Invitation to Karen Woodall

I just posted the following Comment to Karen Woodall’s Blog “Fake News and Fabrications” in which I provide an alternate label for AB-PA (the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of attachment-related pathology) and invite her to a professional-level conversation about attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce using a joint blog format.

A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress

Since Comments to her blog are “moderated” my invitation may not become posted, so I wanted to make this invitation public using my platforms. I think a professional-level conversation of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce between Karen Woodall and Dr. C would be extremely helpful in moving the field forward.


Hello Karen. You’ve changed your blog design.  Very bold coloring.  And you’ve taken off the “Parental Alienation Expert” appellation.  I tend to like softer coloring, as you’ll see shortly.

I understand that you’ve taken to labeling me a “guru” because of my diagnostic description of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  I want to take this opportunity to clarify that what I describe is all standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology applied to a symptom set.  That’s called diagnosis.  AB-PA is not a theory, it’s standard diagnosis.

Perhaps you’re confused by the label attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) and think I’m proposing something “new.”  That’s not at all the case.  I’m simply using this label of AB-PA to quickly reference a constellation of standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

You say other people have described all this before me.  You’re absolutely correct.  Bowlby, Minuchin, Haley, Beck, Millon, Kernberg, van der Kolk, a whole host of preeminent figures in professional psychology.

From Bowlby, it’s called “pathological mourning” and it’s linked to the “disordered mourning” of personality pathology.

From Minuchin, it’s called a “cross-generational coalition,” and it’s linked to the “emotional cutoff” described by Bowen.

From Beck, it’s the embedded “schema” patterns for interpreting relationship interactions that links to the complex trauma work of van der Kolk.

So in the effort to achieve greater clarity, I thought it might be helpful to add a second label – an equivalent label – for the attachment-related pathology I describe.  Let’s call it the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of “parental alienation.” Will that help?

I supposed we could call it the Bowlby-Minuchin-Haley-Bowen-Beck-Millon-Kernberg-Linehan-van der Kolk model of “parental alienation,” but then that becomes kind of long and defeats the purpose of having a convenient label.

So why don’t we just go ahead and use the label of the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

My point is, this isn’t me saying this stuff.  This is them saying this stuff.  I’m just quoting from them.  Will that help?

One more thing, I think it would be really helpful to gain professional clarity within the field of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce if you and I could have an open professional-to-professional dialogue about the pathology commonly called “parental alienation.”  I think this would be amazingly educational for all mental health professionals who are assessing, diagnosing and treating this pathology, to provide them with the benefit of our joint knowledge.

It seems difficult and inconvenient to have a professional-to-professional dialogue across two separate blogs, and I thought it would be really powerful to set up a joint blog where you and I could have a professional-to-professional level dialogue about the pathology.

Toward that end, I have set up a WordPress blog for you and me.  If you email me I’ll give you the password to it and then you and I can jointly blog back-and-forth on a single blog in a professional-to-professional level discussion of pathology.  Wouldn’t that be something.  Karen Woodall and Dr. C in a professional-level conversation about the pathology…

A Conversation Between Karen Woodall & Dr. Childress https://woodallchildressconversation.wordpress.com/

I’ve even given you top billing.

I know you’re concerned about all the different types and variants of parent-child conflict out there, and we can discuss all these “hybrid” cases of parental alienation, as well as the more “severe” or “pure case” described by the Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck model.

A joint blog and professional-to-professional dialogue of the pathology: Two of the top “experts” in “parental alienation” (although I don’t consider myself an “expert” in “parental alienation,” I’m just a clinical psychologist).  Whaddya say?  Just email me, I’ll send you the password, and we can get the professional-to-professional dialogue underway.

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

I Am Your Resource

The world is changing.  The solution to “parental alienation” is coming.


There is a saying in early childhood mental health that we need to give a toddler a new food 11 times before the toddler accepts it.  The first ten times, it’s too “new” – nope, won’t try it.  But on the eleventh time it’s no longer a “new” food and the toddler will give it a try.

That’s where we are right now.  We’re introducing a new food (AB-PA) to the “toddlers” of professional psychology and the family courts.

The process that is creating the solution is all within the hands of the universe.  I can feel it on so many levels.  This is not about me.  I simply have a role to play.  My role is to be your resource.  But there are so many of us who each have our roles in bringing the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” to an end.  My role is as a resource. 

I’ve provided you with the professional words and constructs that empower you, and that lead professional psychology back onto the established path of professional practice.

Foundations 

I’ve provided you with a booklet that you can give to attorneys, minor’s counsels, and Guardians ad Litem, that explains the pathology of the narcissistic parent surrounding divorce.

The Narcissistic Parent

I’ve provided you with a booklet that describes a structured and standardized six-session assessment protocol that can – and should – be used in all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  This is the assessment protocol that attorneys should seek from the Court.

The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

I’ve provided you with a booklet that describes a Strategic family systems intervention that the Court can order as a remedy when attachment-based “parental alienation” has been identified by the assessment.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule

I’ve provided you with a model for a family court system pilot program that will quickly and efficiently create expertise in professional psychology and knowledge of the pathology in the legal system across broad geographic jurisdictions, a pilot program model that is both flexible and completely replicable.

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

I have provided you with online seminars that describe the pathology.

California Southern University, Master Lecture Series
Parental Alienation: An Attachment-Based Model (7/18/14)

California Sothern University, Master Lecture Series
Treatment of Attachment-Based Parental Alienation (11/21/14)

I have provided you with the diagnostic assessment instruments needed to identify the pathology and monitor the child’s symptoms.

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

Parenting Practices Rating Scale

Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale

By returning us to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, I have activated ethical code Standards to be used in seeking professional competence.

APA Ethics Code Standard 2.01a:  Boundaries of Competence

APA Ethics Code Standard 9.01a:  Bases for Assessment

APA Ethics Code Standard 2.03:  Maintaining Competence

APA Ethics Code Standard 3.04: Avoiding Harm

Professional Competence

I have provided you with a booklet that can be given to mental health professionals which describes the pathology in professional language and reminds them of their ethical obligations for professional competence.

Professional Consultation

You have been provided with legislature testimony that is available online for reference.

Penn. Bipartisan House Children and Youth Committee: Dr. Childress

You have all the resources you need to solve the pathology. 

My role is simply to serve as a resource to you in solving this attachment-related family pathology.  I am not your warrior.  You are the warrior for your children.  I am your weapon.  I am your resource. That is my role.

I’ve accomplished my role.  I have provided you with all the resources you need to solve the pathology, and with the path back to established professional psychology and standards of practice.

The Solution:  The Return to Professional Practice

The Solution:  The Dominoes

This is a trauma pathology.  The attachment trauma is being passed on across generations.  In the current generation, the targeted parent is made to carry the trauma.  The targeted parent is experiencing a form of complex trauma called “traumatic grief.”

Wikipedia:  Complex Trauma

One of the consequences of this traumatic grief is a learned helplessness created by the traumatizing lack of support targeted parents receive from professional psychology and the family courts.  A psychological passivity is created in targeted parents by the traumatizing helplessness inflicted on them by the pathology of “parental alienation.”

Targeted parents must wake up, you must shake off the helplessness that has been forced upon you.  You are more powerful than you know.  But only if you come together and unite your voices in a call for change.  Alone you are powerless.   In 100 you reclaim your voice.  In 1,000 you reclaim your power.  In 10,000 you become an unstoppable force for change.  Become an unstoppable force for change. 

You have all the resources you need.

I am a lone psychologist in Southern California.  I am not your warrior.  I am your weapon.  You are the warrior.  This battle is for your children.  The time is now.  The battle is now.  The solution is at hand.

How long it takes to achieve the solution is up to you.

The pathogen seeks to keep you alone and isolated, fighting your own individual fights.  When you are kept alone and isolated, the pathogen has power.  You must come together and begin to fight for each other.  We cannot solve this in any one family until we solve this for ALL children and all families.

This fight is for each other.

The mental health system is broken.  The legal system is broken.  We must first fix the broken systems.  We start by fixing the broken mental health system, and then we leverage the mental health system to fix the broken legal system.  Step-by-step.

We fix the broken mental health system by banishing professional ignorance and incompetence and REQUIRING professional expertise.  We accomplish this by returning to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to which ALL mental health professionals can be held ACCOUNTABLE.

We then leverage Standards 2.01a and 9.01a of the APA ethics code to obtain professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your children and families.

We establish a ground foundation for professional knowledge and expertise needed for a structured and standardized assessment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce .

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

Based on the ground foundational principles of professional psychology, we build a standard of practice for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.

I have fulfilled most of my role as your resource.  You have all the resources you need to solve this pathology.  My role as your resource will be shifting.  I am going to turn my attention now to writing for professional journal publication.  This method of change is slow, too slow, so I opted for a faster approach of providing you with all the resources you need first, and once this was accomplished to then turn back to writing for professional journals.

So that is my next focus, writing for professional journals. 

I will also be turning my full attention on recruiting the APA as your ally.  The APA is an excellent professional organization, they are simply asleep.  We need to rouse them from their slumber, awaken them to your pain.  Once they awaken, they will become your allies in solving your deep family tragedies.

I will continue to present seminars in AB-PA.  I am continuing to work with Children4Tomorrow in Houston, Texas to bring a pilot program to the Houston area family courts.

I am willing to speak to state legislature committees on the pathology of “parental alienation” and its solution, as I did recently in Pennsylvania.

I will continue to fulfill my role as your resource in returning professional psychology back to established professional practice, creating the needed professional expertise, and bringing the solution to high-conflict divorce to the family courts.

But I am am not your warrior, I am your weapon.  You are the warrior for your children.  You are more powerful than you know.   Become an unstoppable force for change.

My first recommendation…

Get The Narcissistic Parent, The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology, and the Contingent Visitation Schedule  into the hands of every family law attorney, Guardian ad Litem, parenting coordinator, and minor’s counsel.

We are presenting a new food to the toddler.

My second recommendation…

Get The Narcissistic Parent and the AB-PA Key Solution Pilot Program into the hands of your state legislators and congressional representatives, along with the link to my Pennsylvania testimony: Penn. Committee on Youth and Children.

In 2018 we will be turning our attention to the APA.  I will need your voices.  All of your voices.  Ten thousand voices, united in a single call for change, in a single call for professional competence, in a single call to end your suffering.

The APA is a good organization.  We will be respectful and kind.  And we will be relentless – until they are awake and until they take active steps to end your suffering.

I will need your voices to awaken the APA from its slumber.

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

Recommendation to the Family Courts

I recently received an email request from a family law judge overseas who asked for input on resolving “parental alienation” in the family courts. I thought my email response to this question might be more broadly of interest, so I am providing it here as well.


What has traditionally been called “parental alienation” represents an attachment-related pathology.  The attachment system is the brain system that governs all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  A child rejecting a parent following divorce is a problem in the love-and-bonding system of the brain — the attachment system.

The key to solving this attachment-related family pathology is to return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  The problem faced by the family courts is that professional psychology is not providing the court with the necessary level of professional expertise needed to solve the pathology.  The focus of my work is to help professional psychology develop the professional expertise in four areas of professional knowledge needed to successfully resolve the pathology:

The Attachment System
Personality Disorder Pathology
Family Systems Pathology
Complex Trauma Pathology

I recently completed the first AB-PA Certification seminar here in Pasadena, California training mental health professionals in these four domains, and in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology.

So the first step is to return to standard and established professional constructs and principles in professional psychology. The next step is to establish a standard of practice for addressing attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.  This begins with assessment.

Assessment

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

I have a booklet available on Amazon.com:

The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce

This booklet describes a six-session assessment of attachment-related pathology.  I am recommending that in all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, that courts order this six-session assessment protocol.

The trouble that courts will currently run into is locating a mental health professional who can conduct this structured and standardized assessment protocol.  I describe the assessment protocol in my booklet (The Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce), I have YouTube videos up that provide a professional-to-professional level description of the assessment process (Professional-to-Professional Conversation with Dr. Childress), and I directly train mental health professionals in this assessment protocol as part of my AB-PA Certification seminars.

This structured assessment protocol is built around two instruments, 1) the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting which documents the child symptoms resulting from pathogenic parenting by a narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent, and 2) the Parenting Practices Rating Scale that documents the possible problematic parenting of the targeted-rejected parent.  Both of these instruments are available on my website:

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

Parenting Practices Rating Scale

The issue of concern is called “pathogenic parenting” (patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation).  Pathogenic parenting is the creation of significant psychopathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices.

The attachment system (the brain system for love-and-bonding) never spontaneously dysfunctions.  The attachment system ONLY becomes dysfunctional in response to pathogenic parenting.  So the assessment question becomes, which parent is creating the child’s attachment-related pathology.

Is it pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent who has formed a cross-generational coalition with the child against the other parent? (the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting)

Or is it pathogenic parenting by the targeted-rejected parent (child abuse) that is creating the child’s rejection of this parent? (the Parenting Practices Rating Scale).

We begin with assessment.

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

Intervention & Remedy

Now to address the intervention and remedy issues…

We first need to conduct a proper assessment of the attachment-related pathology to identify the source of pathogenic parenting. If the pathogenic parenting is coming from an allied narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent – as documented by the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting – then we move on to treatment.

The three diagnostic indicators of AB-PA (pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent) are:

1) Attachment system suppression

2) Narcissistic personality traits in the child’s symptom display

3) An encapsulated persecutory delusion in the child’s symptom display

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

Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.

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

We then treat the emotional and psychological damage created in the child by the abusive parenting and we recover the normal-range and healthy development of the child.

Once we have recovered the normal-range and healthy development of the child, we then restore the child’s relationship with the formerly abusive parent with sufficient safeguards to ensure that the child abuse does not resume once the child’s relationship with the formerly abusive parent is restored.

This is the standard of practice for ALL cases of child abuse, physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, and psychological child abuse. Diagnosis guides treatment.

In cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, there MAY be a treatment-oriented approach that does not require a protective separation period. It is a Strategic family systems intervention designed to alter how the child’s induced symptoms confer power within the family. Strategic family systems therapy is one of two primary schools of family therapy (the other being Structural family systems therapy). The principle theorist of Strategic family system therapy is Jay Haley

Wikipedia: Jay Haley

Wikipedia: Strategic Family Systems Therapy

A possible Strategic family systems intervention for attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce is a Contingent Visitation Schedule that makes the child’s visitation with the abusive and pathogenic narcissistic/(borderline) parent contingent upon the child being symptom-free. If the psychologically abusive narcissistic/(borderline) parent creates significant symptoms in the child, then this parent’s time with the child is reduced and the child’s time with the targeted parent is increased. Once the child’s symptoms have been treated and the child’s normal-range and healthy development is restored (the child is symptom-free) then normal-range contact with the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is restored.

The child’s contact with the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is made contingent on the child remaining symptom-free. It’s like small-scale protective separation periods of a few days or weeks based on the emergence of documented child symptoms and their recovery.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule is a pre-defined and structured approach to potentially addressing the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent. I describe the Contingent Visitation Schedule in a booklet available from Amazon.com:

Contingent Visitation Schedule

However, without the Contingent Visitation Schedule the standard-of-practice treatment would be a six to nine month protective separation period from the psychologically abusive parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent based on a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse identified in the assessment phase.

A possible treatment alternative is a Strategic family systems intervention of the Contingent Visitation Schedule.

The Contingent Visitation Schedule will require an organizing family therapist to run and implement the Strategic family system intervention, and a current problem that the court is likely to run into is the absence of mental health professionals who are skilled in family systems therapy and who can run a Contingent Visitation Schedule intervention. I describe how to run a Contingent Visitation Schedule in my booklet, and as part of my three-day AB-PA Certification seminars I train mental health professionals in both the six-session assessment protocol for AB-PA (attachment-based “parental alienation”) and in structuring and running a Contingent Visitation Schedule.

My current efforts are directed toward training and Certification of mental health professionals in AB-PA, including how to conduct a six-session assessment protocol and run a Contingent Visitation Schedule. The goal is to provide the courts with the necessary level of professional expertise needed to solve the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA). Until we achieve that goal, however, achieving the solution may remain challenging for the courts.

Pilot Program for the Family Courts:

I am currently working with an organization in Houston, Texas (Children4Tommorrow: Dwilene Lindsey) to create a pilot program for the courts for addressing all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce. This involves teaming an AB-PA Certified mental health professional with an AB-PA knowledgeable amicus attorney. To establish this AB-PA Key Solution pilot program for the family court, I would conduct a two-day Certification seminar for 15 to 20 mental health professionals in the Houston area and then a one-day AB-PA seminar for 5 to 10 amicus attorneys tailored to explaining the pathology to legal professionals. This would provide the courts in the Houston area with the necessary level of professional knowledge and expertise needed to solve the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation.”

Then, in all cases of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce, the court would order a treatment-focused assessment by an AB-PA Certified mental health professional using the structured and standardized six-session assessment protocol. If the pathology of AB-PA is identified by the assessment (attachment-based “parental alienation”), then the court would team a new AB-PA Certified mental health professional with an AB-PA Knowledgeable amicus attorney. This team could then establish and monitor a Contingent Visitation Schedule and guide the family’s stabilization into a successful post-divorce separated family structure of cooperative co-parenting and shared bonds of affection between the child and both parents.

I describe this AB-PA Key Solution pilot program in a booklet available on Amazon.com:

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

Brief Intensive Interventions

There are models for brief-intensive interventions that are available that will quickly and gently restore the normal-range functioning of the child’s attachment system. The two primary brief-intensive interventions are:

Family Bridges: Richard Warshak
High Road to Family Reunification: Dorcy Pruter

My understanding is that they use similar approaches. I have not reviewed the Family Bridges protocol but I have reviewed and observed the High Road protocol of Dorcy Pruter, so I can speak directly to the High Road protocol.

The High Road protocol of Dorcy Pruter will gently and effectively restore the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days. I have provided the High Road protocol with my endorsement;

Dr. Childress Declaration Regarding the High Road Protocol

Ms. Pruter and I recently presented at the annual convention of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) in Boston where we described specifically how the High Road protocol achieves its success.

I have no financial interests in either the Family Bridges program or the High Road protocol. My understanding is that they use similar approaches. The only differences from my perspective is that I have reviewed the specific protocol for the High Road workshop and I have personally observed it in operation. I therefore know exactly how it works and exactly how it achieves its success.

If a brief-intensive protocol is needed to gently and effectively restore the child’s attachment bonding motivations within a matter of days, these protocols exist. However, they still require a post-intervention protective separation period of between six to nine months from the psychologically abusive narcissistic/(borderline) parent to stabilize the child’s recovery before reintroducing the psychologically abusive parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

When the child is reintroduced to the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, the child’s recovery can be further stabilized by the use of the Contingent Visitation Schedule at that time. The Contingent Visitation Schedule and the High Road protocol are both tools that are available to the Court. The key to the long-term stabilization of the family, however, lay in a significant improvement in the level of professional knowledge and expertise surrounding attachment-related pathology following divorce.

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

Exposing the Pathogen

It’s time for Gardnerian PAS to die.

The solution to “parental alienation” is through a return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology: AB-PA.

Gardnerian PAS offers no solution whatsoever.

For three years – three years – I have repeatedly asked the self-proclaimed Gardnerian PAS “experts” to provide their path to a solution using the Gardnerian PAS model, most recently in August-September of this year.  Their response?… crickets.  Nothing.

The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model offers no solution whatsoever.  They know it, and I know it.  Now everyone knows it.

So then why do the Gardernian PAS “experts” hold onto a failed diagnostic model of the pathology that offers NO solution whatsoever?

Because they don’t want a solution.

They are enabling allies of the pathogen whose role is to sow discord and division, thereby disabling the mental health response to the pathology.

Past History:  In sowing discord and division with establishment psychology for the past 30 years, the Gardnerian PAS “experts” have allowed the pathology of “parental alienation” to continue unsolved and unabated – for 30 years – and they have created a culture of ignorance and incompetence in professional psychology surrounding high-conflict divorce that invites the profound professional ignorance and incompetence we currently witness.

Current Behavior:  Now that AB-PA is leading us into a solution, the Gardnerian PAS “experts” are trying to hide AB-PA in confusion and obscurity so that professional psychology does not learn that AB-PA even exists to solve the pathology.  They seek to sow confusion by actively co-opting constructs from AB-PA without acknowledgement that these constructs emerge from AB-PA.  This is not about who gets “credit” for what (with AB-PA credit belongs to Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck,…) – it’s about sowing confusion by fusing the constructs of AB-PA onto PAS in order to hide the existence of AB-PA – as if AB-PA is nothing more than Gardnerian PAS.  It is a conscious and premeditated strategy to disable the solution available from AB-PA.

By not joining us in solving “parental alienation” through a return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology (AB-PA), they are now sowing discord and division within the mental health allies of targeted parents, creating two “camps” – the Gardnerian PAS “expert” camp and the Childress AB-PA “camp.”

The Gardernian PAS “experts” sow discord and division – that’s what they do.  First with establishment psychology, and now with AB-PA that seeks to reunite us with establishment psychology.  We can absolutely solve this attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce ONCE we return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.  The Gardnerian PAS “experts” are fighting against a return to standard and established constructs and principles – they are fighting against the solution.

One approach to creating this discord and division is by falsely characterizing me as being some sort of “guru” – they use this term – rather than accurately characterizing my efforts as a call to return to the path of established professional constructs and principles – Bowlby, Millon, Minuchin, Beck…

The pathogen deals in falsehood.

In falsely characterizing my work with AB-PA by a personal attack on me as an alleged “guru,” they seek to discredit me and, by association, the truth of AB-PA (the established truth of standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology) by alleging that I have narcissistic designs.  They don’t attack the substance of AB-PA – because they can’t.  The substance of AB-PA is true.  So they attack me personally in an effort to discredit the truth of what I describe in AB-PA.

This is a classic attack strategy of the pathogen.

The pathogen launched a personal attack on Gardner by claiming he was a “pedophile.”  If Gardner was labeled a “pedophile” then the content of what he said would be discredited.  The personal attack on me by the Gardnerian PAS “experts” that I am some sort of “guru” (Karen Woodall’s “false prophet” characterization) is exactly the same approach, to attack AB-PA by leveling their attack against me personally using the false label of “guru.”  Same exact process.  I know this pathogen.  I see the pathogen clearly.

The truth is that Gardnerian PAS provides NO solution whatsoever.  They know it.  I know it.  Everyone knows it.  All they are doing is sowing discord and division in not joining with us in solving “parental alienation” through a return to the established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

There is absolutely NO rational argument against a return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, but the Gardnerian PAS “experts” are tying themselves in knots of illogic and irrationality trying – desperately trying – to find a reason NOT to accept AB-PA.

Why?  Because they don’t want to solve this pathology.

The pathogen deals in falsehoods.  For the narcissistic personality, “Truth and reality are whatever I assert them to be.”

If they want to confabulate Gardnerian PAS with AB-PA, they simply assert that they are the same thing just using “different words,” ignoring the fact that words have meaning, so using “different words” results in different meanings.  Saying, “I like pie” is not the same as saying, “the sky is blue” just using “different words.”  Different words = different meaning.  Now Karen Woodall appears to be claiming that AB-PA is nothing new because she thought of it all years ago.  Whatever, Karen.

The Gardnerian PAS “experts” have alleged that it’s Dr. Childress who is being divergent in not “cooperating” with them by not accepting Gardnerian PAS.

The truth:  If I accept Gardnerian PAS then I accept no solution for targeted parents and their children, because Gardnerian PAS provides no solution.  They know it provides no solution.  I know it provides no solution.  They want me to accept no solution because then everything stays exactly as it is.

Look, if they simply tell us the path to a solution using the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model, I’d be happy to join with them.  Woo hoo.  Yay.  But they don’t offer a solution because they can’t offer a solution.  Gardnerian PAS provides NO solution whatsoever.  They know it.  I know it.  We all know it.

They are even free to add whatever they want to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology described in AB-PA.  They can add all the unicorns, and mermaids, and beautiful dancing pixies they want.  Fine by me.  But we MUST establish a baseline of professional competence – a ground foundation of professional knowledge and professional competence in the established constructs and principles of professional psychology (AB-PA).

I don’t care one whit for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  The only thing I care about is solving the pathology of “parental alienation” as quickly as is humanly possible.  If the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model with its 8 symptom features could solve this, I’d be joining them in a heartbeat.  It can’t.  And it never will.  30 years.  No solution.  Scoreboard.

I’m not the one who isn’t cooperating.  THEY aren’t cooperating.

I’m not the one insisting that AB-PA is the only solution, they are the ones who are rigidly INSISTING that only Gardnerian PAS is allowed to solve the pathology – knowing full well that Gardnerian PAS does not provide a solution.

The pathogen lies.  It deals in falsehoods.  It sows discord and division with its lies, mistruths, and false statements.

AB-PA provides a solution.  That is the truth.  Gardnerian PAS doesn’t.  That is the truth.  If the Gardnerian PAS “experts” disagree, then tell us the solution using Gardnerian PAS… nothing but crickets.  That is the truth.

The pathogen sows discord and division with lies.  In the discord, confusion, and division it sows, the pathogen just makes stuff up.  It can make a series of false statements in 10 seconds that then require three hours to respond to.  Chaos, discord, division.  Hallmarks of the pathogen.

Britian’s Children

Now, let me expose the pathogen in the Gardnerian PAS “experts” more fully.

Recently in England, an organization called Cafcass, who supposedly represents the “voice” of the children in divorce and child custody proceedings, has made a momentous admission, that they have been missing the identification of “parental alienation” in large numbers of the 125,000 cases they assess each year.

The Guardian Article on Cafcass

From the Guardian:  “Cafcass said it had recently realised parental alienation occured in significant numbers of the 125,000 cases it dealt with each year.”

From my relatively superficial understanding of Cafcass, I would agree with their self-assessment.  They have been horrible, and their previous assessments have been directly responsible for the destruction of countless numbers of families and childhoods – lost love and lost childhoods that were irrevocably damaged by the prior ignorant and incompetent assessments and reports produced by Cafcass.

But they have apparently become enlightened by knowledge.  This is outstandingly positive news.

They acknowledge that they have missed identifying prior cases of “parental alienation” and they are adopting a “groundbreaking” protocol of potentially removing children from the “alienating” parent if this parent does not stop alienating the child from the other parent.  Sounds like an extremely positive development to me.

A protective separation of the child in order to release the child from the psychological control and psychological manipulation of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent is an exceedingly positive step.  Cafcass will begin taking active steps to protect the child and protect the child’s loving bond to the normal-range parent.

This is outstandingly good news.  The solution is coming.  Change is coming.

Yet Karen Woodall – a staunch Gardnerian PAS “expert” in England – is AGAINST this change.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Karen Woodall opposes separating the child from the psychological manipulation and control of the “alienating” parent.

Karen Woodall argues AGAINST separating the child from the “alienating” parent because she is concerned that separating the child from the psychological manipulation and control of the “alienating” parent might damage the child’s relationship with that parent.

Here’s what Karen Woodall says about protectively separating the child from the pathological psychological control of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent:

From Karen Woodall:  “Treating parental alienation by forcing a child (who has already been forced into losing one parent to keep the other), to lose that parent in order to regain the other, is not the way that any responsible practitioner wishes to treat parental alienation.”

The Battle for Britain’s Alienated Children, 11/22/17 (emphasis added)

Seriously, Karen?  You are more concerned with protecting the child’s pathological relationship with the “alienating” parent than you are with protecting the child’s healthy relationship with the normal-range and loving parent.  Wow.

Notice the manipulative communication she uses in characterizing efforts to protect the child as somehow “forcing” the child to lose a relationship with the manipulative and psychologically controlling “alienating parent.”

No one is “forcing the child” into losing a relationship with a parent.  That is simply not true.  The pathogen lies.

Associated Clinical Sign 1 of the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting is the use of the  word “forced.”  I have described the origins of this symptom feature:

ACS 1: Use of the Word Forced

The use of the word “forced” is a manipulative communication strategy designed to dis-empower efforts to protect the child.  We are not “forcing” the child to lose a relationship with the narcissistic “alienating” parent – we are PROTECTING the child from the abusive psychological control and manipulation of the child by the “alienating” parent who seeks to destroy the child’s loving bond of shared affection with the other parent.

Every time we encounter this manipulative effort to dis-empower our efforts to protect the child by claiming we are “forcing the child,” we need to immediately correct this characterization with a more accurate and balanced description:

The child is not being “forced,” the child is being given the opportunity to have a loving bond of affection with both parents.

That is the truth.  Karen’s characterization is false.  It is manipulative.  It seeks to undermine and dis-empower efforts to protect the child from the psychological control and manipulation of the “alienating” parent.

When we begin treatment of the induced psychopathology created in the child by the pathogenic parenting of the allied and supposedly “favored” narcissistic “alienating” parent, we DON’T want to turn the child into a “psychological battleground” between the efforts of therapy to restore a normal-range and loving relationship with the targeted parent and the continuing efforts of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent to create and maintain the child’s psychopathology.

We must first protect the child from the psychopathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

Notice too, the second manipulative communication of Karen Woodall in characterizing professional efforts to protect the child as being “irresponsible” professional practice:

“…is not the way that any responsible practitioner wishes to treat parental alienation.”

I’ve got news for you Karen, I am a responsible practitioner and a protective separation of the child from the psychopathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) “alienating” parent is EXACTLY the treatment for “parental alienation.”  We must first protect the child from the manipulative psychological control of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  ONLY when we have first protected the child can we then ask the child to reveal their authentic love for the targeted parent.

We must first protect the child.  In doing so, we must protect the child’s healthy relationship with the normal-range targeted parent.

Once we have restored the child’s healthy and normal-range development, we can then stabilize the family’s transition into a successful separated family structure of shared bonds of affection between the child and both parents.

And Karen… anticipating your response – ANY parent who seeks to destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent following divorce is, by definition, narcissistic.  NO parent who has authentic empathy for the child would ever – ever – seek to destroy that child’s relationship with the other parent.

So, Karen, all your supposed “hybrid cases” of “parental alienation,” ALL of them involve a narcissistic allied parent to some degree.  ANY parent who seeks to destroy the child’s loving bonds of affection with the other parent following divorce is narcissistic – by definition; the absence of authentic empathy for the child involves placing the parent’s own emotional and psychological needs ahead of the child’s healthy development.

Argue with me if you want, Karen, but then look what you’re doing.  You are attempting to minimize the narcissistic pathology of the “alienating” parent in order to argue in FAVOR of keeping the child with the psychologically manipulative and controlling “alienating” parent at the expense of the child’s healthy relationship with the normal-range parent.  Do you really want to be on that side of the argument?

Karen, seriously… we protect the child from the psychological manipulation and psychological control of the narcissistic parent, we restore the child’s normal-range relationship with the targeted parent that has been damaged by the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic “alienating” parent, and then we restore the child’s relationship with the pathological “alienating” parent with sufficient safeguards to ensure that the psychological abuse of the child does not resume once the pathology of this parent is reintroduced.

And you’re arguing AGAINST that.  Really, Karen?   You actually want to leave the child with the pathological “alienating” parent even though this parent is trying to destroy the child’s healthy bonds of affection with the targeted parent.  Wow.

I want everyone to just sort of let Karen Woodall’s position sink in.  She is arguing that “responsible” treatment is to leave the child with the alienating parent because we wouldn’t want to damage that relationship by removing the child from the manipulative psychological control of that parent.

Wow.

False Allies

Garderian PAS offers no solution whatsoever.

AB-PA provides an immediate solution through a return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.

There is no rational reason to continue to hold onto a made-up diagnostic model of the pathology that sows discord and division between the mental health allies of targeted parents and establishment psychology.  We must reunite with establishment psychology to solve this pathology.

There is no rational reason to continue to hold onto a made-up diagnostic model that provides no solution and not join with and support a return to standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology that provides an immediate solution.

By continuing their non-cooperation with the solution available from a return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, the Gardnerian PAS “experts” simply sow discord and confusion with no purpose, since the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model offers NO SOLUTION whatsoever.

So then why do the Gardnerian PAS “experts” continue to hold onto a failed diagnostic model – and why do they seek to protect the child’s pathological relationship with the psychologically manipulative and controlling “alienating parent” at the expense of sacrificing the child’s healthy relationship with the loving and beloved targeted parent?

Because they don’t want a solution, they want to be “experts.”

Extrapolate Karen Woodall’s proposed solution:

Karen Woodall is the bestest expert anywhere, and everyone should come to Karen Woodall’s clinic to be assessed… everyone.  She will then conduct this super-special assessment that only she can do, and then she’ll tell us about what this unique form of pathology is in this family, determined by her for each individual case based on her magnificent expertise in this “new form of pathology.”

Can the rest of clinical psychology solve this?  Absolutely not.  We all need the magnificence of her expertise for each individual case, since the standard and established constructs of professional psychology are insufficient to solve this unique “new form of pathology” without benefit of her magnificent “expertise.”

And she calls me a “guru.”  Uh, can I call projection on that?

The standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology can absolutely solve this pathology.  Bowlby, and Minuchin, and Haley, and Beck, and Millon,… The standard and established constructs and principles of clinical psychology are fully sufficient to solve this pathology.

The diagnostic model of AB-PA exposes both the pathogen and its allies from beneath their veil of concealment.  AB-PA represents a threat to the pathogen, and the pathogen has called its allies to attack and disable the solution offered by AB-PA by creating discord and division.  Lo and behold, it’s the Gardernian PAS “experts” who have answered the pathogen’s call.  They cannot attack the substance of AB-PA because AB-PA is a true and accurate description of the pathology.  So they instead try a variety of other strategies in an effort to nullify the solution available from AB-PA:

From Karen Woodall:  “Treating parental alienation by forcing a child (who has already been forced into losing one parent to keep the other), to lose that parent in order to regain the other, is not the way that any responsible practitioner wishes to treat parental alienation.”

Karen Woodall is arguing against a protective separation and in favor of keeping the child with the psychologically manipulative and controlling “alienating parent” because she wants to protect the (pathological) relationship with the “alienating parent” even at the expense of the child’s healthy relationship with the targeted parent.

Let that sink in.

There are those who are made uncomfortable by the conflict between Dr. Childress and Karen Woodall, believing that allies of targeted parents should work together toward solving the pathology.  I couldn’t agree more, allies should work together.  The self-proclaimed “experts” in Gardnerian PAS, however, are not our allies, and they are beginning to expose themselves.

Karen Woodall is openly advocating that we sacrifice the child’s healthy relationship with the targeted parent in order to protect the child’s pathological relationship with the “alienating” parent, and to support this assertion she makes false and manipulative characterizations of efforts to protect the child as “forcing” the child to lose a relationship with the “alienating” parent in a convoluted effort to justify her alliance with the pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent.

We never abandon a child to a psychologically abusive parent.

Is “parental alienation” psychological child abuse, Karen?  If so, then why are you abandoning the child to the psychologically abusive “alienating” parent?

You are either advocating that we leave the child with a psychologically abusive parent – or you are saying that “parental alienation” is not child abuse.  Which is it Karen?

I’m sorry if this inter-professional conflict makes people uncomfortable.

I know the pathogen.  I see the pathogen.  And I know the allies of the pathogen.  I will fight for the children, always.  We must first protect the child.

I am a strong advocate that protectively separating the child from the manipulative psychological control and pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is the proper course of action in response to “parental alienation.”

Karen Woodall advocates that we leave the child with the “alienating” parent because she would rather protect the child’s relationship with the psychologically controlling narcissistic parent than protect the child’s healthy relationship with the targeted parent.

I will fight for the children, always.  Even if it makes people uncomfortable.  We must first protect the child.

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

Renewing the Focus on the APA

Prior to my presentation to the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee, I was speaking with some parents who were in attendance regarding the important role of the American Psychological Association in achieving the professional competence necessary to solve the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation (AB-PA).
 
I’ve been so tied up in producing the resources of the treatment-focused assessment protocol and the Contingent Visitation Schedule, and then preparing for my presentation in Pennsylvania and now my Certification seminars, that I haven’t been able to spare the time to focus on the APA front.
 
That’s going to change once the Certification seminars are completed this weekend. The APA is the next focus.
 
The American Psychological Association is an excellent professional organization.  They will become our allies in solving this attachment-related family pathology.
 
They have become inert and inactive in their role of ensuring professional competence because of the failure and abject inadequacy of the Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model to adequately define the pathology.  The Gardnerian PAS diagnostic model is an exceptionally bad model for a pathology for a variety of reasons.  It has divided professional psychology and has allowed professional ignorance and incompetence to overtake the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the pathology.
 
The reason we don’t have a solution to this attachment-related family pathology is NOT because of the APA or establishment professional psychology, including the DSM diagnostic system.  The reason we don’t have a solution to the attachment-related family pathology is because of the inadequacy of the Gardnerian PAS model in defining the pathology.
 
We must return to the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology in order to reunite with establishment professional psychology, including the American Psychological Association, and set about solving this, not only in solving the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA), but also solving the broken interface of professional psychology with the legal system surrounding child custody decision-making.
 
The APA and establishment psychology are NOT our adversaries, they are our allies… they just don’t know it yet.
 
All we are seeking is professional competence.  This is a right granted to all clients of mental health services by Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code.
 
The attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” is a blend of four domains of professional psychology, 1) attachment-related pathology, 2) personality disorder pathology, 3) family systems pathology, and 4) complex trauma pathology.  Professional competence REQUIRES a professional-level of knowledge in all four of these domains.
 
After this weekend, we will have the first mental health professionals with this required professional expertise – AB-PA Certified mental health professionals.  These mental health professionals will provide the standard for professional excellence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related family pathology surrounding divorce.
 
All mental health professionals treating the attachment-related family pathology MUST be professionally competent in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, and complex trauma.  Otherwise, they are in violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code.
 
There are three components – three things – we want from the APA in achieving professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the attachment-related family pathology of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).
 
1. Press Release Statement:
At the very least – the very least – a statement from the APA indicating that:
 
Requested Statement: “The assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology in high-conflict divorce requires specialized professional knowledge in a variety of professional domains. It is the expectation of the American Psychological Association that all psychologists who are assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce possess the require professional knowledge needed for professional competence, consistent with Standards 2.01a and 2.03 of the APA ethics code.”
 
This is a middle-of-the-road statement in support of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code and professional competence.  This statement avoids the controversy surrounding “parental alienation” that is created by the inadequacy of Gardnerian PAS, and it avoids any need to endorse AB-PA and a return to standard and established constructs and principles.  It simply reminds all psychologists that they are required to possess the necessary knowledge for professional competence (Standard 2.01a) and that they are required to “undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence” (Standard 2.03).  This proposed statement requested from the APA simply asks them to affirm the Standards of their own ethics code.
 
2. Change in Position Statement:
We want the APA to change their position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome to either,
 
1)  Take into consideration and address the fact that there are now TWO models defining the pathology (AB-PA being the second definition of the pathology), or
 
2)  Withdraw their statement and make no statement whatsoever, consistent with having “no position.”
 
If the APA chooses to make a statement about the attachment-related pathology described as “parental alienation” in the popular culture, then we want two things:
 
First, formal acknowledgement that the pathology exists – using whatever term they want for the pathology, “parental alienation,” cross-generational coalition, attachment-related pathology, cutoff family structure, obstructed bonding – they can call it Bob for all it matters – simply acknowledge that the pathology exists.
 
Second, that this group of children and families represents a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.
 
3.  Conference of Experts:
We would like to APA to hold a formal high-level conference of experts to examine the interface of professional psychology with the legal system surrounding divorce and child custody.
 
This conference of experts would include expertise in the attachment system, personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, complex trauma (including child abuse and domestic violence), along with representatives from forensic psychology with expertise in child custody decision-making.
 
This conference of experts would produce a white paper for the APA regarding the interface of professional psychology and the legal system surrounding child custody decision-making, discussing professional standards of practice in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of family pathology impacting child custody recommendations and child custody decision-making.
 
In early 2017, the APA said they wanted to form a committee to “study” the issues surrounding professional ignorance and incompetence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the attachment-related pathology of “parental alienation.”  It is now a year later.  The trauma and tragedy of destroyed childhoods and destroyed families continues unabated. 
2018 is the year we focus on enlisting the help of the American Psychological Association in guaranteeing professional knowledge and professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce.
Silence and inaction in response to professional incompetence is complicity.
 
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

Salvador Minuchin has Passed

The renowned family therapist, Salvador Minuchin, has passed today.

Salvador Minuchin, a Pioneer of Family Therapy, Dies at 96

A brilliant man.  My clinical work as a family therapist is strongly influenced by Minuchin.  I had the benefit of hearing him lecture at a conference, and the statement of his that resonated with me most is when he said, “A child cannot be as powerful as an adult unless he’s standing on someone’s shoulders” – speaking about the cross-generational coalition.

The second important influence on my work from Salvador Minuchin is his recognition that a dysfunctional system is stable WITH the symptom present.  In order to create change, we must first disrupt the stability of the dysfunctional system.  Then, as the system begins to re-stabilize from the disruption we intentionally create as the family therapist, we can remove the symptom and help the system reorganize into a healthier set of relationships.

This is at the core of my work in bringing change to the dysfunctional mental health and legal systems surrounding the pathology of “parental alienation.”

The broken mental health and legal systems are stable and resistant to change.  Everything I am doing is with the goal of first disrupting the stability of the dysfunctional systems – AB-PA, at its core, has this as its purpose, the disruption of the dysfunctional system.  AB-PA is challenging the APA from its slumber, AB-PA is challenging the ignorance of therapists out of their incompetence, AB-PA is  challenging the status quo of child custody evaluations, AB-PA is challenging the complacency of Gardnerian PAS “experts.”

Through AB-PA, I am disrupting the stability of the dysfunctional systems.  This is by design and is directly the result of Salvador Minunchin’s influence on my work. He is a guiding force in my work to solve “parental alienation,” from start to finish.

In 1993, in his book Family Healing with Michael Nichols, Salvador Minuchin provided a structural family diagram for the pathology of “parental alienation” – called a “cross-generational coalition” in family systems therapy.

AB-PA is not Childress. It’s Minuchin.

He lives in me, and his life ripples through my healing with families.  Bless you dear man.  You live in every family therapist, and your influence to heal children and families continues.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist – and family therapist – PSY 18857

AB-PA Certification Content Agenda

I just sent out welcome letters to the currently registered participants in the November AB-PA Certification seminars in Pasadena in which I describe the content agenda for these seminars.
I thought I would share this agenda letter more broadly so that people would understand what Basic and Advanced AB-PA Certification means and entails.
I will also be working on the handout for my upcoming presentation to the Pennsylvania legislature Children and Youth Committee on November 15.  I will make this handout available on my website after my November 15 presentation.
Over the next two weeks I’ll be preparing for both the Pennsylvania presentation and the AB-PA Certification seminar, so my online presence may diminish as I focus on preparing materials for these events.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857