Dr. Childress Expert Consultation and Testimony:
I am being increasingly asked about my availability to provide expert testimony in Court regarding “parental alienation.” I have served in this capacity in the past and I am available to serve as an expert consultant and to provide expert testimony if your attorney believes this would be helpful. In legal matters you should always consult with your attorney and follow the counsel of your attorney.
My professional expertise is in child and family therapy, parent-child conflict, the attachment system, diagnosis and psychopathology, and child development.
My expertise is not in Parental Alienation Syndrome.
As a clinical psychologist the term “parental alienation” lacks sufficient precision to be of much clinical use, as does the associated phrase “parent-child estrangement.” The use of the term “parental alienation” is a short-hand expression for a complex set of psychological dynamics involving the distorting influence of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent on the child’s attachment system relative to the other parent.
More accurate clinical terminology would be:
1) Pathogenic parenting by a narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent.
2) An induced child-initiated cut-off in the child’s relationship with a normal-range parent.
3) A cross-generational parent-child coalition against the other parent.
4) The targeted and selective suppression of the normal-range functioning of the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward a parent as a product of pathogenic parenting practices by the allied and supposedly “favored” parent.
If my professional consultation is desired, It is customary for the attorney to establish the contract with me for my consultation and expert testimony in order to establish attorney-client privilege regarding my work product. I have standard contract for the attorney in order to engage my professional services as an expert consultant and witness.
In some cases I have been asked by the attorney to review documents, such as child custody reports, prior findings of the Court regarding the case, and treatment summary reports by therapists, in order to provide expert opinions based on my expertise in child and family therapy, diagnosis and psychopathology, and child development regarding the reviewed information.
In these cases, I typically produce a written report for the attorney documenting the relevant clinical issues related to the information provided to me. In other cases, I have been asked to provide expert testimony related to “hypothetical” situations presented to me by the attorney in direct examination. In some cases, I have been asked to review documents and assist the attorney in developing questions for cross‐examining a mental health witness testifying for the opposing side.
It is important to note that in my clinical practice approximately 20% of the cases that come to me because of my expertise in attachment-based “parental alienation” turn out to be something other than an induced child-initiated cut-off of the child’s relationship with a parent because of pathogenic parenting practices by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent (i.e., “parental alienation”). This is actually a good thing when it’s not “parental alienation” since if the parent-child conflict is the result of problematic parenting by the targeted parent then this is relatively easy to solve. If it actually is attachment-based “parental alienation” then this becomes a much more difficult situation for the targeted-rejected parent.
In my professional work I have an obligation to my clients to provide an accurate diagnosis, even if they are not happy with my diagnosis. Not all parent-child conflict following a divorce is due to “parental alienation.” In addition, negative parental influence can be a common factor in creating increased parent-child conflict with the other parent, and yet not all negative parental influence rises to the level of attachment-based “parental alienation.” Attachment-based “parental alienation” involves the severely distorting parenting practices of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent on the child’s attachment system as evidenced in a characteristic set of three distinctive diagnostic indicators, and the potential presence of associated clinical signs and features.
If these three distinctive diagnostic indicators are not present, then we are looking at something other than attachment-based “parental alienation.”
I typically provide my initial impressions to the attorney following a review of the information I’m provided in order to allow the attorney and the targeted parent the opportunity to decide whether or not my testimony may be valuable. My professional opinions are always based solely on the clinical evidence. If the clinical evidence does not support an attachment-based formulation of “parental alienation,” then this will be my offered opinion.
If you are interesting in exploring my availability for expert professional consultation and possible testimony and would like to inquire about fees for my consultation, you may contact me by email through this blog or my website at http://www.drcachildress.org
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CA PSY 18857
547 S. Marengo Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101