, let me begin the remediation.  The first construct is parallel process.  It’s application is to you, the psychology person (when you act like a professional, I will call you a professional – until then, you are a psychology person).  You are manifesting a parallel process, you most likely don’t know what that is, and you certainly don’t realize that you are captivated by it.

That is the start of your remediation.  Parallel process, what it is, and how you are manifesting it as a mental health person.

You are working with borderline personality pathology.  You do understand that, right?  Or are you so ignorant that you don’t even realize that the “high-conflict” court involved divorce cases often involve (always involve) narcissistic and borderline personality pathology.  Do you not even realize that yet?

Because if that’s the level of your professional ignorance, that you don’t even realize that you’re working with narcissistic and borderline parental personality pathology (splitting; “sides,” absence of empathy, lots of continual high-conflict drama), then your remediation program is more extensive (there are many of you in this category of extensive remediation). 

For the remainder, those of you mental health people who recognize that “high-conflict,” high-intensity, court-involved family conflict often involves narcissistic and borderline personality pathology, I’m confident that you then have learned about narcissistic and borderline personality pathology, right?

You wouldn’t be assessing, diagnosing, and treating a pathology you know nothing about. That’s absurd. So clearly, you have taken it upon yourself to learn about borderline and narcissistic personality pathology.

Let’s start with borderline.  So you realize that a lot of the “high-conflict” court-involved families you work with involve borderline personality pathology to varying degrees, right?  So you would want to lean about borderline personality pathology, right?

Who do you turn to for that?  Marsha Linehan, no doubt.  Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), all the rage.  Marsha Linehan is undeniably top-tier on borderline personality pathology.  So you’d get her book, right?  On borderline personality pathology, Marsha Linehan’s book.  You’d read that, right?

Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York, NY: Guilford

Marsha Linehan, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, you’ve read that, right?  Because you’re working with borderline personality disorder, so you’d read Marsha Linehan, right?

And in reading about treating borderline personality pathology, you’d read about the splitting pathology which is so central to borderline (and narcissistic) personality pathology.  And you’d read how this splitting pathology can spread to the mental health professionals working with the borderline pathology, right?

You know, parallel process.  Or is this the first time you’ve heard of parallel process? 

You know, when the mental health professionals begin to mirror the pathology they’re treating.  Marsha Linehan calls it “staff splitting,” it’s when the splitting pathology (the polarized side-taking) spreads to the mental health providers and they also divide into polarized “sides” – the parallel process of splitting.

Since you certainly read Marsha Linehan’s book on borderline personality pathology because you are working with borderline personality pathology, then you obviously read her description of the parallel process of staff-splitting

From Linehan:  “Staff splitting,” as mentioned earlier, is a much-discussed phenomenon in which professionals treating borderline patients begin arguing and fighting about a patient, the treatment plan, or the behavior of the other professionals with the patient.” (Linehan, 1993, p. 432)

From Linehan:  “Arguments among staff members and differences in points of view, traditionally associated with staff splitting, are seen as failures in synthesis and interpersonal process among the staff rather than as a patient’s problem… Therapist disagreements over a patient are treated as potentially equally valid poles of a dialectic.  Thus, the starting point for dialogue is the recognition that a polarity has arisen, together with an implicit (if not explicit) assumption that resolution will require working toward synthesis.” (Linehan, 1993, p. 432)

You, all of you forensic psychology people, are living a parallel process of splitting.  Yes you are.  You are polarized into two sides by the construct of “parental alienation.”  That’s the pathogenic function of the construct.  It is a symptom of the pathology.   The construct of “parental alienation” is a symptom of the pathology.  Its function is to create discord and division in professional psychology, the polarized sides, the parallel process.

You don’t think parallel process happens consciously, do you?  Heavens no, it’s entirely an unconscious process.  Look at yourself, you’ve all been doing it for years and years and haven’t even realized it.  I’m having to now educate you on parallel process and “staff splitting” as a construct in working with borderline personality pathology to get you to self-reflect.

Once you self-reflect, you’ll go “Oh, I see it now.  Wow, I never saw that before.”  Yeah, because parallel process is unconscious. 

But you are the mental health person.  I shouldn’t have to educate you about this.  You should already have known this (all of you), and you should already have stopped doing it… all of you.

Just look at Gardner’s PAS.  Have you ever seen a more polarizing construct ever?  Holy cow, the vitriol that flew back and forth.  Polarized sides – all of professional psychology began “arguing and fighting about a patient, the treatment plan, or the behavior of the other professionals with the patient.”

A circular and entirely non-productive argument between two polarized sides.  Sound familiar?  That’s the pathology isn’t it.   I am talking about the pathology, right?  A circular and entirely non-productive argument between two polarized sides that goes on for years without end.

Or am I talking about the endless circular round-and-round argument in professional psychology surrounding the construct of “parental alienation.”

Can’t tell, can you.  That’s what parallel process is. The process in the mental health people mirrors exactly the process of the pathology.

Parallel process.  In this case, sides, endless unproductive conflict.

What if we stopped using the construct of “parental alienation,” what would happen?  We would have to apply knowledge, like family systems therapy.  We would then recognize that the child is being triangulated into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent (Minuchin, Bowen, Haley, Madanes; family systems therapy).

My goodness, we might even apply Boszormenyi-Nagy, a family systems therapist who literally wrote the book on loyalty conflicts in the family:

Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., & Spark, G. (1973; 1984). Invisible Loyalties: Reciprocity in Intergenerational Family Therapy. New York: Harper & Row. (Second edition, New York: Brunner/Mazel)

Or we might apply the scientific research on the attachment system (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Sroufe, Tronick), since a child rejecting a parent is a problem in love-and-bonding, in the attachment system.  And then, when we did that, we would obviously apply Bowlby’s statement that a breach in the attachment bond is the result of “pathological mourning.”

From Bowlby:  “The deactivation of attachment behavior is a key feature of certain common variants of pathological mourning.” (Bowlby, 1980, p. 70)

Once we did that, then we would clearly be able to link the pathological processing of sadness inherent to narcissistic and borderline pathology to the “pathological mourning” described by Bowlby for “deactivating” attachment bonding.  You do know about that, right?  Kernberg?

From Kernberg:  “They [narcissists] are especially deficient in genuine feelings of sadness and mournful longing; their incapacity for experiencing depressive reactions is a basic feature of their personalities.  When abandoned or disappointed by other people they may show what on the surface looks like depression, but which on further examination emerges as anger and resentment, loaded with revengeful wishes, rather than real sadness for the loss of a person whom they appreciated.” (Kernberg, 1977, p. 229)

As a psychologist working with borderline and narcissistic pathology, you’re certainly familiar with Otto Kernberg.  He literally wrote the book on narcissistic and borderline personality pathology:

Kernberg, O.F. (1975). Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. New York: Aronson.

You certainly wouldn’t be working with borderline and narcissistic pathology without having read Kernberg.  Literally, he wrote the book on the pathology.  So obviously you know that narcissistic and borderline personalities have an inherent problem in processing sadness.  You know that, right?

You don’t, do you.  You’ve never read Linehan or Kernberg, have you. <sigh>  Okay.

So, as part of your remediation plan, all of you, start with reading Marsha Linehan regarding borderline personality disorder pathology, she literally wrote the book on it.  Know what you are doing.  Then read Otto Kernberg on the borderline personality and pathological narcissism.  He also literally wrote the book on the pathology, one’s CBT one’s psychoanalytic.  Read both.

Or do you think it’s okay to be ignorant about what you’re doing? Because it’s not.  If I’m the Clinical Director, I’m pulling your patient contact until you know what you’re doing.  This is the remediation plan, start with Linehan and Kernberg.

Minuchin and Bowen are on the reading list, as is Bowlby and van der Kolk.  But start with Linehan and Kernberg, because this is important, the parallel process, the endless circular non-productive sides that directly mirrors the pathology of endless conflict.

PAS is Pathogenic

Gardner’s PAS model is atrocious.  It is designed to sow discord and division in professional psychology.  Look what happens the moment we stop using it… all the discord and division in psychology stops, we apply knowledge, and we solve the pathology.

What happens when we use the construct of “parental alienation” – 40 years of endlessly circular and non-productive fighting and arguing in professional psychology, a division, a rift, polarized sides… parallel process.

All mental health professionals – you, the professionals – who know knowledge and apply knowledge – must STOP using the construct of “parental alienation” and must no longer participate in the parallel process of “staff splitting” created by the construct of “parental alienation.”

All mental health professionals, you, the professionals, must ONLY rely on the established constructs and principles of professional psychology to which everyone agrees – offering multiple citations to leading figures like John Bowlby, Salvador Minuchin, Murray Bowen, Theodore Millon, Marsha Linehan, Otto Kernberg, Bessel van der Kolk, or Edward Tronick to support your statements, or citations to the scientifically established research literature.

No “new pathology” proposals will be entertained for consideration until AFTER – AFTER – you have applied the established knowledge of professional psychology, and then only based on your argument offered AFTER you apply knowledge that some area of family systems therapy, and attachment research, and research into complex trauma, personality disorders, and the neuro-development of the brain is somehow inadequate to the task of diagnosis and treatment. 

Because they’re not.  The application of knowledge in professional psychology will absolutely solve the pathology.  Apply knowledge to solve pathology.

The construct of “parental alienation” is pathogenic; it creates pathology.  It creates the pathology of staff splitting in professional psychology, endless argument, entirely unproductive, round-and-round, thereby disabling the mental health system’s response to the pathology.  That’s its function.

That’s one of the reasons I have always put the term “parental alienation” in quotes.  It is toxic.  It is a pathogenic construct, it creates the parallel process of staff splitting in professional psychology (thereby disabling the mental health system into endless argument).  I will not use it in a professional capacity.  Ask Dorcy, I write a lot of reports for her CRM data profiles, I never once use the construct of “parental alienation” and they are powerful reports.

Once we drop using the construct of “parental alienation,” the solution becomes available immediately; family systems therapy, complex trauma, attachment pathology.

Look what Marsha Linehan says about what we must do to escape the parallel process of endless non-productive fighting and arguing in professional psychology, we must work toward synthesis.

From Linehan: “…resolution will require working toward synthesis.” (Linehan, 1993, p. 432)

That’s what an attachment-based description of the pathology provides (AB-PA), a way of synthesis, of rejoining the two “sides” split into conflict in professional psychology.  We give up the construct of “parental alienation” and in instead we apply the established knowledge of family systems therapy, and personality disorders , and complex trauma, and the attachment system.

We then solve the family conflict and restore healthy bonds of love and affection throughout the family.  If there is disagreement about some aspect of an AB-PA model, then what does the research on attachment say?  Or the research on personality disorders?  Or on family systems therapy? 

There is ground, professional ground foundation, to stand on to address and resolve professional disagreements; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick and all of the scientific research from 100 years of professional psychology.

Beginning with diagnosis… assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

That is foundational to clinical psychology.  Apply the DSM-5.  What is your diagnosis?  That, then, will guide your treatment.

But that’s another area of your remediation, the diagnosis of delusional pathology and Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.  During that remediation domain we’ll discuss the BPRS (the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale) for the assessment of delusional pathology, we’ll discuss a shared psychotic disorder (folie a deux; ICD-11 F24) and Factious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchhausen by Proxy; DSM-5 300.19).

But start with the parallel process of splitting, staff splitting.  The construct of “parental alienation” when used in a professional capacity creates endless and non-productive division, discord, and argument about the construct.

From Linehan:  “Staff splitting,” as mentioned earlier, is a much-discussed phenomenon in which professionals treating borderline patients begin arguing and fighting about a patient, the treatment plan, or the behavior of the other professionals with the patient.”

Stop it.  The construct of “parental alienation” promotes “arguing and fighting about a patient, the treatment plan, or the behavior of the other professionals with the patient.”  Parallel process – staff splitting – stop it.  Stop doing it.

What to do instead?

From Linehan:  “Arguments among staff members and differences in points of view, traditionally associated with staff splitting, are seen as failures in synthesis and interpersonal process among the staff rather than as a patient’s problem.

It’s our problem, as mental health professionals, we have to be aware and we have to stop doing it. We are allowing ourselves to become polarized into sides.  It is OUR continued polarization into sides (our failures in synthesis), and we must stop doing that.  We must come together, in professional psychology. 

We will drop the divisive (and pathogenic) construct of “parental alienation” and instead apply constructs from family systems therapy (triangulation, cross-generational coalition, emotional cutoff, multi-generational trauma; Minuchin, Bowen, Haley, Madanes) which are fully defined, which are fully accurate, and which everyone in professional psychology accepts as valid.

From Linehan: “Therapist disagreements over a patient are treated as potentially equally valid poles of a dialectic.”

The Gardnerian model of PAS is the worst model for a pathology ever proposed in the history of mankind.  Establishment psychology is absolutely correct in rejecting it, and I agree with them.  Gardnerian PAS (“parental alienation”) is an absolutely atrocious professional description of a pathology. 

That pole in the dialectic is entirely valid.

There is also a pathology present, it involves the collapse of a narcissistic-borderline personality parent under the stress of the marital failure and divorce. The child is being triangulated into the spousal conflict through a cross-generational coalition with this narcissistic-borderline parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick).

That pole in the dialectic is entirely valid.

There is a pathology present.  That is factually correct.  The diagnostic model of “parental alienation” is an atrocious description of the pathology and should NOT be used in a professional capacity.  That is also factually correct.

From Linehan: “Therapist disagreements over a patient are treated as potentially equally valid poles of a dialectic.”

What then?

From Linehan: “Thus, the starting point for dialogue is the recognition that a polarity has arisen, together with an implicit (if not explicit) assumption that resolution will require working toward synthesis.” (p. 432)

First, you, the licensed psychologists, must recognize “that a polarity has arisen” – you must first see the parallel process before you can stop doing it.  It is an unconscious process.  If you don’t see it, you live it, you become the parallel process of endless, circular, non-productive argument and discord.  You must first recognize “that a polarity has arisen.”  First step.

Then, we must work toward… synthesis.  Establishment psychology correctly objected to the construct of “parental alienation” because it has no scientifically formulated foundations to it.  So then, let’s apply the scientific knowledge of professional psychology (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick; attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, the neuro-development of the brain). There, scientifically established foundations, all solved.

We move, we discontinue the use of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity and we apply only the established knowledge of professional psychology, we move toward synthesis.

Then from the other side of the pole, parents require that the pathology be recognized and diagnosed.  Fair enough, the pathology exists, narcissistic and borderline personality exist, cross-generational coalitions exist, emotional cutoffs and multi-generational trauma exist.

Establishment psychology then also moves toward synthesis, recognizing the pathology and diagnosing the pathology using the scientifically established constructs of professional psychology (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick).  They move, they acknowledge the pathology exists and they define domains of applied knowledge necessary for professional competence (family systems therapy, attachment, personality disorders, complex trauma, the neuro-development of the brain in childhood).

We move, they move, we find common ground in the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology.  We end the parallel process, we end the endless round-and-round of non-productive argument and discord, we end the polarization into sides.

We’re the psychologists after all.  That’s our job.

Remediation & Patient Contact

However… if you are a licensed professional, I shouldn’t have to first educate you about parallel process and staff splitting surrounding borderline personality pathology in order to have a professional-level discussion with you.  You should ALREADY have known this, and you should have ALREADY made it stop.  Marsha Linehan’s book was 1993.  Salvador Minuchin’s structural family diagram for EXACTLY this pathology was 1994.  Kernberg’s book was 1977, Minuchin’s on family therapy was 1974, Bowen’s was 1978.

This is not new knowledge.  Why did no one, in forty years of parallel process, ever see the parallel process, and why did no one ever return to applying knowledge to solving pathology?  Sloth.  Because you were lazy.

That should never be.  That is not acceptable from any licensed psychologist.

Working with this pathology for 20 years is NOT something I would advertise as a professional qualification.  Doing something entirely wrong for 20 years is not a positive job qualification.

Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code requires – requires – that you apply the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology.  If you have not done that – and you have not – then you have been an unethical psychologist for your entire practice.  How long are you saying you’ve been an unethical psychologist, 20 years?  Being an unethical psychologist (an ignorant charlatan and fraud) for 20 years is hardly a recommendation.

I’m senior staff, and I am not at all happy about having to educate licensed staff in order to have a professional-level discussion of patient care.

You are working with borderline and narcissistic personality pathology.  The parallel process of staff splitting has emerged (for 40 years), created by the atrocious construct of “parental alienation” and the wholesale abdication by everyone of reliance on established constructs and principles (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick). 

First thing, you must stop using the construct of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity and you must rely ONLY on the established knowledge of professional psychology, which means you must KNOW the established knowledge of professional psychology. 

THAT… is a requirement of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code, you must know the knowledge for the domain of pathology you are treating, it’s called your “boundaries of competence.”

You should NOT be working with patients until you know what you are doing.  If I’m your Clinical Director, I’m pulling your patient contact and putting you on a remediation plan, starting with lots of reading, Bowlby’s three volumes on Attachment, Separation, and Loss.  Minuchin and Bowen on family systems therapy.  Beck, Linehan, Kernberg, and Millon on personality disorders and van der Kolk for complex trauma.  Siegel and Tronick are essential for the neuro-development of the brain in the parent-child relationship.  Then I’ll add a bunch of articles, research studies like the Mineka study on parental emotional signaling of parental anxiety in the creation of child anxiety.

Or is ignorance acceptable?  Do you think that it doesn’t matter if your heart surgeon knows anything about open heart surgery.  They’ll wing it.  Is that acceptable, if your cancer specialist doesn’t really know anything about cancer or its diagnosis or treatment.  Is that okay?

No, it’s not.  You are a licensed mental health professional.  Your obligation is both to know knowledge and apply knowledge.  My dog can do ignorant diagnosis and treatment, and a five-year-old child can make stuff up.  You are a professional.  Act like it.  Know what you’re doing.

Is it okay for psychologists to not know about families and how families function when they are assessing, diagnosing, and treating families?  No, it is not.

Is it acceptable for psychologists to know nothing about the attachment system even though they are assessing, diagnosing, and treating a child who is rejecting a parent, an attachment pathology?  No, it is not.

Is it acceptable for psychologists to be entirely ignorant yet make recommendations that separate parents from children… entirely ignorant decisions that destroy the lives of children and devastate parents in traumatic grief and loss, is that acceptable?

No, it’s not.

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