Attachment Pathology in the Family Courts

C.A. Childress, Psy.D. (2021)

The pathology of concern in the family courts is an attachment pathology that potentially rises to the level of child abuse.  When a potential child abuse diagnosis is a consideration, the diagnosis returned from the mental health care system for the Court’s consideration in its decisions must be accurate 100% of the time. 

The consequences of an incorrect decision by the Court when a child abuse diagnosis is involved can be severe for the child.  Leaving a child with an abusive parent can lead to the destruction of the child’s life.  When a child abuse diagnosis is among the possible differential diagnoses for the child’s symptom display, the diagnosis returned from the mental health care system for the Court’s consideration must be accurate 100% of the time.

If there is any question, if there is any dispute about the diagnosis (and the diagnosis is anticipated to be disputed in court-involved family conflict), then get a second opinion, or even a third.  When a possible child abuse diagnosis is involved, do whatever it takes to make sure the diagnosis that is returned from the assessment is accurate. 

The appellate system in healthcare for a disputed diagnosis is second opinion, or even a third.  The damage done to the child from a misdiagnosis of child abuse is too severe.  When child abuse by a parent is a diagnostic consideration, which it is with severe attachment pathology displayed by a child, then the diagnosis returned from the mental health care system must be accurate 100% of the time. 

The Pathology

The pathology of clinical concern for the family is a possible shared persecutory delusion created by the pathogenic parenting of the allied parent, a thought disorder in the allied parent from unresolved trauma that is being imposed on the child, which then destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent. 

In this pathology, the allied parent forms a cross-generational coalition (Haley)[1] with the child against the targeted parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s attachment bond to the targeted parent.  The allied parent is triangulating the child into the spousal conflict to use the child as a weapon of spousal revenge and emotional abuse directed at the ex-spouse, i.e., Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), the emotional abuse of the ex-spouse using the child as the weapon.  In weaponizing the child into the spousal conflict, the allied parent creates such significant pathology in the child that it rises to the level of a DSM-5 diagnosis of psychological child abuse. 

The needed risk assessments for the family pathology surrounding court-involved family conflict are for:

  • Child Abuse: potential child abuse by the targeted parent (to be specified), or potential psychological child abuse by the allied parent (DSM-5 V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse)
  • Spousal Abuse: potential IPV emotional abuse of the ex-spouse and parent using the child as the weapon (DSM-5 V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological)

Whenever child abuse is a diagnostic consideration, the diagnosis returned from the mental health care system must be accurate 100% of the time.  The Court needs an accurate diagnosis for its decisions, and the child needs an accurate diagnosis when the potential diagnosis is child abuse by a parent. 

There are four DSM-5 diagnoses of child abuse, each DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse warrants a proper risk assessment; Child Physical Abuse (V995.54), Child Sexual Abuse (V995.53), Child Neglect (V995.52), Child Psychological Abuse (V995.51).  All of these child abuse diagnoses are equivalent in the severity of the damage they do to the child, they differ only in the type of damage done, not in the severity of damage done to the child.  Psychological child abuse destroys the child from the inside out.

When a child rejects a parent, the clinical concern is child abuse, the diagnostic questions is, which parent?  When the possible diagnosis is child abuse by a parent, both the child and the Court require that a proper risk assessment be conducted that will reach an accurate diagnosis 100% of the time. 

If the diagnosis is disputed, the appellate system in healthcare is not litigation in the courts, it’s second opinion, or even a third opinion from other doctors.   All doctors, all psychologists, should be applying exactly the same sets of knowledge (the best) to reach exactly the same conclusions (accurate) and recommendations (successful).   Standard 2.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association requires that the established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline serve as the bases for professional judgments.

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

The established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline surrounding court-involved family conflict is:

  • Attachment – Bowlby and others
  • Family systems therapy – Minuchin and others
  • Personality disorders – Beck and others
  • Complex trauma – van der Kolk and others
  • Child development – Tronic and others
  • Self psychology – Kohut and others
  • ICD-10 & DSM-5 diagnostic systems

Diagnosis is a pattern-match of the symptoms to the diagnostic criteria.  If there is a disputed application of the diagnostic criteria to a set of symptoms, get a second opinion, or even a third if necessary.  When the potential diagnosis is child abuse, we must not get it wrong.  We must be accurate in our diagnosis 100% of the time.  Misdiagnosis hurts people – badly.  A misdiagnosis of child abuse is extremely bad.

Misdiagnosis of a shared persecutory delusion has particularly troubling implications.  If you believe a shared delusion then you become part of the shared delusion, you become part of the pathology.  When the pathology is child abuse, you become part of the child abuse. 

If the involved mental health professional misdiagnoses the pathology and believes the delusional disorder as if it were real, and if the Court then makes its decisions based on the false beliefs of a pathological parent that are misdiagnosed, then they all become part of the shared delusion, they all become part of the pathology, they all become part of the child abuse. 

The potential damage from the misdiagnosis of a shared delusional disorder and child abuse can be severe, and the potential implications for the involved professionals can be profound.  The diagnosis returned from the mental health system must be accurate 100% of the time.  

Attachment Pathology

A child rejecting a parent is an attachment pathology, a problem in the love-and-bonding system of the brain.  There are two potential causes, 1) child abuse by the targeted-rejected parent (to be specified by the assessment), or 2) child psychological abuse by the allied parent who is using the child as a weapon of IPV spousal abuse (Intimate Partner Violence; i.e., emotional abuse of the ex-spouse using the child as the weapon).

A child rejecting a parent is a problem in love-and-bonding.  A child rejecting a parent is an attachment pathology, a problem in the love-and-bonding system of the brain.  The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  It is a primary motivational system of the brain, like other primary motivational systems for eating and sex.  A breach in the attachment bonding between children and their parents is a pathology in a primary motivational system of the brain, the love-and-bonding system; the attachment system. 

There is no more severe form of attachment pathology than the termination of the child’s attachment bond to the parent.  There is nothing worse in terms of attachment pathology, for pathology in a primary motivational system of the brain, than a severing of the parent-child attachment bond.  That is as bad as attachment pathology in childhood gets, pathology in a primary motivational system of the brain that is developing its patterns to guide love-and-bonding throughout the lifespan during childhood through the relationship bonds with both parents.  A child rejecting a parent is the worst possible attachment pathology in childhood.

To understand the severity we can use an analogy to another primary motivational system, the eating system.  The worst possible eating pathology is anorexia, the person refuses to eat, their bond to food is completely severed, they starve, and they die.  By analogy, a complete severing of a child’s attachment bond to a parent represents “anorexia” of the attachment system, the worst possible form of attachment-related pathology. 

There is nothing worse in terms of attachment pathology, that’s as bad as it gets.  It is exceedingly important for the healthy development of children that their attachment pathology toward their mothers and fathers be effectively treated and resolved as quickly as is possible. 

The differential diagnosis for the attachment pathology (i.e., for a child’s rejection of a parent) is that either 1) the parent who is the target of rejection is causing the attachment breach through possibly severe maltreatment of the child, or 2) the allied parent is creating the attachment breach through their extremely problematic parenting, called a “cross-generational coalition” with the child against the other parent.  The coalition of the child with one parent against the other parent leads to the “emotional cutoff” in the child’s attachment bond to the targeted parent out “loyalty” to the coalition with the allied parent.

            The diagnosis of clinical concern is potential Child Psychological Abuse (pathogenic parenting) by the allied parent (DSM-5 V995.51), a thought disorder in the allied parent (a persecutory delusion) that is being imposed on the child, destroying the child’s attachment bond to the other parent in spousal revenge and retaliation for the failed marriage and divorce (DSM-5 V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological).  This needs a proper assessment to reach an accurate diagnosis to guide both the Court’s decisions and the development of an effective treatment plan.

Family Systems Therapy

There are four primary schools of psychotherapy; psychoanalytic (Freud and the couch), humanistic-existential (self-actualization and growth), cognitive-behavioral (B.F. Skinner, rewards and punishment), and family systems therapy (describing how families work and how to fix problems in families).  Of the four primary schools of psychotherapy, the appropriate school for developing a treatment plan for resolving family conflict is family systems therapy (Minuchin, Bowen, Haley, Madanes, Satir).   Parents and the Court will want an assessment of the family conflict and attachment pathology that applies the constructs of family systems therapy toward resolving the family conflict. 

The family systems diagnostic description of concern for assessment would be that the child is being triangulated into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with one parent against the other parent, that is then resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s attachment bond to the targeted parent.  This specific pathology is depicted by a Structural family diagram from the preeminent family systems therapist, Salvador Minuchin. 

This Structural family diagram depicts the relationship pattern of concern, a cross-generational coalition of a father with his son against the mother.  The triangle pattern to the family relationships is clearly evident in the diagram, i.e., the child becomes “triangulated” into the spousal conflict by the alliance with the father against the mother.

Also evident is a symptom feature called the inverted hierarchy in which the child becomes over-empowered by the coalition with the allied parent into an elevated position in the family hierarchy above that of the mother, from which the child becomes empowered (by the allied parent’s support) to judge the adequacy of the other parent as if the other parent were the child and the child were the parent.  In the Structural family diagram from Minuchin, this symptom feature of the inverted hierarchy is reflected in the child’s elevated position above the hierarchy line to be with the father in a “co-parenting” role over the mother, who is in the child’s relative position, and who’s adequacy as a parent is being judged by the child.

  • From Krugman: “The child is elevated into the parental hierarchy and the system is stabilized through role reversal.  The child may thus be either covertly allied with one parent against the other, or parentified and obliged to care for a parent.” (p. 139)[3]

The emotional cutoff  caused by the cross-generation coalition is reflected in the broken lines from the child to the mother, and from the father to the mother.  An emotional cutoff is created by unresolved trauma in the parent being transferred to the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices, called multi-generational trauma by Bowen (Bowen; Titelman).[4]

The three lines joining the father and son in the diagram represent a psychologically fused and over-involved relationship called enmeshment (i.e., the psychological control of the child), which leads to the emotional cutoff in the child’s attachment bond to the other parent.   In the Journal of Emotional Abuse, Kerig notes the intertwined relationship between enmeshment and disengagement within families,

  • From Kerig: “Enmeshment in one parent-child relationship is often counterbalanced by disengagement between the child and the other parent (Cowan & Cowan, 1990; Jacobvitz, Riggs, & Johnson, 1999).” (p. 10)[5]

An enmeshed and psychologically over-intrusive parent-child bond is a very destructive psychological relationship for a child to have with a parent, and it is why Jay Haley, the co-founder of Strategic family systems therapy, calls the cross-generational coalition a “perverse triangle,” i.e., because it violates the child’s psychological self-integrity and boundaries.  The psychological boundaries and self-autonomy of the child should always be respected by the parent, but are violated by a cross-generational coalition. 

  • From Kerig: “The breakdown of appropriate generational boundaries between parents and children significantly increases the risk for emotional abuse.” (p. 6)
  • From Kerig: “Rather than telling the child directly what to do or think, as does the behaviorally controlling parent, the psychologically controlling parent uses indirect hints and responds with guilt induction or withdrawal of love if the child refuses to comply. In short, an intrusive parent strives to manipulate the child’s thoughts and feelings in such a way that the child’s psyche will conform to the parent’s wishes.” (p. 12)

This is the pathology of clinical concern relative to the family conflict and attachment pathology in the family courts, and this is the family pathology that requires a focused diagnostic assessment.   

Psychological Control of the Child

Psychological control of the child by a parent is a scientifically established family relationship pattern in dysfunctional family systems.  In his book regarding parental psychological control of children, Intrusive Parenting: How Psychological Control Affects Children and Adolescents,[6] published by the American Psychological Association, Brian Barber and his colleague, Elizabeth Harmon, identify over 30 empirically validated scientific studies that have established the construct of parental psychological control of children. 

In Chapter 2 of Intrusive Parenting: How Psychological Control Affects Children and Adolescents, Barber and Harmon define the construct of parental psychological control of the child:

  • From Barber & Harmon: “Psychological control refers to parental behaviors that are intrusive and manipulative of children’s thoughts, feelings, and attachment to parents.  These behaviors appear to be associated with disturbances in the psychoemotional boundaries between the child and parent, and hence with the development of an independent sense of self and identity.” (Barber & Harmon, 2002, p. 15)[7]

According to Stone, Bueler, and Barber:

  • From Stone, Bueler, & Barber: “The central elements of psychological control are intrusion into the child’s psychological world and self-definition and parental attempts to manipulate the child’s thoughts and feelings through invoking guilt, shame, and anxiety.  Psychological control is distinguished from behavioral control in that the parent attempts to control, through the use of criticism, dominance, and anxiety or guilt induction, the youth’s thoughts and feelings rather than the youth’s behavior.” (Stone, Buehler, & Barber, 2002, p. 57)[8]

Soenens and Vansteenkiste (2010) describe the various parental methods used to achieve psychological control over the child:

  • From Soenens & Vansteenkiste: “Psychological control can be expressed through a variety of parental tactics, including (a) guilt-induction, which refers to the use of guilt inducing strategies to pressure children to comply with a parental request; (b) contingent love or love withdrawal, where parents make their attention, interest, care, and love contingent upon the children’s attainment of parental standards; (c) instilling anxiety, which refers to the induction of anxiety to make children comply with parental requests; and (d) invalidation of the child’s perspective, which pertains to parental constraining of the child’s spontaneous expression of thoughts and feelings.” (Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2010, p. 75)[9]

Stone, Buehler, and Barber (2002) describe the link between psychological control of the child and the cross-generational coalition formed with one parent against the other parent:

  • Stone, Buehler, & Barber: “The concept of triangles “describes the way any three people relate to each other and involve others in emotional issues between them” (Bowen, 1989, p. 306).  In the anxiety-filled environment of conflict, a third person is triangulated, either temporarily or permanently, to ease the anxious feelings of the conflicting partners.  By default, that third person is exposed to an anxiety-provoking and disturbing atmosphere.  For example, a child might become the scapegoat or focus of attention, thereby transferring the tension from the marital dyad to the parent-child dyad.  Unresolved tension in the marital relationship might spill over to the parent-child relationship through parents’ use of psychological control as a way of securing and maintaining a strong emotional alliance and level of support from the child.  As a consequence, the triangulated youth might feel pressured or obliged to listen to or agree with one parents’ complaints against the other.  The resulting enmeshment and cross-generational coalition would exemplify parents’ use of psychological control to coerce and maintain a parent-youth emotional alliance against the other parent (Haley, 1976; Minuchin, 1974).” (Stone, Buehler, & Barber, 2002, p. 86-87)

Diagnosis Guides Treatment

Parents and the Court will need a written treatment plan.  Google “mental health treatment plans” and read the first two returns.  Those are descriptions of the structure for a written treatment plan.  To formulate a written treatment plan will require a diagnosis.  The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes – diagnosis guides treatment.  In order to obtain an accurate diagnosis, parents the the Court will need an appropriate assessment of the child’s attachment pathology.

Appropriate Assessment

An appropriate assessment for the type of attachment-bonding pathology in the family courts involves three components representing a trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of the child’s attachment pathology

  • Trauma-informed: A “trauma informed” assessment ensures the proper application of information sets from complex trauma and the multi-generational transmission of trauma from a parent to a child.
  • Clinical psychology: A clinical psychology assessment is focused toward developing a written treatment plan (as contrasted with a “forensic psychology” assessment focused on child custody schedules).  Clinical psychology is focused on treatment.
  • Attachment pathology: The goal of the assessment is on developing a written treatment plan to resolve the children’s attachment pathology relative to their parents.  This involves the application of information sets surrounding the attachment system in childhood.

Assessment is always directed toward answering a referral question. The recommended referral question for a trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of a child’s attachment pathology displayed toward a parent surrounding divorce would be,

  • Referral Question for Assessment:  Which parent is the source of pathogenic parenting[11] creating the child’s attachment pathology, and what are the treatment implications?

Obtaining an Accurate Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for attachment pathology is between severely problematic parenting by the targeted parent (i.e., child abuse) or severely pathogenic parenting by the allied parent (i.e., a cross-generational coalition of the child and parent).  A trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of the child’s attachment pathology should address this differential diagnosis. 

There are three diagnoses that parents and the Court will want returned from the trauma-informed diagnostic assessment of the family surrounding children’s attachment pathology:

 1) ICD-10 Diagnosis 

The ICD-10 diagnostic system is from the World Health Organization.  It is the formal diagnostic classification coding system for all medical and psychiatric diagnoses, from high blood pressure, to cancer, to diabetes, to depression, to ADHD.  The ICD-10 diagnostic system is the formal diagnostic system internationally, and in the U.S. it is used as the diagnostic coding system for all medical and psychiatric pathology for insurance billing purposes.

The ICD-10 diagnosis of concern for attachment pathology in the family courts is a possible thought disorder emanating from the allied parent’s influence and affecting the child, an ICD-10 diagnosis of F24, a shared persecutory delusion of the child with the allied parent, with the parent as the “primary case” (also called the “inducer”).  This is the description of a shared delusional disorder from the American Psychiatric Association:

  • From the APA:  “Usually the primary case in Shared Psychotic Disorder is dominant in the relationship and gradually imposes the delusional system on the more passive and initially healthy second person…  Although most commonly seen in relationships of only two people, Shared Psychotic Disorder can occur in larger number of individuals, especially in family situations in which the parent is the primary case and the children, sometimes to varying degrees, adopt the parent’s delusional beliefs.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 333)

2) DSM-5 Diagnosis

The DSM-5 diagnostic system is from the American Psychiatric Association.  It is a specialty diagnostic system focused solely on psychiatric disorders (as contrasted with the ICD-10 that is both medical and psychiatric diagnostic codes).  In its more specialty focus, the DSM-5 offers greater descriptive elaboration on each psychiatric disorder.  The ICD-10 is the diagnostic coding system, the DSM-5 is the description.  Parents and the Court will want the assessment to generate both. 

For the pathology of concern, the ICD-10 diagnosis is F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder (a shared persecutory delusion), and the DSM-5 diagnosis for creating a thought disorder in the child that then destroys the child’s attachment bond to the other parent would be V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.  These specific diagnoses should be part of the differential diagnoses considered by the assessment.

3) Case Conceptualization Diagnosis – Family Systems Therapy

The “case conceptualization” diagnosis is the organizing framework for the treatment.  The treatment approaches available for resolving family pathology are guided by the constructs and principles of family systems therapy, one of the four primary schools of psychotherapy.  To develop a written treatment plan we also need a case-conceptualization diagnosis from family systems therapy (as contrasted with the “categorical” diagnoses of the ICD-10 and DSM-5).

The family systems pathology of concern is that the child is being triangulated into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the allied parent against the targeted parent, resulting in an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship to the targeted parent.

  • Triangulated: Child put in the middle.
  • Cross-generational coalition: the problematic parenting of the allied parent.
  • Emotional cutoff: a family member rejecting a family member; a child rejecting a parent (caused by “multi-generational” unresolved trauma originating in the parent).

Treatment Considerations

Diagnosis guides treatment.  If a thought disorder (shared persecutory delusion) is present, then the DSM-5 diagnosis would be Child Psychological Abuse (V995.51).  In all cases of child abuse, the standard of practice and professional duty to protect requires the child’s protective separation from the abusive parent.  The child’s normal-range and healthy development is then recovered and restored.  Once the child’s healthy development has been recovered, contact with the abusive parent is reestablished with enough safeguards in place to ensure that the child abuse does not resume when contact with the abusive parent is restored.

With regard to treatment for a shared delusional disorder, the American Psychiatric Association twice indicates that a protective separation of the child from the primary case (the “inducer”) will resolve the child’s delusional beliefs.

  • From the APA: “If the relationship with the primary case is interrupted, the delusional beliefs of the other individual usually diminish or disappear.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 333)
  • From the APA: “Course – Without intervention, the course is usually chronic, because this disorder most commonly occurs in relationships that are long-standing and resistant to change.  With separation from the primary case, the individual’s delusional beliefs disappear, sometimes quickly and sometimes quite slowly.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 333)

The assessment for a thought disorder pathology is a Mental Status Exam of thought and perception.  For more information on the Mental Status Exam of thought and perception, Google the search term “mental status exam” and read the NCBI return, Chapter 207 of Clinical Methods, scroll to the section on Thought and Perception.  That is the clinical assessment for a possible thought disorder pathology, i.e., a Mental Status Exam of thought and perception.

Treatment Plan

A treatment plan is structured around four major components – Goals – Interventions – Timeframes – Outcome Measures.  For a description of mental health treatment plans, I recommend a Google search for the term “mental health treatment plans” and read the top two returns.  The structure for a mental health treatment plan is so standard-of-practice it returns on a simple Google search.  The family therapy should be guided by a written treatment plan that follows this standard of professional practice and should include:

  • Short- and long-term goals, identified in measurable ways,
  • Specified interventions to achieve those goals,
  • Timeframes for achieving the treatment goals, with measurable benchmarks,
  • Treatment outcome data collection on symptoms and recovery

The type of therapy should be trauma-informed family therapy.  The pathology creating the children’s attachment pathology involves the trans-generational transmission of trauma (van der Kolk), also called multi-generational family trauma (Bowen).  The additional information sets from complex trauma and personality disorders provide valuable additions to the established constructs of family systems therapy. 

An additional focus on the work of Marsha Linehan surrounding the “invalidating environment” that is created by a pathogenic parent would also be particularly helpful for treatment,

  • From Linehan: “A defining characteristic of the invalidating environment is the tendency of the family to respond erratically or inappropriately to private experience and, in particular, to be insensitive (i.e., nonresponsive) to private experience… Invalidating environments contribute to emotional dysregulation by: (1) failing to teach the child to label and modulate arousal, (2) failing to teach the child to tolerate stress, (3) failing to teach the child to trust his or her own emotional responses as valid interpretations of events, and (4) actively teaching the child to invalidate his or her own experiences by making it necessary for the child to scan the environment for cues about how to act and feel.” (p. 111-112)[12]
  • From Linehan: “They tend to see reality in polarized categories of “either-or,” rather than “all,” and within a very fixed frame of reference. For example, it is not uncommon for such individuals to believe that the smallest fault makes it impossible for the person to be “good” inside. Their rigid cognitive style further limits their abilities to entertain ideas of future change and transition, resulting in feelings of being in an interminable painful situation. Things once defined do not change.  Once a person is “flawed,” for instance, that person will remain flawed forever.” (p. 35)[13]
  • From Fruzzetti et al: “In extremely invalidating environments, parents or caregivers do not teach children to discriminate effectively between what they feel and what the caregivers feel, what the child wants and what the caregiver wants (or wants the child to want), what the child thinks and what the caregiver thinks.” (p. 1021)[14]

Family systems therapy is a primary school of psychotherapy and it is the appropriate school of psychotherapy to apply to resolving family conflict (Minuchin, Bowen, Haley, Madanes, Satir).  The case conceptualization for treatment should derive from the application of family systems therapy constructs (i.e., triangulation, cross-generational coalition, emotional cutoff). 

Adjunctive Solution-Focused Therapy:

The addition of Solution-Focused Therapy[15] (Berg) will provide an additional important trauma recovery component that will substantially improve prognosis for treatment efficacy.  Trauma pathology pulls toward an unsolvable past.  The present and future orientation of solution-focused family therapy will counteract the pull of trauma toward an unsolvable fixation on the past.

Treatment Goals

Restoring the healthy attachment bonds of children with their mothers and fathers is of high and immediate priority.  Healthy and affectionate attachment bonds between children and their parents need to be restored as quickly as possible. 

The parent-child attachment bond is too important to a child’s healthy psychological development to remain unrepaired when damaged, and lost time during childhood can never be recovered.  Childhood is once.  The goal of psychotherapy is not merely to eliminate pathology, the goal is to achieve healthy child development.  The goal of psychotherapy is to achieve a healthy attachment system in the child, with a healthy attachment bond to their mother and to their father – neither parent is expendable, and both are vital to the child’s healthy development. 

In American Psychologist,[16] the primary journal of the American Psychological Association, Mary Ainsworth, a leading figure in attachment research provides the following description of a healthy attachment bond:

  • From Ainsworth:  “I define an “affectional bond” as a relatively long-enduring tie in which the partner is important as a unique individual and is interchangeable with none other.  In an affectional bond, there is a desire to maintain closeness to the partner.  In older children and adults, that closeness may to some extent be sustained over time and distance and during absences, but nevertheless there is at least an intermittent desire to reestablish proximity and interaction, and pleasure – often joy – upon reunion.  Inexplicable separation tends to cause distress, and permanent loss would cause grief.” (p. 711)
  • From Ainsworth:  “An ”attachment” is an affectional bond, and hence an attachment figure is never wholly interchangeable with or replaceable by another, even though there may be others to whom one is also attached.  In attachments, as in other affectional bonds, there is a need to maintain proximity, distress upon inexplicable separation, pleasure and joy upon reunion, and grief at loss.” (p. 711)

A child rejecting a parent is the worst attachment pathology possible in childhood, pathology in a primary motivational system of the brain developing its patterns to guide love-and-bonding throughout the lifespan during childhood, through relationships with both parents.  Leaving the worst possible attachment pathology untreated and unrepaired is the worst possible thing we can do. 

It is always in the child’s best interests to have a healthy and normal-range attachment bond to both parents.  It is always in the child’s best interests for the family to make a successful transition to a healthy and normal-range post-divorce separated family structure.  Successful treatment that restores a healthy and normal-range attachment bond between children and their parents is always in the child’s best interests.

The child unites two families into the very fabric of their being, two family lineages, two family heritages, two family cultures are brought together and united in who they are.  For a child to reject either parent is for the child to reject half of themselves. 

Children are not weapons.  Children should never be used as weapons in the spousal conflict surrounding divorce.  When one parent weaponizes the child into the spousal conflict, we must protect the child.  The clinical concern is for a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse by the allied parent (V995.51), a thought disorder in the parent imposed on the child.  This needs a proper assessment to reach an accurate diagnosis. 

When potential child abuse is a considered diagnosis, the diagnosis returned from the mental health system for the Court’s consideration must be accurate 100% of the time.  Do whatever it takes to answer any question that needs to be answered, seek any consultation for information that is needed, conduct any response-to-intervention trial required to achieve an accurate diagnosis, do whatever it takes.  Because when child abuse by a parent is a considered diagnosis for the Court’s decision, the diagnosis from the mental health care system must be accurate 100% of the time.

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


[1] Haley, J. (1977). Toward a theory of pathological systems. In P. Watzlawick & J. Weakland (Eds.),

From Haley: “The people responding to each other in the triangle are not peers, but one of them is of a different generation from the other two… In the process of their interaction together, the person of one generation forms a coalition with the person of the other generation against his peer. By ‘coalition’ is meant a process of joint action which is against the third person… The coalition between the two persons is denied. That is, there is certain behavior which indicates a coalition which, when it is queried, will be denied as a coalition… In essence, the perverse triangle is one in which the separation of generations is breached in a covert way. When this occurs as a repetitive pattern, the system will be pathological.” (Haley, 1977, p. 37)

[2] The DSM-5 diagnostic system is from the American Psychiatric Association.  It is a specialty diagnostic system focused solely on psychiatric disorders (as contrasted with the ICD-10 that is both medical and psychiatric diagnostic codes).  In its more specialty focus, the DSM-5 offers greater descriptive elaboration on each psychiatric disorder, as well as diagnostic criteria for each disorder.  The ICD-10 is the diagnostic coding system, the DSM-5 is the description. 

[3] Krugman, S. (1987). Trauma in the family: Perspectives on the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence. In B.A. van der Kolk (Ed.) Psychological Trauma (127-151). Washington, D.C.:

[4] Bowen, M. (1978). Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. New York: Jason Aronson.

Titelman, P. (2003).  Emotional Cutoff: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspectives. New York: Haworth Press.

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

[6] Barber, B. K. (Ed.) (2002). Intrusive parenting: How psychological control affects children and adolescents. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

[7]  Barber, B. K. and Harmon, E. L. (2002). Violating the self: Parenting psychological control of children and adolescents. In B. K. Barber (Ed.), Intrusive parenting (pp. 15-52). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

[8] Stone, G., Buehler, C., & Barber, B. K.. (2002) Interparental conflict, parental psychological control, and youth problem behaviors. In B. K. Barber (Ed.), Intrusive parenting: How psychological control affects children and adolescents. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

[9]  Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2010). A theoretical upgrade of the concept of parental psychological control: Proposing new insights on the basis of self-determination theory. Developmental Review, 30, 74–99.

[10] The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family:

[11] Pathogenic parenting: patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation.  Pathogenic parenting is the creation of significant pathology in the child through aberrant and distorted parenting practices.

[12] Linehan, M. M. & Koerner, K. (1993). Behavioral theory of borderline personality disorder. In J. Paris (Ed.), Borderline Personality Disorder: Etiology and Treatment. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 103-21.

[13] Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder.  New York, NY: Guilford

[14] 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.

[15] Solution-Focused Therapy Wikipedia:

“SFBT has been examined in two meta-analyses and is supported as evidenced-based by numerous federal and state agencies and institutions, such as SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs & Practices (NREPP). To briefly summarize:

  • There have been 77 empirical studies on the effectiveness of SFBT,
  • There have been 2 meta-analyses (Kim, 2008; Stams, et al, 2006), 2 systematic reviews.
  • There is a combined effectiveness data from over 2800 cases.
  • Research was all done in “real world” settings (“effectiveness” vs. “efficacy” studies), so the results are more generalizable.
  • SFBT is equally effective for all social classes.
  • Effect-sizes are in the low to moderate range, the same that are found in meta-analyses for other evidence-based practices, such as CBT and IPT. Overall success rate average 60% in 3–5 sessions
  • The conclusion of the two meta-analyses and the systematic reviews, and the over-all conclusion of the most recent scholarly work on SFBT, is that solution-focused brief therapy is an effective approach to the treatment of psychological problems, with effect sizes similar to other evidenced-based approaches, such as CBT and IPT, but that these effects are found in fewer average sessions, and using an approach style that is more benign (Gingerich et al, 2012; Trepper & Franklin, 2012). That is, the more collegial and collaborative approach of SFBT does not involve confrontation or interpretation, nor does it even require the acceptance of the underlying tenets, as do most other models of psychotherapy. Given its equivalent effectiveness, shorter duration, and more benign approach, SFBT is considered to be an excellent first-choice evidenced-based psychotherapy approach for most psychological, behavioral, and relational problems.”

[16] Ainsworth, M.D.S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 44, 709-716.

Oregon Licensing Board Sanctions

I have been sanctioned by the Oregon licensing board for practice without a license in Oregon because I provided consultation to the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, Dorcy Pruter, CEO. These sanctions were delivered despite Oregon law with exempts consultation with “organizations or institutions” from licensing requirements.

From my attorney: “Under ORS 675.090(1)(a), the above statutes do not apply to a “person who teaches psychology, conducts psychological research or provides consulting services to an organization or institution, provided that the person does not supervise direct psychological services and does not treat any behavioral, emotional or mental disorder of an individual.” (Emphasis added).”

I am appealing the Oregon licensing board ruling into the courts. I believe the decision was wrong. I believe the Oregon licensing board did not apply the Oregon statutes to my matter. I will have more to say in the days ahead. At this point, I need to be precise in my public statements.

To parents – this is why no clinical psychologist will work with you and your families, and this is why the quality of care you receive is so poor. The forensic psychologists control the licensing boards. Clinical psychologists know that, they won’t work with your families. This is why you have ONLY forensic psychologists who will work with you. The forensic psychologists control the licensing boards and will retaliate against any clinical psychologist who tries to help you.

They believe they own you. I am challenging that belief because it is incorrect. They’re wrong. You are not their personal “fiefdom” for their financial exploitation. We need to fix things. That’s treatment. That’s clinical psychology.

I will be appealing this decision by the Oregon licensing board. I will have more to say on the matter going forward. I must be precise in my public discussion and will want to consider my statements carefully, with appropriate consultation before more fulling discussing the situation.

Legal cases are tried in the court. I will, however, need to address this issue publicly because it affects court cases, my ability to provide professional consultation to the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, Dorcy Pruter, CEO, and the Custody Resolution Method which is offered into evidence in courts across the nation, and it interferes with my ability to speak with any Oregon resident, even once, and my ability to provide consultation and expert testimony to Oregon attorneys.

I am no longer providing any professional consultation to the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, Dorcy Pruter, CEO, regarding the data profiles generated by the Custody Resolution Method as directed by the Oregon licensing board.

I am no longer providing any professional contact – no contact – with any resident of Oregon. I have been sanctioned for having zero contact with an Oregon resident. I am now unclear whether I am allowed to have even one contact with an Oregon resident.

I am no longer providing any professional consultation or expert testimony for any attorney or for any litigation in Oregon pending greater clarity on who I can and cannot consult with and the scope.

Until I have greater clarity on who I can and cannot consult with, I am no longer having any contact with Oregon residents, not even once, I am declining contact. I have already declined consultation appointments with Oregon residents pending greater clarity on who I can and cannot consult with in Oregon.

Furthermore, I am now unclear on who I am allowed and not allowed to provide consultation to, and whether an analysis of the compiled data profile generated by the Custody Resolution Method of CCPI is allowed by the Oregon licensing board, and if so, by what means of presentation to me am I allowed to provide my analysis of the CRM data profile? Or am I simply not allowed under any circumstances to provide an analysis of the CRM data profile?

Until I have greater clarity on who I am allowed to consult with and about what, I am no longer providing consultation and expert testimony for any attorneys in Oregon.

Until I obtain greater clarity on who I can and cannot provide professional consultation to – Oregon is black to Dr. Childress. Oregon residents and attorneys will have zero capacity to access the consulting services of Dr. Childress per instructions to me from the Oregon licensing board.

This will affect child custody cases nationally, since one of the litigants in these cases, the targeted-rejected parent, will no longer be able to obtain an interpretive report regarding the CRM data profile that provides documented evidence for the nature of the pathology in the family.

I believe this Oregon licensing board complaint was generated by an organized conspiracy to tamper with the evidence provided to the courts in-between the court cases.

I have no idea what the litigants in these other cases will do. Per the instructions from the Oregon licensing board, I am not allowed to provide interpretive reports regarding the compiled CRM data profile of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute.

I AM able to provide an interpretive report of the CRM data profile. The parent-litigants, CCPI, and the involved attorney want me to provide an interpretive report on the CRM data profile. However, I cannot provide an interpretive report on the compiled data profiles generated by the Custody Resolution Method of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute per the instructions and sanctions of the Oregon licensing board.

So I’m not. Nor am I providing any professional consultation to anyone in Oregon, not residents, not attorneys, until I have greater instructional clarity on who I am and am not allowed to provide professional consultation to and the scope.

In the view of the Oregon licensing board, the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, CEO Dorcy Pruter, apparently does not represent an “organization or institution,” and I am not allowed to provide consultation to the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute on the compiled CRM data profiles. I believe this judgment to be in error. I believe the Oregon licensing board is twisting their interpretation of the Oregon law to specifically target Dr. Childress for sanctions – when I did nothing wrong.

My professional consultation to Dorcy Pruter and the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute on the complied data profiles generated by the Custody Resolution Method is entirely allowed under Oregon statutes that exempt consultation with “organizations or institutions” from licensing requirements

I believe the sanctions represent a selective and targeted retaliation against me by the forensic psychologists in Oregon because my consultation report for the Custody Resolution Method of CCPI resulted in a licensing board complaint by the client-parent of CCPI against the involved forensic psychologists.

No investigation was opened by the Oregon licensing board regarding the professional actions of the involved forensic psychologists. Instead, the Oregon licensing board sanctioned me for practicing in Oregon without a license because I provided consultation to CPPI and the Custody Resolution Method regarding the data profile generated by the Custody Resolution Method.

It is of note that the client of CCPI did not file the complaint. Who would file a licensing board complaint against Dr. Childress if not the person who received the CRM report, i.e., the contact-point for the services? A: The opposing party in the litigation who was negatively affected by the report of Dr. Childress in their custody conflict and the forensic psychologists who were exposed to potential legal liability by the CRM report of Dr. Childress.

In my view, the Oregon licensing board complaint originates in an attempt at evidence tampering to systematically bias court decisions in custody litigation in favor of one of the litigants, and the sanctions from the Oregon licensing board are in furtherance of that goal.

I will have more to say on this matter going forward once I have greater clarity on the parameters of what I can and cannot discuss. This is a matter of public record, it affects cases in Oregon and nationally, I will need to address these sanctions in all future cross-examinations. I will need to address the Oregon licensing board sanctions publicly.

I will begin with sharing my instructions to my attorney to file the appeal. I have already spent $25,000 to defend myself against $7,500 sanctions, and I am just staring the appeals process. This is targeted harassment from forensic psychologists to drive clinical psychologists – the treating psychologists – away – and to specifically prevent introduction of the Custody Resolution Method data profile into evidence in the courts.

Instructions to my attorney:

Please appeal the decision.  It is the right thing to do.  I was not practicing in Oregon, I was consulting with an organization, the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, on their work product of compiled frequency counts from the raw data in child custody litigation.

I believe this is a targeted effort at retaliation specifically directed at me because my report embarrasses the forensic psychologists involved in the case, resulting in a licensing board complaint against the involved forensic psychologist.  I believe I have been singled out for retaliation by the forensic psychologists on the Board, requiring them to disregard the law in order to achieve their retaliation goal.

I also believe this is a targeted effort directed at Ms. Pruter and the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute to deny her the ability to obtain the professional interpretation for her data profiles that she and her client-litigants need, thus denying one of the litigants in child custody cases access to the information needed for their court case.  I believe the Oregon licensing board allegations essentially originate in an effort at evidence tampering in the courts by outside parties between court cases.  The motivation of these outside parties is to damage and ‘rough up’ the credibility of the expert witness testimony from Dr. Childress through various harassment efforts including seeking to generate sanctions from a licensing board against me, and to also specifically prevent litigants in court cases from accessing the information compiled through the Custody Resolution Method (CRM) of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute.

I believe one of the involved participants in this conspiracy to damage the credibility of my testimony as an expert witness in the courts and prevent the introduction of the CRM evidence to the court is Dr. Jean Mercer, who I believe contacts litigants between cases and prompts them in ways to retaliate against me professionally and against Ms. Pruter’s ability to provide her services to her clients.  I believe this blog by Dr. Mercer describes her approach to targeting professionals for harassment, of selectively targeting myself and Ms. Pruter for her campaign of harassment, and for recruiting others into her campaign of harassment specifically targeting myself and Ms. Pruter, the CEO of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute.

Dr. Mercer Blog Describing Organized Targeted Harassment

I note that the original Oregon board complaint contained two allegations, but only one was pursued by the licensing board and the other was dropped without mention.  The original complaint was a ‘shot-gun’ of complaints surrounding possible practice in Oregon without a license, the goal is not a specific infraction, the goal is to generate sanctions by any allegation.  I did not enter an online presence until a year after the case of the other allegation and the two are entirely unrelated.  The licensing board complaint was generated to seek sanctions, not by infractions.  Only one allegation was pursued by the Oregon board, they made no decision and no reference to the other allegation.  Given the arbitrary nature of the Board’s rulings, I am still vulnerable to that other allegation about my online availability through the Internet that received no decision and no mention.  Am I allowed to speak with Oregon residents directly even once?

The answer is yes, according to all statutes and standards of practice, I am allowed to speak with people at least once to find out what they want to speak with me about.  However, given the arbitrary nature of the Board’s current ruling that I cannot have even indirect contact with a resident of Oregon through a business organization and no direct contact with the Oregon resident, the Oregon Board’s opinion on whether I am allowed even a single direct contact with an Oregon resident becomes unclear.
When the application of the law becomes unclear then everything becomes an arbitrary case-by-case basis, and I will now need further clarity on this second allegation as well – am I allowed to speak directly with Oregon residents?  How many times?  I’m limiting myself to two contacts based on consultation with the Trust malpractice insurance carrier.  Is that acceptable to the Oregon licensing board, that I can speak with an Oregon resident once or twice to find out what they want to speak to me about?

If I am allowed to speak to Oregon residents once or twice… but I’m not allowed to speak with the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute regarding their client who is an Oregon resident and with whom I have no contact, the Oregon board is essentially saying that I can speak with the person, the Oregon resident, without needing to be licensed, but I just can’t speak with Ms. Pruter and the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute about an Oregon resident, because in that case I need to be licensed in Oregon. 

My question then becomes, in my one ‘allowed contact’ with an Oregon resident to find out what they want to talk with me about, can the Oregon resident provide me with the CRM data profile and can I then provide an interpretive report on the CRM data profile directly to the Oregon resident, but just not through Ms. Pruter?  Or do I have to say no, I cannot provide an interpretive report to an Oregon resident for the CRM data profile without being licensed in Oregon?   How then, should the Oregon resident get an interpretive report on the CRM data profile from me?  By what method of introduction to me of the CRM data profile am I allowed to provide an interpretive report on the CRM data profile to a resident of Oregon?  Or am I just not allowed to provide an interpretive report on the CRM data profile for any Oregon resident no matter the means it’s provided to me?  What if an attorney provides it to me?  By what means, but what route, or by no route maybe?  I am immensely unclear.

I am willing and able to provide an interpretive report from clinical psychology on the mental health issues raised by the compiled CRM data profile.  The Oregon resident, a litigant in a court case, wants my interpretive report on the CRM data profile.  Am I allowed to provide the Oregon resident with an interpretive report on the CRM data profile?  How, by what means of introduction to me of the CRM data profile will I be allowed to provide an interpretive report on the profile?  Or do I need to be licensed in Oregon for any interpretive report I provide for a CRM data profile for an Oregon resident no matter the means of introduction to me?

I need instructional clarity from the Oregon licensing board now.  They have said I’m not allowed to provide this interpretive report directly to the organization or institution that generated the data profile because I have to be licensed in Oregon for that.  Can I provide it directly to the litigant resident of Oregon if they ask me, or do I need to be licensed in Oregon for that?  What if an attorney asks me?  Only attorneys then?  What about pro se litigants representing themselves?  Or are they the Oregon residents I’m not allowed to provide an interpretive report of the CRM data profile to?  How much of an opinion am I allowed to provide to the attorney about the psychology of the matter in Oregon before I must be licensed in Oregon?  I provide more involved and extensive data-review, analysis, and opinions for attorneys than I did for the Custody Resolution Method. 

My CRM report is nothing more than what I write in my book, “if these symptoms are present, this is the pathology.”  The CRM data profile presents me with three symptoms being present, I say, “If these three symptoms are confirmed by direct assessment, this would be the diagnosis and treatment, it should be assessed by the local area mental health providers to confirm or disconfirm the presence of these three symptoms.”  That’s simply my book, if these symptoms are present, this is the pathology, and this specific type of pathology warrants a direct assessment.  If I must be licensed in Oregon to make that statement, I’m unclear about the more extensive and individualized opinions and statements I make with attorneys in my consultation reports to them.  With attorneys, I’m actually providing analysis on the raw-data directly that’s much more extensive and individual to the situation.  Do I need to be licensed in Oregon for those more extensive opinions based on more individualized data for the Oregon resident?

I thought I knew the rules of professional consultation to third-parties.  I am now immensely unclear as to how to respond to the request from Oregon residents for an interpretive report on the CRM data profile.  Am I allowed to provide one, and if so, how, by what means of introduction to me of the CRM data profile?

I am not reaching out seeking contact with Oregon residents, they are seeking contact with me wanting an interpretive report from me regarding the CRM data profile generated from the raw data surrounding their case.  Am I allowed to provide an interpretive report on the CRM data for Oregon residents?  How?  By what method?  If I am not allowed to provide the consultation report to the business organization that generated the data profile, am I allowed to provide the interpretive report directly to the litigant if they provide it to me, what about an attorney, what about a litigant representing pro se?  When the Oregon board does not follow the law, everything now becomes immensely unclear.

I am stopping all consultation with all residents of Oregon, I will not speak with any resident of Oregon per the Board’s instructions, not even once because that would be even more direct contact than I had with CRM, which was zero, and yet I was sanctioned for needing a license for zero contact – I’ve already been sanctioned for zero contact with an Oregon resident, I am not going to risk direct-contact, not even once, until I have clarity on what I can and cannot do with Oregon residents.  I have already declined contact appointments with Oregon residents not even knowing what they wanted to talk with me about, because I am unclear on the scope of the Oregon board’s ruling about who I can and cannot consult with, and my need to be licensed in Oregon relative to that consultation.

Nor will I provide consultation with any Oregon attorney or pro se representation until I am provided with greater clarity on who I can and cannot provide consultation to and the scope.  The CRM report is nothing more than what I say in my book.  I provide much more extensive and individualized opinions for attorneys based on the raw data directly.  If I need to be licensed in Oregon for my CRM report, then what is the scope of my allowable opinions and involvement?  I am now unclear.  I thought I knew the rules, but the rules apparently don’t apply to me.  Before I have any contact or involvement with any Oregon attorney or resident or become involved in any legal case in Oregon as a consultant or expert witness, I will need greater clarity on who I am allowed to consult with and who I am not, how, by what method?  I will need clear direction now because laws are apparently arbitrarily applied and I am uncertain as to what I am allowed and not allowed to do.

I believe this Oregon licensing board ruling is part of a larger conspiracy of harassing actions that are directed toward myself and Ms. Pruter, and organized by an individual, Dr. Jean Mercer, that includes,

1) AFCC Harassment:  An orchestrated campaign of complaints made to the AFCC and APA in 2017 seeking to have Continuing Education units provided for our 2017 presentation to the national convention of the AFCC revoked on technical grounds (as described in her blog: ) to use the withdrawal of CE units to then allow attorneys in court litigation to imply that the AFCC and APA had rejected the content of our presentation, seeking to damage the credibility of my expert testimony to the court by implication.

2) APA Harassment:  An orchestrated campaign of complaints made to the APA prior to the presentation of Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter to the national convention of the American Psychological Association in 2019, seeking to have the APA rescind its acceptance of our presentation.  This targeted campaign of harassment resulted in the APA imposing on us specific peer-review requirements for our paper, and we were singled out alone from all the other papers and required to submit our paper for review and direct approval from the head of Division 24 prior to our presentation, which no other presenter had to do relative to their presentation.  Our paper was accepted for presentation and the review had entirely positive comments.

3) California Board Complaint:  A licensing board complaint filed in California by Dr. Mercer alleging I referred to her rudely in a blog by saying she’s not a “real psychologist” because her degree is in Experimental psychology and she has never been licensed as a Clinical psychologist who actually treats pathology, and so has never assessed, diagnosed, or treated any pathology.  The goal of Dr. Mercer’s California licensing board complaint, as is her general goal of targeted and persistent professional harassment of me, was to generate sanctions from the California licensing board in order to ‘rough up’ the expert testimony of Dr. Childress in-between custody cases. This particular matter involved a case in California in which I was personally directly involved as the court-ordered assessing and diagnosing psychologist in California, where I am licensed as a psychologist, and Dr. Mercer who was an out-of-state “expert” witness brought in by the opposing party specifically to rebut the diagnostic report of Dr. Childress.  Dr. Mercer had no knowledge of the matter and no experience or professional background in assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of pathology, yet she opined on these issues anyway from her ignorance.  The California board complaint was dismissed without sanctions.

I believe the Oregon licensing board complaint is within this organized conspiracy of professional harassment seeking to damage the credibility of my expert testimony to the court in-between court cases.  I believe the disregard of the law by the Oregon licensing board is in furtherance of this goal of interference in child custody litigation cases by preventing or seeking to damage the evidence presented to the courts.

I believe there is a pattern of harassment and efforts targeting me specifically in retaliation for my work in the courts with litigants in child custody cases.  I believe the Oregon licensing board complaint is part of that pattern and conspiracy to damage the credibility of my testimony to the court and to prevent the admission of evidence to the court by one of the litigants in order to systematically bias court decisions in favor of one of the litigants in the case.

I had no client in Oregon.  My client was the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, Dorcy Pruter, CEO.  The Oregon Board’s decision was in error and appears to have mis-applied the law in an effort to target me specifically for retaliation and prevent the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute and the client-litigants served from obtaining the necessary professional consultation and interpretations from clinical psychology regarding their compiled data profiles, thereby preventing the evidence from the compiled data profiles being presented to the court because Ms. Pruter cannot obtain an interpretive report from clinical psychology for the data profiles generated by the Custody Resolution Method.

Please file an appeal of the Board’s decision.

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

Flying Monkey Testimony

I am increasingly serving as an expert witness in the courts. As a clinical psychologist, I am a healthcare professional. The domain of mental health care is my world, not the legal system. When I provide testimony in the legal system, I’m in their world.

As expert testimony in the legal system, I’m evidence. I know my role. I am not an advocate. The legal system has advocates, they’re called attorneys. In the legal system, I’m evidence.

In court testimony, I listen to the question, I answer the question, and then I stop and wait for the next question.

Sometimes they argue over what questions they can ask, and then I wait. When they finally resolve their discussion and ask me a question, I listen to the question, I answer the question, and then I stop and wait for the next question.

I allow the attorneys to present the evidence and impeach the evidence presented. That is their role. I listen to the question, I answer the question, and then I stop and wait for the next question.

In recent expert testimony, I was asked an interesting set of questions. I had no idea this line of questioning would develop, and I was surprised at some of the turns it took. I listened to the question, I answered the question they asked.

I have posted to my website a selection of testimony I gave that is not case-specific regarding the social distribution feature of the pathology and its allies, called “flying monkeys” by the Urban Dictionary.

Dr. Childress Flying Monkey Testimony

AFCC CE Units Domain

One line of questions is a relatively common issue raised in some cross-examinations, that CE units from a seminar I gave with Dorcy Pruter in 2017 to the national convention of the AFCC were reportedly withdrawn, the rumor is because Ms. Pruter does not have a doctoral degree.

I was never contacted by the AFCC and I have no direct information from them about any CE unit dispute or decision, I was never contacted by the AFCC or anyone. I’ve heard rumors that a semi-organized group of people began harassing the AFCC following our presentation and got the AFCC to remove the CE credits from the attendees because Ms. Pruter does not have a doctorate degree.

That would seem odd to me, that they would not provide CE units because Ms. Pruter does not have a doctorate. I do. I have a doctorate, and I presented throughout, including co-presenting with with Ms. Pruter regarding the structure and change agents used in the High Road workshop.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve heard through the general grapevine – and – attorneys keep asking me about it in cross-examination so they’re being given this information from somewhere, so it’s probably true. There are people who want to discredit my testimony and the work of Ms. Pruter.

Someone probably got the AFCC to remove CE credits for the attendees because Ms. Pruter is not licensed as a psychologist or attorney. It’s not relevant to the content of our presentation. If you want to see the Powerpoint slides from the AFCC presentation of Dr. Childress & Dorcy Pruter in 2017, they are posted on my website in the Attorney: High Road section.

AFCC Presentation: Dr. Childress & Dorcy Pruter (2017)

Childress & Pruter: AFCC Presentation (2017)

Personally, I think the AFCC is professionally negligent that they have not – invited – Ms. Pruter to speak at their conventions. She regularly and consistently recovers the healthy attachment bonding of these children to their formerly targeted-rejected parent with the High Road workshop, and she does so with documented success every time.

Why the AFCC would NOT want to know how she accomplishes this with the High Road workshop is unclear. But they don’t. They have no interest in solving the pathology in the family courts. When they do, they will invite Ms. Pruter to explain how she recovers a healthy and normal-range parent-child bond in a 4-day workshop.

But CE units are not my concern, they are irrelevant to anything. Whatever happened, it was simply an effort after-the-fact to damage my future testimony by innuendo, which is now the attempt in my cross-examination in some of the cases, such as this one. The opposing counsel will raise the issue of the AFCC withdrawing CE units saying that, “Isn’t it true that the AFCC has rejected “your theory” of “parental alienation, correct?” No, that is not correct. “Oh, so what is correct?”

I explain each time, that no, the AFCC has not rejected anything, and that no, I have no “new theory” – everything I say is the established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline, Bowlby-Minuchin-Beck. I also explain that I have no direct information about what, if anything happened after-the-fact, about CE units for a talk I gave with Ms. Pruter in 2017, or why any decisions were made if they were. No one has ever notified me about anything related to our presentation.

I think next time I’m asked about this in cross-examination, I’ll once again relate that no one has has directly told me anything, perhaps I’ll politely ask opposing counsel to please inform me about what they’ve heard, because I keep getting asked about it, so apparently someone is telling these attorneys something. Can they please tell me what they’re being told so I can answer more knowledgeably the next time I’m asked?

Somebody is apparently telling them something. I wonder who’s providing these attorneys with this misleading information. It does not serve the attorney well to begin presenting misleading evidence. Because I correct it. I’m sworn to tell the truth.

I listen to the question and I answer the question.

Petition to the APA

The opposing counsel also opened another line of questions trying to impeach my testimony under the same general format, this time asking, “Isn’t it true that the APA has rejected your new theory.” I again explain that I have no “new theory,” and that no, the APA has not rejected anything.

Well isn’t it true you submitted a Petition to the APA seeking to have them change their position on Parental Alienation Syndrome? Yes, that was one of the remedies we sought. And didn’t they reject your Petition? No, they have not responded in any way to the 20,000 parents who signed and submitted this Petition to the APA.

I’ve faced the AFCC line of questions before, this is the first time I’ve had the Petition to the APA raised in cross-examination. What’s raised by opposing counsel in cross-examination has implications. Things that cannot be presented on direct examination for various question-asking legal reasons, can be address on redirect when raised in cross-examination.

Like what occurred surrounding the AFCC talk I gave with Ms. Pruter, as well as the reasons for the Petition to the APA and the remedies sought. My-oh-my, these questions began taking an interesting turn on redirect. Then re-cross, then redirect once more.

I had not anticipated these lines of questions. I follow the lead of the attorney, the courtroom is their world. I listened to the question and I answered their questions. I explained about the social distribution feature of the pathology and the problematic practices in forensic psychology. “Isn’t it true that you have accused the APA of being complicit in child abuse?” Yes, that is correct.

I’m sworn to tell the truth. I listen to the question and I answer the question

The Flying Monkey Testimony of Dr. Childress covers some very interesting areas surrounding the social distribution feature and the pathogen’s allies.

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

Comment 2021: Proposed APA Guidelines for Custody Evaluations

A Working Group for the American Psychological Association has proposed Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations.

They have invited public comment

I submitted my public comment today. They allowed one general comment and five additional specific comments.

I began by conducting a review and Analysis of the proposed APA Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations. I have posted this review and Analysis to my website, as both a full and complete analysis, as well dividing the larger Analysis into each sub-section Analysis.

Childress Analysis: Full Set
Childress Analysis: Introduction
Childress Analysis: Scope (Guidelines 1-3)
Childress Analysis: Competence (Guidelines 4-6)
Childress Analysis: Preparing (Guidelines 7-10)
Childress Analysis: Conduct (Guidelines 11-23)
Childress Analysis: References
Childress Analysis: Checklist of Applied Knowledge

Here are my Comments made to the APA website inviting public comments:

General Comment:

The proposed Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Court Proceeding are substantially flawed, far more flawed than can be elaborated in the limited space provided here for Comment.  I have provided a more comprehensive Comment on the proposed Guidelines which is available publicly on my website (

In 2018 a Petition to the APA signed by 20,000 parents was hand-submitted to the APA offices in Washington, DC asking for a redress of grievances regarding rampant and unchecked ethical violations in the practice of child custody evaluations and forensic psychology.  The APA has made no response to parents regarding their grievances.  The APA has shown complete and full contempt for the plight of parents in the family court system and the rampant unethical practices in forensic psychology surrounding child custody evaluations.  These concerns continue. 

I provide a more complete Comment on the proposed Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Child Custody Proceedings in my comprehensive commentary available publicly on my website.  In the remaining Comments here I will describe the most concerning issues.

In sum, I am concerned about possible legal liability for the APA in any potential class action lawsuit brought by parents for ongoing, rampant, and multiple violations of the APA ethics code in the practice of child custody evaluations (Standards 2.04, 2.01, 9.01, 3.04), and for negligent failure in their professional duty to protect on two separate counts, failure to protect the child from child psychological abuse, and failure to protect the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse using the child as the weapon.  The negligent professional practice of child custody evaluators is based on their violations of Standards 2.04, 2.01, 9.01, and 3.04 of the APA ethics code and the routine failure in their duty to protect.

Analysis – References –

Comment 1:

Ethical Code Violations: Principle D Justice. The excessive cost of child custody evaluations ($20,000 – $40,000) prevents access to qualified psychological input in court cases to only the most affluent of clients, denying equal access to professional services as guaranteed by Principle D Justice of the APA ethics code. 

The lack of inter-rater reliability for child custody evaluations means that two different evaluators can reach  different conclusions and differing recommendations based on exactly the same information.  This denies equal quality of professional services as guaranteed by Principle D Justice. 

Furthermore, restricting access to child custody evaluations to only the most affluent of clients who can afford them denies equal quality in professional services as guaranteed by Principle D Justice.  The lengthy delay required to conduct child custody evaluations (typically six to nine months) and their exceedingly high cost ($20,000 – $40,000) prevents parents from obtaining a second opinion on the conclusions and recommendations.  The absence of inter-rater reliability and the failure to apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline (i.e., attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, child development, the ICD-10 and DSM-5 diagnostic systems) means that the opinions and conclusions reached may be in error, yet a second opinion confirmation is prohibited by the excessive financial cost and time required to conduct and child custody evaluation. 

The practice of child custody evaluations violates Principle D Justice on two separate and independent counts, failure to provide equal access to psychological services, failure to provide equal quality.

Comment 2:

Ethical Code Violations Standard 2.04 & Standard 9.01. Child custody evaluations do not apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” as the bases for their professional judgements in violation of Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code.  The “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” is attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, child development, and the ICD-10 and DSM-5 diagnostic systems. 

Failure to apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” – i.e., attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, child development, ICD-10 & DSM-5 diagnostic systems) is a violation of Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code.  Because child custody evaluators do not apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (in violation of Standard 2.04), their “recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony,” are NOT based on information “sufficient to substantiate their finding,” in violation of Standard 9.01 of the APA ethics code.

Note specifically the reference in Standard 9.01 to Standard 2.04, Bases of Scientific and Professional Judgments. The reason child custody evaluators do not apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (i.e., attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, child development, ICD-10 & DSM-5 diagnostic systems) is because they do not know this knowledge, in violation of Standard 2.01, Boundaries of Competence.

Comment 3:

No Inter-Rater Reliability.  If an assessment procedure is not reliable it cannot possibly be valid.  This is axiomatic in assessment.  There are four types of reliability in assessment, test-retest, alternate forms, internal consistency, inter-rater.  The appropriate reliability measure for an interview format assessment is inter-rater reliability, i.e., that two different “custody evaluators” will reach the same conclusions and recommendations based on the same information.  There is zero inter-rater reliability for child custody evaluations.  Two different evaluators can reach entirely different conclusions and recommendations based on the same information. 

If an assessment procedure is not reliable, it cannot possibly be valid.  Child custody evaluations are not a valid assessment of anything, they are simply the opinion of one person whose interpretations were influenced by both their ignorance and their cultural and personal biases.  Child custody evaluations have no inter-rater reliability, they are not a valid assessment of anything – that is an axiomatic foundational principle of assessment, if an assessment procedure is not reliable it cannot possibly be valid.

Comment 4:

Ethical Violations Standard 3.04.  In the absence of child abuse, parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.  Professional psychology should NOT intrude into that fundamental right of parenting.  Furthermore, there is no information existent in professional psychology that would allow prediction of the child’s “best interests” based on any scientific and professionally established definition and criteria – it is entirely a matter of post-hoc personal opinion made by the custody evaluator based on no scientifically defined and established criteria. 

In the absence of child abuse, parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.  If there are conflicts within the family, these are treatment-related concerns that should be addressed in a written treatment plan with specified Goals, Interventions, Outcome Measures, and Time-frames. 

In the absence of child abuse, each parent should have as much time and involvement with their child as possible.  Any recommendation other than that would harm the parent who received the restricted time by inflicting grief at the loss, and it would harm the parent by creating a damaged relationship with their child, it will also harm the child by damaging parent-child attachment bonds in restricting the child’s time and involvement with that parent.  In the absence of child abuse, harming the child’s attachment bond to their mother or father by restricting time and involvement with that parent will harm the child, will harm the parent-child attachment bond, and will harm the parent, in violation of Standard 3.04, Avoiding Harm. 

In the absence of child abuse, the ONLY ethically allowable recommendation from professional psychology is that each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.  If there is family conflict, we fix it with a written treatment plan with specified Goals, Interventions, Outcome Measures, and Time-frames.

Comment 5:

Dr. Childress Analysis of Proposed APA Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations

Analysis of: Introduction – Scope (Guidelines 1-3) – Competence (Guidelines 4-6) – Preparing (Guidelines 7-10) – Conduct (Guidelines 11-23) – References

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

Orienting to Parallel Process

It’s called parallel process, when the same thing occurs at two different levels.  It’s most notable in treating borderline personality pathology when the treatment team develops and expresses the splitting pathology of the borderline patient.

The treatment team splits into the “good therapist” who is “understanding” of the patient’s fragility and seeks to make allowances and offers support, and the “bad therapist” who wants to set firm boundaries and is accused of being too “hard” and harsh on the patient.

Splitting.  The “good therapist” and the “bad therapist.”  This is axiomatic in treating borderline personality pathology on a treatment team – parallel process, splitting.  Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectic Behavior Therapy calls it “staff splitting.”

I remember encountering it vividly when I was a clinical supervisor in Choc’s APA internship program.  Choc had about five licensed pediatric psychologists on staff covering different rotations in the hospital, and about five interns and post-docs in the training program.

We met weekly, all of the clinical supervisors, to discuss the trainees because we shared supervision responsibilities across rotations.  Each trainee had a primary supervisor, but then additional supervisors for each specific rotation.

We had this one trainee, a post-doc. I wasn’t her primary but I was a secondary supervisor.  She was having difficulty on some of the other rotations.  One week there was an escalating disagreement in the supervision group as to how to respond to the trainee’s evident deficiencies.

One supervisor was supporting the post-doc and minimizing the difficulties, the other was being harsh and critical and asking for immediate remediation of the alleged problems. The intensity of disagreement began to become elevated into sides.

Then one of the supervisors in the group said, “splitting” and everyone immediately stopped all discussion of the post-doc.  We turned to the splitting pathology in the supervision group, the “good supervisor” in the “supportive” role and the “bad supervisor” in the “harsh and critical” role.

We found middle, we then recognized that there was borderline spectrum pathology with the post-doc, that means unresolved trauma, which will affect her counter-transference issues with clients, we need to get that cleared up.  So a remediation plan was developed that was trauma-informed relative to the professional needs of the post-doc.

With the recognition of parallel process, the professional discussion shifted from the prior superficial conflict of division, to the remediation of unresolved trauma with the post-doc regarding their professional development as a psychologist.

That’s what you do in a treatment team when the parallel process of splitting emerges, first person to see it says, “splitting” and everyone stops.  The entire conversation about whatever, stops.  The discussion becomes about staff-splitting, the “good therapist” (typically the individual therapist) and the “bad therapist” (typically the family therapist).

Find middle.  Then reevaluate the situation from a borderline (unresolved trauma) perspective. There will be distorted perceptions of “victimization,” emotional regulation problems under stress, and use of external regulatory objects (i.e., manipulation and exploitation of others).  Borderline (unresolved trauma) pathology will also allege “abuse,” using that specific word, that will elevate intensity immediately and claim a position of “victimization” in response to any structure or limitations imposed on them.

Document everything carefully and fully with borderline and narcissistic pathology, they will attack. Make sure your documentation is clean.

Borderline personality pathology (unresolved trauma, unresolved sexual abuse trauma, emotional regulation problems and problems in self-identity stability) is challenging to deal with as a professional.  Typically, the advice within the profession, passed mentor to trainee, is to only have one borderline (max) on your caseload at any one time.

Many (most) psychologists will not carry any borderline pathology on their caseload.  They are the most challenging of diagnostic populations to deal with.

Except with DBT, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington.  She combined the structure of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) with Eastern principles of Mindfulness, a grounding in our now, a release from the chattering of monkey-mind, and radical self-acceptance.

The construct of radical self-acceptance is an amazing trauma recovery orientation.  In the application of this construct, Dr. Linehan developed a key to unlocking pathological shame.  That is centrally important in treating sexual abuse pathology, what is typically called “borderline” personality pathology is actually unresolved sexual abuse trauma – we are pathologizing that little girl twice, first with the abuse, and then we call her “borderline” when she’s an adult because of the damage to love-and-bonding done to her as a child.  That is wrong, we need to stop doing that.

DBT is a treatment team, that’s another thing Dr. Linehan understood about treating “borderline” personality pathology, it’s exhausting as a professional, and there are a lot of facets of both education and therapy.  DBT is a treatment team model, as is all trauma recovery therapy.

Trauma is always a treatment team, it’s too tough on a single therapist.  When there is a treatment team and borderline pathology involved, there will be parallel process, the primary one will be splitting.

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

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

I discussed the construct of parallel process and staff splitting in a recent blog:

Parallel Process

I will be expanding on that discussion of parallel process to the current societal surround.  Our society is reflecting a parallel process, or we are reflecting that process here in this court-involved pathology, the reflection is actually an illusion, the parallel process of each has the same origins in both.

Rippling Trauma

Complex trauma (relationship-based trauma) is like a rock thrown into a lake; there is the rock of the abuse, the splash of the trauma, and the ripple across generations through the distorted parenting that unresolved childhood trauma creates.

We all ripple our parent’s and grandparent’s child abuse and complex trauma, and our children ripple ours, and we don’t even see it, because it surrounds us, to us, it’s natural and ordinary, it’s unconscious.

We ripple trauma in the distorted parenting practices that complex trauma, relationship-based childhood trauma, creates. Yet with each passing generation, we process a little more out, we become slightly healthier from generation to generation.

Our children are healthier than we are, and we are healthier than our parents.

To orient to reality of who we are I offer four names, Caligula, Genghis Kahn, Robespierre, and Adolf Hitler.  A substantial span of time, yet the level of savagery remains consistent, our insanity, our trauma, our pathological violence, our personality pathology born of trauma is who we are.

The Burning Times the Holocaust, centuries apart, the same savagery of inhumanity, of pathology, a narcissistic pathology born of trauma, creating trauma, endlessly.

Yet with each generation, we parent slightly better, our complex trauma gets worked through a bit in a process of projective identification with the child. The child becomes us psychologically and we re-parent ourselves through our parenting of the child.

With each generation, humanity improves, our children are healthier than we are because our parenting improves somewhat from what we received.  Look to 1940 Imperial Japan and their Bushido culture and to how far away that is from now to understand the progress in mere generations.

Once shared trauma united our shared psychology, trauma pathology was the norm, trauma was the constant of experience.  In that world the narcissistic absence of empathy and capacity for savage cruelty is not pathological, that’s survival in reality of the context.

We’re getting better, but we’re still rippling trauma of child abuse and complex trauma – in our society.  Our society is constructed by us, it is a reflection of us, it is a reflection of our traumas, and of our efforts at synthesis and resolution of the splitting, the sides, the divisions, and the restoration of normal-range human empathy.

Our society is a reflection of our psychology, and our psychology is a creation of our societal surround – a mirror of each, a reflection of both.  That is the source of parallel process.  It’s because both our society and our psychology reflect us, our structures, our inherent beliefs that we don’t even question.

We repeat patterns without thinking, without awareness, the patterns born in our complex trauma.

Narcissistic Pathology

Childhood complex trauma creates a constellation of symptoms from damaged information structures in the attachment networks of the brain, the love-and-bonding system.  Complex trauma, relationship-based trauma, primarily damages two sets of information structures in the attachment networks, empathy and the stability of self-identify.

The consequences of these damaged love-and-bonding networks is a constellation of symptoms termed “narcissistic personality” pathology; grandiosity, absence of empathy, haughty and arrogant attitude, need to be seen as special and the center of attention, a sense of entitlement, manipulation and exploitation of others, and splitting into polarized sides.

In the age of Caligula these traits were adaptive, same with the Crusades, Henry VIII, Napoleon as well.  Less so with each generation.

Now these traits of trauma, i.e., a narcissistic capacity for human cruelty and a fear-organized brain, are no longer adaptive, in fact, quite the opposite.  We now need our frontal lobe executive function systems fully operational in this up-and-coming tech-world of information.

We are releasing our trauma through our children, we are gradually freeing them from us, from our rippling of trauma.  We succeeded, not with ourselves, but through our children.  They are healthier than us, because of us.  We rippled just a little less of our trauma, as our parents rippled a little less of their’s to us.

Understand the trenches of World War I, the horrors of World War II, Stalin’s genocide, the Belgian Congo, the slave trade, and the devastating brutality of colonialism.  Our parents rippled their parents who rippled their’s, all of it unseen at the time, because it was “normal.”

We don’t see ours, except in the mirror, if we have the courage and clarity for self-reflection.  Portland, 2020 is no accident, it is a ripple, Black Lives Matter & Say Her Name are ripples, Make American Great Again, division, discord, and conflict are a ripple of trauma, complex trauma, relationship-based trauma in the love and bonding system.

The pathology here in high-conflict court-involved family conflict is narcissistic and borderline personality pathology activated by the rejection and abandonment inherent to the failed marriage and divorce.

Narcissistic personality pathology is the abuse pathology, child abuse and spousal abuse, those are the narcissistic personality pathologies, they are trauma pathologies just like the narcissistic personality disorder; relationship-based trauma.

Adolph Hitler and the Nazis offer a full display of the narcissistic pathology in all its myriad features.  I know it’s common to hyperbolically describe someone as being like Hitler, but with narcissistic pathology of abuse the parallels are valid.

The example of Hitler and that cadre of coldly malevolent cruelty in the surrounding humans, and with Imperial Japan, and in colonialism, are all applicable to gain increased understanding for the pathology.

The psychology of the narcissistic pathology achieves reflection in the societal surround. We don’t see the ripple because we are the ripple, we are unconscious of our patterns because they surround us, they are “normal,” they disappear from view because we are everywhere we look.

It used to be common, entirely common, spousal abuse and child abuse.  Child abuse laws were only enacted this past century, women have only received the vote this past century, our founding father’s were slave owners, and we’re just now ending the Civil War, the racist traitors lost, the union won and prevailed, all people are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

I am introducing a line of discussion, using symptoms of trauma expressed in the societal surround for education and illumination of the symptom features of narcissistic pathology.

In narcissism, there is a continuum of self-esteem, from damaged self-worth to high levels of self-confidence, then it stops, the continuum stops at high self-confidence and strong self-esteem.  Then there is a gap, and then it resumes with pathological narcissism, the narcissistic personality disorder, it is not on the continuum of normal-range self-esteem.  It is a pathology, a deviant development from childhood complex trauma.

Narcissist pathology is low self-worth masquerading as high.

From Beck: “The core belief of narcissistic personality disorder is one of inferiority or unimportance.  This belief is only activated under certain circumstances and thus may be observed mainly in response to conditions of self-esteem threat.  Otherwise, the manifest belief is a compensatory attitude of superiority.” (Beck, et. al, 2004, p. 249)

Narcissistic pathology is born in childhood complex trauma (relationship-based trauma) and it creates trauma, it is abusive, it is cruel; the absence of empathy is the capacity for human cruelty.

The narcissistic personality collapses into delusions, persecutory delusions. Stalin is the most florid example.

There is a social distribution feature in narcissistic pathology, that’s Himmler, Goring, Heydrich, and all the loyal party members at the Nazi rallies, Mussolini’s Black Shirts, Hitler’s SA Brown Shirts, the thugs, the ruffians.  A group-mind develops, a shared delusional disorder, a persecutory delusion, they need to defend their race (self-identity), their beliefs (self-identity) against the threat from the “other,” the outsider, the not-me.

It represents a hyper-activation of their need to impose boundaries against psychological intrusion, against the violation by the other, that was born in a history of relationship-based trauma of psychological boundary violations.

From Beck: “Narcissistic individuals also use power and entitlement as evidence of superiority… As a means of demonstrating their power, narcissists may alter boundaries, make unilateral decisions, control others, and determine exceptions to rules that apply to other, ordinary people. (251)

From Beck: “Out of their vehement certainty of judgment, boundary violations of all sorts may occur, as narcissists are quite comfortable taking control and dictating orders (“I know what’s right for them”) but quite uncomfortable accepting influence from others” (p. 251)

In his book, Prisoners of Hate, Aaron Beck noted an important point, evil never sees itself as evil, it sees itself as the victim.  The Nazi’s saw themselves as victims of the Jews, the racists see themselves as victims, as being threatened, they see the other person as the danger, as the threat.  Evil never sees itself as evil, it projects itself onto the “other,” the split.

From Cohen: “The narcissist exaggerates his own importance, achievements, abilities, talents, and efforts, while splitting off, disassociating, or repressing negative elements of his self and projecting them onto others.” (Cohen, 1998, p. 198)

From Cohen: “The propensity to blame is an outstanding feature of narcissistic behavior in general.  It is a way for the narcissist to see himself in a good light and a manifestation of the splitting off of the negative aspects of the self and projecting them onto others that is a major narcissistic defense.” (Cohen, 1998, p. 206)Slide2

We are the all-wonderful, the pinnacle of ideal virtue.  They are the evil, malevolent, and all-bad.  Spitting, polarities, narcissistic and borderline personality disorder pathology.

Kill the infidels, kill the non-believers, the Protestants, the Catholics, the darker ones, them, the ones with the wrong beliefs, kill them, they’re evil, they deserve to die.

Our projected shadow.

From Kernberg: “The normal tension between actual self on the one hand, and ideal self and ideal object on the other, is eliminated by the building up of an inflated self concept within which the actual self and the ideal self and ideal object are confused.  At the same time, the remnants of the unacceptable self images are repressed and projected onto external objects which are devalued.” (Kernberg, 1975, p. 217)

From Svrakic: “Narcissist persons eliminate bad aspects of themselves using massive projections.  Naturally, such projections contaminate external objects that are then experienced as “dangerous, threatening, and worthless.” (Svrakic, 1990,  p. 193)

Humans are not “enemies,” we are family, we have merely forgotten, we are remembering, our children are learning again that we are family.  Family has no enemies, family is family, if family struggles, we support the more fragile and vulnerable family member and figure it out through empathy, care, and dialogue.

We’re family, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, granted, a thousand times removed, we wandered all over the place, and in wandering, we forgot.

Then things happened, “civilization” came, and brutality, savagery, trauma, and suffering increased exponentially for centuries.  I offer Caligula and Rome as my citation, the Crusades or Mongol hordes work equally as well.  Shall we talk about Vlad the Impaler?  How about the Spanish Inquisition?  The Burning Times?

Pathological violence created by the absence of normal-range human empathy.  Henry VIII wasn’t a king, he was a psychopath, so was Julius Caesar, so were all of them, it was adaptive, the sensitive and compassionate ones didn’t last long.

We are changing, our psychology is changing.  Our pathology is being exposed in order to be worked through, processed, and resolved.  It is a narcissistic pathology of cruelty, hatred, fear, and brutality, of shared persecutory delusions, of violence, conflict, oppression, power, control, and intimidation.

Portland 2020.  BLM.  MAGA.  The Covid response of delusional denial.  There is a parallel process in our societal surround.  Shared persecutory delusions in conspiracy theories captivate many, Bill Gates is going to implant tracking microchips into the vaccines for Covid-19 to follow us, to control us, to violate our freedoms, Hillary was operating a pedophile sex ring out of a pizza place in New York, someone went with a gun to stop the delusional ring of non-existent pedophiles.

Conspiracy theories, shared persecutory delusions, parallel process from the same pathology, the same narcissistic personality pathology, a trauma pathology, complex trauma, relationship-based trauma that damages empathy and self-identity networks.

I will be expanding the discussion of parallel process into the societal surround for education and illumination regarding pathological narcissism, a trauma pathology with social distribution features, not to create political division into sides, not even to engage in political discussion, George Will, Bill Crystal, Steve Schmidt, ideology aside – to expose a pathology – a shared persecutory delusion from pathological narcissism, a trauma pathology.

We must find middle and avoid the parallel process of splitting – we must seek synthesis, not division and conflict.

In political debate, reasonable minds can disagree.  That’s not what I will be discussing, I will be discussing the symptoms of pathological narcissism for public education, consideration, and illumination.

The courts, the judges, need to see clearly and understand the nature of the pathology.  It is a pathology of lies, is a pathology of fear, it is a pathology of endless interminable conflict, of brutality, cruelty, and revenge.

It is not on the continuum of normal, it is pathological.

Our psychology is our society, we create one from the other, and each to both, we are a product of our childhood, a product of our surround.

Self-reflective insight is an executive function system of the frontal lobe, so is linear and logical reasoning, foresight and planning ahead.  So is the prefrontal cortex regulation of the limbic emotional system of fear-based responding from activated arousal (vagal nervous system) and a fear-organized brain (amygdala dominant).

I will be discussing the parallel process in our societal surround.  We are working through our trauma, led by our children, our healthier selves.

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









Vitae Review: Dorcy Pruter

It’s time I examined the professional vitae of Dorcy Pruter.

Ms. Pruter is in a different category, she is not a psychologist, she is not licensed as a psychologist, she does not have a doctoral degree in psychology.

I have previously reviewed the vitae of Dr. Sullivan.  I found it wanting from the vantage of professional psychology.  I’m hoping for clarification of my ethical concerns from Dr. Sullivan.  I doubt I will receive it.  There seems to be a prevalent attitude surrounding court-involved family conflict that if you simply ignore something then it doesn’t exist.

Fair’s fair, my next review will be for Dorcy Pruter’s vitae, also a prominent professional working in the field of court-involved family conflict.

Dorcy Pruter is not a psychologist.  She is a businesswoman and a professional family, parenting, and life coach.  She is also a certified family mediator.  She is the creator and developer of several family conflict interventions and custody conflict resolution programs, including;

The High Road Workshop

The High Road to Family Reunification Workshop was developed by Dorcy Pruter from her personal background, her study with professionals, and her professional collaborations over the years.  It is a four-day psycho-educational workshop that gently and effectively recovers the child’s normal-range and healthy attachment bond to the formerly targeted-rejected parent.

In 2014, I reviewed the High Road protocol in my office.  I immediately recognized the principles of how it achieves its effectiveness.  It is not like anything we do in psychotherapy, it is an entirely different approach.

When I asked what her success rate was, I was anticipating maybe 30% based on what psychotherapy might achieve.  She replied, “I have a 100% success rate.”  I was floored, and yet, that makes complete sense.  I could see where the approach used by the workshop will work every time.  It is gentle, it releases, it’s a different approach.

I recognized my professional obligations.  I immediately provided Ms. Pruter with my full professional support, and she is currently my first professional referral for families in high-conflict divorce situations.

Anticipated recovery from a psychotherapy approach of solution-focused family system therapy would be estimated at 6-weeks.  I might be at 2-weeks, most therapists, however, seem to be at never.

The High Road workshop achieves a full recovery of the parent-child attachment bond in a matter of days, gently, and the child loves it.  It is a healthy and positive experience for all.

After reviewing the protocol, Ms. Pruter invited me to observe a High Road workshop being conducted.  I took four days off of my practice and drove down to watch all four days.  It was exactly as anticipated from the protocol, better because the artistry in practice was also evident.  I entirely understand how the High Road workshop achieves its success.

Dorcy Pruter has the solution in her hip pocket.  My professional obligations were clear.  I next submitted a presentation proposal with Dorcy Pruter to the AFCC for their 2017 national convention in Boston.  I spoke first on AB-PA, specifically noting boundary of competence concerns and issues. Then Ms. Pruter and I presented on her High Road workshop, the principles of change and recovery on which it’s based, and their application in practice.

Then, in the course of collaboration, Dorcy asked that I accept a client from the workshop into my therapy for post-workshop maintenance care.  I said no, the family lives too far away to make it practical for them to travel.  She said please.  I said no, the family is in financial struggles and they can’t afford me even if they did make the drive.

She said please.  I cut my fee and said okay.  I received a client from the High Road workshop into my therapy.  My therapy is the second A phase of the High Road single-case ABA clinical research design.  Based on my direct experience with her workshop client, Dorcy Pruter and the High Road workshop achieved a full and complete recovery of the child and mother-child attachment bond from three years of documented child psychological abuse by the father, documented by three separate mental health professionals, none of them me.

I was simply the maintenance care therapist.  Easiest job I have ever had.  The kid was great, mom was a little deer-in-the-headlights happy, “therapy” was not involved.  I simply stabilized the recovery, and out of curiosity, I poked around and took a look at things, various brain things, regulatory and emotional systems, things like that.

Remarkable. The recovery was full, complete, and robust.  Absolutely remarkably clear of any trauma in any network.  I didn’t find a spot of residual trauma in the adolescent, nothing.  I read the reports from the three other psychologists, one psychologist reported it was the worst narcissistic pathology in a father he’d ever seen in a 40-year career, and two other reports from other psychologists said exactly the same thing across three years of failed involvement.

Finally the court orders for a protective separation came through that allowed the High Road workshop to occur.  Dorcy had travel pending and didn’t have time for the 4-day workshop before she left, so she did it in two. She recovered an angry-hostile adolescent boy’s attachment bond with his mother in two days – from three years of documented child psychological abuse – two days, completely fixed.  Remarkable, a stunningly remarkable professional accomplishment.

Dorcy Pruter is the best trauma recovery specialist I’ve ever worked with.  I’ve worked foster care heading the treatment team at my clinic, we were CPS’s referral, they sent their foster kids to us for treatment. We were a three-university collaboration, speech-and-language faculty and therapists were provided by University of Redlands, occupational therapy faculty and staff were provided by Loma Linda University.  I’ve worked with pediatric trauma nurses at Arrowhead Hospital, I love a pediatric trauma nurse on the team.

Dorcy is the best trauma recovery specialist I have ever worked with.  She is my first referral for complex trauma and child psychological abuse.  She’s not a clinical psychologist, she does something different, something wonderful, more please, do it more, recover more children from complex trauma and child abuse.  That’s a good thing.

She asked me to be the follow-up maintenance care therapist for a post-workshop High Road client.  I speak from personal experience, she obtained a full and complete recovery – more – sort of a vanishing of trauma from the kid.

The kid was great.  Wonderful.  Mom was happy and a little fragile from her years of trauma, she needed the stabilizing.  I met with dad, I concur with the prior three opinions.

I have personally received an adolescent client child and parent from the High Road workshop, and I’m an excellent clinical psychologist.  Dorcy Pruter obtained a full and complete recovery of the child’s self-authenticity, and a full and complete recovery of the parent-child bond.

My obligations were clear.  In 2019 we co-presented a paper to the national convention of the American Psychological Association on the single-case clinical research data from the High Road workshop.  I submitted to Division 24 Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (not Forensic).  This is something new, the approach, the success.

The approach she uses, a context and gently skill-based and educational approach, has broader applications to other trauma-based pathologies, with clear applications to two populations; prison recidivism and substance abuse recovery.  I am confident that a university MOU for program research and development would be productive and fantastically rewarding.

I’m a clinical psychologist.  I am an excellent clinical psychologist. I met Dorcy Pruter, I reviewed her workshop protocol and its success.  I escorted her to both the AFCC and APA, they will benefit from meeting her.  For the APA, it was to Division 24, there are broader applications of her accomplishments.

What Dorcy accomplishes in the High Road workshop is unlike anything we do in psychotherapy – she achieves an “incandescent change” in her recovery.  My closest comparison is to the Christmas Truce of 1914, it is a shift in surrounding context that restores, resets.  The closest anyone gets in psychology is probably Boszormenyi-Nagy and Context family systems therapy.  Borszormenyi-Nagy is the expert on family loyalties, his book is entitled Invisible Loyalties and he developed Context family systems therapy.

Creating change by shifting context. That’s what Dorcy does in an elegant way in the High Road workshop. She’s crafted a structure, and then uses it like an art, shifting contexts as needed to draw forth healthy authenticity, love, and bonding.

There is a “moratorium on discussing the past” in the workshop.  Excellent from the start.  They don’t discuss the past, it’s now and moving forward, solution oriented, it’s teaching skills, like communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective negotiation.  It is not anything like what we do in psychotherapy – a different approach.

Higher Purpose Parenting

Next she developed a parenting curriculum… for the targeted parent… that will lead to the recovery of their child’s authenticity and attachment bond to the parent.  Everyone else on the planet would have developed a parenting program for the pathological parent, the problem parent, seeking to control and limit the destructive impact of this parent’s pathology.

Dorcy turned in a different direction, to the parent selected by the child for leadership, she turned to the targeted parent.  Why?  Because she was that child.  She understands the child, she understands the child’s communication, their authenticity beneath the drama.  The “allied” parent is too fragile, they’ve collapsed, the child needs to take care of them. The child needs the other parent to lead, to find a solution for the family that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

The child loves both parents.  One’s fragile, one’s not.  The child has collapsed into the pathology of the fragile parent because that’s what this parent needs.  The other parent, the targeted-rejected parent, is the stronger one, the healthier one.  The child is turning to this parent for leadership.  Dorcy calls these parents the chosen parents.

As a clinical psychologist, I agree.  I reference the “identified patient” in family systems literature.

Dorcy has a clarity of sight offered by empathy – authentic empathy, not projective “empathy,” – authentic empathy for the child.  She sees to and hears the child.

I am highly knowledgeable about parenting training curriculums, I know them all.  All the different variants of Behavioral Parent Training, as well as communication-based approaches like STEP, and early childhood approaches like Webster-Stratton’s The Incredible Years. I know them all, even the research of Patterson and Forehand.  I know parenting skills curriculums.

Dorcy Pruter’s parenting curriculum is unique.  I attended the first 9-course series she offered, just listening and following along.  It is excellent.  It blends a variety of interventions that I’m sure she’s not overtly aware of at a deep-psychology level of my professional understanding, but about which she understands everything, because she’s self-discovered truth on her own.

She uses accurate contructs in unique and wonderful assemblies. She’s arranged constructs and interventions that I recognize, and yet arranged them in unique and interesting ways that are powerfully effective.  I would consider the Higher Purpose Parenting curriculum to be a trauma-informed parenting curriculum, the only one I’m aware of.

Custody Resolution Method

Next she developed the Custody Resolution Method, a combination of coaching support with a formal data tagging methodology for identifying frequency counts of symptom indicators in a large data set provided by the parent – Dorcy refers to it as Tier 1 data relative to the courts.

The data tagging methodology she uses for an archival data set (i.e., documented data; emails, texts, reports, court filings) is a standard research methodology for compiling information from large sets of raw data into organized categories that are available for comprehension and interpretation.

By way of full disclosure, CRM tags for the three Diagnostic Indicators of AB-PA as well as the 12 Associated Clinical Signs, in addition to other categories of interest.  She then sends the compiled data profile to me for my opinion as a clinical psychologist since CRM is tagging frequency counts for the three Diagnostic Indicators of AB-PA.  I provide an opinion, a consultation report. Ms. Pruter is a professional client of mine, I provide consultation reports for her CRM data tagging profiles.

Businesswoman & Coach

Ms. Pruter is not a psychologist.  She does not have a doctorate degree in psychology.  She does not do psychotherapy.  She is not licensed, she does not assess, diagnose, or treat any pathology. Nor is she an architect or a lawyer.

She is a businesswoman and a family coach, and in my view, she is also the best trauma recovery specialist I have ever worked with, and she is my first referral for recovery from complex trauma and child psychological abuse.

I must use alternate criteria for reviewing Ms. Pruter’s vitae than I would use with a licensed psychologist.  She will have no Education support on her vitae, she will have no psychology support in coursework or training, no psychotherapy treatment support in attachment pathology, family systems therapy, or any domain of professional psychology.

She took a different life course, she arrived here by a different path. That is one of the reasons her interventions are so unique and so effective.  She is not a psychologist, was never trained as a psychologist, she doesn’t think like a psychologist – thank goodness.

What she does have is solutions.  She is not without education, she has studied a lot, she is Certified in many areas of professional coaching and mediation – she is a professional, and she is a businesswoman.

If I were to review the vitae of an architect, I would use criteria appropriate to that profession, if I review a vitae of an attorney, I would use criteria appropriate to that profession.

Ms. Pruter is a businesswoman, forming her Conscious Co-Parenting Institute in 2006, she has a successful trauma recovery workshop that she both developed and has successfully implemented with hundreds of children and families.  She has created a parenting curriculum that successfully teaches the targeted-rejected parents the trauma-informed parenting skills needed to recover their children, and she has created a data tagging methodology that surpasses anything offered from professional psychology.

By any measure of success as a businesswoman, Ms. Pruter meets and exceeds criteria.  She has demonstrated herself to be an immensely successful businesswoman, even when faced with a savage group of people surrounding court-involved pathology that attack her with slander and lies relentlessly.  She is a remarkably successful businesswoman.

The next domain would be her vitae support as a professional coach.  Let’s begin our examination of that.  Ms. Pruter begins her vitae:

2006 – Present: CEO & Founder, Conscious Co-Parenting Institute

Dorcy Pruter is a Certified Co-Parenting, Custody and Reunification Coach, Certified Family Conflict Mediator, Certified Co-Parenting Instructor and Certified Life Coach.

Ms. Pruter leads with her business credentials, only one line, but as noted in my preface, her success in that area of her practice is substantial and clearly evident from her background.  It needs only one line on her vitae.

She next presents on her Credentials. For a coach vitae, this domain is equivalent to Education on a psychologist’s vitae. Note that she leads with her training received, not trainings given, she leads with her coaching credentials – Certified means she’s received some form of structured training intended for the coaching profession.

Dorcy’s path was not through psychology, she comes from a different path to here.  She entered business and property sales, a normal life, then shifted careers as she grew on her own emotional path of self-recovery as a child of “alienation.”

She recovered her own bond with her father and began to explore her past and current family situations.  She then embarked on a different life-course, a path of findings solutions for children and families, she became a family, parenting, and life coach.

Being a coach requires no more than hanging out a shingle and saying “I’m a coach.”  The measure of a successful coach is are they successful in helping their clients.  Recognizing the close collaborative roles filled by coaches and family therapists, Cloe Madanes, a renowned family systems therapist, has formed a collaborative professional relationship with Tony Robbins, a coach, and in 2018 she wrote a book entitled Changing Relationships: Strategies for Therapists and Coaches.

There is no licensing or regulation requirement for coaching, which makes for client vulnerability.  At the same time, I know many licensed psychologists who are entirely ignorant and incompetent, so a college “degree” gained from passing classroom exams does not necessarily mean knowledge or competence.

Yet Dorcy did more that simply hang out a shingle, she studied her craft and profession. – that’s what Certified means, it means she studied.  Perhaps that’s why she’s so successful as a businesswoman.  Certification training is noted in three areas, 1) co-parenting, child custody, and family reunification coaching, 2) family conflict mediation, and 3) life coaching.

These are not things she’s claiming she teaches – these are Certification trainings she’s taken – she leads with her education and training.  She is surpassing requirements for a coach, she is establishing herself as a capable and competent, well-trained professional.

Which she is.

Dorcy Pruter, CEO and Founder of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, a company focused on attachment based “parental alienation” reunification strategies and creating a world where children are free to love both parents. Dorcy provides coaching, training and reunification services, globally. Dorcy specializes in high conflict divorce and custody cases involving pathogenic parenting (parental alienation). She has been in private practice as a coach facilitator for over 10 years.

Following her opening lead from her relevant education and training in coaching, Dorcy next presents her work experience, this is a standard presentation of professional vitae, training followed by experience. Of note is that she grounds in the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology.

Her professional experience as a parenting and family coach with court-involved high-conflict pathology is again strongly substantial and highly relevant.  As a family and parenting coach, Ms. Pruter is highly qualified by both professional training and professional experience with exactly this pathology in the family courts.

She is not a clinical psychologist.  Because of that, she should not, and does not, conduct psychotherapy, she should not, and does not, diagnose pathology.  She is not a clinical psychologist. She does something different, she is a professional family and parenting coach to help the family orient to and solve problematic parenting and problematic transitions in the family.

She is not a clinical psychologist, she does not diagnose pathology, she does not do psychotherapy, she is a family and parenting coach, that is her profession.  We are reviewing her vitae by those criteria, and her professional qualifications as a family and parenting coach with this pathology are stellar, and I would say unsurpassed in her profession with this court-involved pathology.

Dorcy Pruter is a pioneer in the field of Conscious Co-Parenting and Reunification Coaching, and has led the development of the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute, specializing in Conscious Co-Parenting Classes, Coaching, Conscious Ways for Families, Custody Resolution Method, Higher Purpose Parenting and High Road Family Reunification workshops across the U.S. and Internationally. She is among the most experienced Co-Parenting, Custody and Reunification Coaches in the world.

Next, Ms. Pruter offers her accomplishments in program development and successful involvement in court-involved family conflict as a parenting and family coach.  Those are a substantial set of achievements that she notes, as I previously described.

Within three opening paragraphs, Ms. Pruter clearly and concisely presents her substantial professional experience as a family and parenting coach with this court-involved attachment pathology surrounding divorce.  She is eminently qualified as a professional coach with court-involved family conflict pathology.

Ms. Pruter ends with the confident self-assertion, “She is among the most experienced Co-Parenting Reunification Coaches in the world.”

I agree with that self-assessment by Ms. Pruter, and I would challenge anyone to present a stronger vitae from any family and parenting coach who is working with court-involved family conflict.  There is no stronger vitae of professional qualifications and experience in family coaching with this court-involved high-conflict family pathology.  She is the most experienced co-parenting reunification coach in the world, I agree.

Ms. Pruter next turns from her strong offer of her training, background, and professional experience as a family and parenting coach, to offer the Presentations she’s given as support for her professional practice and competence.

Presentations are merely our pontificating, our presentations given to others are not evidence of any knowledge.  Presentations given will reflect two things, 1) the topics will reflect her interests, and 2) to whom she spoke will reflect the relative professional esteem to her work.

Recent Presentations:

American Psychological Association. Empathy, the Family, and the Core of Social Justice. Childress, C.A. & Pruter, D. Paper Presentation at the APA National Convention, Division 24, August 8, 2019; Chicago,

This first one is most recent and was with me.  This paper presents the High Road single-case ABA clinical case data.  It was my honor to accompany Ms. Pruter to the APA to present her High Road single-case ABA clinical research data directly to the American Psychological Association at their national convention in Chicago, August 2019.

National Americans For Equal Shared Parenting Conference on ABA Single Case Design Evidence Based Practice of the High Road for Trauma Informed Remedy of Complex Family Conflict. Washington, DC; June 29, 2019

This is a mid-range professional organization, she again presents the evidence-based data in support of the High Road workshop’s success.

Erasmus University Medical Center. Presented on a Panel of psychologist, lawyers, and judges on the subject Attachment-Based Parental Alienation: Trauma Informed Remedy of Complex Family Conflict. Rotterdam, Netherlands; February 25, 2019

Dutch Ministry of Justice. Invited meeting; February 27, 2019.

These two are again with me.  I was invited to speak in the Netherlands. My first call was to Dorcy, “Would you join me?” I take Dorcy everywhere I go and introduce her to everyone I meet. She is my first referral.

How Childhood Trauma is Impacting Your Present Day Life. Awakening Giants Presentation. Tauranga, New Zealand; January 20, 2019

She is involved in expanded projects of life-development and growth.

Inspire Aukland. Conflict Resolution Skills to End the Suffering Caused by Childhood Trauma Surrounding Divorce. Aukland, New Zealand; January 18, 2019

This talk indicates her area of professional interest, as well as a notable international focus on trauma recovery.

Inspire Monrovia. Conflict Resolution Skills to End the Suffering Caused by Childhood Trauma in a Post War Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. October 13, 2018.

Another broad trauma presentation, and note the international scope.  There are broader professional implications for her approach to recovery from complex trauma.  Dorcy Pruter’s vitae for a coach in complex trauma and family recovery is exceptionally strong.

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Annual Convention. An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Diagnosis and Treatment. June 1, 2017; Boston,

This is again with me as I described above. I felt it my professional obligation to introduce Ms. Pruter and her approach to recovery from complex trauma and child psychological abuse to the AFCC and APA.

International Conference of Shared Parenting ABAB Single Case Design Evidence Based Practice as a Solution for Complex Trauma; causing an emotional cutoff between a parent and child caused by complex trauma surrounding divorce. May 29, 2017; Boston, MA

A mid-level professional association. It takes a doctorate or law degree to present at the AFCC and a doctorate in psychology to open the door to the APA.  These domain-specific mid-level professional conferences are the networks of active professionals.

Again to be noted is her reliance on evidence-based support for her workshop-based approach to recovery.  This is excellent, outcome measures and clinical research designs are top-tier professional work.

Parental Alienation Symposium 2017: Presentation on Solutions for Professionals and Families suffering from emotional cutoffs caused by emotional trauma surrounding divorce. April 29, 2017; Dallas,

This was a parent-organized symposium, there was no Gardner PAS allowed. It was the first shift to a scientifically grounded approach to solutions.

That is a substantial set of presentations for a family and parenting coach.  They reveal who she is, her focus and interests.

Ms. Pruter next shifts to a more specific detailing of her background skills and experience by providing a listing of additional domains of her professional work and consultation experience, capabilities, and competencies.

Other roles served for families going through divorce include:

 1.  Co-parenting mediator, testifying expert, co-parent coach and consultant – in courts across the United States, Canada, Africa, Europe and Australia.

She’s a top tier professional, actively bringing solutions to family conflict pathology, with a notable international scope.  Her work has broader application than simply the family conflict surrounding the courts.

2.  Testimony in custody situations in jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada, Dorcy provides consultation services, to forensic professionals, family law attorneys and parents in the context of child custody issues, reunification strategies and High Conflict Divorce.

This is a valuable professional consultation service, and one which a coach is uniquely qualified to offer.  Whether there is a desire for her testimony and consultation is dependent on the success of her clients.  I suspect her clients will be satisfied and successful, the legal arguments are shifting from custody to treatment.

3.  Developed the High Road to Family Reunification program, a psycho-educational workshop designed to restore the normal-range attachment bonding motivations of a child toward a rejected parent that results from parental alienation.

A remarkable professional achievement.

I encourage university involvement in research on the High Road workshop intervention protocol and it’s approach.  I would also encourage translation for a Spanish language delivery.  Personally, I think the University of Granada would be well-suited for the translation of the protocol, and any university researcher in complex trauma and psychological child abuse would benefit from an MOU and research collaboration with Ms. Pruter on the High Road protocol.

4.  Developed the Custody Resolution Method Coaching Program and Digital Timeline for documenting data in high-conflict divorce, which includes the creation of Behavioral Pattern timelines that are anchored in data from the case files. This program provides an easy to understand, visual aid to assist lawyers, judges, custody evaluators, therapists and others, to see the patterns of behaviors and triggering events, giving the professionals an easy to understand tool to see that common patterns of pathogenic parenting behaviors. These timelines make it easy for the decision makers, to evaluate the protective separation of the child from a pathogenic parent, when warranted by the data.

Data speaks. Dorcy in CRM gives data voice.

5.  Written numerous articles, spoke at numerous national and international venues, on topics such as High-conflict divorce, Co-Parent Coaching, Parent/Child Alienation, Co-Parent consulting and Family Reunification and, conflict resolutions skills.

She describes her primary domain of interest and indicates a willingness to speak and educate on these topics.

6.  Created and taught, the 10-Week Conscious Co-parenting course, covering topics from parenting styles and managing a high conflict divorce to co-parenting and parallel parenting plans. This program includes a co-parenting handbook, a co-parenting workbook and over 40 hours of online training videos and audios.

Ms. Pruter is active in developing structured skill-based interventions.  In many cases of court-involved pathology, not just divorce and custody but other forms of problematic behavior and parenting, parenting programs are required by the court.  I recommend any of the Dorcy’s parenting curriculums from the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute (and preferred over Behavioral Parent Training curriculums).

7. Certification of instructors internationally to teach the Conscious Co-Parenting classes and coaching, including certification of marriage and family therapists and social workers in the Conscious Co-Parenting protocol.

She is expanding availability of a standardized and skills-based approach to growth, resolution, and solutions to family conflict and parenting skills development.  Her first presentation on her vitae was the Certification Training she’s received.  Here, she is offering her curriculum and training as Certification in Conscious Co-Parenting courses and development.

8. Certified Coach with the International Association of Coaching (IAC)

Ms. Pruter offers her Professional Association membership as a coach. She is a solid family and parenting professional coach by training and accomplishment, and continues her professional organizational involvement.

9. Authored and published an ebook, “Stepping In” a Step Parents guide to Conscious Co-Parenting.

10. Authored and published the e-book, “I Love You Both”, a guide to help children of divorce love both of their parents.

Ms. Pruter offers available resources.

11. Developed the Conscious Ways for Families, a conflict resolution coaching Program for families dealing with the family courts and co-parenting disputes.

Ms. Pruter is exceptionally active in developing a variety of intervention approaches.  She has an effective and extensive trauma-recovery protocol, she varies it for context of delivery.

12. Has certified, Co-Parenting, Custody and Reunification coaches, worldwide.

She is active in training coaches in her protocols.

For her, this becomes challenging on several grounds, 1) protecting her intellectual property from theft and appropriation, and 2) people changing it, doing it wrong, and then Dorcy gets blamed for the failure.

Training coaches in her protocols is a challenging undertaking.  She has undertaken it because it’s needed. She is only one human and the need for recovery from complex trauma is great.  It would be good if there were more coaches trained in her protocol structures.

I believe this best comes though university involvement.  Allow a university to research and further develop and establish the protocol structures, allowing Ms. Pruter to maintain the High Road structure, with variants by research and desire of others.

International coaches trained in a structured approach will be immensely valuable with helping those systems achieve solutions for their families, and Ms. Pruter demonstrates on her vitae an understanding for the international scope, from Europe to Liberia, a broad range of trauma.

13. Speaker at numerous conferences on the subject of obstructed family bonds solutions that work included but not limited to presenting at AFCC, Annual Conference, International Conference for Shared Parenting, and Parental Alienation Symposium

She is available to speak and educate on these topics.

14. Developed and facilitate of Higher Purpose Parenting online and live coaching and parenting classes

As I noted earlier, I have taken this set of classes. They are an excellenct and effective parenting skills curriculum.  I would call it a trauma-informed curriculum, it is a set of skills that will clear trans-generational trauma influences from the parent.

15. US and North America Partner to the Divorce Hotel providing Conscious Divorces through mediation in a weekend

She has a broad array of solution-focused involvement.  The goal is to prevent problems as early as possible and to re-direct situations into solutions BEFORE they become a problem.

16. Developed Higher Purpose Mastery coaching, classes and workshops facilitated around the world

She has broader-scope curriculum and interventions that move into the domain of life coaching.

17. Developed Securing a Scared Relationship coaching program and online classes

18. Facilitates workshops and leadership training for coaches and mediators

19. Founded the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute the worlds leading provider of co-parenting and custody solutions for divorcing parents

20. Founder of the Co-Parenting Coach and Mediator Training Academy; Certifying coaches and mediators around the world on the solutions to for high conflict divorce and custody issues

She is very active in developing and creating solutions, and providing training to others in achieving these solutions.

She is closing her vitae and provides her organizational affiliations.  These place her work in a professional context, these are the organizations of relevance for her work.

Membership Affiliations:

• Member of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
• Member of Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM)
• Member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP)
• Member of Coach Training Alliance (CTA)
• Member of National Association of Mediators (NAM)
• Member of Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM)
• Member of Southern California Mediators Association (SCMA)
• Member of the International Association of Coaches (IAC)
• Member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP)
• Past member of the United States of America Blended Family Association
• Past member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

Ms. Pruter closes with offering her education and training background with this pathology.  The pathology lies, it distorts, it slanders with false allegations.  The pathology and its allies seek to discredit Ms. Pruter’s absence of a college degree.  She is a businesswoman and professional coach, she came here by a different path.

She is most certainly educated in the nature of this court-involved pathology and she works hard at her craft and profession.  She is the most knowledgeable of any professional I know regarding the nature of this court-involved family conflict pathology and its solution.

Trainings Received Related to Divorcing Families and Coaching

• 40 Hours of Divorce and Family Mediations Training – MTI Mediation Training International
• 40 Hours of Divorce and Family Mediation Training – Mosten Mediation Training
• High Conflict Institute® – 12 hours of Understanding and Managing High Conflict Personalities in Legal Disputes,
• High Conflict Institute® – 13 hours of Dealing with High Conflict People in Separation, Divorce and Co-parenting,
• High Conflict Institute® – 6 hours of New Ways Conflict Resolution training.
• High Conflict Institute® – 6 Hours High Conflict Divorce Mediation Training
• Certified Breakthrough Parenting® instructor training 16 hours and is certified to teach Breakthrough Parenting®
• Certified Active Parenting Instructor®
• Completed Coaches Training Alliance® 6 month coaching certification course and is a certified coach.
• Completed Coaches Training Alliance® 6 month Master coach training
• Is a credentialed Master Certified Coach with over 15000 hours of client coaching experience with the International Coaching Federation
• A credentialed Master Certified Coach with over 15000 hours of client coaching experience with the International Association of Coaches
• AFCC high conflict resolution training and numerous workshops and training from 2013 to present
• John Maxwell- Become a Coach and Leadership Coach Certification
• Certified “Today Matters” Coach- John Maxwell
• Certified ‘Developing the Leaders Around you Coach- John Maxwell & Todd Duncan
• The Duncan Group Achieving Leadership training
• The Duncan Group Executive Leadership training
• The Conscious Parent training with Dr. Shefali Tebury
• Experts Academy- Brendan Burchard
• High Performance Academy Master Coach Certification-Brendan Burchard
• 80 hours of Attachment-based Parental Alienation Assessment and Diagnosis- Dr. Craig Childress

That is a substantial vitae of coaching education and training she has received.

The last entry is just flattery to me, she knows this pathology at every level as well as I do, she instructs me as much as I instruct her (in fact, we consult, “instruction” is not a relevant construct).  She uses her words, I use mine, we exchange language-words.  I like her words better, they’re more common-sense and grounded terms, mine are all complicated multisyllabic terminology.  See.

I am familiar with everything Ms. Pruter advocates and consultation advice domains she provides, I agree with everything, she is entirely correct, and I can provide my multisyllabic terminology if desired.

Next to my own vitae as a clinical psychologist, I cannot imagine a stronger professional vitae than Dorcy Pruter’s regarding this court-involved pathology.  Dorcy Pruter absolutely knows what she’s doing, that is clearly evident and substantially supported by her vitae of background and experience.

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist.  I assess, diagnose, and treat pathology, all types.  I do psychotherapy, there are a variety of psychotherapy schools and models.

Dorcy Pruter is a family and parenting coach, a life coach, and a businesswoman.  We do different things.  She is remarkably successful in what she does, and her vitae provides strong professional indication of who she is.

In my professional estimation as a clinical psychologist, Ms. Pruter is the best trauma recovery specialist on the planet for complex trauma and child psychological abuse.  She is my first referral.  Her approaches have broader application with all complex trauma pathology in addition to this court-involved family conflict pathology, and they are remarkably effective with resolving this attachment-based family conflict and in restoring a healthy and normal-range childhood to the child.

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

Vitae Review: Dr. Sullivan

I am a clinical psychologist.  I have a client for whom I conducted a set of diagnostic clinical interviews and I arrived at a diagnosis for the family situation.  A custody evaluation was involved in this matter as well, and the custody evaluator referred my client to Dr. Sullivan for treatment of the child’s and family’s attachment-related pathology.

I will be providing my client with my opinions as to whether Dr. Sullivan represents an appropriate therapist for severe attachment pathology in the family.  My review and opinions will be based on the evidenced background and professional experience of Dr. Sullivan with regard to the following areas:

  • Attachment pathology (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Sroufe, Fonagy, Tronick),
  • Personality disorder pathology, complex trauma, and persecutory delusions (Millon, Kernberg, Beck, Linehan, van der Kolk),
  • Child development (Tronick, Stern, Shore, Kohut)
  • Family systems therapy (Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes, Haley, Satir)

This is Dr. Sullivan’s professional vitae retrieved from the Internet through a link provided on his website.

Dr. Sullivan Professional Vitae


As is traditional, Dr. Sullivan begins his vitae presentation with his educational background:

A.B. Human Biology (1978) Stanford University, Stanford, California

Ph.D. Clinical/Community Psychology (1985) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

That’s a solid educational background, an undergraduate degree from Stanford in a science (not psychology) then a Ph.D. degree from the University of Maryland with his doctoral study divided into three domains, Research methodology, Community-based interventions, and Clinical psychology diagnosis and treatment (i.e., a Ph.D. in Community/Clinical Psychology).

Of note is that Dr. Sullivan had no prior education or training in any area of psychology prior to beginning his doctoral studies.  The only coursework education Dr. Sullivan has ever received in psychology has been solely from his doctoral program.  Dr. Sullivan appears to have had no prior preparation in any area of psychology for his doctoral studies in Clinical psychology.

Also of note for me is that his doctoral program had an additional Community psychology training component.  I have Community-Clinical psychology training from my Master’s degree at Cal State, Northridge, so I know what that domain of Community psychology knowledge entails.

Community psychology has to do with organizational development and consultation, and teaches approaches to community-based systems interventions to resolve problems in society and with pathology.  For example, a community based intervention might be to address medication management problems with the clinic’s schizophrenic patients by developing a mobile assessment and medication management van that travels to the patient rather than expecting the hallucinating and delusional patient to come to the clinic on a regular basis.

Another example of a Community intervention for a pathology would be what I’m doing with divorcing families in the family courts, altering the response of the family court system to better address a resolution of a psychological pathology in the family (a shared delusional disorder), this represents a Community psychology intervention surrounding that component of my intervention.

Limitations to Education

Dr. Sullivan’s undergraduate degree is in Biology, not Psychology, meaning that he had no educational preparation in any of the knowledge of professional psychology before he began his doctoral studies.  The only coursework in psychology Dr. Sullivan has ever taken is limited to only his doctoral program (and this was forty years ago).  If he did not have a course on a topic during his doctoral training, then Dr. Sullivan has no knowledge of that information from professional psychology.

Dr. Sullivan’s limited education in professional psychology would benefit from additional training and education post-doctorate to compensate for his absence of undergraduate preparation for graduate study in Psychology.

Also of note is that Dr. Sullivan has a Ph.D., not a Psy.D. doctorate degree, so his doctoral study was further divided into coursework on Research methodology, in addition to the Community psychology courses in his program, leaving only minimal time for actual educational coursework in Clinical pathology and treatment.

Contrast in Preparation

By contrast, my undergraduate degree from UCLA is in Psychology, which means I had four years of college courses in the information of Psychology.  Dr. Sullivan has zero.  Generally, a Biology major is focused toward pre-med.  Those students interested in graduate study in Clinical Psychology typically are Psychology majors as undergraduates.  Dr. Sullivan’s preparation for graduate study in Clinical Psychology appears minimal with no prior coursework in Psychology, and no prior clinical experience or placements during his undergraduate study.

For contrast, in addition to my BA in Psychology from UCLA, during this time I also obtained additional clinically related experience with the Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles as a Crisis Counselor and shift supervisor, then subsequent work experience in a variety of adult and adolescent psychiatric hospitals, and then a Master’s degree in Community-Clinical psychology all prior to beginning the Psy.D. doctoral program at Pepperdine.  That was all preparation for my doctoral studies.

Dr. Sullivan had none.

Typically, a quality doctoral program in Psychology will require that its students have prior preparation for study in Psychology (i.e., a BA in Psychology and possibly some entry-level placement experiences at group homes or counseling centers).  Dr. Sullivan has an undergraduate degree in Biology, but the University of Maryland overlooked his lack of preparation in Psychology (Biology is called a “related field” – but it’s a weak entry into graduate study requiring substantial catch-up in additional study over the course of the early career).

Dr. Sullivan will need to make up for his lack of preparation for the study of clinical psychology with additional training following the award of his doctoral degree, particularly in treatment since this is the most advanced area of clinical psychology and will therefore be most severely impacted by his inadequate preparation and breadth of study.

My specific psychotherapy training tracks from the Pepperdine Psy.D. doctoral program were family systems therapy and humanistic/existential psychotherapy – i.e., my specialty areas of treatment are from the child and family-oriented school of psychotherapy and from the growth and self-actualization school of psychotherapy – those are my specialty training areas from Pepperdine.  I also sought out additional training as a Gestalt therapist through the Gestalt Institute of LA during my Master’s years.

I wonder what professional orientation Dr. Sullivan works from?

  • Psychoanalytic (Kohut, Stolorow, Tronick, Stern, Bowlby; self psychology)
  • Cognitive Behavioral (B.F. Skinner, learning theory, Beck)
  • Humanistic-Existential (Rogers, Perls, Yalom, Maslow, Frankl)
  • Family Systems Therapy (Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes, Haley, Satir)
  • Social Construction (Solution-Focused; Narrative; Feminist; Cultural)

As a Psy.D. doctorate, I am professionally conversant in all those schools and approaches, and I can work from any of them, my primary advanced domains are family systems therapy and humanistic-existential therapies of growth and self-actualization.

Based on his vitae, Dr. Sullivan’s does not have much coursework or training background in Psychology.  A Bachelor’s degree in Biology provides no training or coursework in Psychology, and Dr. Sullivan apparently went directly from his Bachelor’s degree to his Doctorate program, graduating his Bachelor’s in 1978 and beginning his doctoral studies in 1980.

There appears to be an odd little gap in 1979, he apparently graduated Stanford in 1978 and yet waited a year to begin his doctoral studies in Clinical/Community psychology at U. of Maryland in 1980.  It is typically odd for a Stanford student to take a year off between college and graduate study, they tend to be very linear and goal oriented at that level.  A Biology major at Stanford is often pre-med.  I wonder if he applied for medical school (i.e., his Biology major was pre-med) and he didn’t get in, so he decided to go for a psychology Ph.D. doctorate instead?  I digress in musings.

For a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Sullivan appears to have as minimal a preparation as is possible for an established APA accredited education.  His professional credibility will therefore be dependent on the breadth of subsequent training and experience he received following his doctoral degree, since he had no preparation or educational training prior to beginning his brief and diverse doctoral coursework focus.

Dr. Sullivan does not list where he did his year of supervised pre-doctoral internship hours or where he acquired his year of supervised post-doctoral clinical training hours needed for licensure.  That would shed additional light on his training background.

Questions:  Was the pre-doctoral internship APA accredited? (probably).  Was it a child internship? (unknown).  Where was the post-doctoral training year completed? (unknown).   Was it a child post-doc? (unknown).

For contrast; my pre-doctoral internship was at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (APA accredited), a child oriented internship, and I did two years of post-doctoral training also at CHLA, an additional two years of child training rotations.  Dr. Sullivan does not report on either his additional pre-doctoral training or his post-doctoral training.  By all appearances, Dr. Sullivan has minimal training and education in professional psychology.

For contrast: Dr. Childress Vitae


Dr. Sullivan next lists his “Honors,” which is an odd choice and is not typical for a professional vitae. The next domain of note for a professional vitae is Work Experience, not “Honors” received.  Typically “Honors” are reported last on the vitae (if at all), not second in importance right behind Education.

When evaluating a professional vitae, the most important areas are Education and Work Experience.  Elevating “Honors” to the preeminent position above actual Work Experience is an odd choice, Honors received is rarely an area of substance (i.e., “Best Handwriting in the Fifth Grade”).

It is an interesting note about Dr. Sullivan that he believes the “Honors” he’s received are are a preeminent aspect of his professional vitae and presentation, not his Work Experience.  The typical order for a professional vitae is: Education – Work Experience – Additional Training Received – Publications/Seminars Provided – Awards (if noted at all).

That Dr. Sullivan would so prominently elevate his “Honors” over actual Work Experience is of note, and interest – what Honors has he received that are so notable in his background for such elevation in their prominence on his vitae?

National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship​, 1980-1981. Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Wait.  The second most important thing on Dr. Sullivan’s vitae beyond his having a doctorate degree is that he received a fellowship award forty years ago – 40 years ago – while a beginning graduate student?  The professional tone of the vitae is emerging.

Yes, the National Institute of Mental Health is an impressive name to place on a professional vitae – but not for a fellowship award as a beginning graduate student 40 years ago.  High School Penmanship awards do not belong on a professional vitae – especially not as the second most important factor after Education.

When did Dr. Sullivan receive his doctorate degree?  1985.  When did he receive his fellowship award?  1980-81.  He won an award as a student.  Forty years ago.  And that is the top accomplishment listed by Dr. Sullivan on his professional vitae forty years later.

That is a phenomenally minor “Honor” to lead a professional vitae.  He appears to be trying to pad his vitae and take focus off of his Work Experience.

While I certainly laud Dr. Sullivan’s industriousness as a graduate student 40 years ago, I would suggest that it is time to stop resting on that accomplishment as the second most important aspect of your vitae beyond your doctorate degree.  An award that you won as a student 40 years ago does not count now to your professional credit.

What other Honors are so important as to elevate the reporting of his “Honors” received to the second most important thing about Dr. Sullivan’s professional background?

Certificate of Recognition​, in acknowledgement of contributions to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Meritorious Service Santa Clara County Family Court, 1994.

Wait.  What?  That is the next most important “Honor” that elevates the domain of professional “Honors” to such prominent reporting – A “Certificate of Recognition” – that’s it?  Someone liked him… twenty five years ago.  That’s nice.  That is hardly an achievement of remarkable professional prominence – that someone liked you 25 years ago.

I have about ten or twelve of those, I typically don’t keep them.  People give them to you as a psychologist when you do something nice for them.  One time I gave a set of seminars to summer camp counselors for Los Angeles County, and the Board of Supervisors gave me a “Certificate of Appreciation” (in lieu of money).

Granted, Dr. Sullivan’s Certificate of Recognition (Recognition? That’s it? Just, “Recognition” – doesn’t seem like much of an “Honor” – “Recognition”) is more recent than his other “Honor” of the fellowship award from 40 years ago that he received as a student, at least this “Recognition” is only twenty-five years ago.

He was apparently recognized for “Meritorious Service” by a group of local-area family court judges.  Meritorious likely means he did something nice for them and they appreciated it.  Congratulations on your “Certificate of Recognition.”  I’m pleased to hear that someone liked Dr. Sullivan 25 years ago, yet that does not actually bear on his professional knowledge or professional qualifications.

With each entry, I’m getting the sense that Dr. Sullivan may be trying to pad his vitae, trying to make it appear more impressive than it actually is.

What’s next for these “Honors” he’s received that are of such prominence that they elevate his Honors higher in importance than his Work Experience?

Certificate of Appreciation,​ in acknowledgement of “exceptional work contributed on behalf of the families and children in Superior Court”, Family Court Services, Santa Clara County, 1995

So if I’m understanding correctly, the following year the same group in the family courts in Santa Clara County once again acknowledged his “exceptional work” with “Appreciation.”  But seriously, a “Certificate of Appreciation” from twenty-five years ago isn’t really much of a professional qualification document.

A vitae is a professional presentation of qualifications.  So far, on the two top domains he has presented, he has presented an Education in which he has minimal preparation (A.B. Biology) and a presentation of “Honors” as his lead-in, that turn out to be empty and vacuous.

A student award from 40 years ago, a “Certificate of Recognition” from 25 years ago and a “Certificate of Appreciation” he received 25 years ago, are not Honors of substance or particular note, especially since they are opening Dr. Sullivan’s professional presentation.

We are in the second most important aspect of his vitae presentation – first he presented his Education – next his Honors – elevating Honors above Work Experience – and so far his elevated Honors are entirely insubstantial and seemingly vacuous entries.

What is the forth and final Honor of such elevated note from Dr. Sullivan?

The Joseph Drown Award Recipient,​ for “Outstanding Services to Children”, the highest honor for an Association of Family and Conciliation Court (AFCC) California chapter member, 2012

An award from a state Chapter of the AFCC professional organization for forensic psychologists and family law attorneys.  That’s it?  Not even an award from the National AFCC, an award from a state Chapter of the AFCC – eight years ago.  Their “highest honor”?  That’s sweet.

How may AFCC members in a state Chapter?  Five?  Twelve?  Twenty? I honestly don’t know.  What do they do, pass the “Award” around among the Chapter members, each one gets it in turn?  Dr. Sullivan’s turn was in 2012 apparently.  Is there a set number of years of Chapter membership that’s required before getting the “highest honor for an AFCC chapter member” to put on their vitae as well?

I wonder if they’ve ever heard of Groupthink?  I doubt it.

I find it odd to have a psychologist touting the value of the Honors bestowed upon him, especially when the Honors are of such vaporous insignificance.  It’s almost like he’s trying to present as important, but he never established the substance of foundational support; i.e., knowledge.

His “Honors” aren’t important, his success at solving things through the application of professional knowledge is what’s important.  What does he know?  I don’t want to know how important you think you are, I want to know what do you know?

What is your background?  What professional information sets do you possess? Do you know autism?   Do you know trauma?  Do you know attachment?  Do you know school-based ADHD and learning disabilities?  Do you know personality disorders?  Do you know psychosis?  Do you know mood disorders?  Do you know child development?  On, and on, and on…

That is the purpose of a professional vitae.  Tell me what you know, what domains of professional information do you know.

By Contrast (Dr. Childress Vitae).

I too break from the traditional presentation of a vitae and delay Work Experience to the third position.  I did this in deference to the Courts for reference when my vitae is submitted to support my qualification as an expert witness for testimony.

I present my Education and then I list a series of recent talks focused on court-involved family conflict.  This orients the Court that in the following mix of clinical psychology Work Experience is an expertise in court-involved family conflict.

A professional vitae should address, “What do you know?” – for this, I orient the Court for my court-involved practice on my first page.  On Page 2, I lead with my Work Experience – each entry represents a domain of pathology, a domain of knowledge, and a domain of professional information sets that I know.  My knowledge is evident in my Work Experience.

Notice that I END my career in Private Practice, that’s not where I started.  I started by working directly with children and family pathology, first one pathology domain, then the next, then the next, trained in each – ADHD & pediatric-medical psychology, school-based behavior problems, autism-spectrum pathology, early childhood mental health, attachment, trauma, complex trauma and child abuse – then Private Practice.

Work Experience on my vitae is then followed by a section for additional training I’ve received following my doctorate degree, primarily in Early Childhood Mental Health. Not training I’ve given, training I’ve received – my knowledge and the source of my knowledge.

I know two additional diagnostic systems beyond the DSM-5 and ICD-10, I know two early childhood attachment therapies (Wait, Watch, and Wonder; Circle of Security), and I have Certification training (not a “Certificate of Appreciation” – Certification training) in Infant Mental Health from Phillips Graduate Institute.

My professional Publications are listed next, followed by my Presentations separated into topic area; court-involved family conflict, early childhood mental health, and Internet psychology.

A professional vitae presents what the professional knows.

Dr. Sullivan’s Honors

Dr. Sullivan’s vitae indicates a lack of preparation in his Education.  He was a Biology major, not a Psychology major, so his pursuit of a Psychology career was his second choice when his initial goal for a Biology major was unsuccessful, and his vitae evidences no other training or placement work experience in Psychology other than his graduate coursework (he does not report on the location for his pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training for licensure hours).

A vitae’s purpose is to present what Dr. Sullivan knows.  His second presentation is of his “Honors” which prove to be four entirely empty and vacuous entries without substance of any kind.

I do not see any merit or professional substance to any of the Honors listed by Dr. Sullivan to his supposed credit, and his vitae is highly suspect for “padding” of his importance that is otherwise insubstantial.


That is another slightly odd twist to the vitae of Dr. Sullivan, normally this is called Experience or Work Experience – I call mine, Employment History – “Positions” is a slightly odd choice of terms for this domain on a professional vitae.

This will be his vitae domain of substance – his Work Experience.  This is the domain of this vitae that will reveal his professional domains of competence.  What is his professional background and training in attachment pathology?  Where did he receive his background and training in family systems therapy, in personality disorders, in complex trauma?

All of this will be reflected in his Work Experience.  What types of pathology has he worked with?  Has he worked with school-based oppositional-defiant children?  With juvenile justice and probation children? With trauma and child abuse children?

His work experience will also reveal where he had his additional training in family systems therapy and in attachment pathology, or his absence of training and background in family systems therapy and attachment pathology – knowledge or ignorance in domains of pathology will be revealed in the Work Experience section of the vitae.

Note, for example, on my vitae I have no Work Experience wth eating disorders or substance abuse treatment.  Those domains are beyond the boundaries of my competence.  Note also, that I have no Work Experience with PTSD in combat veterans, so despite all my knowledge and background in childhood trauma and complex trauma, treating combat veterans for PTSD is beyond my current boundaries of competence (unless I received additional training and consultation support).

A doctoral degree is just a couple of years of coursework covering a lot of areas in a broad pass, and the coverage of Clinical psychology in the coursework is limited, especially in the complexity of differing schools of psychotherapy, and especially when the additional areas of Research and Community psychology are also added to the courseload to be studied in only a couple of years of classes.

Plus that’s just classes, where did Dr. Sullivan learn the application of knowledge?  What is the breadth of training and professional background for Dr. Sullivan?  This will be evidenced in his Work Experience section:

Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice​ – Providing general psychological services to Children, Couples and Families, specializing in Child and Family Forensic Psychology 1990-present

That is it.

That is the entirety of Dr. Sullivan’s professional background training, knowledge, and experience.  He has been a private practice forensic psychologist for the past thirty years.

Notice Dr. Sullivan began his career in Private Practice and has done nothing else, while I ended my career in Private Practice after a multiple variety of professional work experience.

The remainder of Dr. Sullivan’s “Positions” are Appointed positions to various advisory boards, no active assessment, diagnosis, or treatment with any population of pathology. It becomes clear now why he titled this section Positions instead of Work Experience. He has no Work Experience, only the one entry.

When his vitae is correctly re-ordered and re-organized along proper professional lines it becomes:

A.B. Human Biology (1978) Stanford University, Stanford, California
Ph.D. Clinical/Community Psychology (1985) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Work Experience:
Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice​ – Providing general psychological services to Children, Couples and Families, specializing in Child and Family Forensic Psychology 1990-present

That’s it.  That is the entirety of Dr. Sullivan’s professional vitae.  The rest is his pontification of his opinions in various formats, his opinion in writing (Publication) and his opinion in words (Presentations) but his entire opinion is based on his Education and Work Experience – his knowledge base.

And that’s it.  Dr. Sullivan’s vitae is many pages long, but it is only two entries of substance, the rest is padding.

Not a single article is any actual research, all of them are merely pontificating opinion pieces not grounded in any established domain of professional psychology (attachment, family systems therapy, complex trauma and personality disorders, or child development research).  All of his professional opinions are based entirely on his Education and Work Experience – and that’s it – those two entries are the entirety of Dr. Sullivan’s vitae.

He graduated with his Ph.D. in ’85, he did a year of pre-doc and a year of post-doc that he doesn’t list, that’s to 1988 maybe, he lists private practice since 1990 – that is all he has ever done – the only thing Dr. Sullivan has ever done are these child custody evaluations of forensic psychology – $20,000 to $40,000 and six- to nine-months to complete – that and perhaps “reunification therapy” (there is no such thing).

He has no background experience with:

  • Attachment pathology
  • Family systems therapy
  • Personality disorders
  • Complex trauma
  • Child development research

Nothing.  Dr. Sullivan has no professional background training or education in any of those domains – despite his court-involved work with attachment pathology – family conflict – personality disorder pathology – complex trauma – and child development.

Yet he has no background professional training or knowledge in any of those areas of professional psychology.  That is a problem.  That means for the past 30 years, Dr. Sullivan has apparently not had the professional knowledge needed for the task he was undertaking.

That is not good.  Standard 2.01 Boundaries of Competence becomes relevant.  I’m not seeing from those two entries on his vitae, Education and Work Experience, that Dr. Sullivan has the professional background, education, and experience to be working with attachment pathology, or family conflict, or even children.

He is a solo practitioner – private practice – his entire career, no oversight, no supervision, no training in any form of pathology, not attachment pathology, not complex trauma, not personality disorders, nothing – just child custody evaluations. Probably a lot of those.

Apparently conducting child custody evaluations and doing some form of treatment (currently from a non-specified approach) with court-involved family conflict is the only thing Dr. Sullivan has done.  It is unclear what treatment approaches and models Dr. Sullivan has been trained in (and where), and it does not appear that Dr. Sullivan possesses any domain of professional competence beyond his limited custody evaluation domain of “forensic” psychology.

If accurate, that would be troubling.

To NOT possess professional background training and experience in attachment pathology when assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment pathology would be deeply troubling.

To NOT possess professional background training and experience in family systems therapy when assessing, diagnosing, and treating the complexity of family conflict would be deeply troubling.

To NOT possess professional background training and experience in personality disorder pathology and complex trauma when assessing, diagnosing, and treating personality disorder pathology and complex trauma would similarly be deeply troubling.

To NOT possess background training and experience in child development when assessing, diagnosing, and treating issues of child development would be immensely troubling.

And the additional question emerges, in thirty years of professional practice, why didn’t Dr. Sullivan ever even try to obtain any of this knowledge?  Is it mere laziness?  Does he think this knowledge from professional psychology isn’t relevant to the pathology he’s treating that he doesn’t even need to know the knowledge?

Does he believe that he doesn’t need to know family systems therapy to assess, diagnose, and treat family conflict?  That understanding Minuchin and Bowen is not relevant?

Does he believe that he doesn’t need to know about the attachment system when assessing, diagnosing, and treating the worst attachment pathology possible, a complete breach to the parent-child attachment bond?

Does he believe that he does not need to know and apply the knowledge domains from personality disorder pathology when assessing, diagnosing, and treating the impact of parental personality disorder pathology in the family?

Does he believe that he does not need to know the research on child development when assessing, diagnosing, and treating problems in child development?

Or is he just lazy and slothful through 30 years of professional practice, to never have bothered to learn and apply any of this information from professional psychology?

I’ll allow Dr. Sullivan to provide his reasoning regarding his apparent professional sloth.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information

  • Is Dr. Sullivan ignorant about attachment pathology?  Apparently from his vitae, he is.
  • Is Dr. Sullivan ignorant about family systems therapy?  Apparently from his vitae, he is.
  • Is Dr. Sullivan ignorant about complex trauma and personality disorder pathology?  Apparently from his vitae, he is.
  • Is Dr. Sullivan ignorant about child development research?  Apparently from his vitae, he is.

His vitae indicates an absence of knowledge in all of these domains of professional psychology – i.e., he is ignorant about many things that he should know in order to work with children and family conflict.

Boundaries of Competence

At this point, the issue of relevance becomes Dr. Sullivan’s compliance with Standards 2.01, 2.03, and 2.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association regarding Boundaries of Competence and the application of professional knowledge.

It is not evident from Dr. Sullivan’s offered vitae that he possesses the necessary professional competence to work with attachment pathology, family conflict pathology, personality disorder pathology and complex trauma, and it does not appear that he has  proper educational background and training in domains of child development necessary for working with children.

All I am seeing is a doctorate degree from 35 years ago, and then a solo private practice ever since.  That is it in its entirety, Dr. Sullivan’s professional substance, that sentence.

That is the entirety of Dr. Sullivan’s professional vitae; two entries.

A.B. Human Biology (1978) Stanford University, Stanford, California
Ph.D. Clinical/Community Psychology (1985) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Work Experience:
Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice​ – Providing general psychological services to Children, Couples and Families, specializing in Child and Family Forensic Psychology 1990-present

The remainder is of no substance.  Let’s continue.

Appointment to Task Forces, ​Commissioned by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts on practice guidelines for Parenting Coordinators and Special Masters, June 2001, reappointment, September, 2003, Re-appointed, 2017.

The remainder of his “Positions” are merely “Appointments” to various advisory task-forces, none of which involves any actual assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of pathology.

Dr. Sullivan is apparently active in the AFCC constructing the “parenting coordinator” system within the family courts.  By contrast, in clinical psychology there is no role other than a clinical psychologist.  We don’t need an additional role other than a clinical psychologist.  Apparently, in forensic psychology they construct new roles, and Dr. Sullivan is a participant in that role construction.

Why do we need “parenting coordinators”?  Why not just a family therapist?  Why do they need a new role?

Yet, his “Appointment” to an AFCC commissioned “task force” to develop the role of “parenting coordinators” in the family courts does not actually involve the assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of any child or family pathology.  Being on a “task force” is little more than pontificating opinions in a group of like-minded individuals.

Dr. Sullivan’s vitae appears to be a lot of emptiness without much actual substance.  “Appointment” to a “task force” is not Work Experience.  It begins to become evident why this section is called Positions and not Work Experience.

Appointment​ to represent the American Psychological Association (APA) to the APA/American Bar Association Collaborative Working Group on Psychological and Legal Interventions with Parents, Children and Families, January, 2007.

Again, an “Appointment” to a “working group” is not Work Experience.  Dr. Sullivan is apparently involved with the AFCC and their hierarchies of professional standing.  His involvement with the AFCC appears to extend into an advisory involvement with the APA.

Appointment to Co-Chair​ the Task Force commissioned by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts on the Professional Practice guidelines for court-involved therapists, June, 2008

Again, another “Appointment” to a “Position,” not actual work experience with any type of child or family pathology- “commissioned” by the AFCC.

Beyond his private practice as a “forensic” psychologist – he has no other actual work experience with children or families.  Apparently he is prominently involved in the AFCC professional circles, with extensions into a variety of “task forces” and “working groups” over the past 30 years (of providing no solution whatsoever within the family courts for these families).

So if I understand correctly, apparently Dr. Sullivan is lauding his active and involved consultation and advisory influence through 30 years of seemingly abject failure to solve anything in the family courts.  An interesting assertion of “qualifications,” to assert when everything is broken that, “I served on the advisory working groups that created this professional court-involved mess.”


Just so everyone is aware, I’m calling Scoreboard on Dr. Sullivan’s vitae, 30 years of abject failure is not a recommendation. Among sports fans, an end to all circular debate on woulda-coulda-shoulda is “Scoreboard,” who won and who lost.

Is everything all-wonderful in court-involved family conflict?  No, it is a complete mess.  Dr. Sullivan has had 30 years of alleged influence in shaping exactly this current complete failure of professional psychology to solve anything in the family courts.  Thirty years, complete failure, and Dr. Sullivan is holding this failure to his supposed credit.

I would see it a little differently than Dr. Sullivan.  I don’t think it’s to his credit that he’s been an abject failure for 30 years.  I’ll allow him to argue that the current mental health system in court involved pathology is successful for families and children in restoring normal-range and healthy childhoods to the children.

Dr. Sullivan is admitting his advisory involvement in a system that has been an abject failure – and his ONLY professional involvement for the past 30 years has been this court-involved family conflict pathology.  That’s all he’s done, and it’s been a complete failure to solve anything for the child, for the family, or for the courts.

So… how’s it going, Dr. Sullivan?  Do you have it all solved yet, in 30 years, Dr. Sullivan? How much more time are you estimating you’ll need until things are entirely solved for these children and families in the courts?  Another 30 years?

Because if it’s not solved in the 30 years of your advisory guidance… then maybe we should consult someone else for guidance.  Thirty years of abject failure is not a professional qualification.

Consultant​American Psychological Association Parenting Coordination Program in Washington, D.C. 2008-2011

Of note is Dr. Sullivan’s self-acknowledgement of his extension and influence into the APA in an advisory capacity.  The ethical standards of practices in forensic psychology need OUTSIDE review – they should NOT be allowed to self-review.

It appears that generally, Dr. Sullivan is presenting himself as an active Consultant and advisor to the policies of the family courts throughout the decade of the 2000s, and I would assume through the decade of the 2010s as well.

The current system within forensic psychology and the family courts is apparently of his construction, which he appears to hold to his credit, the current forensic psychology approach to child and family conflict and attachment bonding pathology – he apparently thinks the system is working well and he’s taking credit for it.

I don’t agree at all.  It is an absolute mess.   And yet he’s proudly reporting his advisory role in creating what we currently have… a complete mess.

Appointment​ to Task Force commissioned by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) to develop ethical and training guidelines for the practice of Eldercare Coordination, 2013-2015

Another “Appointment,” another task force, this during this past decade.  Dr. Sullivan appears to present himself as influential in shaping policy (“eldercare”? He has geriatric background somewhere?).

Founder/Owner: California Coparenting Clinic​ – a clinic providing low-cost co-parenting services to clients and training to professionals, 2014-2016

This seems to be basically re-stating his private practice, offering a slight extension into some sort of “low-cost” clinic that apparently failed (2014-2016).  A failed effort to establish a personal clinic (Owner) also seems a dubious professional “qualification.”

Associate Member: ​ American Psychological Association Ethics Committee, 2017-2019

That’s interesting. Dr. Sullivan was on the APA Ethics Committee that received the Petition to the APA signed by 20,000 parents seeking examination of professional ethical standards of practice in forensic psychology.

What has been the response of the APA Ethics Committee to the Petition to the APA signed by over 20,000 parents seeking review of the ethical practices in forensic psychology?  Silence – two years – absolute silence.

Perhaps we should ask Dr. Sullivan for a response, since he was on the APA Ethics Committee that received the Petition to the APA.

Also of note is that the Petition to the APA was also delegated to a “Working Group” headed by Dr. Deutsch, a forensic psychologist professional colleague of Dr. Sullivan (Dr. Deutsch: Working Group).  What has been the response of the “Working Group” to the Petition to the APA signed by 20,000 parents?  Silence – two years – absolute silence.

APA: Collusion with Child Abuse

Since Dr. Sullivan is so clearly concerned about ethical issues, I’m confident he’ll respond to the many ethical concerns surrounding the practices of child custody evaluations and forensic psychology: Dr. Sullivan & the AFCC.

But Dr. Sullivan’s participation on another “working group” or “task force” is not actual clinical experience, no assessment, no diagnosis, no treatment of anything.

That’s it.  That is the professional knowledge, training, and background professional experience of Dr. Sullivan.  He obtained a doctorate degree in 1985, he entered private practice as a forensic psychologist in 1990, has been doing only that for thirty years, and he proposes that he has been influential in developing and is responsible for the current mental health response to court-involved family conflict.

Is there any evidence of background professional knowledge, training, or experience with attachment pathology in children?  No.

Is there any evidence of background professional knowledge, training, or experience with family systems therapy?  No.

Is there any evidence of background professional knowledge, training, or experience with personality disorder pathology, complex trauma, and delusional disorders?  No.

Is there any evidence of background professional knowledge in child development?  No.

  • Attachment: Bowlby, Ainsworth, Sroufe, Fonagy
  • Family Systems Therapy: Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes, Haley, Satir
  • Personality Disorders & Complex Trauma: Beck, Kernberg, Millon, Linehan, van der Kolk
  • Child Development: Tronick, Stern, Shore, Kohut

There is no evidence of any background in any area of pathology.  Dr. Sullivan appears to have worked solely with court-involved family conflict for the past 30 years.

I wonder what his success rate is?  How often does his involvement resolve things?  In 30 years, surely he has Outcome Measures – a treatment plan – Goals, Interventions, Outcome Measures, Time-Frames.  Surely in 30 years of practice, Dr. Sullivan has collected Outcome Measures.

In thirty years of practice I’m confident he has those numbers, although, curiously, he’s never reported on his success rate in treatment, or with his “custody evaluations.”  In what percentage of family conflicts does his involvement resolve the matter successfully for the child and family?  I wonder what Outcome Measures he uses?

Dr. Sullivan next turns with his vitae to his teaching positions.

Faculty Appointments:

Lecturer/Assistant Professor​ – Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, 1991-1998

Clinical Instructor ​- Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1992-1998

Dr. Sullivan did some minor teaching twenty years ago, in the decade when he first got going, but nothing since 2000, this domain is insubstantial.

Pacific Graduate institute is a lower-tier professional school (not a Psychology program located in an established University), and “Lecturer” and “Assistant Professor” is a low-level position.

Stanford is a higher-order University, but the position of a “Clinical Instructor” is of dubious role – not Professor, not Assistant Professor, not Lecturer – a “Clinical Instructor,” I’d want further clarification if it was relevant, but from 20 years ago, neither of his teaching positions are relevant experience.

Professional Licenses:

Dr. Sullivan is apparently a licensed psychologist in California, and had a brief licensure period in Vermont.

Licensed Psychologist​, April 1987 – Present
California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, License Number: PSY10214
Vermont Board of Psychology, 2014-2016 # 048.0101834

Professional Organizations:

Nothing of note.  Dr. Sullivan belongs to the APA and AFCC.  The vitae at this point is devolved to nothingness.

Member: American Psychological Association; Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Editorial Boards:

Dr. Sullivan also indicates his prominence and influence during the decade of the 2000s in guiding child custody policy for the family courts during that period.

Editor​: Journal of Child Custody, 2003-2013

Apparently, Dr. Sullivan views the child custody situation during that period speaks to his favor, I’m not confident of that.  Being an influential figure in failure is not to one’s credit, it will be to Dr. Sullivan to defend how the policies of child custody from 2003-2013 are to his credit in influence and guidance, resulting in a successful family court approach to sustained and highly litigated family conflict during that period.

Acknowledging one’s role in creating failure is typically not seen as a professional qualification to one’s credit.  I’ll allow Dr. Sullivan to argue the success of forensic psychology and the family courts over the past two decades of his active involvement and advisory guidance.

Organizational Boards:

Dr. Sullivan cites active participation in the AFCC during this past decade, serving on several boards in a variety of capacities.  Of note is that none of this involves the actual assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of any pathology.

Dr. Sullivan presents as being active in the AFCC, which he apparently deems to his credit.  As a court-involved clinical psychologist, I have many-many ethical concerns surrounding the practice of forensic psychology and the AFCC, so I look forward to hearing a response from such as forensically well-positioned source as Dr. Sullivan to my concerns: Dr Sullivan & the AFCC; Standard 9.01 Assessment

Director: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts International Board of Directors, appointed 2009; Conference chair, 2013 to present, Treasurer, 2014-16; Secretary, 2016, Vice President, 2017, Executive Committee, 2014 to present.

Director: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, California Chapter Board of Directors, 2012-2016

Founder, President Overcoming Barriers, a non-profit organization providing  innovative ​programs for high-conflict post-divorce families, 2007-present. 2012-2014 ​​.

Two things are troubling about the Overcoming Barriers entry even before we reach an examination of what the Overcoming Barriers program is…

1.) Sloppy Professional Work

Note his original posted vitae – the word President is out of place and I needed to clean it up for the sake of proper coherence.  Note also a confusing set of dates reported, one from 2007 to present and one from 2012-2014 without clear referent to meaning of either.

If the treatment “program” was initiated in 2007, then the current claim on his vitae that a program from 2007 is “innovative” is bizarre.  After 13 years, a program is no longer “innovative,” and substantial Outcome Research is anticipated documenting its success.

Dorcy Pruter has single-case ABA data on the effectiveness of the High Road workshop, and she’s not a psychologist.  She’s a businesswoman and family coach.  I would expect licensed psychologists with 30 years of professional experience to at least meet the standard of professional work (outcome measures) set by a businesswoman and family coach, and expected from a psychologist as standard of practice.

I have not yet reviewed the “outcome data” for the Overcoming Barriers program, but I am less than optimistic based on my initial approach and understanding for the scope and nature of the reported data.

For a program as proposed by Overcoming Barriers, it would be anticipated to have outcome data within two years showing efficacy… in thirteen years… there should be substantial data demonstrating treatment success rates and contributing factors.  I will review the Overcoming Barriers program separately.

With regard to Dr. Sullivan’s professional vitae, incoherence on one’s professional vitae presented publicly through your professional website is simply sloppy professional attention and it does not reflect well on Dr. Sullivan’s standards of practice; he’s sloppy and inattentive (and potentially lazy and slothful in his acquisition of knowledge and study).  A professional vitae is a representation of the professional, and it is notable when it contain episodes of incoherence and sloppy work.  That is a reflection on the professional practices of its owner.

2.) “Innovative” is a troubling adjective for Dr. Sullivan to use.  The necessary and typical adjective use is “successful” – a successful intervention.  The substitution of the term “innovative” is of professional concern.  Innovative is not a good thing – professional practice is grounded in the established knowledge of professional psychology.  An “innovative” failure is not a good thing – it is not described as “innovative,” it’s described as a failure.  There are many-many innovative new ways to fail.  It’s not the innovative part that’s important, it’s the success or failure part.

If Dr. Sullivan’s Overcoming Barriers program has been available throughout this past decade, from 2007 until present, then I would imagine there is substantial evidence by now that it is not only “innovative” (since 2007?  How is something from 2007 “innovative”?) but also “successful.”

I will be examining the Overcoming Barriers program separately so I will reserve observations on this program pending a more complete review of the outcome data from the past 13 years of reported operation (2007 to present).


The next area are his Books and Articles, we are nearing the end of the vitae presentation when we reach the books and publications sections. This is an entirely fluff and no-substance area on the vitae… EXCEPT… for a Research vitae.  For a university research vitae like Dr. Nuechterlein, Dr. Swanson, or Dr. van der Kolk, the Publications section is the full strength of the vitae, with Work Experience in the second role.

Publications are relevant to research, if it’s not research, it’s an opinion, that’s it.

In a non-research vitae, if the rest of the vitae supports the presence of acquired knowledge, then the titles of the Publications will indicate the scope and degree of professional knowledge and interests, but for a non-research vitae that’s the extent of the value for Publications if they are not research articles .

Dr. Sullivan lists one co-authored book from 2015 regarding parenting skills recommendations (he was third author), a list of Book Chapters, and then a host of opinion-piece articles from over the years, but no actual research.

Which is somewhat odd.  In thirty years of active involvement with the pathology, including over a decade for some form of treatment intervention, yet Dr. Sullivan has not generated a single research study in all that time?

Again, by comparison, Dorcy Pruter, a businesswoman and family coach, not a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. degree, has generated single-case ABA data of her workshop’s successful recovery of a child from three years of documented child abuse.  In 30 years of practice in forensic psychology, Dr. Sullivan does not appear to have reached the level of professional practice (outcome measures and program evaluation research) adopted by Dorcy Pruter.

That speaks to the professional practices of each.

He concludes with a lot of presentations he’s given, and notable by absence are the seminars and trainings he’s received.  Dr, Sullivan lists the many times he’s presented his opinions to others, but he does not indicate what additional training he has received.

Given Dr. Sullivan’s minimal preparation in Psychology as an undergraduate before beginning his divided-scope doctoral degree program, followed by exclusively solo Private Practice, the absence of any substantial additional training of substance is not reassuring regarding the basis for his professional knowledge regarding established domains of professional psychology; attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, child development.

Google ignorance: the lack of knowledge or information

Based on the absence of evidence for any domain of professional knowledge (besides “forensic” psychology) from his professional vitae, the question becomes the scope of Dr. Sullivan’s ignorance (i.e., lack of knowledge or information).  Is he ignorant about attachment pathology?  Is he ignorant about family systems therapy?  Is he ignorant about personality disorder pathology?  Is he ignorant about complex trauma, delusional thought disorder pathology, and child psychological abuse?  Is he ignorant about child development research?

The remaining question based on Dr. Sullivan’s vitae is what is the scope of his apparent ignorance (lack of knowledge or information)?

In summary, all Dr. Sullivan’s publications and presentations are entirely opinion pieces, apparently applying forensic psychology constructs but no established knowledge from any domain of established professional psychology – no attachment constructs, no family systems therapy constructs, no knowledge or constructs from complex trauma or personality disorders, and no applied knowledge from child development research.

A word search for relevant terms from established psychology in his Publications produced the following results:

  • Attachment: 0
  • Family systems therapy: 0
  • Cross-generational coalition: 0
  • Emotional cutoff: 0
  • Differentiation of self: 0
  • Personality disorder: 0
  • Narcissistic: 0
  • Borderline: 0
  • Splitting: 0
  • Complex trauma: 0
  • Breach-and-repair: 0
  • Cognitive dissonance: 0
  • Transference: 0
  • Trans-generational trauma: 0
  • Persecutory delusion: 0
  • Mental Status Exam: 0
  • Thought disorder: 0
  • Self-object functions: 0
  • Emotional regulation: 0
  • Role-reversal: 0
  • Intersubjectivity: 0
  • Regulatory object: 0
  • Child Psychological Abuse: 0

In 30 years of writing about court-involved family conflict – not once did Dr. Sullivan apply any of those established constructs in his opinion-analyses of the court-involved family conflict pathology.

Based on his vitae, pehaps it is because he doesn’t know any of those constructs.

This would appear to violate Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgements:

2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline. (See also Standards 2.01e, Boundaries of Competence, and 10.01b, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

The established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline is Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), Tronick (child development), and Kohut (self psychology).

In 30 years of writing about court-involved family conflict, Dr. Sullivan apparently did not apply any area of professional knowledge even a single time… in 30 years.

I will not append the five pages of opinion-piece articles, book chapters, and presentations provided on Dr. Sullivan’s vitae and will instead refer the reader to the source material available from his website.

Professional Analysis

Dr. Sullivan’s vitae presents an unfocused Ph.D. doctorate and immediate private practice with no evidence of training in any form of psychotherapy, in child development, or in child pathology and family therapy.  The substance of Dr. Sullivan’s vitae is entirely contained in two entries:

A.B. Human Biology (1978) Stanford University, Stanford, California
Ph.D. Clinical/Community Psychology (1985) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Work Experience:
Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice​ – Providing general psychological services to Children, Couples and Families, specializing in Child and Family Forensic Psychology 1990-present

Dr. Sullivan’s undergraduate degree was in Biology, so the only Psychology courses he has ever taken were limited to his doctoral program, and these courses were divided between Research methodology, Community psychology, and Clinical psychology.  He seemingly has only the minimal level of training needed for a doctoral degree.  Dr. Sullivan does not provide an indication of his pre-doctoral or post-doctoral training sites.

Upon licensure, Dr. Sullivan immediately entered private practice and then forensic psychology and that has apparently been his sole domain of experience for the past 30 years.  He has not worked with any other child or family pathology – not trauma – not attachment – not oppositional-defiant pathology in the schools, not juvenile justice, not autism-spectrum or ADHD.

Private practice in forensic court-involved family conflict for the past 30 years.  That appears to be the extent of Dr. Sullivan’s professional experience.

He also asserts prominence in his advisory role in developing the mental health policies within forensic psychology that represent the current mental health approach.  As to whether this is to his credit or detriment depends on one’s assessment of the current situation in the family courts.

If things are solved and functioning well, then Dr. Sullivan’s advisory guidance is to his credit – and – if things are not solved and are not functioning well after 30 years of his active advisory guidance – then a different approach is needed toward a soution… 30 years, no solution – Scoreboard, we need to develop a different approach to solution than the one advocated by Dr. Sullivan for the past 30 years that leads to this current situation of no solution.

I have deep reservations about the ethical standards of practice for child custody evaluations, it is a deeply flawed approach that violates multiple standards of ethical practice, including a foundational Principle of ethical practice; Justice – equal access and equal quality.

I have noted my prominent ethical concerns elsewhere (Dr. Sullivan & the AFCC) and I still await any response from Dr. Sullivan, the AFCC, and the APA.  Dr. Sullivan indicates he was recently a two-year Associate Member of the APA Ethics Committee and he is the President of the AFCC, so I’m confident that Dr. Sullivan will address the ethical concerns surrounding the practices of forensic psychology and child custody evaluations.

Associate Member: ​ American Psychological Association Ethics Committee, 2017-2019

Wait.  When was the Petition to the APA submitted?  2018.  I was told by the APA representative we delivered it to that she would additionally submit it to the APA Ethics Committee.  The Petition to the APA, signed by over 20,000 parents raising ethical concerns about forensic psychology was given to the Ethics Committee with Dr. Sullivan as an Associate Member.  Interesting.

What has been the response in two years from the APA Ethics Committee to the Petition to the APA signed by over 20,000 parents?  Silence.

There needs to be independent review of the professional practices in forensic psychology.  I am awaiting reply to my professional ethical concerns, raised pursuant to Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code.

There needs to be outside review of the ethical standards of practice in forensic psychology.


I do not see from his vitae that Dr. Sullivan has the necessary professional knowledge in attachment pathology, family systems therapy, complex trauma, personality disorder pathology, delusional disorders, or child development necessary for competent professional practice with attachment pathology, with complex and high-intensity family conflict pathology, with personality disorder and delusional pathology, or with children.

It is also unclear what training he has had in psychotherapy beyond his doctoral coursework.  It is currently unclear what treatment orientation he applies, psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic-existential, family systems, or social constructionist.  It is nowhere evident from his vitae that he received any training in any of these established forms of psychotherapy.

The apparent absence of training or application from any established school of professional psychology makes the assertion by Dr. Sullivan of an “innovative approach” to treatment in his Overcoming Barriers program all the more troubling, since it is not yet clear that Dr. Sullivan understands and applies any established approach to psychotherapy yet.

In professional psychology, we start with established approaches to psychotherapy – psychoanalytic (Kohut; self psychology; Kernberg, Bowlby, Stern, Tronick) – humanistic/existential (Rogers, Yalom, Perls, Maslow, Satir, Oaklander) – cognitve-behavioral (Skinner, learning theory, Applied Behavioral Analysis, Functional Behavioral Analysis, Beck, Linehan) – family systems (Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes, Haley) – social construction (solution-focused, narrative, cultural, feminist).

First, apply knowledge, apply standard and established approaches to case conceptualization and treatment.  Then, if the established approaches don’t work (they will work) – then, an “innovative” approach can be tried under data-collection circumstances of “novel” treatments.

Apply knowledge first.  Always.  For family conflict, family systems therapy (Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes, Haley) is the appropriate treatment model to apply.  Do that first.  Then, if family systems therapy is not effective and an “innovative” treatment is needed, develop it and collect data on its efficacy relative to standard family systems therapy.

The only entry for Work Experience on the vitae of Dr. Sullivan is 30 years of Private Practice.  All the other material in his vitae is not-of-substance, fluff and filler to make his vitae appear larger than just the two entries of substance.

A.B. Human Biology (1978) Stanford University, Stanford, California
Ph.D. Clinical/Community Psychology (1985) University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Work Experience:
Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice​ – Providing general psychological services to Children, Couples and Families, specializing in Child and Family Forensic Psychology 1990-present

I am not convinced that Dr. Sullivan possesses the necessary professional competence and knowledge in the necessary domains of professional psychology needed for the treatment of my client, and I will be recommending against the referral of my client to his care and treatment.

If treatment is extended to Dr. Sullivan despite my recommendation, then I will recommend a written treatment plan with the following components to ensure adequate professional treatment is provided:

Case Conceptualization Diagnosis: Preferably drawn from family systems therapy, solution-focused therapy, schema therapy, and emotion-focused therapy;

Categorical Diagnoses: Both a DSM-5 diagnosis and an ICD-10 diagnosis;

Goals: Specified with measurable outcomes and time-frames for Goal accomplishment;

Interventions: Specified Interventions for each Goal; with consideration given to Interventions drawn from family systems therapy, schema therapy, emotion-focused therapy, solution-focused therapy, self psychology, DBT, attachment and child development research;

Outcome Measures: To identify benchmark progress, and Goal accomplishment;

Time-Frames: Specified for benchmark and Goal accomplishment,

Consultation Support: I’d recommend the consultation support of Dorcy Pruter with the treatment team, relative to complex trauma recovery from psychological child abuse in children and families.

However, a referral to Dr. Sullivan for the treatment of attachment pathology and delusional trauma pathology is not warranted by the professional background evidenced for Dr. Sullivan that lacks both evidenced knowledge and experience with attachment pathology, complex trauma, and delusional pathology in a parent-child bond.

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

Kohut: Self Psychology

I have opened five grand-high Kahunas of professional psychology,

  1.  John Bowlby: attachment
  2.  Savador Minuchin: family systems therapy
  3.  Aaron Beck: CBT & personality disorders
  4.  Bessel van der Kolk: complex trauma
  5.  Edward Tronick: child development

I am now going to open a sixth, Heinz Kohut: Psychoanalytic school; Self Psychology, Object Relations.

Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology: An Overview

As the article notes, Kohut was twice named by peer nomination and accolade to the list of prominent accomplishment in the field .

Heinz Kohut is a psychoanalyst.  The psychoanalytic school is one of the four primary schools of psychotherapy

  • Psychoanalytic
  • Humanistic-Existential
  • Cognitive-Behavioral
  • Family Systems

The psychoanalytic school was formed and grounded by Freud, extended in different directions by Klien, Mahler, Erikson, Jung, and others, through personality disorders and Kernberg, and object relations to Winnicott and Bowlby.

And then into Kohut.  Heinz Kohut is the current state of the psychoanalytic school; Kohut, elaborated by Stolorow, extended into Bowlby, Stern and Tronick.  This is the current psychoanalytic school, and this is the sixth grand-high Kahuna of professional psychology I am calling.

Heinz Kohut.  Self Psychology; Object Relations.

Key Constructs?

  • Modulated “optimal frustration”
  • Self-objects
  • Transference relationships
  • Transmuting internalizations
  • Parental failure of empathy

I’ve known Kohut all along.  Forensic psychology is dumb as a rock.  I wanted to lay foundation – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck – then context – van der Kolk, Tronick .

Only once we are free of the pathogen, will I reach Heinz Kohut and Self Psychology.

The parents are free now, they have Minuchin, the ICD-10, and the APA ethics code.  They have surrounding support in attachment, complex trauma, and the breach-and-repair sequence.

They have the assessment protocol (Assessment of Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce), and they have alternative options (ABAB Single-Case Assessment and Remedy; the Contingent Visitation Schedule).

Parents have the Escher Paradox of the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting to identify allies of the pathogen, they have the Parenting Practices Rating Scale to document their parenting and protect themselves from false allegations.  Everyone has the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale as the outcome measure for the pathology.

If there is any concern about the child’s recovery, Dorcy Pruter is available and recommended; Conscious Co-Parenting Institute.

Everyone has everything they need.  It’s just a matter of do you want a solution or not?  If you want to argue and fight, and fight, and fight, you will. When you want a solution… do it.

I am free now of my obligations.

Now, we’ve reached Heinz Kohut: Self Psychology; Object Relations

  • John Bowly is attachment
  • Aaron Beck is CBT
  • B.F. Sinner is behavioral psychology
  • Salvador Minuchin is family systems therapy
  • Heinz Kohut is psychoanalysis

The top-tier of grand-high Kahunas in the pantheon of professional psychology, sculpt a mountain.

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

Dr. Childress Vitae

I will be examining the vitaes of the professionals surrounding court-involved family conflict and attachment pathology.  I will begin with my own.

I am entering a period of court testimony.  It is the obligation of the court to evaluate my credibility.  In some cases, I may be testifying in opposition to other asserted “experts” both in forensic psychology (such as the “child custody evaluator” or “reunification therapist” – there is no such thing) or a Gardernian PAS experts, such as Dr. Bernet, Ms. Woodall, Ms. Baker, Ms. Gottlieb, or Dr. Lorandos.

In many cases, our opinions and our testimony will disagree.  The courts will need to make a determination of our respective credibility when our opinions disagree.  Credibility is grounded in vitae, in one’s professional education, training, and experience – this is represented on the professional vitae.

Most non-psychologists cannot read a professional psychology vitae for its substance, areas of fluff and insubstantial entries can be misinterpreted as having more value than they actually convey.  In addition, the background training, education, and experience with specific pathologies speaks to the Boundaries of Competence of the mental health professional (Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code), which bears again directly on credibility in opinions formed and offered about a specific type of pathology.

The final area of concern addressed by this review of professional vitaes is potential exploitation of a vulnerable population, parents in court-involved child custody conflicts who are in desperate need of professional diagnosis and treatment.  Self-asserted “expertise” by charlatans and frauds preys on this vulnerable population, it is time to review asserted professional “expertise” for accuracy and truthfulness.

In my peer-review of professional vitaes I am also open myself to this same peer-review from my colleagues.  I welcome and invite this peer-review of my professional background as appropriate for establishing both my credibility and my boundaries of professional competence.

I will start with a review of my professional vitae. This will stand as both my offer of professional credibility in my professional opinions and will serve as comparison when I review the professional vitaes of my colleagues.

This is my vitae review for myself, Dr. Childress.

Structure of My Vitae Presentation

I organized my professional vitae into four main domains, and I will discuss each area in turn;

1.)  Entry Orientation Page

2.)  Work Experience

3.)  Training Received

4.)  Training Provided

Of first note is that my doctoral degree is a Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) not a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy).  I am specialized in my education and training on clinical psychology, pathology, and its diagnosis and treatment.   This has implications.

Psy.D vs. Ph.D. Vitaes

Many doctoral vitaes have a Research section, I don’t.  My doctoral degree is a Psy.D. not a Ph.D.  This means that I sacrificed the Research side of my vitae for increased education, training, and knowledge about pathology and treatment.  Instead of receiving doctoral training in research methodology and statistics as does a Ph.D doctoral student, a Psy.D. doctorate replaces the research and statistics training with additional education and training in pathology and its treatment.

This makes the Psy.D. doctorate the most advanced pathology and treatment degree possible, more advanced regarding pathology and its treatment than a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology.

A Psy.D. will never hold major university appointments because we sacrificed the research side of our vitaes, and hence any chance of university appointments, by selecting to increase our professional skills, knowledge, and expertise in clinical pathology and its treatment.  We are active treatment providers, not researchers at a university, not partially trained therapists.

This sacrifice of research for increased knowledge about pathology and its treatment that’s obtained through a Psy.D. clinical psychology doctoral program has a cascading effect into future training, a further extension of the specialized professional expertise of the Psy.D. doctoral education as more training is received.

All doctorate degrees in clinical psychology require two full years of supervised experience for licensure, one year prior to being awarded the doctoral degree (the “predoctoral internship” year) and one year of supervised experience after receiving the doctorate (the “post-doctoral” training  year).

Note:  I had two years of supervised post-doctoral training at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, an additional training year beyond that required for licensure (see dates on CHLA Post-Doctoral training).

Note:  A licensed Master’s degree therapist only has one year of supervised training total (as compared to my three years of supervised training prior to licensure). In addition to the increased years of education in a doctoral program over a Master’s program, I also have three times as much supervised training as a Master’s level clinician.

Education prepares a clinical psychologist, but it only partially teaches, which is the reason for two years of required supervised training.  The pathology teaches. The assessment of pathology teaches its features, treatment teaches the pathology’s core.  The prior education provides the information needed to benefit from the pathology’s instruction, but it is the pathology itself, not the books and classes, that teaches.

Note: Boundaries of professional competence are always based on direct work experience, not reading about it in a book or taking a course about the pathology.  In clinical psychology, direct treatment experience is the mark for Boundaries of Competence (Standard 2.01a).

When a Psy.D. enters the first predoctoral training year, the preparations in educational background and surrounding coursework for treating pathology are stronger than those of the Ph.D. student who devoted coursework to research methodoloty and statistics.  While they were being trained in research methodology and statistics, we were receiving additional education and training in pathology and its treatment – that is our specialty focus for a Psy.D. doctorate – we know more to start with, at the beginning of our direct supervised training year.

This means that the Psy.D. doctorate is better prepared and better able to take advantage of the pathology’s direct instruction regarding its features and its core, since our educational preparation for this instruction directly from the pathology is more complete and advanced relative to the education and training received by a Ph.D. doctorate.

The more advanced preparation received by the Psy.D. doctorate means that we learn more during our internship year than does the Ph.D. clinician, who is less prepared for pathology and its treatment.  So the advantage to a Psy.D. degree becomes even larger by the end of the first predoctoral internship year.

When a Psy.D. and a Ph.D. emerge from their predoctoral training year, the gap between their knowledge has widened because of the better preparation of the Psy.D. for the internship training experience.

This gulf between the knowledge and professional expertise of the Psy.D. and Ph.D. becomes even larger with the post-doctoral training year.  The improved preparation of the Psy.D., both by education and then further increased by the predoctoral internship year, now once again places this student at a more advanced position to benefit from the post-doctoral training.

Psy.D. doctorates learn more in the post-doctoral training year than Ph.D. doctorates.  We emerge substantially better educated, skilled, and trained in clinical pathology and its treatment than the Ph.D. degree. That is why we sacrifice the Research sides of our vitaes, that is why we sacrifice all hope of university appointments, and all goals for personal advancement within that domain.

Psy.D. doctorates are the best clinical psychologists, assessing, diagnosing, and treating.  We are better than Ph.D. doctorates at all three aspects of pathology.  Ph.D. doctorates are better at conducting research studies and they are able to teach at universities, and they also can treat patients reasonable well.  Psy.D. psychologist are the best clinical psychologists.

My vitae is a Psy.D. vitae, a specialist professional in pathology, its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Child Versus Adult Psychology

Another important consideration in training and on the vitae is the focus on adults or children in treatment (and families if the focus is on children).

All clinical psychologists and Master’s level therapists are first trained in adult pathology, adult diagnosis, and adult treatment models.  This is because they start their education and training knowing nothing, and children are complex and require specialized expertise.  So all education and training in clinical psychology begins with adult treatment models.

The clinical psychology doctoral student must actively seek out training opportunities with children (and families). The first place this shows on the vitae is in the selection of the predoctoral internship, was it adult-oriented or was it a child treatment internship?.  This is followed by the post-doctoral training year, was it an adult-oriented placement or child placement?

Note:  My pre-doctoral internship year and my two years of post-doctoral training were all with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles – a strong child-oriented training.

Childhood is a period of rapid maturation and development, and treating children involves a complex blend of factors,

1.) The Pathology:  The nature of the pathology is of direct influence, whether it is ADHD-spectrum, autism-spectrum, trauma-spectrum, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc., will all determine the scope of professional expertise needed for each type of pathology.

2.)  Developmental Stage:  Childhood is a period of rapid and continual maturation that is both structured by bio-social factors and is dependent upon individual variations with the child.  New brain systems open up and become available on a two-year period of maturational development (ages 2-4 toddler; 4-6 kindergarten; 6-8 early school years; 8-10 later school years; 10-12 preadolescent; 12-14 puberty; 14-16 mid-adolescence; 16-18 later adolescence).

All pathology will be influenced in its expression by both the age of the child and the unique development challenges of that specific period of development.  To work across the spectrum of childhood requires advanced expertise in all the shifting factors of maturation in association with the specific child pathology.

3.) Family Factors:  All children are deeply embedded in a family, with primary attachment bonds to mother and father, and secondary attachment bonds, to a greater or lesser degree, into extended family.  The maturation of the child’s neural networks for all psychological, emotional, and cognitive function expects experiences in the parent-child relationship (called “experience-expectant” maturation) and requires these experiences for healthy developmental maturation (called “experience-dependent” maturation).

Pathology and developmental age (the developmental challenges of that maturational period) are both further embedded into complex family relationships among multiple people, each having personal needs formed in their families of orgin.  The primary focus of family factors centers on the quality and nature of the child’s bonding and relationship to mother and father (mother-son, mother-daughter, father-son, father-daughter – each is unique – each is essential).

My background and training are entirely in child and family therapy across all age ranges, including an early childhood mental health specialty (ages 0-5), school-age years, and adolescence.

1) Entry Orientation Page


I begin my vitae by listing my Education –  A Psy.D. Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, a Master’s Degree in Community/Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UCLA.

Of note is that the Community Psychology component of my Master’s degree was instruction and training in addressing pathology by changing community structures, such as solving family conflict pathology by altering the community structures of the mental health and legal systems surrounding the family conflct pathology.

I have specific background education and training for specifically this task of changing the mental health system and legal system as a treatment intervention for family conflict pathology.  This Master’s degree training in the Community Psychology component also involved direct education and training in Organizational Development consulting (improving the functioning of organizations, such as business consultation).

California State University, Northridge
; 6/85
M.A. degree in Clinical/Community Psychology

In my doctoral program at Pepperdine I was able to focus my clinical training in psychotherapy.  There are four primary schools of psychotherapy; psychoanalytic, humanistic-existential, cognitive-behavioral, and family systems.  In the Pepperdine Psy.D. doctoral program we could select two of the four as our specialized training focus.

I selected family systems therapy and humanistic-existential therapy as my specialties.  I am trained in all theorists and all models of family systems therapy, the four primary being Structural (Minuchin), Strategic (Haley & Madanes), Bowenian (Bowen), and Humanistic (Satir).  I am also knowledgeable in Family of Origin therapy (Framo), Contextual family system therapy (Boszormenyi-Nagy), Behavioral family therapy (Wynne), and Multi-Family family therapy (Gritzer & Okun).  I’ve never been trained in the Milan approach because it requires a one-way mirror and multiple therapists  (it doesn’t seem practical).

Recent Presentations

I would normally not place my conference presentations on the first page of my vitae.  I did this because I am a testifying expert witness in the courts and these Recent Presentations establish my relevance and background related to court-involved family conflict.

For the convenience of attorneys presenting my vitae for qualification as an expert witness, I list some of my most recent presentations.  The strength of my presentations is evidenced by the most recent to the American Psychological Association and a prior presentation in 2017 to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).

The international scope of my expertise is demonstrated in a presentation in the Netherlands and an invited meeting with the Dutch Ministry of Justice, and an invited presentation by the Law Society of Saskatchewan.

I also list two legislative briefings I have provided, one to the Massachusetts legislature and one to the Pennsylvania legislature.  All of these presentations on this first entry page of my vitae are regarding court-involved family conflict pathology.

I am a Psy.D.  A Psy.D. vitae is oriented toward work experience.  It will be empty of presentations and research because that is not the focus of a Psy.D. doctorate, we sacrifice that side of our vitae for increased knowledge and training in pathology and its treatment.  Yet my vitae is still relatively strong on that side as well, even where I should be weak (research and presentation), I’m still strong.

Work Experience

This is the strength of a Psy.D. vitae.  We will review my work experience vitae from the bottom-up, tracking the progression of experience gained.

3/74 –6/78 Crisis Counselor Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center
Crisis telephone counselor and shift supervisor for Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center crisis telephone hotline. Supervisor and resource for crisis counselors.

I started my career in psychology my Freshman year at UCLA.  I have always been on the path of clinical psychology since my first steps.  My Sophomore year at UCLA I sought out my first clinical psychology placement with the Suicide Prevention Center hotline in Los Angeles.

We had a week of training by the Suicide Prevention Center in suicide and crisis counseling.  Crisis counseling is its own specialty, it’s not psychotherapy, it has a differnet focus.  I learned crisis counseling upon my first entry into clinical psychology. 

I maintained my placement at the Suicide Prevention Center throughout my undergraduate degree as a Psychology major at UCLA, rising to a paid shift supervisor by my senior year.  Crisis and trauma are always a treatment team, they are too high-intensity for individual decision-making without support – in crisis counseling and trauma it’s always a treatment team.

9/80–9/85 Psychiatric Aide
Crossroads Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital; Woodview-Calabassas Psychiatric Hospital; Northridge Psychiatric Hospital, Metropolitan State Hospital, Camarillo State Hospital.

When I graduated from UCLA, I next sought a Master’s degree in Community/Clinical Psychology.  I worked my way through my Master’s degree program as a psychiatric aide at local-area psych hospitals. 

I started by working with the adult populations, major depression, bipolar, schizophrenia.  Over the course of time I shifted to adolescents, eventually spending the bulk of this period working at Crossroads Hospital, an adolescent psychiatric hospital.

I started my professional career working in the trenches, suicide, crisis counseling, and major psychiatric pathology.  I know professional clinical psychology from the ground up, from the trenches.

9/85 -9/98 Research Associate UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Principle Investigator: Keith Nuechterlein, Ph.D.
Area: Longitudinal study of initial-onset schizophrenia. Received annual training to research and clinical reliability in the rating of psychotic symptoms using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Managed all aspects of data collection and data processing.

My next position was with a major NIMH longitudinal research project on schizophrenia.  Note the dates of time spent in this position – over 12 years.  I was responsible for managing all aspects of data collection and data processing for a major research project, supervising and directing three research staff.

When I began, the testing battery for the schizophrenic patients that was conducted at intake, remission, relapse, one year, through a randomized control double-blind trial, and into a three-year test, was 8-hours long.  It consisted of physiological measures, interview measures, symptom ratings, cognitive testing, computerized testing, and paper-and-pencil measures.  When I left, the battery of tests had expanded to 16-hours across two days of testing at each test point.

Of prominent note regarding this work experience is that I was trained every year for 12 years to clinical reliability and research reliability on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), which Wikipedia describes as “the oldest, and most widely used scale for measuring psychotic symptoms.”

I have extensive background with psychotic-delusional pathology, rating symptoms and making the diagnosis.  I am likely one of the best trained clinicians in the country on making a diagnosis of psychotic pathology based on twelve years of annual training in doing just that.

9/98 -9/99 Research Associate
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Principle Investigator: Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D.
Area: Cognitive functioning in Williams Syndrome. Test administration and coding of behavioral observation data.

As I shifted over into my doctoral studies at Pepperdine, I left the UCLA research project on schizophrenia and secured a position with a different clinical research project at UCLA working with children.  This research project focused on two populations of pathology, William’s Syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.  In addition to collecting a range of test data at various points, we also scored recorded behavioral observation data.  I have worked with every single type of data.

9/99-9/00  Predoctoral Psychology Intern –APA Accredited
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Rotations: spina bifida, early childhood preschool consultation

Despite my time at UCLA with schizophrenia, my goal has always been child and family therapy.  For my doctoral internship training I sought out an APA accredited internship at Childrens’ Hospital of Los Angeles. 

My primary medical-pediatric psychologist rotation was the Spina Bifida clinic (that’s the spinal cord birth defect that puts children in wheelchairs).  That’s where I first encountered the complex trauma of traumatic grief.  My community mental health treatment focus at CHLA with ADHD, and I acquired early childhood mentorship from Marie Pousen, Ph.D. who directed a therapeutic preschool at CHLA.

9/00 –4/02 Postdoctoral Fellow
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Two-year post-doctoral fellowship. Specialty focus: ADHD; spina bifida; early childhood mental health

I then secured post-doctoral fellowship training at CHLA, continuing in the spina bifida clinic and a more expanded focus in ADHD and early childhood mental health.  Licensure only required one year of predoctoral supervised training and one year of post-doctoral supervised training – but the CHLA post-doc was a 2-year program, a full year more of supervised training than is required.

Why would someone do an additional year of supervised post-doctoral training above and beyond what is required for licensure?  Why would CHLA only offer a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship when they know that only one year is required for licensure?

4/02-9/02: Research Associate Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Principle Investigator: Ernest Katz, Ph.D.
Multi-site Children’s Hospital study of remediation of attention deficits of children with cancer.

During my post-doctoral training at CHLA, I also extended my training over into pediatric cancer, working on a multi-site research project on the remediation of attention deficits caused by intrathecal chemotherapy (chemotherapy into the spinal-cord and brain) and brain cancer treated with radiation.

The research involved six of the major Children’s Hospitals, and I was sent to M.D. Anderson Hospital at the University of Texas along with clinical treatment representatives from the other six Children’s Hospitals for training in the attention-remediation protocol used in the multi-site study.

My post-doctoral training was the last position that I actually applied for.  From that point on I have been recruited to each of the following positions.

4/02 –10/06: Pediatric Psychologist Children’s Hospital Orange County – UCI Child Development Center
Early Identification and Treatment of ADHD in Preschoolers
Director: James Swanson, Ph.D.
Served as the primary clinical psychologist on a joint CHOC-UCI project for early identification of ADHD in preschool-age children.

I was recruited our out of CHLA to join Children’s Hospital of Orange County on medical staff in the Psychology Department of Choc, to serve as the lead clinical psychologist on a collaborative Choc-UCI Child Development Center project on the identification and remediation of ADHD in preschool-age children.  I was recruited to this position because of my triple background in ADHD specialization, early childhood specialization, and my training as a pediatric psychologist.

Jim Swanson, Ph.D. is one of the top-tier experts in ADHD.  His UCI Child Development Center was one of the lead sites for the multi-site MTA randomized control study of ADHD conducted in the 1990s, considered the best randomized control study ever conducted for any pathology.  His UCI Child Development Center has also produced nearly all of the research on school-based interventions for ADHD, and major pharmaceutical companies run their clincal trails for new ADHD medication through the UCI Child Development Center because the high-quality of treatment at the UCI Child Development Center ensures that any differences are due to medication effects because the treatment is stable at – the best.

I had several roles with this project, including providing on-call coverage at Choc for consultations on hospital units, supervision of interns and post-doctoral fellows at Choc’s APA accredited internship and post-doctoral training programs, providing direct patient care, supervising training of para-professionals in a specific parent training approach (C.O.P.E. Model) developed by Dr. Cunningham at McMaster’s University, and I was responsible for developing a county-wide teacher training program for preschools, culminating in a two-day training organized and led by me for all Head Start preschools in Orange County.

Early Childhood Trainings & Seminars Given

Functional Behavioral Analysis with Preschool-Age Children -Seminar Series. (9/26/03; 10/17/03). Orange County Head Start Center Directors and Multi-disciplinary Teams. Orange, CA.

Much of the teacher training was in Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA), a more sophisticated variation of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Note:  Munchausen by Proxy

My background training and experience at two Children’s Hospitals (CHLA and Choc) provided me with professional training, background, and experience with the DSM-5 diagnosis of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (i.e., Munchausen’s by proxy).

Who do you think sees Munchausen’s by proxy?  Children’s Hospitals.  The medical disorder can’t be diagnosed, it keeps moving up the chain of expertise and testing, eventually arriving at the top, Children’s Hospital.  The medical physician begins to see what is happening from the many inconclusive tests.

What does the physician do when Munchausen’s by proxy is suspected?  They call for a “psych consult” – “I think we may have a case of Munchausen’s here, put in a call for a psych consult.”  Then a call is placed to the Psychology Department of the Children’s Hospital, and one of the pediatric psychologists goes up to begin an assessment for Muchausen’s by proxy (Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).

I am that psychologist in the Psychology Department of Children’s Hospital.  I’m the pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital who goes to assess and diagnose Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.  I am likely one of the most expert clinical psychologists anywere in the pathology of Munchausen’s by proxy – Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.

I am also one of the best trained clinical psychologists in the assessment of delusional psychotic pathology (UCLA – BPRS).   These are both specialized domains of expertise and training, and they are both directly relevant to court-involved attachment pathology – a shared persecutory delusion that is created in the child for secondary gain – a factitious delusional-psychiatric disorder imposed on the child for secondary gain.

5/03 –10/06: Clinical Director
Fineman Consulting Group
Fire F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Juvenile Firesetting Intervention Program
Executive Director: Kenneth Fineman, Ph.D.
Through grants from FEMA and the Department of Justice to develop a national model for juvenile firesetting intervention, collaborated with Dr. Fineman in developingacomprehensive clinical psychology assessment protocol for the mental healthevaluation of juvenile firesetting behavior.

From this position at Choc-UCI, I was then recruited to serve as the Clinical Director for an assessment and treatment program for juvenile firesetting behavior through FEMA and the Department of Justice.  Dr. Fineman served as the content expert on juvenile firesetting, he is a forensic psychologist and a world-recognized expert in juvenile firesetting behavior.  FEMA and the DOJ wanted to develop a national-model mental health assessment of juvenile firesetters to determine whether individual cases warranted simple fire safety education, required mental health involvement, or required a juvenile justice response.

I was recruited to provide the clinical psychology expertise, including professional expertise in the construction of assessment protocols for child pathology.  We also hired an early career professional seeking experience in Organizational Development (Dr. Patterson) to work with the local-area fire-agencies on implementing the field portion of the screening assessment protocol.  I supervised his Organizational Development work based from my prior training in my Master’s program.

10/06 -6/08: Clinical Director
START Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Treatment Center
California State University, San Bernardino Institute of Child Development and Family Relations
Clinical director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center providing comprehensive developmental assessment and psychotherapy services to children ages 0-5 years old. Directed the clinical operations, clinical staff, and the provision of comprehensive psychological assessment and treatment services across clinic-based, home-based, and school-based services. A three-university collaboration with speech and language services through the University of Redlands, occupational therapy through Loma Linda University, and psychology through Calif. State University, San Bernardino.

I was then recruited to serve as the Clinical Director for a three-university assessment and treatment center working with children ages 0-5 in the foster care system, our primary referrals were from the county’s Department of Children’s Services and our funding was through the county Department of Mental Health.

Loma Linda University provided faculty and trainees from their Occupational Therapy program, the University of Redlands provided faculty and trainees from their Speech and Language program, and California State University, San Bernardino provided psychology faculty, mental health therapists, and mental health trainees (Master’s level interns and post-doctoral fellows).

I was hired by Cal State as the Clinical Director to provide the clinical psychology expertise.  As the Clinical Director, I must know all the mental health issues involved with the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of early childhood complex trauma and attachment pathology.  I must also understand the sensory-motor issues involved (OT, sensory integration; Loma Linda) and language issues issues involved (speech-and-language, praxic, pragmatic, and semantic; Redlands) to be able to integrate these domains of assessment and treatment into the overall comprehensive treatment plan for children ages 0-5 in the foster care system.

While in this position, I developed a para-professional support training program with undergraduate students at Cal State, culminating in a team of para-professionals who would work directly in the preschool classroom and in the foster care placement with the care providers and the child.

6/08–Current: Private Practice
219 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Ste. 201
Claremont, CA 91711
Psychotherapy with adults, couples, children, and families. Specializing in attachment pathology, ADHD, anger and impulse control problems in childhood, childhood trauma, family psychotherapy, marital therapy, and parent-child conflict.

I left this position to enter private practice on my way to retirement.  It was at this point that I accepted my first case of court-involved “high-conflict” divorce, referred by a minor’s counsel.  I have subsequently been focused on the severe attachment pathology, the IPV spousal abuse pathology, and child psychological abuse pathology currently untreated and unresolved in the family courts.

1/12–12/17: Faculty University of Phoenix; Pasadena Campus; Ontario Campus
Courses taught: Child Development; Assessment and Treatment Planning; Advanced Diagnosis; Models of Psychotherapy; Counseling Psychometrics; Research Methods; Cultural Psychology

1/09 –9/10: Faculty Argosy University; San Bernardino Campus
Courses taught: Diagnosis and Psychopathology; Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy; Child Development

I enjoy teaching and mentoring students.  I taught and supervised trainees at Choc and at my clinic, and I’ve taught extensive numbers of parenting training courses and preschool teacher trainings.  When I entered private practice I sought out teaching positions at local colleges because I enjoy it.

Of note is that the implication of teaching at the graduate level is that the professor must know everything about the topic area of instruction. So, the courses I’ve taught provide an indication of the scope of my professional knowledge – note in particular that I’ve taught graduate-level courses in Diagnosis and Psychopathology, graduate-level courses in Assessment and Treatment Planning, and graduate-level courses in Models of Adolescent and Child Psychotherapy.

That is my work history background.  My background education, training, and experience serves as the partial foundation for my professional opinions regarding assesement, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology in children.

Divorce Training

Certificate Program: Certification in Divorce Mediation. Conflict Resolution Training, Inc. 2/24/16 –2/27/16. Susan Deveney, Instructor

I do not consider forensic psychology to be a domain of clinical pathology, it is more of a procedural domain of psychology; court-involved.  According to forensic psychology, their domain is any and all court-involved pathology.

From a clinical psychology perspective, a pathology does not change simple because a court becomes involved.  Autism remains autism even if there is court-involment.  Eating disorders don’t change into another form of pathology if a court becomes involved.  The pathology remains the same.

What occurs with court-involvment are additional and higher obligations and responsibilies on the clinical psychologist.  In treatment the psychologist has once client, the child.  With court-involvement the psychologist has a second client, the court, and has additional obligations added relative to this additional client.  But the pathology itself doesn’t change.

I took this course in Divorce Mediation as a “boundaries of competence” issue surrounding forensic psychology.  I am not a forensic psychologist, nor will I ever be a forensic psychologist, the standards of practice in forensic psychology are substantially below those of clincal psychology.  But I simply wanted to perform due-dillegence on my obligations for training in the “forensic” practice of “divorce mediation,” and this boundaries of comptence item is now evidenced on my vitae.

Early Childhood Training

This is the area of my vitae documenting my specialty training in early childhood mental health, considered the highest caliber sub-specialty domain in all of professional psychology. Early childhood mental health requires multiple complex information sets.

We must know all of the developmental maturation for each system, language, emotional, psychological, attachment, cognitive, sensory-motor – not only for how each system develops individually, also for how they are all cross-integrated in their development. How the developing emotional system interacts with the developing sensory-motor networks, how attachment bonding is mediating emotional reglation and psychological identity development.  How cognitive development and language change and alter emotional and psychological maturation.  All systems both individually, and how the each interact across all the other systems.

And we have to have this knowledge for each rapidly changing stage of maturation in the first fives years – these systems are at different stages of development at 18 months than at 24 months, and will again change by three-years-old, then four, then five.  As an early childhood psychologist, all of the systems both individually and in integration, must ALSO be understood across each distinct phase of maturation.

All of this knowledge must be known – all the system’s individual development and maturation – integrated across multiple systems – and through each developmental period of the first five years… including infancy.

For infancy, you can also see the additional Certification in Infant Mental Health I received.  The first year is a whole new domain of rapidly changing development – 3-months, 6-months, 9-months, 12-months – all systems individually and integrated.

Certificate Program: Parent-Infant Mental Health: Fielding Graduate University, 1/14/08; 1/15/08.

I have posted an Early Childhood Comptency Guidelines to my website to give an indication of what is expected knowledge for basic competence in early childhood mental health – not expertise – just basic competence:

Early Childhood Comptency Guidelines

The listing of knowledge domains needed for professional competence begins on Page 15.  Note that on the bottom of Page 15 it says, “Brain research.”  It doesn’t specify what brain research.  It doesn’t say, “Brain research on psychological development” or “Brain research on emotional and cognitive development.”

It just says “Brain research.” That means all brain research.  All of it.  Brain research on the emotional systems, on the cognitive systems, on the attachment system, on sensory-motor systems, on hormonal and stress system, the limbic system, the amygdala, the frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex, the vagal nervous system, all of it.

Brain research.  Page 15.

Notice too where it lists the authors on Page 19, at the top, Marie Poulsen, Ph.D.  Note her afflilliation – CHLA. She was my mentor in early childhood mental health at CHLA.

I am comptent in all the domains of knowledge listed in this Early Childhood Comptency Guidelines document.  I know all of that information.  In fact, I knew all of that 20 years ago.  That is basic competence.  Note my Work Experience.  I’m at the Clinical Director level – senior-staff top level of knowledge.  No one knows more.  I was competent 20 years ago.

I know two additional diagnostic systems beyond the standared DSM-5 and ICD-10.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DC:0-3R Diagnostic Criteria 0-3 Revised.  Attachment oriented early childhood diagnostic system.  Instructor: Orange County Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative.

This is a stronger attachment-oriented diagnostic system.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DMIC: Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood.  Assessment, diagnosis, and intervention for developmental and emotional disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, multisystem developmental disorders, regulatory disordersinvolving attention, learning and behavioral problems, cognitive, language, motor, and sensory disturbances. Instructor, Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learningc Disorders (Greenspan)

This is a stronger autism-spectrum diagnostic system.

I also know the two basic treatments for attachment pathology.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Watch, Wait, and Wonder: Nancy Cohen, Ph.D. Hincks-Dellcrest Centre & the University of Toronto.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Circle of Security: Glen Cooper, MFT, Center for Clinical Intervention, Marycliff Institute, Spokane, Washington.

Attachment System

The domain of attachment is early childhood mental health.  That is where a mental health professional receives training in the attachment system and attachment pathology.  If a mental health professional does not have early childhood training, then they do not have education or training in the attachment system and attachment pathology.

In court-involved attachment pathology surrounding divorce, the assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health professionals are working with the most severe attachment pathology possible – there is nothing worse in attachment than a complete severing of the child’s bond to a mother or father – that is as bad as it gets for attachment pathology.

Yet NONE of the involved mental health people have any education or training in the attachment system – what it is, how it functions, how it dysfunctions, and how to repair the attachment bond.  They are practicing beyond the boundaries of their competence, and as a result, children are being severely harmed, and parents are being severely harmed.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information

Where did you receive your education and training in the attachment system and attachment pathology?

Recent Seminars Taken

I include these Seminars Taken to indicate that despite my knowledge, I still take training and educational seminars. Role model.

I know family systems therapy.  Yet still I go to a three-day conference put on by the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family at Johns Hopkins regarding the emotional cutoff pathology in families.

I know trauma and complex trauma.  Yet still I take a two-day seminar from Bessel van der Kolk on trauma and complex trauma.  I love the work of Bessel van der Kolk.  He is in my pantheon of exceptional in professional psychology.

I’m a role model.  I know the knowledge, yet still I seek additional learning.


This domain simply shows I have written material that is available for review.  The strength of a Psy.D. vitae is not Publications, it’s Work Experience.  We sacrifice research and publication for additional expertise in pathology and its treatment.  My Publications vitae is simply to provide references for additional information.

Internet Psychology:  Of note are the last three entries in Publications, these three were from my time and expertise in the emerging field of Internet psychology, the integration of the Internet and its impact with professional psychology. This domain is addressed separately later in my vitae as well.

Parental Alienation” Seminars Given

This area is simply to demonstrate the scope of my practice and knowledge.  My Work Experience is grounded in real pathology, I want to also give an indication that I have background in this court-involved “parental alienation” pathology created by forensic psychology.

Early Childhood Mental Health Trainings

These are about 1/3 of the trainings I have provided, I simply wanted to provide a representative sampling.  Note the reference to Functional Behavioral Analysis (a more sophisticated variant of Applied Behavioral Analysis).  Both Functional Behavioral Analysis and Applied Behavioral Analysis have valuable application to court-involved attachment pathology.

Internet Psychology Presentations Given

In addition to the publications in peer-reviewed journals surrounding Internet Psychology, I have presentations of substance on the integration of the Internet into professional psychology as well.

I have an invited presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science regarding Internet Psychology.

American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Office of Protection from Research Risks. Conference on the Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research in Cyberspace. Invited paper presentation on Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Internet Research. 6/1999, June. Washington, D.C.

Report: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research in Cyberspace

Notice in the Workshop Participants section of the Report that my affiliation is listed as the International Society of Mental Health Online.  At the time, I was the President for this organization, serving a three-year term on the Executive Committee, first as the President-Elect, then a year as the acting President, and then a final year as the Past-President.

I also have an invited presentation regarding Internet Psychoogy to the World Health Organization in Munich.  Travel for both invited presentations, the AAAS and WHO, were paid for by the inviting host organization.

World Health Organization, 2nd International Symposium on Psychiatry and Internet: Information –Support –Therapy. Invited presentation on Ethical Issues in Online Psychotherapeutic Interventions. 4/2002, Munich, Germany.

My third citation of professional experience in this domain of my vitae is to a presentation I made on a Symposium panel to the national convention of the American Psychological Association.  A report on this presentation still remains online.

American Psychological Association Convention, Symposium on Using the Internet for Change: Online Psychotherapy and Education. J. Grohol (Chair): The Potential Risks and Benefits of Online Therapeutic Interventions. 8/1998; San Francisco, California.

Article: The Potential Risks and Benefits of Online Therapeutic Interventions


My vitae reflects the domains of my knowledge. The core of my vitae is Work Experience.  My knowledge comes from practical application in work experience.

The additional extensions of that knowledge are reflected in the breadth of my applied experience in presentations, courses taught, training received, and written references for support.

Work Experience is the heart of a Psy.D. vitae.

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

Robin Deutsch, PhD: The APA “Working Group”

What’s that you say, Dorcy?  Robin Deutsch was put in charge of the official “Working Group” response of the American Psychological Association to the first Petition to the APA from parents?

I never paid much attention to who they assigned to the “death by committee” response they made to the suffering of parents and their desperate plea for help.  I think you’re right, though, I think I heard it was Robin Deutsch they put in charge. The APA refused to ever release the names and vitaes of the “Working Group” members who received the first Petition to the APA written by parents, when was that, 2016?

I’m not sure everyone here knows the story of the Petition to the APA, the whole story.

The one I wrote (Petition to the APA) was the second one, the first one was a home-crafted one by a group of parents. They did immaculate research and made strong argument in that first Petition to the APA. 

Here, gather round the fire and let me tell you the story.  My Petition to the APA is not the first.  No, some intrepid parents were there first, storming the castle walls.  They did good.

Back in 2016, I had no thought for a Petition to the APA, hadn’t even entered my mind.  I had just finished writing Foundations and was turning to crafting the Assessment protocol and supporting booklets.  I had just entered a Facebook presence out of my blog, and my website archive was starting to build.  In 2016 I was beginning to fully enter into the arguments and solutions.

There were a group of parents who understood the paradigm shift.  Unbeknownst to me, they got together and wrote a Petition to the APA and posted it to 

That… is a great idea.  And it was well considered in its arguments.  They had listened to my blogs and reasoning, and they put forth solidly grounded professional argument.

They didn’t approach the ethical code violations at all.  They’re not psychologists, they can’t carry that voice and reasoning.  They carried the scientifically grounded evidence voice for consideration and change – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.

I knew the pathogen was inhabiting and disabling the response of the American Psychological Association.  How?  Where?

Forensic psychology.  It’s financial, and they have “inside” power.  No one believes your grievances.  They attribute your protests to your just not getting your way in the “custody battle” – it’s not the psychologist’s fault… they’re not ignorant and incompetent… after all, they have those letters after their names.  No one believes you.

They own you.  Forensic psychology owns you and your children.  No one else will work with you. Too dangerous.  Forensic psychology threatens their license if they try to help you.  So they abandon you to forensic psychology, and then forensic psychology feeds on you financially, like piggies at the trough, $20,000 to $40,000 for a worthless “child custody evaluation” that solves nothing, that is not valid prima facie, and that is substantially beneath professional standards of practiced in professional psychology.

They own you.

The first Petition to the APA, the one by this parental alliance, entered into the teeth of the pathogen’s control of the APA.  It was sent to a “Working Group” of forensic psychologists to die.  I knew that, I saw that.

Good job, parents, you’ve drawn down the pathogen’s defense. The APA is exposed now. It’s like drawing down the air cover around a carrier at Midway, no protection left.

We asked that the names of the “Working Group” members and their vitaes be disclosed.  If the lives and suffering of so many parents hangs in the balance of the decisions made by this “Working Group” then these parents have a right to know who’s on the “Working Group” that will have so much impact on their lives and the lives of their children. 

The APA said no. They would not release the names or vitaes of the “Working Group” members.  It’s a secret who they are.

The Petition from these parents claims that the surrounding professional psychology who are involved with their families (i.e., forensic psychology) is not applying the scientifically established knowledge of attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, and complex trauma.

Instead of a response, the APA formed a “Working Group” with the mandate given to the “Working Group” to review all the research on attachment, and family systems therapy, and personality disorders, and complex trauma.

Then why not simly appoint members to the “Working Group” who already know this research, so we can skip educating the “Working Group” about pretty much all of the knowledge of professional psychology?

That wasn’t their goal.  Their goal was to silence you, so no one will hear your screams of torment and suffering. They don’t want anyone to hear you.

The first Petition to the APA from these parents was apparently sent to Robin Deutsch.  Let’s see, that was 2016 I think… I wonder how they’re coming along with their “review of the research” in these past… four years.

I wonder if we can get a log from them for how many times this “Working Group” has met in… four years?  Even a list of who’s on it and what their professional background is would be helpful.  Hmm, if Susan Deutsch is heading the “Working Group,” I’m sure she’d be able to give us a progress report for their official APA “Working Group” to develop a response to the… first… Petition to the APA.

I knew what was happening.  They’re hiding you.  After all, no one believes you.  If you scream in pain, no one believes you because the… forensic psychologists… can’t possibly be ignorant and incompetent.  You just didn’t get your way in the custody dispute.  It can’t possibly be the psychologists… after all, their vitaes are so… puffy and look so impressive.  And they have the AFCC endorsing their practice.  It can’t possibly be the psychologists at fault… it must be you.

No one believes you.  I see that.

But what that first Petition did was draw down the pathogen’s defenses, forensic psychology had acted to grab this first Petition.  The APA was vulnerable now to a second.  Good job, parents.  Nicely done.

I waited a year to give the “Working Group” enough rope to do something, or not.  I applied to be on the “Working Group” (not a chance that forensic psychologists would let in – an “outsider” – especially one advocating that we apply knowledge).  I simply wanted to document, it’s not me  who is the problem, it’s your ignorance and sloth.  I also sent them my personal 40-page AB-PA Reference List. That’s the time when I also decided to post my personal AB-PA Reference List to my website.  It was time to activate that for this “Working Group” “study the research” lie.

The mandate of the “Working Group” is to review the research, so then, start with this.

Dr. Childress’ Personal: AB-PA Reference List

I waited year, and then I wrote a second Petition to the APA, entirely separate from the last one. The first one was written entirely by parents without my involvement. This second one was written entirely by me.  The first one focused on Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck.  I focused mine as a psychologist, on the many violations to the APA ethics code.

I did that intentionally, took an entirely different focus; the APA ethics code. The first Petition had drawn the protection, I had a clean shot.  Nice job.  It’s a totally separarate Petition and line of argument.

I asked parents for 10,000 signatures before I would submit it.  I had 10,000 signatures in a day.  Ultimately, we had 19,000 when we hand-delivered it to the offices of the APA in Washington, D.C. in June of 2018.  I was accompanied by two parent representatives, Wendy Perry and Rod McCall.  They nailed their presentations at the National Press Club, we visited our representatives in Congress.

Nothing like seeting Texans schmooze each other, a delightful sight to see.

That Petition is still active, it has yet to receive any response whatsoever from the APA, your voice currently stands at 24,000, that’s a strong voice, it’s up to you how strong you choose to make it. If I were you, I’d use it in news media stories, reference the Petition to the APA as something people can do if they want to support you, the parents and your children. Sign the Petition to the APA.  It can always serve as a closer for your news articles – sign the Petition to the APA.

It asks for three things,

1.) Immediate Press Release: An immediate press release affirming the support of the American Psychological Association for Standard 2.01a Boundaries of Competence.

In the two years since delivering the Petition, the APA has declined to issue a press release affirming its support for Standard 2.01a Boundaries of Competence of their own code of ethics.  Think about that. The APA is refusing to publicly affirm its own ethics code…. think about that.

Forensic psychology. They are in the control of forensic psychology. They don’t want to look, they don’t want to turn over the rock to see what’s underneath.  The APA won’t even affirm their own ethics code, even when 24,000 parents plead with them, simply state your affirmation of your own ethics code.

They won’t do it.  The APA refuses – for two years they have refused – to issue a simple press release affirming the importance of Standard 2.01a of its own ehtics code. The APA has abandoned you to the abuse and exploitation of forensic psychology.  You stand alone, they stand with child abuse and spousal abuse.

APA: Collusion with Child Abuse

Notice the counter on the website, my frontal lobe executive function systems for foresight work just fine.

2.) Revise Position Statement: A review of their official “Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome” since there is now a second, and scientifically grounded description for the pathology.

The American Psychological Association is in violation of its own Standard 2.04 of its own ethics code. They are refusing to apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick.

I have obligations still pending surrounding Standard 1.05 of the APA ethics code and the APA’s violaton of Standard 2.04 of its own ethics code (and possible failure in their vicarious “duty to protect” by negligent disregard).

2.) Conferences & White Papers: To convene a conference of expertise in attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, and child development to produce a white paper on court-involved attachment pathology. Then to convene a second conference of expertise in psychometrics, ethics, cultural psychology, clinical psychology, attachment, and family systems therapy to examine the appropriate role of professional psychology in the family courts and to produce a white paper on that.

Two years.  No response.  I take that back, do you know what the response of the APA is to this second Petition to the APA from an entirely different group, with entirely different arguments based on APA ethics code violations, with an entirely different set of sought for remedies… do you know what the response of the APA is?

We have a “Working Group” who is “studying the research.”  The “Working Group” response to the first Petiton is not relevant. That’s somebody else. What is your response to THIS Petition?

Silence.  No response.

We’ll wait.  But please hurry, the lives of these parents and their children are being destroyed daily. There is urgency here. Please hurry.

Four years of a “Working Group” to “study the research” on attachment, and family systems therapy, and complex trauma, and personaltiy disorders, and child development.

Why not just appoint people to the “Working Group” who ALREADY know the research?  Oh… because they want to appoint ignorance… they want to give you to forensic psychologists… the very people who are exploiting and traumatizing you.

I’m not accepting that. And I’m tenacious.

As long as they are going to try to use that lie, then let me ask you, how are things coming with that secret “Working Group” of forensic psychologists in the last… four years?

What’s that you say, Dorcy?  Susan Deutsch, the co-author of that article on Overcoming Barriers in 2010 with Matthew Sullivan, the President of the AFCC, is leading that “Working Group” for the APA?

Well then, let’s ask her about how much “progress” they’re making in their self-education… and when they anticipate being done getting educated.

I’m sure the APA “Working Group” is on her vitae, right? That’s a pretty impressive professional accomplishment, to lead an APA “Working Group” to “study the research” on… something… they still won’t release a list of the research they’ve been reviewing… for four years now.

Why didn’t the APA just appoint people who already knew the research? Why appoint ignorance to a “Working Group”? That seems a really odd thing to do.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information.

So the “Working Group” members (secret members; hidden vitaes, they won’t tell us who and what their background is) is spending 4 years educating themselves… to answer the question from parents, why isn’t professional psychology applying Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, and Tronick?

Does that make sense to you?

Or does something smell rotten?  Four years spent educating themselves. So… are you educated yet? Or do you still need more time, is your ignorance that profound that four years of study is to no avail?

So, Dr. Deutsch, how’s the secret “Working Group” coming along?  Maybe it’s time for the APA to ask for a “Progress Report” from the secret “Working Group.” Especially since the response from the APA to a second, entirely unrelated Petition to the APA signed by a separate 24,000 parents is being made contingent on the outcome of the “Working Group”… for four years.

I think it’s time for a Progress Report from the “Working Group.” I certainly hope it’s not some sort of scam.  I certainly hope the American Psychological Association is not lying to parents, running some sort of scam cover-up for the rampant ethics violations and sloth in forensic psychology.

I certainly hope that’s not happening.  I think it’s time the APA asked for a Progress Report from it’s official “Working Group.”  Four years of “work” – how much have you accomplished?  It is an official APA “Working Group.”  So?  What did you find?

Don’t tell me you need MORE time?  Four years is not enough? Then at least tell us your progress to date, after… four years.  Oh, and please… how many times did your “Working Group” meet?  Do you have agendas and minutes from your meetings? Who is on this Working Group”?  What are their professional qualifications for the task? Can you provide us with a list of the research you have reviewed in the last 4 years of your “Working Group.”

This is an official “Working Group” of the APA.  Or perhaps… it’s a scam.  Pehaps… it’s a cover-up.  Hmm, how can we find out?  Let’s get a Progress Report from the Official “Working Group” of the APA, where do things stand after FOUR years of educating yourself because you started off so proundly ignorant.

Are you educated yet?

So… what’s the progress?  Or are you all done?  Or did you never start?

What’s that you say, Dorcy? Robin Deutsch is in charge of the “Working Group.” Well good, then let’s ask her.  How’s it coming, Robin?  Four years, now… kind of a long time.  Any chance of wrapping up your “Working Group” anytime soon?

What did you find?

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