Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

My role is to be a resource for targeted parents in achieving professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your families.
 
In order to achieve professional competence, we must establish standards of professional practice in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (“parental alienation”; AB-PA).
 
We start with assessment. Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.
 
I am announcing another resource for parents to use in acquiring professional competence, a new booklet describing the assessment protocol that targeted parents and their attorneys should seek from the Court:
 
 
In order to solve “parental alienation” (AB-PA), targeted parents must obtain a professionally competent assessment of the attachment-related pathology in their families. This booklet is designed for targeted parents to provide to their attorneys, and for their attorneys to provide to the Court.
 
The assessment protocol described by this booklet is what you want the Court to order in terms of assessment: The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce.
 
“Your honor, we want this; a treatment-focused assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce as described by Dr. Childress in this booklet.”
 
This booklet is designed with the goal of helping targeted parents obtain a professionally competent assessment. It briefly describes the nature of the pathology and the assessment protocol that’s needed. I intentionally kept the booklet short. It is only 40 pages long, 20 pages of description and 20 pages of supporting appendices of the practical tools used in the assessment.
 
This booklet is designed for targeted parents to provide to their attorneys, and for family law attorneys to provide to the Court. This booklet describes the assessment protocol that the Court should specifically order in all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.
 
“Your honor, this is the assessment we want you to order.”
 
There remains the challenge that currently there are no mental health professionals with the knowledge-based needed to conduct the assessment protocol. But this booklet can also be provided to mental health professionals;
 
“This booklet describes the assessment protocol the Court has ordered and we would like conducted. Dr. Childress is available for consultation if needed.”
 
On November 18-20 I will be conducting the first AB-PA Certification seminars at the Westin in Pasadena (registration through The Childress Institute Website) in which I will be training mental health professionals in the 6-session treatment-focused assessment protocol and in the development and management of the Contingent Visitation Schedule.
 
This coming Friday, October 20, in Houston I will be presenting a seminar on the AB-PA Key Solution Pilot Program for the Family Courts that can quickly bring the required professional knowledge base and competence to entire geographic regions.
 
We will be working to solve the professional knowledge issue. In the meantime. the Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce is what targeted parents and family law attorneys need to be seeking from the Court, and the Contingent Visitation Schedule is the treatment-focused remedy when the pathology is identified.
 
The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce is a companion resource booklet to the Contingent Visitation Schedule. These two booklets work in tandem.  The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology describes the assessment protocol. If the pathology of AB-PA is identified by the assessment, then the Contingent Visitation Schedule describes the remedy.
 
These two booklets are designed to help targeted parents fix the broken mental health system and the broken legal system responses to the pathology in their families.
 
Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment. Assessment is the key. We start with assessment.
 
Each of the three legal system solution booklets address a different facet of fixing the broken mental health/legal system response to the pathology,
 
Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology: This booklet is designed to acquire a professional competent assessment of the pathology.
 
Contingent Visitation Schedule: This booklet is designed to address the remedy to the pathology.
 
Key Solution Pilot Program for the Family Courts: This booklet is designed to achieve the systems-wide professional competence in conducting the treatment-focused assessments and managing the Contingent Visitation Schedules.
 
Together as a set, these three booklets provide the solution to fixing the broken mental health and legal system responses to the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) surrounding divorce.
 
In addition, I use the opportunity provided by each booklet to highlight a different facet of the overall pathology.
 
Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology: In this booklet I address the importance of each type of parent-child relationship: mother-son, mother-daughter, father-son, father-daughter. I describe that each of these relationship types should be fully supported by child custody visitation decisions and that a 50-50% shared custody visitation schedule is the only scientifically supported visitation schedule that supports the unique and special value of each relationship type.
 
In the Assessment of Attachment Related Pathology, I also describe the critical importance of NOT making the child a “custody prize” to be “won” by the supposedly “better parent” in their spousal dispute surrounding divorce. A shared 50-50% custody is the recommended custody visitation schedule to avoid making the child a “custody prize” to be awarded in the spousal conflict.
 
While the treatment-focused assessment protocol is separate from the custody visitation schedule that is ordered – the assessment protocol is not dependent on the custody visitation schedule – I nevertheless took the opportunity provided by the booklet to address these issues with the Court.
 
Contingent Visitation Schedule: This booklet provides the treatment remedy when the pathology of AB-PA is identified by the structured and standardized (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) treatment-focused assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.
 
In the Contingent Visitation Schedule booklet, I more strongly emphasize a family systems description of the pathology, and I more fully describe the difference between a family’s post-divorce transition to a healthy “separated family structure” rather than to a pathological “cutoff family structure.” I also provide a stronger section of quotes from the research literature on the construct of the parent’s “psychological control” of the child.
 
In the Contingent Visitation Schedule booklet, I also make explicit the direct linkage of the pathology to a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, which then provides the professional rationale for the protective separation of the child from the psychologically abusive allied parent. The pathology of AB-PA is not a child custody issue, it is a child protection issue. Through the Contingent Visitation Schedule booklet the issue of child protection concerns are explicitly raised for the Court’s consideration.
 
I also take the opportunity provided by the Contingent Visitation Schedule booklet to list the Associated Clinical Signs. I do this to begin sensitizing the Court to these characteristic features of the pathology, such as the use of the word “forced” in characterizing the child’s visitations with the targeted parent (ACS-1), the empowerment of the child through statements like “the child should be allowed to decide on visitation” and the allied parent seeking the child’s testimony in court to reject the targeted parent (ACS-2), the exclusion demand of the child restricting the parent’s access to the child’s events (ACS-3), the unforgivable past event used as the justification for all current and future rejection of a parent (ACS-5), excessive texting and phone calls with the allied parent while the child is in the care of the targeted parent (ACS-9), and the continual disregard of Court orders for child custody and visitation (ACS-12). Once the Court is alerted to these symptom features, these characteristic signs of the pathology will begin to jump out in the declarations of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.
 
Through each booklet, I take the opportunity offered to describe to the Court a slightly different aspect of the pathology. My goal is to both educate the legal system with each booklet regarding the nature of the pathology, with a slightly different emphasis in each booklet to describing the pathology, and to also provide the legal system with a structured data-driven solution.
 
My goal with these two court-related booklets, the Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce and the Contingent Visitation Schedule, is to provide targeted parents and family law attorneys with the tools needed to solve the pathology.
 
“Your honor, this is the assessment protocol we want you to order. We have located a mental health professional who is willing to conduct the structured data-driven assessment protocol described by Dr. Childress in the Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce, and Dr. Childress has indicated his willingness to consult with this assessing mental health professional as needed in conducting the structured assessment protocol.”
 
“Your honor, the treatment-focused assessment protocol that was conducted by the mental health professional assigned to this case indicates a severe attachment-related pathology being created by a cross-generational coalition of the child with the allied parent, and we are therefore requesting that a structured Contingent Visitation Schedule be ordered as the treatment remedy. We have located a mental health professional who is willing to organize and manage the Contingent Visitation Schedule treatment intervention, and Dr. Childress has indicated his willingness to consult as needed with this assessing mental health professional in the management of the Contingent Visitation Schedule.”
 
Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment. We need to establish a standard of professional practice for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.
 
Both the treatment-focused Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce and the treatment-focused Contingent Visitation Schedule rely on data-driven decision making which serves as the ground foundation for establishing a professional standard of practice for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.
 
Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment. We start with assesment.
 
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

My Role is Changing

I am beginning to shift my professional focus. 

To remain focused on solving “parental alienation” (AB-PA) and keep my work conceptually distinct, I just created a new blog to begin the process of addressing the terrorist mind and pathological violence:

The Terrorist Mind: Pathological Anger and Pathological Violence

As I unraveled the narcissistic pathology of “parental alienation,” I was led into researching pathological anger and hatred, and ultimately into researching the nature of evil.  The narcissistic pathology of “parental alienation” is evil (the Dark Triad Personality).  This research into evil and the terrorist mind is not on my personal reference list for AB-PA because I don’t want to distract from the core solution to AB-PA. 

Three of the primary references are:

Baron-Cohen, Simon (2011). The science of evil: On empathy and the origins of cruelty. New York: Basic Books.

Beck, A.T. (2000). Prisoners of hate: The cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence. New York: Harper Collins.

Baumeister, R. F. (1997). Evil: Inside human violence and cruelty. New York: Freeman.

Other research references are on my personal reference list for terrorism. 

Through my research into the psychologically violent and abusive narcissistic pathology of “parental alienation,” I have been on the path of unlocking the pathological violence of the terrorist mind for several years now.  I am currently forming a 501c3 non-profit to serve as the umbrella organization for providing training and Certification in AB-PA (The Childress Institute).  If you scroll down the homepage for The Childress Institute you will see that one of the primary “Future Directions” is unlocking the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological hatred. 

The Terrorist Mind & the Extremism of Pathological Anger:

“Developing an attachment-based understanding of the terrorist mind, pathological hatred, and fanatical extremism, with the goal of developing primary and secondary treatment interventions to resolve the social and psychological attachment-related trauma pathology that creates the terrorist mind and the extremism of pathological anger.” (The Childress Institute website)

I will be addressing the linkage of the pathogen that is creating “parental alienation” to the pathology of the terrorist mind on the third day of my November AB-PA Certification seminars for Advanced Certification.  Same pathogen, same set of damaged information structures in the attachment networks, with differing appending structures yielding different variants of narcissistic-psychopathic pathology.

The core set of damaged information structures that are creating “parental alienation” (AB-PA) are the same damaged information structures creating the pathological violence of the terrorist mind.  You can recognize the symptom features of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) in the core symptoms of pathological violence:

A profound absence of empathy.

An absence of shared social morality.

A sadistic gratification in causing immense suffering.

Same pathogen, with slightly different appending structures surrounding a set of core damaged information structures in the attachment networks of the brain. 

In my diagram for the underbelly of the pathogen (The Structure of the Pathology), you’ll notice that the pathogen (the damaged information structures in the attachment networks) attacks three other structures in the brain; logical reasoning, identity, and memory structures.  The influence of the damaged information structures on identity becomes particularly relevant in understanding pathological violence and the terrorist mind (as does the pathogen’s construction of the Group Mind).

As I unpack the damaged information structures of the terrorist mind and pathological violence I will be expanding on the significance of the absence of empathy as a feature of attachment-related pathology.  Ultimately, I will lead this into the assertion that the absence of empathy is the central core pathological feature of narcissistic pathology.  Grandiosity, the need for attention, a haughty and arrogant attitude, entitlement, all the other symptom traits of narcissistic pathology are secondary personality features surrounding the core trauma-feature of an absence of empathy.

One of the key research articles I’ll be unpacking in this regard is Moor and Silvern (2006) whose research revealed that childhood trauma and the absence of parental empathy are the same thing – flip sides of exactly the same coin.  Child abuse occurs because of the absence of parental empathy, and the absence of parental empathy is itself traumatic.

“The act of child abuse by parents is viewed in itself as an outgrowth of parental failure of empathy and a narcissistic stance towards one’s own children.  Deficiency of empathic responsiveness prevents such self-centered parents from comprehending the impact of their acts, and in combination with their fragility and need for self-stabilization, predisposes them to exploit children in this way.” (Moor & Silvern, 2006, p. 95)

“Only insofar as parents fail in their capacity for empathic attunement and responsiveness can they objectify their children, consider them narcissistic extensions of themselves, and abuse them.  It is the parents’ view of their children as vehicles for satisfaction of their own needs, accompanied by the simultaneous disregard for those of the child, that make the victimization possible.” (Moor & Silvern, 2006, p. 104)

My role in solving “parental alienation” is changing.  Everything is now available for the solution.  It’s now simply a matter of enacting the solution.  The only barrier to the solution is professional ignorance and incompetence.

My role in solving “parental alienation” is to be a resource, to be the catalyst for creating change.  My role is not to enact the change.  That falls to targeted parents and their allies in mental health.  It is up to you and your allies to address the profound professional ignorance and incompetence that currently destroys your families.  In this coming change, I am your resource – I am your weapon, not your warrior.  You, and your allies in professional psychology, are the warriors for your children.

That’s why I chastised your allies, the Gardernian PAS “experts,” for abandoning you in your fight for professional competence.  Enacting the solution is not my role, it’s theirs.  I have places to go and things to do.  I’m just a lone psychologist in Southern California.  It is up to your allies in professional psychology to help you enact the solution, to advocate for you in seeking substantially enhanced professional knowledge and standards of practice for professional competence.

It’s up to your allies in professional psychology to become the next generation of experts in AB-PA to help you achieve professional expertise and competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your children and families.

To the Gardnerian PAS experts:  Stop fighting me and the transition to AB-PA.  The world is changing.  AB-PA is coming.  AB-PA will, with absolute certainty, replace Gardnerian PAS as the dominant paradigm for defining attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  The meme-constructs  (idea-structures) of AB-PA are vastly superior to the meme-constructs (idea-structures) of Gardnerian PAS.  The meme-constructs of AB-PA are derived from the structures of Bowlby, Millon, Beck, Minuchin, Stern and Fonagy, and the full research base in attachment theory, personality pathology, family systems therapy, intersubjectivity, and complex trauma.  The meme-constructs of Gardnerian PAS rely entirely on only one person, Richard Gardner.  The meme-constructs (the idea-structures) of AB-PA expand and link into so many other constructs within professional psychology, AB-PA is a vastly superior model of the pathology.  AB-PA will replace Gardnerian PAS as the dominant paradigm defining attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  That is a fact.

The existence of AB-PA will then require a systems-wide review by professional psychology of its approach to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation.”  That’s the catalytic change-agent role of AB-PA.  That is spot-on the purpose and function of AB-PA.

Gardnerian PAS has been around for 30 years.  The meme-constructs (the ideas) of Gardnerian PAS have already been fully integrated into professional psychology. 

The meme-constructs of AB-PA, on the other hand, are entirely different from the idea-structures of Gardnerian PAS.  AB-PA will require professional psychology to integrate its new meme-constructs (idea-structures).  Through defining the construct of “parental alienation” from entirely within the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, the existence of AB-PA requires a systems-wide review throughout all of professional psychology and the legal system regarding how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed, diagnosed, and treated. 

That is a good thing.

AB-PA is not an accident.  When this systems-wide review occurs, look at the meme-construct I’ve embedded prominently right up front: the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.  Like a falling series of dominoes, the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse leads into a series of required child protection steps.  This is not an accident.

AB-PA is a catalytic change agent designed to obtain professional competence.  In the systems-wide review of professional practice required by the need to integrate the meme-contructs (idea-structures) of AB-PA, we will build into professional practice standardized and structured assessment and diagnostic protocols as a ground for professional competence.  This is not an accident.  This is the function and purpose of AB-PA.

To the Gardernian PAS experts:   My role is to create the catalytic change agent, your role is to help targeted parents enact the solution offered by AB-PA. 

Stop fighting against AB-PA.  Work with AB-PA.  Work with AB-PA to help create the systems-wide review of professional practices that AB-PA now requires.  Work with me in establishing the professional standards of practice for professional competence required by AB-PA as a catalytic agent of systems-wide change.

To Bill Bernet:  Use your connections and influence to promote the systems-wide review of professional practices regarding assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  Stop fighting against the coming of AB-PA.  It’s coming.  Work with AB-PA to help targeted parents create the solution offered by AB-PA. Guide the PASG into advocating for changes to the APA position statement on “parental alienation” that are now required by the existence of AB-PA. 

Work with AB-PA, Dr. Bernet.  Stand on the pulpit that the universe has provided to you and use your voice to help create the professional transition into structured and standardized standards of professional competence and standards of professional practice (semi-structured and flexibly standardized).  That is the role in this change process that the universe is seeking from you.  Enacting the solution offered by AB-PA is not my role, that’s your role.

To Karen Woodall:  My goodness, Karen, stop fighting against AB-PA.  The prior issue I took you to task for was not “plagiarism” – heavens, AB-PA is not Dr. Childress, it’s Beck and Bowlby, and Million, and Minuchin…  How can you plagiarize something that is already fully within the foundations of professional psychology?  The issue is that you so prominently avoid citation of the meme-constructs of AB-PA when such citation would be warranted, thereby ignoring the existence of AB-PA.  Your avoidance of citation and avoidance of support for AB-PA then delays the systems-wide review within professional psychology that AB-PA brings.  Enacting the solution offered by AB-PA is not my role, that’s your role.

Work with the solution AB-PA brings, Karen.  From what I hear, professional psychology in England is kind of archaic in their approach to assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment related pathology surrounding divorce (“parental alienation”).  AB-PA is not a gradual incremental change within professional psychology, AB-PA brings transformative change to professional psychology.  Professional psychology in Great Britain (the home of John Bowlby and attachment theory) could immediately become a world leader in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, and you could be leading this systems-wide change.  Become the expert in AB-PA for Great Britain.  Bring AB-PA to England.  Assist in the systems-wide review of professional practice within the entire mental health system of England that will be required by AB-PA.

The mental health system has already integrated the meme-constructs of Gardnerian PAS.  The mental health system has NOT yet integrated the meme-structures of AB-PA, and AB-PA both provokes and requires this integration.  That’s what the ethics code Standards 2.01/9.01 meme-construct is designed to accomplish.  I’m taking a provoking hard-line stance that requires professional psychology to consider and integrate the meme-constructs (idea-structures) of AB-PA (an integration of Bowlby; Beck; Millon; Minuchin to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding diovorce).

Seriously Karen, November 18-20 at the Westin in Pasadena.  Become Advanced Certified in AB-PA and take AB-PA back to England.  Lead the systems-wide review in professional psychology across Great Britain that is provoked and required by AB-PA to help parents and families acquire standards of professional competence and standards of professional practice in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the attachment-related pathology in their families.  It’s not my role to enact the solution, that’s your role.  My role was to develop the catalytic change agent.  I’ve accomplished my role.

I have things I need to get to – Manchester and Las Vegas.  I need to shift over to the related narcissistic pathology of pathological violence and the terrorist mind, along with revisions to child therapy, and enacting solutions to the pathologies of ODD an ADHD, and developing 22nd Century solutions to education, and reducing recidivism in our criminally involved youth.  I’ve got things calling for my attention.  Principally right now, Manchester and Las Vegas.  Pathological violence is a variant of the same narcissistic (attachment-trauma) pathology: absence of empathy, absence of shared social morality, and a desire to inflict immense suffering.

My role was to develop the catalytic change agent to create the solution.  AB-PA accomplishes that.  I am providing all of the resources needed to create the solution. 

Foundations prompts the systems-wide review of professional practices surrounding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology following divorce.  On pages 312-313 of Foundations I directly discuss the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.

The Narcissistic Parent  is a resource that can be provided to legal professionals to help educate them on this form of family pathology created by a narcissistic parent.  On pages 34-37 of The Narcissistic Parent I discuss children’s testimony in court.  This chapter alone is valuable for informing the legal system regarding the substantial drawbacks to seeking and allowing child testimony.

The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting and the Parenting Practices Rating Scale provide documentation of the child’s symptoms and the parenting practices of the targeted parent.  These assessment documentation instruments establish foundational standards of practice for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (Conversations with Dr. Childress: 4.01 & 4.02).

The Contingent Visitation Schedule provides a potential compromise solution to a protective separation of the child from the pathogenic parenting of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  It can also provide a structured approach for stabilizing the family following a protective separation when the pathogenic parenting of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent is reintroduced.

AB-PA Certification seminars provide the resource for establishing standards for professional competence.

The AB-PA Key Solution pilot program proposal for the family courts provides the resource for broad-scale development of professional knowledge and competence across wide geographic regions.

I’ve fulfilled my role of developing the resources for creating systems-wide catalytic change in the mental health and legal systems surrounding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology.  My role is not to enact the solution.  That’s your role.

I have things I need to get to (Manchester and Las Vegas).  Can we please enact the solution to “parental alienation” as quickly as as we possible can?  It’s important.

The Terrorist Mind: Pathological Anger and Pathological Violence

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

V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse

Pathogenic parenting that is creating

significant developmental pathology in the child (attachment system suppression; diagnostic indicator 1 of AB-PA),

personality disorder pathology in the child (narcissistic personality traits evidenced in the child’s symptom display; diagnostic indicator 2 of AB-PA),

delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (an encapsulated persecutory delusion; diagnostic indicator 3 of AB-PA),

is a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.  Creating that level of severe psychopathology in the child is psychological child abuse.

The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting documents these three symptom features.  There is absolutely zero reason why a mental health professional should not, at the very least, assess for the presence or absence of these three symptom features in the child’s symptom display.

If these symptoms are not present, then they are not present.  No worries.

If, however, these three symptoms ARE present in the child’s symptom display, then the DSM-5 diagnosis is V995-51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

This is an issue of child protection.

This is simple.  This is direct.  This is straightforward. 

There is absolutely zero reason for any mental health professional to not at least assess for the presence or absence of these three specific symptoms in the child’s symptom display.  Simply assess for the presence or absence of these three symptoms in the child’s symptom display and then document the results of the assessment using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

This would represent a reasonable standard of practice and child protection obligation in the professional assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

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

Unpacking “Conversations”

The primary challenge faced by targeted parents and their children is the professional incompetence of the mental health assessment and diagnosis of the attachment-related pathology in their family.

We must acquire professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  To achieve professional competence, we must establish standards for the domains of knowledge needed for professional competence to which all mental health professional can be held accountable.

Gardnerian PAS cannot accomplish this.

AB-PA activates Standards 2.01a and 9.01a of the APA ethics code.  In the Conversation series, I lay out this line directly.

Previous seminars (such as the Master’s Lecture Series) and descriptions of the pathology (such as in Foundations) provide an overall structural analysis of the pathology.  In the seven core Conversations with Dr. Childress, I apply the constructs of professional psychology to the symptom sets displayed by the child during the assessment.

Two branches emerge from the core line of seven Conversations, one describes the specific assessment protocol (4.01; 4.02), and the other branch (8-Series) activates standards of professional practice from the APA ethics code.

The Assessment Protocol (4.01; 4.02)

The foundation to building professional competence is establishing a ground standard of practice for documentation of the initial assessment.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

Building professional standards of practice begins with establishing a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) that is documented in the patient record.

When we are medically ill we go to the physician, and the doctor’s office collects a structured and standardized assessment of our “vital signs” (blood pressure, weight, and temperature) as simply a matter of course – a standard of practice – for the intake assessment surrounding a medical concern.

With attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, the Parenting Practices Rating Scale and the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting represent a structured and standardized intake assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (the “vital signs” for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce).

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale and the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting are documentation instruments.  They document information collected during the initial assessment. 

A structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) is the foundation to establishing a professional standard of practice, which is critical to building professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of pathology.

Conversations on Competence (8-Series)

The 8-Series Conversations on Competence represents the ability of AB-PA to leverage change.  The 8-Series on professional competence can be leveraged to require a systems-wide review of how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed and diagnosed. 

What represents professional competence?  That is the issue addressed in the 8-Series. 

I provide the answer from AB-PA in 8.01 Domains of Knowledge

In 8.02 Violations of Competence, these domains of knowledge are linked to the Standards of the APA ethics code.  Conversation 8.02 empowers targeted parents to expect and require professional competence. 

In Conversation 8.03 and Conversation 8.04, the power of targeted parents is flexed to motivate systemic movement toward professional competence.

8.01 Domains of Knowledge

Once the pathology is described within standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology (Foundations; Conversations 1-7), this then defines the domains of knowledge needed for professional competence. 

That’s Conversation 8.01, in which I describe the domains of knowledge required for professional competence.  Step-by-step we are building professional competence and professional standards of practice. 

8.02 Violations of Competence

Once domains of knowledge are defined for professional competence, this then activates the Standards of the APA ethics code.  That’s Conversation 8.02, in which the domains of knowledge required for professional competence are directly linked to Standards of the APA ethics code; Standards 2.01a and 9.01a.

This represents the power available from remaining within standard and established constructs and principles in defining pathology.  We can absolutely solve this pathology, as long as we remain within the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology. 

The first step is to acquire professional competence and professional standards of practice for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

8.03 Licensing Board Complaints

In Conversation 8.03, I am demonstrating what it means to fight for targeted parents and their children.  I am directly challenging my mental health colleagues through the line created by Conversations 8.01 and 8.02. 

This is a trauma pathology.  There is a trauma-slumber associated with it, a learned helplessness acceptance-of-abuse enters the mindset.  I am waking up the field from its slumber.

Targeted parents and their children have the right to expect professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of their families.  All of the various ethics codes governing all mental health professionals have Standards that require professional competence.  For psychologists, it’s Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code.

Once the pathology is defined entirely by standard and established constructs and principles, this defines domains of knowledge needed for professional competence, which then activates Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code.

The activation of the APA ethics code empowers targeted parents to expect and require competence.  The trauma-slumber of helplessness ends. 

In Conversation 8.03, I am directly challenging my professional colleagues to dispute what I am saying.  Dispute Conversation 8.01 that defines the domains of knowledge needed for professional competence.  Dispute Conversation 8.02 that links these domains to the APA ethics code.  Dispute them or they stand. 

And if they stand, then targeted parents become empowered to expect and require professional competence in the four domains of professional-level knowledge described in Conversation 8.01:

1)  The Attachment System
2)  Personality Disorder Pathology
3)  Family Systems Therapy
4)  Complex Trauma.

Standards for professional competence. 

8.04 Risk Management

In Conversation 8.04, I am demonstrating what it means to fight for targeted parents and their children.

I would expect that all mental health allies of targeted parents and their children to take a stance of advocating for professional competence with our professional colleagues.  The fight to acquire professional psychology as an ally for targeted parents and their children is now.  Mental health allies of targeted parents and their children should not abandon targeted parents to fight this fight for professional competence on their own.

By defining the pathology entirely from established constructs and principles, AB-PA provokes a system-wide review of the mental health response to attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce. 

AB-PA leads to domains of knowledge required for professional competence.

Establishing domains of knowledge required for professional competence activates Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code that requires professional competence (and all standards requiring professional competence in all professional ethics codes everywhere, across the U.S. and internationally). 

Activating APA ethics code Standards empowers targeted parents to expect and require professional competence .

The empowerment of targeted parents makes them dangerous to ignorance and incompetence. 

The dangerousness of targeted parents provokes a risk-management response across professional psychology to become professionally knowledgeable and competent.

Our Goal:  Defined standards for professional competence and defined standards of practice in the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.

The Conversation with Dr. Childress series is designed as a professional-to-professional resource that targeted parents can direct the mental health professionals to who are assessing and diagnosing the pathology in their families.

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

Conversations on Competence

I just posted an additional set of professional-to-professional YouTube Conversations, 8.01 – 8.04.

This sub-set series is entitled, Conversations on Competence.

These video segments are designed for me to speak directly to my professional colleagues regarding issues surrounding professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

This series, Conversations on Competence, along with the core series, Professional-to-Professional Conversations with Dr. Childress, offer targeted parents another potential education resource for enlightening ignorant and incompetent mental health professionals.

8.01 Conversations on Competence: Domains of Professional Competence

8.02 Conversations on Competence: Violations of Competence

8.03 Conversations on Competence: Licensing Board Complaints

8.04 Conversations on Competence: Risk Management

The core Professional-to-Professional Conversation with Dr. Childress series, along with the two Assessment Protocol Recommendation segments (4.01 Assessing the Targeted Parent; 4.02 Assessing the Allied Parent) form the platform for building professional competence and professional standards of practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

Introducing the Conversations on Competence series may help build professional appreciation for the importance of professional competence and for standards of professional practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

Our adversary is ignorance, our weapon is knowledge.

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

Professional-to-Professional YouTube Series

I just posted a YouTube video series for mental health professionals in which I discuss the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

The discussion content is at a professional-level.

Opening:  In this opening segment I describe the series as a conversation with my colleagues in professional psychology, and then I do a little professional housekeeping in returning our professional-level discussion to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

1 – Intake Assessment:  This segment describes the importance of the intake assessment and begins to walk through the collection of information from the initial intake assessment, identifying the presenting problem of a “child rejecting a parent surrounding divorce” as fundamentally an attachment-related pathology, and then identifying the three sets of symptoms; hostile-conflict symptoms, excessive anxiety symptoms, attachment-related symptoms.

2 – Conflict Symptoms: This segment walks through the conflict symptoms, identifying the narcissistic personality traits being displayed by the child in the parent-child conflict, leading to a discussion surrounding the inauthenticity of this symptom feature and its cause in the cross-generational coalition with an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

3 – Anxiety Symptoms:  This segment walks through the excessive anxiety symptoms sometimes displayed by the child in attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  Child anxiety symptoms surrounding attachment-related pathology require assessment for “dangerousness” from the targeted parent.  If the dangerousness of the targeted parent is ruled out as a causal factor by the assessment, then the inauthentic features of this excessive anxiety display are described and the role of the allied parent in creating the child’s excessive anxiety is identified.

4 – Attachment Symptoms: This segment provides information on the inauthenticity of attachment symptoms that involve a child rejecting a parent.  This segment describes how the attachment system (a neurologically embedded primary motivational system of the brain) functions, and how it characteristically dysfunctions, explaining why and how these child symptoms of attachment pathology are inauthentic to how the brain and the attachment system actually works.

5 – DSM-5 Diagnosis:  This segment takes the information from the prior segments and discusses the appropriate DSM-5 (and ICD-10) diagnosis for the pathogenic parenting pathology.  This segment identifies the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse as the appropriate categorical diagnosis for the pathogenic parenting evidenced in this type of attachment-related family pathology.

6 – Splitting: This segment discusses the origins of the splitting pathology in disorganized attachment (polarization of perception: all-good/all-bad), resulting in a neurologically imposed imperative for functional consistency in the brain networks of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, in which the ex-spouse must also become an ex-parent; the ex-husband must become an ex-father, the ex-wife must become an ex-mother in order to maintain the neurologically imposed consistency of the “splitting” pathology embedded in the neurological networks of the brain.

7 – A Request: This segment concludes the conversation with a personal request from Dr. Childress to clinical mental health professionals to begin conducting an appropriate and adequate assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, and to begin documenting their adequate assessments as a standard of professional practice.

In the final segment of this professional-to-professional conversation, I also urge my clinical psychology colleagues (clinical psychologists and family therapists) to begin fulfilling their standard of practice child protection obligations by making the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse for this type of attachment-related family pathology.  Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant psychopathology in the child is a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, and all mental health professionals have an established professional obligation – called a “duty to protect” – that mandates our role in the protection of children from child abuse.

We are going to bring standards of professional practice to the clinical assessment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.  (notice I did not say “parental alienation”).

I don’t know how long this will take, but established standards of professional practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce are on their way.

Establishing professional standards of practice begins with establishing a semi-structured and flexibly standardized protocol for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (notice I did not say “parental alienation”).

We are also going to establish standards of professional practice for the professional knowledge-base needed by mental health professionals for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce (notice I did not say “parental alienation”).

By defining the pathology entirely within standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, AB-PA established defined domains of knowledge required for professional competence:

The Attachment System
Personality Disorder Pathology
Family Systems Therapy
Complex Trauma

Failure to possess a professional-level knowledge in these four domains of scientifically and professionally grounded knowledge when assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related family pathology that involves the psychological collapse, and subsequent dysfunctional stabilization, of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent surrounding divorce would likely represent practice by the mental health professional that is beyond their boundaries of professional competence.

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



An Example of Professional Competence in an Initial Assessment of Pathology:

As an example of what a professional standard of practice looks like for an initial intake assessment and documentation protocol, I have provided an example from the field of early childhood mental health:

Early Childhood Mental Health Intake Assessment Form

The assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce will not require anything as involved and detailed as this example of an intake form from the field of early childhood mental health, and the content of information collected during the initial intake assessment would be different in many ways from the information collected by an early childhood initial intake assessment, but I am providing this initial intake assessment form from early childhood mental health as an example of what standard of practice for an initial intake assessment looks like in other fields of professional psychology.



In Chapter 11 of Foundations, I provide my recommended reading list for establishing a ground of professional competence:

From Foundations: “Recommendations for professional literature of vital importance for the development of professional expertise in this area would include:

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. NY: Basic Books.

Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and Anger. NY: Basic Books.

Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression. NY: Basic Books.

Fonagy, P., Target, M., Gergely, G., Allen, J.G., and Bateman, A. W. (2003). The developmental roots of Borderline Personality Disorder in early attachment relationships: A theory and some evidence. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23, 412-459.

Fonagy P. and Target M. (2005). Bridging the transmission gap: An end to an important mystery in attachment research? Attachment and Human Development, 7, 333-343.

Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., and Strathearn, L. (2011). Borderline personality disorder, mentalization, and the neurobiology of attachment. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, 47-69.

Lyons-Ruth, K., Bronfman, E. and Parsons, E. (1999). Maternal frightened, frightening, or atypical behavior and disorganized infant attachment patterns. In J. Vondra & D. Barnett (Eds.) Atypical patterns of infant attachment: Theory, research, and current directions. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, (3, Serial No. 258).

Main, M. and Hesse, E. (1990). Parents’ unresolved traumatic experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status: Is frightened and/or frightening parental behavior the linking mechanism? In M.T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E.M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 161–182). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

van IJzendoorn, M.H., Schuengel, C., and Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. (1999). Disorganized attachment in early childhood: Meta-analysis of precursors, concomitants, and sequelae. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 225–249.

Kerig, P.K. (2005). Revisiting the construct of boundary dissolution: A multidimensional perspective. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 5, 5-42.

Macfie, J. Fitzpatrick, K.L., Rivas, E.M. and Cox, M.J. (2008). Independent influences upon mother-toddler role-reversal: Infant-mother attachment disorganization and role reversal in mother’s childhood. Attachment and Human Development, 10, 29-39

Macfie, J., McElwain, N.L., Houts, R.M., and Cox, M.J. (2005) Intergenerational transmission of role reversal between parent and child: Dyadic and family systems internal working models. Attachment & Human Development, 7, 51-65.

Pearlman, C.A. and Courtois, C.A. (2005). Clinical applications of the attachment framework: Relational treatment of complex trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 449-459.

Prager, J. (2003). Lost childhood, lost generations: the intergenerational transmission of trauma.  Journal of Human Rights, 2, 173-181.

Shaffer, A., and Sroufe, L. A. (2005). The developmental and adaptational implications of generational boundary dissolution: Findings from a prospective, longitudinal study. Journal of Emotional Abuse. 5(2/3), 67-84.

Sroufe, L. A. (2005). Attachment and development:  A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood, Attachment and Human Development, 7, 349-367.

Bacciagaluppi, M. (1985). Inversion of parent-child relationships: A contribution to attachment theory.  British Journal of Medical Psychology, 58, 369-373.

Benoit, D. and Parker, K.C.H. (1994). Stability and transmission of attachment across three generations. Child Development, 65, 1444-1456

Brennan, K.A. and Shaver, P.R. (1998). Attachment styles and personality disorders: Their connections to each other and to parental divorce, parental death, and perceptions of parental caregiving. Journal of Personality 66, 835-878.

Bretherton, I. (1990). Communication patterns, internal working models, and the intergenerational transmission of attachment relationships. Infant Mental Health Journal, 11, 237-252.

Sable, P. (1997). Attachment, detachment and borderline personality disorder. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 34(2), 171-181.

Cassidy, J., and Berlin, L. J. (1994). The insecure/ambivalent pattern of attachment: Theory and research. Child Development, 65, 971991.

Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., and Shaver, P.R. (2002). Activation of the attachment system in adulthood: Threat-related primes increase the accessibility of mental representations of attachment figures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 881-895.

Tronick, E.Z. (2003). Of course all relationships are unique: How co-creative processes generate unique mother-infant and patient-therapist relationships and change other relationships. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23, 473-491.

van der Kolk, B.A. (1987). The separation cry and the trauma response: Developmental issues in the psychobiology of attachment and separation. In B.A. van der Kolk (Ed.) Psychological Trauma (31-62). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

van der Kolk, B.A. (1989). The compulsion to repeat the trauma: Re-enactment, revictimization, and masochism. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, 389-411

van Ijzendoorn, M.H. (1992) Intergenerational transmission of parenting: A review of studies in nonclinical populations.  Developmental Review, 12, 76-99

Holmes, J. (2004). Disorganized attachment and borderline personality disorder: a clinical perspective. Attachment & Human Development, 6(2), 181-190.

Lopez, F. G., Fuendeling, J., Thomas, K., and Sagula, D. (1997). An attachment-theoretical perspective on the use of splitting defenses. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 10, 461-472.

Raineki, C., Moriceau, S., and Sullivan, R.M. (2010). Developing a neurobehavioral animal model of infant attachment to an abusive caregiver.  Biological Psychiatry, 67, 1137-1145.

Cozolino, L. (2006): The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social brain. WW Norton & Company, New York.

Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience (New York: Guilford Press, 1999)

Iacoboni, M., Molnar-Szakacs, I., Gallese, V., Buccino, G., Mazziotta, J., and Rizzolatti, G. (2005). Grasping the intentions of others with one’s own mirror neuron system. Plos Biology, 3(3), e79.

Kaplan, J. T., and Iacoboni, M. (2006). Getting a grip on other minds: Mirror neurons, intention understanding, and cognitive empathy. Social Neuroscience, 1(3/4), 175-183.

Fraiberg, S., Adelson, E., and Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 14, 387–421.

Millon. T. (2011). Disorders of personality: introducing a DSM/ICD spectrum from normal to abnormal. Hoboken: Wiley.

Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., Davis, D.D., and Associates (2004). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. (2nd edition). New York: Guilford.

Kernberg, O.F. (1975). Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism. New York: Aronson.

Moor, A. and Silvern, L. (2006). Identifying pathways linking child abuse to psychological outcome: The mediating role of perceived parental failure of empathy. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 6, 91-112.

Trippany, R.L., Helm, H.M. and Simpson, L. (2006). Trauma reenactment: Rethinking borderline personality disorder when diagnosing sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 28, 95-110.

Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissistic parents. The Therapist.

Carlson, E.A., Edgeland, B., and Sroufe, L.A. (2009). A prospective investigation of the development of borderline personality symptoms.  Development and Psychopathology, 21, 1311-1334.

Juni, S. (1995).  Triangulation as splitting in the service of ambivalence. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 14, 91-111.

Barnow, S. Aldinger, M., Arens, E.A., Ulrich, I., Spitzer, C., Grabe, H., Stopsack, M. (2013). Maternal transmission of borderline personality disorder symptoms in the community-based Griefswald Family Study. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27, 806-819,

Dutton, D. G., Denny-Keys, M. K., and Sells, J. R. (2011). Parental personality disorder and its effects on children: A review of current literature.  Journal of Child Custody, 8, 268-283.

Fruzzetti, A.E., Shenk, C. and Hoffman, P. (2005). Family interaction and the development of borderline personality disorder: A transactional model.  Development and Psychopathology, 17, 1007-1030.

Garety, P. A. and Freeman D. (1999) Cognitive approaches to delusions: A critical review of theories and evidence. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology; 38, 113-154.

Hodges, S. (2003). Borderline personality disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder: Time for integration? Journal of Counseling and Development, 81, 409-417.

Levy, K.N. (2005). The implications of attachment theory and research for understanding borderline personality disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 17, p. 959-986

Stepp, S. D., Whalen, D. J., Pilkonis, P. A., Hipwell, A. E., and Levine, M. D. (2011). Children of mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder: Identifying parenting behaviors as potential targets for intervention. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 1-16.

Svrakic, D.M. (1990). Functional dynamics of the narcissistic personality. American Journal of Psychiatry. 44, 189-203.

Widiger, T.A. and Trull, T.J. (2007). Plate tectonics in the classification of personality disorder: Shifting to a dimensional model. American Psychologist, 62, 71-83.

Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Harvard University Press.”

(Foundations: Childress, 2015, p. 344-351)



Alternatively, Foundations brings all of this information together into a coherent and comprehensive explanatory model for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

A Single Voice

Targeted parents and their children need us to solve this.  This is an immensely tragic and serious pathology of the highest order.  There is no room for professional egos in solving this.  Leave your ego at the door.  Bring your A-game.  Nothing less is acceptable.

AB-PA is not Dr. Childress.  The solution available through AB-PA is not Dr. Childress.  There are larger forces at work here.  AB-PA is the catalyst for change.  I am a conduit bringing forth the catalyst for change.

The catalytic agent is the return to the path of established professional psychology by using only the constructs and principles from standard and  established professional psychology to define the pathology.

Standing on the foundational ground of established professional psychology, we can establish defined standards of practice.

My role is to catalyze this change, this return to standard and established professional psychology.  No “new forms of pathology” proposals.  My role in this regard is to blow up the “Bridge on the River Kwai” (Gardnerian PAS) so that we can win the war.

This is part of a larger flow.  My role is to generate the catalytic agent.  I have accomplished my role.

The next phase is to actualize the solution.  There are many who will have a role in actualizing the solution – Dorcy, Wendy, Dwilene, you.

My role is shifting now into becoming the resource to be used in the change process.

But this is not about me.  This is larger than Dr. Childress.  I fully understand that.  This is all part of a larger flow within the universe that leads to a solution for these families and children.  The time is now.  The battle to recover these children is now.  We have everything we need.

We are fundamentally changing how the mental health system and the legal system respond to high-conflict divorce and child custody.  Massive systems-wide change, in the U.S. and everywhere.  That is a huge undertaking.  Far larger than Dr. Childress.  I’m just a lone clinical psychologist in Southern California.

I generated the “information-structures” needed to catalyze the change, the return back to standard and established professional practice.  That was my role.  This new phase of actualizing the solution requires all of us – working together – toward the same goal… a solution.

I cannot fulfill my role as the catalytic agent of change if I bring my ego to this.  If this becomes about Dr. Childress, it will distort and fail.  I suspect that the universe brought me AB-PA because it knows that it had formed me to the point in my spiritual-psychological development where the gift of AB-PA would not adversely distort my ego.  As an old clinical psychologist with Joseph Campbell overtones, I recognize that there is a source of all things, and I understand that I am not that source.

I do what I do, I let my work enter the universe, and allow the universe to manage the unfolding.  My responsibility is to my authenticity in doing what I do, my responsibility is to act with integrity, and my responsibility is to always bring my A-game.

With “parental alienation,” the ONLY thing I care about is solving the pathology as quickly as is humanly possible, and we solve the pathology as quickly as is humanly possible when all mental health professionals speak with a single voice.

Returning to the foundations of standard and established constructs and principles brings the solution.  I am asking that all mental health professionals come together to support the return to standard and established principles and constructs of professional psychology.  We need to leave our egos at the door, these children and families need us to leave our egos at the door and for us to come together into a single unified voice for change.

Let’s get to work on solving this.

The primary issue we need to address is the massive level of professional ignorance and incompetence in professional psychology.  We must get a handle on the professional ignorance and incompetence.

The ground foundation for establishing standards of professional practice is in the assessment process.  If we want to establish professional competence, we begin by establishing a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

AB-PA isn’t about Dr. Childress.  AB-PA is functional.  It’s a practical tool.

AB-PA provides the impetus for a system-wide re-examination from ALL mental health professionals regarding how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed and diagnosed.

Let that settle in for a second. AB-PA is practical.  AB-PA is a tool towards a goal.  The goal is professional competence.  AB-PA, by its very nature, will require ALL of professional psychology to re-examine how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed and diagnosed.

Then, from this opportunity, we are going to weave into the assessment procedure a structured and standardized assessment protocol to establish a ground of professional competence.

To achieve a standard of practice in assessment, we need two things:

Diagnostic Structure: A clear diagnostic formulation that will support a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

Structured Documentation: The structured and standardized documentation of the information collected from the assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

The categorical three-symptom diagnostic structure of AB-PA provides the requirements for a clear and structured diagnostic framework that will support a structured and standardized assessment protocol.

The assessment documentation instruments for AB-PA provide the structured and standardized documentation at the core of a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

A critical lynch-pin focal point in the assessment is the change to the construct of pathogenic parenting – we are assessing for pathogenic parenting (patho=pathology; genic=genesis; creation).  Pathogenic parenting is the creation of significant psychopathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices (we are returning to standard and established constructs and principles).

The Diagnostic Checklist and the Parenting Practices Scale provide the structured and standardized documentation of the assessment data.

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale documents the potential pathogenic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent (Categories 1 and 2; indicating severely problematic parenting).

The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting documents the potential pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” parent (a cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent).

That is the core of a structured and standardized assessment protocol.

The structured and standardized AB-PA assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) can be delivered through a structured and standardized six-session Treatment-Focused Assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

See how, step-by-step, we are constructing a standard of practice in the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

“What if people want to add to or change the protocol?”

A:  There’s a saying, a camel is a horse built by a committee.

I am going to move forward with the core assessment protocol offered by AB-PA. Once we have a standard of practice established for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, we can adjust, modify, adapt as warranted. First things first. Establish a standardized and structured assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

Domestic Violence Assessment: I would fully support a Domestic Violence component to a structured and standardized assessment (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) of attachment-related pathology.  A proposal for a Domestic Violence assessment protocol will need to come from expertise in that domain, and from the collaborative consultation among that professional expertise.

I am professionally familiar with domestic violence, primarily surrounding its trauma impact on children.  Within the AB-PA assessment framework, domestic violence is identified on the Parenting Practices Rating Scale:

Level 1- Item 6: Domestic Violence Exposure.
Level 2 – Items 7; 8; 11 are additional surrounding indicators identifying concern.

A Level 1 or 2 rating of the targeted parent would rule-out AB-PA because the parenting practices of the targeted parent are not normal-range.

Should mental health professionals assess for domestic violence?  An unqualified yes.  The information issue surrounding domestic violence is managed within AB-PA, but domestic violence is not the primary goal of the AB-PA assessment protocol.

Once we have a standard of practice established for the assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, we can adjust, modify, adapt as warranted.  First things first.  Establish a standardized and structured assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

AB-PA will create the need for a system-wide review of how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is to be assessed.  That’s the function of AB-PA.  We need everyone to work with us on enacting that function of AB-PA, creating a system-wide review of how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed.

Through this opportunity created by AB-PA, we will establish a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized) that will provide a ground expectation for professional competence in assessment.

Building system-wide professional competence unrolls in a spiral, we’ll keep circling back with rounds of adaptive solutions built around a basic core – the need for a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

First things first, step-by-step.   We need to establish a structured and standardized assessment protocol for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  We need to establish a ground foundation for professional competence.

AB-PA Certification

All of the information for conducting a structured and standardized assessment for AB-PA is out there.  Mental health professionals do not need to be “certified” to conduct a semi-structured and flexibly standardized assessment for the pathology described by AB-PA.

AB-PA Certification is not a requirement for expertise, I think of it as a verification of expertise.

AB-PA Certification is a specific statement from me.  I am verifying that this mental health professional possesses a specific skill set:

1.)  Foundational Knowledge:  This mental health professional is verified to possess a foundational core of knowledgeable regarding the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, and complex trauma relevant to assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

2.) Treatment-Focused Assessment Protocol:  This mental health professional has the required knowledge to conduct a structured and standardized six-week Treatment-Focused Assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

3.) Treatment-Focused Report:  This mental health professional can generate a structured and standardized treatment-focused report for the Court regarding the presence or absence of AB-PA (a semi-structured; flexibly standardized report).

4.) Documentation:  The results of the Treatment-Focused Assessment protocol will be documented using the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting and the Parenting Practices Rating Scale.

The Diagnostic Checklist will assess for potential pathogenic parenting by the allied parent in a cross-generational coalition with the child.

The Parenting Practices Scale will assess for pathogenic parenting by the targeted-rejected parent.

Treatment recommendations will be data-driven.

Both documentation instruments will be provided to the Court in  appendix to the Treatment Focused Assessment report.

5.)  Contingent Visitation Schedule:  This mental health professional has the knowledge and training necessary to construct and implement a Contingent Visitation Schedule Strategic family systems intervention.

6.)  Long-Term Family Stabilization:  This mental health professional has the knowledge resources necessary to provide long-term stabilization for high-conflict families.

AB-PA Certification serves as the foundational ground for an established standard of practice regarding the assessment and diagnosis of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

Notice I did not say, “parental alienation.”  We are returning to standard and established constructs and principles ONLY – no “new forms of pathology” proposals.

Again, think of this like a spiral.  We will keep spiraling around the core, improving and adapting over time.  But first things first.  Let’s establish the core.

The mere existence of AB-PA requires a system-wide review of the procedures for assessing and diagnosing attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  Through this review, we will establish a structured and standardized assessment protocol (semi-structured; flexibly standardized).

I’m asking all mental health professionals to join us in achieving the systems-wide review of how attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is assessed.

I’m asking all mental health professionals to join us in achieving a structured and standardized assessment protocol that ensures a foundational ground for professional competence.

Join us in a single voice for professional competence.

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