Article

When a Child Rejects a Parent: Working With the Intractable Resist/Refuse Dynamic: WORKING WITH THE INTRACTABLE RESIST/REFUSE DYNAMIC

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Abstract

A subgroup of intractable families, in which a child refuses post separation contact with a parent, perplexes and frustrates professionals who work with them. This article discusses the underlying forces that drive the family's intractability, as well as guidelines for working with the family. The guidelines include specific court orders developed from the very beginning of the case that elaborate the court's stance about goals and expectations for the family, along with specialized individual and family therapies that are undertaken within a framework of planned collaboration with the court. The collaborative team of legal and mental health professionals works in an innovative and active way to structure, support, and monitor the family's progress in resolving the resist/refuse dynamic.

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... Some practitioners who work with families to resolve PCCPs are using the circle diagram or similar tools to help achieve two important and necessary objectives in working with parents, who have varying degrees of reflective capacity into their own behaviors and the effects these may be having on their children. First, to explain the complexity of the resist-refuse dynamics (RRD) (Walters & Friedlander, 2016) 1 in terms of the many interacting contributing factors with the intention of moving parents away from the blame-game. And, second, to punctuate resilency and a "can do" approach-that these contributing factors are the places in the system where change and repair need to occur, and where interventions must be directed. ...
... During the last 10 years there has been a proliferation of publications-books, peer and non-peer reviewed journal articles, chapters in edited books-and conference presentations and other trainings, discussing and critiquing various therapeutic models, interventions and educational programs, and to a lesser extent research on intervention outcomes (see for example, Baker & Sauber, 2013;Bailey, Dana, Bailey, & Davis, 2020;Dallam & Silberg, 2016;Drozd, Saini, & Vellucci-Cook, 2019;Polak, 2020;Fidler, Ward, & Deutsch, 2017;Faust, 2018;Greenberg, Schnider, & Jackson, 2019;Judge & Deutsch, 2017;Mercer, 2019aMercer, , 2019bPolak & Moran, 2017;Polak et al., 2020;Saini et al., 2012Saini et al., , 2016Saini, 2019;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, & Cox, 2017;Walters & Friedlander, 2016;Warshak, 2010Warshak, , 2015Warshak, , 2020b. ...
... Both critics and proponents of the use of alienation for understanding and responding to PCCP cases have recognized the limitations of the existing research generally, and specifically on intervention outcomes . Proponents of the use of alienation have become increasingly aware of the complexity and nuance in many PCCP cases, including cases where there may be uncertainty and cases with elements of both realistic estrangement and alienation, that is, contributions by both parents and the many other factors, to a complex, dynamic situation (Bailey et al., 2020;Deutsch et al., 2020;Drozd et al., 2019;Fidler, Deutsch, & Polak, 2020;Walters & Friedlander, 2016). Associated with this more nuanced analysis is an increased sensitivity to the role of chronic stress, and in some instances an objective event trauma or a long-standing relational trauma, that may have been experienced by the children, as well as by one or both parents historically or more recently. ...
Article
There have been significant advances in understandings and practice related parent–child contact problems (PCCPs), with a growing consensus about some issues and continuing controversy about others. It is widely acknowledged that PCCP cases are most fruitfully understood from a multi‐factorial perspective. While some cases may be totally the “fault” of one parent (a parent perpetrating violence or abuse, or a parent exhibiting alienating behavior), in many situations both parents bear some responsibility: focusing on a single cause is rarely helpful. Most professionals and researchers agree that the challenge in practice is to distinguish between false positives and false negatives for both alienation (or unjustified rejection) and realistic estrangement (justified rejection). There is continuing controversy over whether the concept of “alienation” should be used, especially in court proceedings, and a related disagreement about the extent to which family courts are now failing to respond adequately to cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) or child abuse when alienation is also raised. Continuing education, intentional exploration of alternative hypotheses, and active perspective‐taking will contribute to effective professional involvement. Increased parent education and prevention can play an important role, although for the more severe PCCP cases the family courts system will continue to play a critical role. While more research must be done, given the complexity of issues, conclusive findings are unlikely in the near future. Legislators and family justice professionals must make decisions based on a thorough analysis of each family's circumstances in the context of our present knowledge, taking account of the limits of the law. They will often face the conundrum of making decisions in the face of uncertainty.
... Over the last 20 years, there have been significant clinical and research developments in the field of parent-child contact problems, also commonly referred to as resist-refuse dynamics (Walters & Friedlander, 2016), or, the more controversial term, "parental alienation." Advances include a richer, more comprehensive and nuanced understanding on the differentiation of contact problems along a spectrum by type and severity, with consideration to etiology and/or underlying contributing factors, assessment of the dynamic, and the available clinical and legal treatment approaches. ...
... Clinically, there has been an increase in the number of innovative therapeutic approaches developed in attempt to ameliorate parent-child contact issues presenting with mild clinical features to those cases characterized by a number of factors including severe alienating behavior on the part of a parent and alienation of the child. Since the publication of the previous Special Issue of the Family Court Review (2010), devoted to parent-child contact problems, significant effort has been made to develop better interventions (Baker & Sauber, 2013;Garber, 2015;Greenberg, Fidler, & Saini, 2019;Judge & Deutsch, 2016;Smith, 2016;Walters & Friedlander, 2016). In practice there is variation between clinicians in the extent to which all members of the family system are involved in the interventions. ...
... This can be achieved using clear, detailed court orders, regular court monitoring for accountability, and, if necessary, sanctions for noncompliance. Ongoing oversight and monitoring have been noted to create accountability and serves to counteract a natural resistance to change (Walters & Friedlander, 2016). ...
Article
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There have been significant developments over the past two decades that have expanded our understanding of the dynamics of parent–child contact problems post‐separation, which have resulted in some changes in judicial processes to respond to these cases. One significant advancement is a more sophisticated differentiation of the nature and severity of contact problems, which better assists legal and mental health professionals to provide more suitable legal and clinical interventions. However, the issue of innovative court processes has received limited attention. The authors describe a subgroup of families within the “severe” category, for whom an expanded intervention model, referred to as a Blended Sequential Intervention is proposed. This approach involves a reversal of care with court mandated therapeutic support for the rejected parent and child, but also involves the favored parent in the therapeutic plan from the outset, and is intended to avoid a permanent “parentectomy” of the child from either parent. The authors discuss how the courts should respond to these cases, and posit that until all therapeutic treatments are exhausted, interim orders should be preferred to final determinations, and judges should maintain oversight. The authors discuss the critical role of judicial leadership in working with lawyers and mental health professionals to manage and address the issues in these high conflict cases.
... Some practitioners who work with families to resolve PCCPs are using the circle diagram or similar tools to help achieve two important and necessary objectives in working with parents, who have varying degrees of reflective capacity into their own behaviors and the effects these may be having on their children. First, to explain the complexity of the resist-refuse dynamics (RRD) (Walters & Friedlander, 2016) 1 in terms of the many interacting contributing factors with the intention of moving parents away from the blame-game. And, second, to punctuate resilency and a "can do" approach-that these contributing factors are the places in the system where change and repair need to occur, and where interventions must be directed. ...
... During the last 10 years there has been a proliferation of publications-books, peer and non-peer reviewed journal articles, chapters in edited books-and conference presentations and other trainings, discussing and critiquing various therapeutic models, interventions and educational programs, and to a lesser extent research on intervention outcomes (see for example, Baker & Sauber, 2013;Bailey, Dana, Bailey, & Davis, 2020;Dallam & Silberg, 2016;Drozd, Saini, & Vellucci-Cook, 2019;Polak, 2020;Fidler, Ward, & Deutsch, 2017;Faust, 2018;Greenberg, Schnider, & Jackson, 2019;Judge & Deutsch, 2017;Mercer, 2019aMercer, , 2019bPolak & Moran, 2017;Polak et al., 2020;Saini et al., 2012Saini et al., , 2016Saini, 2019;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, & Cox, 2017;Walters & Friedlander, 2016;Warshak, 2010Warshak, , 2015Warshak, , 2020b. ...
... Both critics and proponents of the use of alienation for understanding and responding to PCCP cases have recognized the limitations of the existing research generally, and specifically on intervention outcomes . Proponents of the use of alienation have become increasingly aware of the complexity and nuance in many PCCP cases, including cases where there may be uncertainty and cases with elements of both realistic estrangement and alienation, that is, contributions by both parents and the many other factors, to a complex, dynamic situation (Bailey et al., 2020;Deutsch et al., 2020;Drozd et al., 2019;Fidler, Deutsch, & Polak, 2020;Walters & Friedlander, 2016). Associated with this more nuanced analysis is an increased sensitivity to the role of chronic stress, and in some instances an objective event trauma or a long-standing relational trauma, that may have been experienced by the children, as well as by one or both parents historically or more recently. ...
... Proponents of parental alienation D o N o t C i t e 3 treatments describe how reunification family treatment may be predicated on one parent's apparent alienation of the other parent (Sullivan, Ward and Deutsch 2010). Other recent conceptualizations do not use the term alienation but label a youth's persistent efforts to avoid a nonpreferred parent as a resist and refuse dynamic (RRD; Walters and Friedlander 2016). Such treatments often choose to neutralize the many possible factors that might be related to a youth's rejection of a parent and move forward with reunification in the absence of substantiated claims of abuse or maltreatment. ...
... In addition, the youth's point of view is often Another purported primary treatment goal for most parental alienation treatments is an improved relationship between the youth and the nonpreferred parent, the quality of which is often ill-defined. If contact between a youth and a nonpreferred parent cannot be achieved with parent agreement, then a specific treatment plan is developed with a goal that both parents support a relationship between the nonpreferred parent and the youth (Sullivan et al. 2010;Walters and Friedlander 2016). The priority appears to be that the child and the nonpreferred parent spend time together, with minimal consideration placed on identifying or ameliorating the possible multitude of factors that led toward the initial and ongoing rejection. ...
... Another primary goal of these treatments is that the preferred parent expresses behavioral and emotional support of a relationship between the child and the nonpreferred rejected parent (Sullivan et al. 2010;Walters and Friedlander 2016). The fact that nonpreferred parents often have engaged in concerning behaviors (e.g., behavior that predicts poor parent-child relationships and poorer child social-emotional adjustment) is treated as one neutral factor. ...
Chapter
Parent-child relationship problems have been studied extensively within the developmental and psychological literature. Even for families with an intact marriage, it is common for children to become increasingly resistant to parental control as they develop, especially in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Most families manage these developmental shifts without intervention. However, sometimes resistance to parental control becomes more extreme and includes substantial rule-breaking, frequent defiance, and even aggressive behavior. These more extreme behaviors in youth are often preceded by coercive strategies used by parents as they attempt to maintain some level of control. Coercive parenting has been studied for over 40 years, generating volumes of basic and applied research that informs clinical practice for families to help resolve these conflicts. Relatedly, many treatments for families have been developed to help youth and parents cope with the challenges associated with the youth’s growing independence. In contrast, the treatments described below to specifically address parental alienation focus primarily on increasing contact between family members without including established evidence-based methods for youth well-being and without providing clinically meaningful outcome data.
... There have been recent attempts to describe some of the vulnerabilities of neurodiverse children in high conflict divorce, where there may be an increased risk of developing an alliance with one parent while resisting or refusing contact with the other. For example, Walters and Friedlander (2016) noted that some children with special needs may be ill-equipped to handle ongoing parental conflict and are vulnerable to rejecting a parent as a means of solving an otherwise overwhelming problem. They note that a child's rigid, rejecting stance of a parent may reflect, in part, having resources that are too limited or inadequate for navigating shared time with warring parents. ...
... In developing parenting plans, it is often crucial to consider safety first, as some neurodiverse children with severe forms of ASD, ADHD or depression may be particularly at risk for self-destructive or impulsive behavior, elopement, or excessive risk-taking. As previously discussed, decisionmakers should contemplate whether some resist-refuse dynamics seen in high conflict divorce may stem from a PICKAR neurodiverse child's inability to manage the stresses from a parental custody battle, thereby aligning with one parent over the other for reasons of security and to simplify life, given the fewer coping resources which may stem from their condition (Garber, 2020;Polak et al., 2020;Walters & Friedlander, 2016). ...
Article
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Family court professionals must continually be developing a greater appreciation of diversity in its many forms. As with cultural diversity and non‐traditional families, neurodiversity in children and parents is another social justice issue in which overt or implicit bias may impact child custody decision‐making, such as when a divorcing parent has a significant psychiatric or neurocognitive condition. The neurodiversity perspective, while having its limitations, can help reduce bias in family court by recognizing that there is a broad range of brain functioning, while taking a strengths‐based approach, as opposed to a pathology orientation. This article will define neurodiversity, address how the stigma of mental health conditions can lead to automatic negative presumptions about parental competency, as well examine how the voices of neurodiverse children can be better heard in family court processes. Lastly, principles for court personnel to consider with neurodiverse parents and children will be elucidated. As with cultural diversity and non‐traditional families, neurodiversity is a social justice issue in which overt or implicit bias may impact child custody decision‐making. Commonly recognized parenting plans may be inappropriate for many neurodiverse children, as some function below their chronological age and pose extreme behavioral challenges. A concern for neurodiverse children, especially those that suffer from language or intellectual impairment, is how their voices can be heard regarding the legal decisions that will impact them. Frequently, parents may be automatically presumed as “not competent” by having a mental health diagnosis. Instead of focusing on the diagnostic label, it is vital to assess the severity of a parent's symptoms, treatment compliance, and how the parent is managing stress related to their mental health condition. Child custody decision makers should be mindful of how diagnostic information is often misapplied or misunderstood; a parent's mental health condition should only become relevant to the extent that the condition affects the ability to parent a child effectively.
... Before the description given by Richard Gardner, this phenomenon was described by other authors and received different names such as invisible loyalties (Boszormenyi-Nagy, 1973) and refusal to visitations (Wallerstein, 1976). After Gardner's description in 1985, the phenomenon has been described under the names of Medea syndrome (Jacobs, 1988), family games (Selvini, 1989), child visitation interference and malicious mother syndrome (Turkat, 1994(Turkat, & 1995, resistance to visitation (Stoltz, 2002), threatened mother syndrome (Klass, 2005), parental polarization (Markan, 2005), false allegations of child abuse (Adams, 2006), Medea complex (Depaulis, 2008), heralds of hate (Orozco, 2014) and resist/refuse dynamics (Walters, 2016). ...
... Previo a la descripción de Richard Gardner, este fenómeno fue descrito por otros autores recibiendo distintos nombres como lealtades invisibles (Boszormenyi-Nagy, 1973) y rechazo a las visitas (Wallerstein, 1976). Posterior a la descripción de Gardner en 1985, el fenómeno ha sido descrito con los nombres de síndrome de Medea (Jacobs, 1988), juegos familiares (Selvini, 1989), interferencia en las visitas y síndrome de la madre maliciosa (Turkat, 1994(Turkat, & 1995, resistencias a las visitas (Stoltz, 2002), síndrome de la madre amenazada (Klass, 2005), polarización parental (Markan, 2005), falsas demandas de abuso infantil (Adams, 2006), complejo de Medea (Depaulis, 2008), heraldos de odio (Orozco, 2014) y dinámicas de rechazo y resistencia (Walters, 2016). ...
Book
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Several studies regarding research integrity in the subject of parental alienation appeared recently, what they found was a number of publications with severe errors such as falsification of data, adulteration of original sources, and defamation for which, once the retraction requests were formulated, there were no appropriated mechanisms nor scientific criteria observed, the complaints were ignored and in some cases, there was not even appropriate transparency in the process. Due to this situation, an international research community responsible for the matter was established, and after carefully analyzing the problem in a spirit of scientific reconciliation, they decided to create the Statement of the Global Action for Research Integrity in Parental Alienation, to develop an approach for this scientific crisis which editorial houses and other institutions must responsibly address to avoid scientific fraud through screening processes in retraction, that is, meta-science activities. This Statement is an invitation for the international scientific community and for the society throughout the world so that the spirit of truth prevails over science, and so that the processes of research integrity are rectified, and to emend all possible errors in the research of a sensitive topic such as the human rights of children of divorced parents who, due to lack of awareness or ignorance, expose their children to this type of abuse. / This Statement is a highly specialized technical-scientific study on the subject of research integrity in parental alienation. It supports itself through the most relevant documents in the field, such as those of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Chair in Bioethics, the World Conference on Research Integrity, the Global Research Council, Committee on Publication Ethics, Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI), as well as guidelines from publishing houses such as Wiley and Emerald, with the help of digital tools for the identification of major plagiarism. We refer to three specific works that constitute a scientific fraud and that have refused to follow the standard retraction procedures or have ignored the letter to the editor. The reputation of these institutions has caused that the content of the errors become viral and spread as a phenomenon of infodemic. We intend to reveal and focus on the negative consequences of this type of child abuse, which includes stigma, defamation, slander and libel, “scientific” misinformation campaigns, censorship, politicization, legal involution, negligent training, human rights violations, inadequate interpretation of children human rights, social distrust, discrimination, erroneous expert reports, trials with major errors (big mistake), funding and quality of research. We formulate our proposals according to research integrity as an invitation to the institutions to review retraction procedures, especially in cases of parental alienation, we also request the support of the international scientific community and the intervention of the United Nations. We conclude that the recurrent identification of scientific fraud makes it clear that it is not a question of a theoretical or opinion disagreement among authors, but rather a serious problem of scientific malpractice that includes data falsification, adulteration of original sources and defamation. Resumen En recientes estudios de integridad científica en materia de alienación parental, se encontraron publicaciones con severos errores como falsificación de datos, adulteración de fuentes originales y difamación en las cuales, una vez formuladas las solicitudes de retractación, no se observaron los mecanismos adecuados, ni criterios científicos, siendo ignoradas y, en otros casos, no se tuvo la apropiada transparencia. Debido a ello, se constituyó una comunidad científica internacional responsable en la materia quienes, después de analizar debidamente la problemática y en un ánimo de reconciliación científica, decidieron formular la Declaración del Movimiento Global de Integridad Científica en Alienación Parental, para realizar el planteamiento de esta crisis científica que debe ser abordada responsablemente por las casas editoriales y otras instituciones de manera que se elimine el fraude científico a través de procesos de cribado en retractación, es decir, actividades de metaciencia. La presente Declaración es una invitación a la comunidad científica internacional y a la sociedad mundial para que prevalezca el ánimo de la verdad en la ciencia, se rectifiquen los procesos de integridad científica y se subsanen los errores en un tema tan sensible como los derechos humanos de los niños, niñas y adolescentes de los hijos de padres separados, que por desconocimiento o ignorancia, exponen a sus hijos a este tipo de maltrado. Esta declaración, es un estudio técnico-científico altamente especializado en materia de integridad científica en alienación parental, donde se utilizan los documentos más importantes en el campo como los de la Cátedra de Bioética de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, la Conferencia Mundial sobre la Integridad de la Investigación, el Consejo de Investigación Global, el Comité de Ética de Publicaciones, Procedimientos de Estándares Operativos para la Integridad Científica (SOPs4RI), así como lineamientos de casas editoriales como Wiley y Emerald, con el auxilio de herramientas digitales para la identificación de plagio mayor. Se ilustran tres obras con fraude científico que se han negado a seguir los procedimientos estándares de retractación o han ignorado la carta al editor, y debido al renombre de las instituciones, el contenido de los errores se ha viralizado y extendido como un fenómeno de infodemia. Así mismo, este estudio analiza y da a conocer las consecuencias negativas en este tipo de maltrato infantil, tales como: estigma, difamación, calumnia e injuria, campañas de desinformación “científica”, censura, politización, involución legal, capacitaciones negligentes, violaciones a los derechos humanos, inadecuada interpretación de los derechos humanos de la niñez, desconfianza social, discriminación, peritajes erróneos, juicios con craso error (Crassus Errare), financiamiento y calidad de la investigación. Se formulan recomendaciones en apego a la integridad científica como una invitación a las instituciones para revisar los procedimientos de retractación, de igual manera se pide atención especial en estos casos y se solicita el apoyo de la comunidad científica internacional y la intervención de Naciones Unidas. Se concluye que la identificación recurrente de fraude científico, deja claro que no se trata de un desacuerdo teórico o de opiniones entre autores, sino de un grave problema de malas prácticas científicas que incluyen falsificación de datos, adulteración de fuentes originales y difamación.
... Interventions that integrate legal authority with mental health expertise are most likely to be effective. Walters and Friedlander (2016) illustrate this type of legal-mental health collaboration in their recommendations for interventions dealing with resist and refuse dynamics. Another practical implication is that, when working with entrenched hatred, consideration be given to the use of a cohesive team approach. ...
Article
This commentary examines and expands upon Smyth and Moloney's descriptions of the challenges divorce practitioners face when attempting to establish working relationships with parents who display entrenched hatred. It is helpful for divorce practitioners to hold in mind two perspectives on entrenched hatred: one as a destructive hindrance to the goal of protecting children from exposure to parental conflict and the other as an emotion fulfilling urgent psychologically self-protective and self-enhancing functions for the parent in its grips. In seeking to form working relationships with such parents, it is helpful for divorce practitioners to understand these psychological needs of the parents without colluding with them. Practical implications for designing effective interventions stem from these understandings.
... 3. Although Walters and Friedlander (2016) appear to be the first to explicitly address the "Resist/Refusal Dynamic" (p. 424), earlier authors such as Fidler and Bala (2010) addressed "resisting postseparation contact" (p. ...
Article
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Legal and mental health professionals face significant challenges when addressing situations in which children resist contact with a parent. There remains only limited empirical research on the differentiation of types and severity of contact problems, the resulting impacts on children and adolescents, and the outcomes of interventions. Often, family justice professionals encounter conflicting information that presents wildly diverging views on the scientific knowledge base used to guide understandings of human interaction. In cases involving resist‐refuse dynamics (“RRD”), the polarized claims, characterized by dichotomous thinking, often assert abuse by the rejected parent, on the one hand, or alienating behavior by the favored parent, on the other hand. When presented with conflicting social science research, understanding basic experimental design methodology is critical to resolving questions of the reliability and utility of the information presented. Equally important, is an understanding of cognitive bias and the human tendency to experience difficulty in modifying belief systems when presented with updated information; this understanding includes changing conceptual frameworks for decision making in family law cases. While polarized and often acrimonious debate in the field may be reflective of larger societal strife, recognizing strengths and weaknesses in the ideas presented in research literature allows for an integrative approach to bring more light, and less heat, to the larger conceptualization of human interactions we have to address in the family court setting.
... Moreover, the literature is increasingly laden with studies that, before determining whether the child is truly being manipulated by the mother, consider the child to be a future delinquent (Fermann and Habigzang, 2016). Perhaps most problematic is the manner in which currents are created that unite the law and mental health, converting judges into the executors of family psychological treatment (Walters & Friedlander, 2016) and creating new manners of assigning custody of minors (Austin, Bow, Knoll, & Ellens, 2016;Baker, Asayan, & LaCheen-Baker, 2016). ...
Article
This work focuses on the ethical dilemma involving whether to defend children and obey the law when a judge determines that a parent should deliver the child to the other parent although the parent is aware that the child is being abused by the other parent, which could not be determined by the justice system. A study was conducted based on the Milgram Experiment regarding obedience to authority. The participants comprised 480 adult mothers who had not experienced having had custody of their children revoked by the justice system. An ad hoc questionnaire was created to gather socio-demographic data to present a fictitious situation extracted from real legal cases in which a mother’s custody of her daughter was revoked, and the SCL-90-R scale. The results demonstrate how women who are separated from their children display the same behavior that would be displayed by any mother defending her children. Milgram’s paradigm of Obedience to Authority (OTA) would not work, and the results are more consistent with the so-called Relationship Condition. Taking children away from their mothers causes serious psychological damage and unscientific theories should not be used to address child abuse.
... Anak yang menjadi korban PAS ketika beranjak dewasa muda, memiliki kemungkinan lebih besar untuk menunjukkan penurunan kualitas hidup, kepercayaan diri yang rendah dan kurangnya komitmen dalam hubungan romantis dengan pasangan [18,19]. Sesi terapi gabungan melibatkan pasangan orangtua, anak, saudara kandung, dan anggota keluarga lainnya seperti orangtua tiri dan kakek nenek [10,27]. ...
Article
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Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a process in which one parent (Aligned Parent) teaches his children to reject or antago- nize other parents (Rejected Parent) which results in disruption to the relationship between children and parents. PAS can be a central issue in child custody disputes and is a form of emotional abuse to children that can disrupt the process of growth and development of children and cause mental disorders in the children's future. Although there are differences of opinion about PAS, the impact can already be seen in children who are in the PAS situation. In severe PAS conditions, disorders in children can occur in the dimensions of behavior, emotions, and cognitive. In the long run, someone who has been exposed to PAS in childhood has a greater likelihood of experiencing depression, anxiety, and decreased quality of life in the future. Given the mag- nitude of the impact caused by PAS, it is necessary to do the management carried out simultaneously by mental health practition- ers, legal professionals and the court. Therapeutic interventions that can be carried out include Multi Model Family Intervention (MMFI), Family Reflections Reunification Program (FRRP), Overcoming Barriers Family Camp (OBFC), Parallel Group Ther- apy, and Family Bridges Workshop. There is no conclusion which intervention is the best. Ultimately, the goal of family therapy is to achieve and maintain healthy parent-child relationships.
... At the same time, the positive evolutions and stability of the positive changes achieved are also described using the time dimension, as they are perceived by the participants as sporadic or short-lived, especially in more serious situations. However, and as previously identified by other authors such as [41], the judges recognized that the destructive effect of time could be decreased or mitigated through early intervention and prompt response when at-risk cases are identified by the legal system. ...
Article
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Parental alienation (PA) and its conceptualization or understanding of the process underlying this dynamic has long been controversial, but it has also been frequently brought to courtrooms. This study provides an account of how legal professionals conceptualize “parental alienation” and how they describe the characteristics of the phenomenon. Using a qualitative design, 21 family court judges (range 33–60 years; 11 men and 10 women), working with child custody cases, participated in an individual in-depth interview. A qualitative analysis based on Grounded Theory basic procedures revealed a complex picture of alienation dynamics with five interconnected results. First, PA contexts and landscapes, which included the judges’ perceptions on the PA nurturing contexts, its strategic behavior patterns and functions, portraits of PA and clues for its identification; second, considerations on PA severity; third, the influential factors, including those related to the emergence of PA; fourth, individual and relational impact of being exposed to PA; and fifth, perceived signs of change. The results also allowed for the complexification of the judges’ theories, revealing six properties of the PA concept: elasticity, intentionality and camouflage, power asymmetries, multifactorial nature, and destructiveness. Directions for future research are expanded from these results and pragmatic contributions of knowledge on judges’ critical thinking on PA issues and its manifestations in legal practice are discussed.
... Interventions which are appropriate for mild to moderate alienation all share common elements which include psychoeducation about parental alienation and the impact on the child; reduction of the child's psychological distress and improvement of emotional well-being; addressing the child's distorted cognitions and developing their critical thinking skills; support of the alienated parent-child relationship; supporting the alienating parent and challenging their distorted cognition; attempts at reparation of the co-parenting relationship, improved communication and healthy boundaries (Albertson- Kelly & Burkhard, 2013;Fidler et al., 2012;Friedlander & Walters, 2010;Smith, 2016;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, & Cox, 2017;Walters & Friedlander, 2016). Interventions of this type include increasing parenting time between the child and the alienated parent. ...
... El concepto de alienación parental ha permitido relacionar situaciones afines, algunas de ellas descritas antes y después de la descripción de Richard Gardner, como: síndrome de Medea (Jacobs, 1998), complejo de Medea por Alain Depaulis (Gamboa y Orozco, 2012), lealtades invisibles (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973), niños rechazadores (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1976), juegos familiares (Selvini, Cirilo, Selvini & Sorrentino, 1989), interferencia en las visitas (Turkat, 1994), síndrome de la madre maliciosa (Turkat, 1995), falsas demandas de abuso infantil (Adams, 2006), síndrome de la madre amenazada (Klass & Klass 2005), dinámicas de rechazo y resistencia (Walters & Friedlander, 2016), resistencias a las visitas (Stoltz & Ney, 2002) y polarización parental (Markan & Weinstock, 2005). Aun cuando estas conductas alienantes también pueden ocurrir en familias que no han atravesado por separación o divorcio (Moné & Biringen, 2006), su identificación se ha vinculado con los procesos de divorcio debido a que el acceso a los casos de alienación parental ocurre en escenarios legales. ...
Article
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A bibliometric study was carried out to determine the development of the concept of parental alienation and of the psychometric instruments designed to evaluate it. Seventeen databases were consulted using the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome”. 221 publications were identified in 89 journals in a period covering January 2000 to June 2017. The evaluation revealed that 90% of the published articles were narrative reviews of literature, clinical cases, and editorials, pointing to an early stage in research. No clinical studies that used psychometric tests to quantify the efficacy of treatment were found. Five psychometric instruments were identified in eight publications. This study provides a synthesis of the metric properties of the instruments, the methodology of the studies and the factors studied.
Article
A sample of 83 severely alienated children and adolescents were enrolled with the parents whom they had rejected in a 4-day Family Bridges educational workshop. The program was conducted after court orders had placed the children in the custody of their rejected parent. The parents who participated with the children in the workshop, and the professional workshop leaders, reported large improvements in the children’s alienated behavior, changes that reflected statistically significant and large effects. The children’s contact refusal with the rejected parent dropped from a pre-workshop rate of 85% to a post-workshop rate of 6%. Depending on the outcome measure, between 75% and 96% of the children overcame their alienation. The parents and children credited the workshop with improving their relationships and teaching them better relationship skills. Despite the children’s negative initial expectations, most children felt positively about their workshop experience, regarded the workshop more like education than counseling, and reported that the professionals who led the program treated them with kindness and respect. All the parent participants and two-thirds of the children rated the workshop as excellent or good, but 8% of children retained their initial negative attitudes about the workshop and rated the workshop as poor. In sum, a significant number of intractable and severely alienated children and adolescents who participated in the Family Bridges workshop repaired their damaged relationship with a parent whom they had previously rejected for an average of 3–4 years.
Article
Several interventions have been developed to address children's resistance and/or refusal to have contact with a parent following separation and divorce. There remains little agreement about how best to evaluate the success of these approaches. To explore the experiences of parents in the Overcoming Barriers Program (OCB), an online survey was distributed to all previous participants. Of the 40 parents who completed the survey at least six months after attending OCB, findings suggest mixed results. Benefits of OCB were more pronounced when changes were made to the coparenting relationships. Improvements in the coparenting relationship were specifically related to children's spending more time with both parents and better parent–child outcomes postintervention. Findings suggest that both the quality of parent–child relationships and the time that the children spend with both parents are associated with reported improvements in the cooperative coparenting relationship as a result of attending OCB. Implications are discussed in terms of lessons learned for developing, delivering, and evaluating similar programs for strained parent–child relationships.
Article
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Objectives: Reintegration therapy (RT) is an evolving therapy that aims to ameliorate parent–child contact problems and alienation post-separation/divorce. This study explored how RT is defined and practiced among experienced mental health professionals and the underlying theory informing practi- tioners’ understanding of contact problems. Findings were used to generate practice recommendations. Method: A hermeneutic phenomenological design was used based on a purposive sample of 14 clinically experienced mental health professionals from Canada and the United States. Results: Analysis revealed substantial variance among practi- tioners’ underlying theoretical frameworks which inform clin- ical practice and service delivery models. Two distinct themes related to the definition of RT and treatment goals emerged signifying some consensus. Implications: Given the variation in models and practice, find- ings illustrate the need for professionals and researchers to collaborate toward the development of a unified theoretical model and the creation of practice guidelines. This, in turn, will allow for objective assessment and evaluation of its effectiveness.
Article
Reunification therapy is specialized family therapy to address parent–child relational disruption (i.e. child resistance to or refusal of parent contact), typically during or following a high‐conflict divorce or custody dispute. The literature discussing reunification therapy interventions with families involving racial diversity, SES, religiosity, and other socio‐cultural aspects is limited to non‐existent. In the move towards being culturally sensitive to the ever‐present multitude of identities that exist within family systems, professionals are challenged to develop a balanced approach between providing competent practice that is culturally sound and considering empirical evidence. This paper offers suggestions for enhancing evidence‐informed interventions to address parent–child contact problems within diverse populations by incorporating culturally specific interventions to increase parenting skills, reduce parent and child distress, and repair attachments through therapeutic experiences. Reunification therapy is specialized family therapy to address parent–child relational disruption (i.e. child resistance to or refusal of parent contact), typically during or following a high‐conflict divorce or custody dispute. Some of the Evidence Based Treatments (EBTs) for family therapy have been translated into practical Evidence‐Informed Interventions (EIIs) for use with high‐conflict, court‐involved families; however, the research is significantly limited as it pertains to the challenges of treating and assisting such families from diverse cultural backgrounds. This paper offers suggestions for enhancing EIIs to address parent–child contact problems within diverse populations by incorporating culturally specific interventions to increase parenting skills, reduce parent and child distress, and repair attachments through therapeutic experiences.
Article
Had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective, the great Sherlock Holmes, actually engaged in deductive reasoning, he would have solved many fewer crimes. In fact, Holmes' logical progression from astute observation to hypotheses is a model of a type of inductive reasoning. This paper argues that mental health professionals tasked to evaluate why a child is resisting/refusing contact with one parent must approach each family the way that Holmes approached each case, without a presumed suspect, moving systematically from detail to hypothesis, well‐versed in the full range of dynamics that may be at play, and erring in favor of parsimony rather than pathology. By contrast, the custody evaluator who approaches these matters through a deductive process, seeking data that support an a priori theory, is vulnerable to confirmatory bias and doing harm to the child whose interests are paramount. The literature concerned with resist/refuse dynamics is reviewed, yielding 13 non‐mutually exclusive variables that evaluators must consider so as to more fully identify why a particular child is resisting or refusing contact with one parent. On this basis, the hybrid model is expanded to include the full spectrum of contributing dynamics. Specific recommendations are made for judicial officers in the interest of writing orders for custody evaluations that minimize the risk of confirmatory bias. Key Points for the Family Court Community • Deductive reasoning seeks to confirm or refute an a priori hypothesis • Deductive reasoning is highly vulnerable to confirmational bias • Confirmational bias can corrupt and invalidate forensic evaluation to the detriment of all involved • Resist/refuse dynamics must be understood through an inductive process that is open to all possible hypotheses • A survey of the literature identifies at least thirteen mutually compatible hypotheses, all of which must be evaluated • Courts must take care to word orders for forensic family evaluations in a manner that minimizes confirmatory bias and invites inductive investigation
Article
Parent–child contact problems may arise in the context of high conflict separation/divorce dynamics between parents. In cases where there are parent–child contact problems and children resist or refuse contact with one of their parents, there may also be incidents of child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, or compromised parenting that can be experienced by a parent or child as traumatic. The circumstances around separation and/or post‐divorce often result in intense stress for families. In this paper we distinguish between the stressful circumstances that may arise as a result of high interparental conflict and pulls for alignment from a parent, and the real or perceived trauma as a factor which contributes to resistance or refusal of a child to have contact with a parent. Interventions to address both trauma responses and the resist‐refuse dynamics are differentiated and discussed. After screening and assessment, the intent is to treat trauma responses with short‐term, evidence‐based therapy, either before or concurrent with co‐parent and family intervention.
Article
Parental alienation (PA) is a highly consequential family dynamic that causes harm to children and parents. While many mental health and legal professionals agree that PA is common and potentially very harmful to children, there is still the appearance that there is controversy and discord in the field. The purpose of this study was to test the extent of consensus in the field regarding the basic tenets of PA theory. Specifically, 11 key terms related to PA were identified through expert input and preliminary field‐testing. An on‐line survey was created specifically for the study to assess level of agreement with these key terms among custody evaluators. This profession was selected because of their high degree of training and experience with a variety of family conflict situations; 119 child custody evaluators selected as members of a professional custody evaluator listing (88% response rate) rated their endorsement of these 11 key definitions with response options including: strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree. Results revealed that roughly 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with each of the 11 definitions. These results demonstrate a high degree of consensus and should guide future trainings of legal and mental health professionals to ensure a common language and understanding of this phenomenon.
Article
Professionals frequently lament the fact that the dynamics of resist‐refuse cases are often entrenched before the family receives effective intervention. Dysfunctional behavior patterns can become entrenched, with severe impairment of children's ability to function. Assessment is a critical component in the process of assisting families, but can come to so dominate the process that the situation is unrecoverable once the assessment is completed and meaningful interventions begin. The authors will describe commonly encountered obstacles to early intervention in resist‐refuse cases, ranging from systemic stressors to the persistence of inaccurate beliefs and information and practices that undermine accountability. Practical strategies, including a broader conceptual model, integrating assessment into intervention, encouraging lawyers and courts to take earlier action, and suggestions for future professional development will be addressed. Intervention in Resist‐Refuse Cases often comes too late to save the child and family from severe emotional dysfunction Judicial officers, attorneys and mental health professionals have unique contributions to either impeding progress or promoting solutions Practitioners may need to intervene to stop “emotional bleeding” and support the child's or family's functioning, and weigh the risks and benefits of prolonged and repeated assessments compared to evidence‐informed intervention Scientifically informed interventions exist for many of the problems encountered in these families Risk assessment and intervention are not mutually exclusive Suggestions are made for judicial education, structuring services and system reform
Article
One hundred and twenty licensed mental health professionals were surveyed about their work conducting court-ordered reunification therapy with moderate to severe cases of children’s rejection of a parent. Four issues were examined in particular: assessment/screening of alienation VS. estrangement, development of treatment goals, definition and measurement of treatment success, and barriers to successful treatment. Predictors of successful treatment were also examined. Results indicate that how success was defined, whether joint sessions are offered, number of barriers, and percent of cases perceived to be hybrids all predicted percent of successful cases. Findings offer many opportunities for refining and enhancing this very challenging work.
Article
The concept of parental alienation (PA) has expanded in popular usage at the same time that it remains mired in controversy about its scientific integrity and its use as a legal strategy in response to an increasing range of issues in family court. In this paper we describe how competing advocacy movements (for mothers, fathers and children) in the family justice field have, over time, helped shape the shifting definitions and widening focal concerns of PA‐ from children who make false allegations of abuse, to those who resist or refuse contact with a parent, to parent relocation, and to the emotional abuse wrecked upon children who are victims of a manipulative parent. In search of common ground for a sound approach to using PA concepts, we argue that the Single Factor model of PA (asserting that an alienating preferred parent is primarily the source of the problem) is inadequate, overly simplistic and misleading. A Single Factor model rests on the fallacy that abuse or poor parenting on the part of either parent have been, or are able to be, ruled out as sufficient reason for the child's rejecting stance. By contrast, multi‐factor models of PA make more useful, valid, differentiated clinical predictions of children's rejection of a parent, informed by basic and applied research on children and families. However, multi‐factor models are complex and difficult to argue in court and to use in assessment and interventions. Suggestions are made for developing intervention‐focused prediction models that reduce the number of factors involved and are applicable across different types of interventions.
Article
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In this study of 74 children ages 5-12 years in custody disputes, child alienation was defined as the expression of persistent, strong negative attitudes and rejecting behaviors toward one parent with corresponding emotional enmeshment with the other parent. According to parents' ratings using the Child Behavior Checklist, alienated children had more emotional and behavioral problems of clinically significant proportions compared to their nonalienated counterparts. Personality assessments using the Rorschach suggest that alienated and nonalienated children differ in a number of ways with respect to how they perceive and process information, their preferred coping styles and capacities, and how they express affect. In these domains there were also some unexpected findings. Clinical intervention and social policy implications of the findings within the forensic context are discussed.
Article
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A model of family structure and process was tested using a sample of 133 children where both divorced parents remained in their children's lives about 3 years after the separation. Role diffusion, lack of a coparental alliance, parental boundary problems, and parent-child rejection are found to be associated with reduced social competence and behavioral difficulties (especially in boys and younger children) and somatic symptoms in all children. Role reversal and parental boundary problems predicted emotional constriction, somatic symptoms, and a controlling interpersonal style, irrespective of gender and age. Counseling interventions and public policy implications are discussed.
Article
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Family courts are seeing an increasing number of separating or divorced families who have a special needs child. These cases present complex challenges for family law professionals charged with crafting parenting plans based on best interests standards. For many of these children, the typical developmentally based custodial arrangements may not be suitable, given the child's specific symptoms and treatment needs. We present a model for understanding how the general and specific needs of these children, as well as the demands on parents, can be assessed and understood in the context of divorce. This includes an analysis of risk and protective factors that inform timeshare and custodial recommendations and determinations. The risk assessment model is then applied to three of the most commonly occurring childhood neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders likely to be encountered in family court, namely, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depressive disorders, and autistic spectrum disorders.
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. The concert of boundary dissolution has a long history in both the psychodynamic and family systems lite ratu res and is linked to a number of important processes in developmental psychopathology. However, advancements in t h~ empirical study of boundary dissolution have been hindered by the multiplicity of terms and conceptulalizations that have been used to capture the construct. The purpose of this paper is to present a multidimensional model of boundary dissolution and to show how the specific dimensions of the construct might be differentially linked to pathological processes in development. Research from a series of studies in presented that lends support to this model.
Article
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This study of custody disputing families tests competing hypothesis about the correlates of children's alignment with one parent and rejection of the other. Hypotheses include: (a) parental alienation by the aligned parent, (b) abuse by the rejected parent, and (c) boundary diffusion or role reversal in the family. The data were coded from clinical research records of 125 children referred from family courts for custody evaluation or custody counseling. The findings support a multi-factor explanation of children's rejection of a parent with both the aligned and rejected parents contributing to the problem, together with role reversal in parent-child relationships.
Article
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In this article, controversies and problems with parental alienation syndrome are discussed. A reformulation focusing on the alienated child is proposed, and these children are clearly distinguished from other children who resist or refuse contact with a parent following separation or divorce for a variety of normal, expectable reasons, including estrangement. A systemic array of contributing factors are described that can create and/or consolidate alienation in children, including intense marital conflict, a humiliating separation, parental personalities and behaviors, protracted litigation, and professional mismanagement. These factors are understood in the context of the child's capacities and vulnerabilities.
Article
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The Circle of Security intervention protocol is a 20-week, group-based, parent education and psychotherapy intervention designed to shift patterns of attachment-caregiving interactions in high-risk caregiver-child dyads to a more appropriate developmental pathway. All phases of the protocol, including the pre- and post-intervention assessments, and the intervention itself, are based on attachment theory and procedures, current research on early relationships, and object relations theory. Using edited videotapes of their interactions with their children, caregivers are encouraged: 1. to increase their sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness to the child's signals relevant to its moving away from to explore, and its moving back for comfort and soothing; 2. to increase their ability to reflect on their own and the child's behavior, thoughts and feelings regarding their attachment-caregiving interactions; and 3. to reflect on experiences in their own histories that affect their current caregiving patterns. In this paper we describe the conceptual background of the protocol, and the protocol itself. We then present a case study from our current data set of 75 dyads who have completed the protocol.
Article
This article is an invited response to the White Paper of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System's Honoring Families Initiative on the court and separating and divorcing families. While the White Paper explores many topics, including family court functions, the limitations of the adversary process, the effects of divorce and separation on children and parents, and court and community collaborations, among others, this article focuses on the family court itself - its mission, its function, and its structure. Given the increasing numbers of people using the courts to resolve their family legal disputes, this perspective is important. For example, in Maryland during fiscal year 2013, forty-four percent of the total trial court filings involved family and juvenile cases, exceeding the portion devoted to either criminal or other civil cases. In fact, as the White Paper points out, "[t]he family courts have, in effect, become an emergency room for family problems when separating and divorcing parents have nowhere else to turn for help in addressing their problems with each other and their children." With that in mind, family courts likely are not going to disappear. Thus, they are worthy of our efforts to structure or restructure them so that they are as helpful to children and families as possible.
Article
This book examines whether and how children should be involved in the process of resolving family law disputes. Although there is widespread acceptance in the Western world that the views of children should be taken into account, and that the weight given to those views should depend on their age and maturity, there is much less agreement about how children's voices should be heard and the purposes for which they are to be heard. This book examines these issues, drawing upon empirical data from interviews which explore the views and experiences of children, parents, counsellors, mediators, lawyers, and judges involved in such disputes in Australia. Most parents, children, and professionals were in favour of giving children a say, while not allowing them to make the decision. There were, however, quite different rationales for this. Mediators and family report writers, for example, emphasized the enlightenment that can come from giving children a say, while lawyers were more concerned with assessing the competence of children to make rational choices. There was also a general consensus among parents and professionals that giving children a say in resolving family law disputes also involved dangers. On the basis of this research, the book suggests ways in which children can better be heard without placing them at the centre of their parents' conflicts. Children might be given a say in some kinds of decisions much more than others and they should not be asked to choose between their parents competing positions. A major rationale for listening to children in family law disputes is that it provides a window upon children's worlds.
Article
Foreword Arlene Vetere 1. Structural Family Therapy 2. A Family in Formation 3. A Family Model 4. A Kibbutz Family 5. Therapeutic Implications of a Structural Approach 6. The Family in Therapy 7. Forming the Therapeutic System 8. Restructuring the Family 9. A "Yes, But" Technique 10. A "Yes, And" Technique 11. The Initial Interview 12. A Longitudinal View Epilog
Article
This commentary notes that the White Paper of the Honoring Families Initiative failed to address how including the child's voice in best interests of the child determinations fits or does not fit into their proposal. To the extent appropriate and possible, the child's preferences and voice should be heard. In addition, the White Paper's emphasis on avoiding the adversarial nature of litigation distracts it from a necessary emphasis that conflict is the enemy of children and that conflict can emanate from one or more of numerous sources, some connected to the court processes and some independent of court. This commentary ends by noting that courts are needed for enforcement of orders and protection, yet they also have much more to do despite the inconvenient truth of dwindling resources. As the figurative and literal head of each community's interdisciplinary team, courts must continue to serve as conflict managers protecting children in high-conflict families.Key Points for the Family Court CommunityTo the extent appropriate and possible, the child's preferences and voice should be included in best interests determinations.Effective system reform must reduce conflict or protect children from the harmful effects of conflict.Courts must play an indispensable role in coordinating and facilitating efforts to help children and families in conflict.
Article
Increasingly lawyers for children follow a model of “client centered” (as opposed to “best interests”) representation in child custody disputes in which the child client defines the objectives of the representation. The client-centered model, while appropriate in most cases to give voice to the child's preferences in a process that deeply impacts him or her, can create an ethical dilemma for the child's lawyer in cases where a child is truly alienated from the other parent by the actions of the alienating parent. Alienated children strongly and unreasonably express a preference for objectives of representation that might further damage the alienated parent's relationship with the child. The alienated child's objectives may be the result of a campaign of denigration and “brainwashing” by the alienating parent. This Note suggests that when a child is truly alienated from a parent, as diagnosed by a mental health expert, the child may have “diminished capacity” and therefore, the client-directed model of representation is not adequate. This Note proposes that the Child's Attorney must determine whether the child is of diminished capacity under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and, if so, must treat the client accordingly under Rule 1.14. Specifically, the attorney may, if all other remedial measures are inadequate, override the child's wishes and advocate a position that the child would take, but for the brainwashing of the child used to alienate him or her from a parent.
Article
The complexity of many high-conflict shared custody cases creates enormous and often overwhelming challenges to a therapist and/or parenting coordinator (PC) independently involved in such situations. Unfortunately, having both therapeutic and PC roles involved in a case does not assure effective work with these families. This article describes the distinctions between these roles, their synergies, and challenges faced when attempting to provide coordinated interventions in high conflict cases. Essential elements of collaborative team functioning are presented, and numerous strategies to address common issues that confront professionals working on these cases are provided.
Article
Children at the center of high-conflict parenting disputes face a variety of emotional risks, emanating from both difficult historical experiences and the ongoing family conflict. Chief among these risks is that children's developmental progress will be compromised or distorted, such that children fail to master the essential developmental tasks and coping skills that they need to function in society and future relationships. In this article, the authors present a model of “child centered conjoint therapy” which can be used in both designated family therapy and as an approach to adapting children's treatment. CCCT is based on the core concept that the child's development, and his/her ability to master healthy coping abilities, must be the primary focus in all therapeutic intervention. This highly structured approach focuses on specific symptoms, behaviors, and skills, as well as the redirection of relationships and emotional healing necessary for children to adjust successfully. The authors also address common problems, obstacles, and the backdrop of support from a PC or the court, which may be necessary for therapy to succeed.
Article
Children's perspectives can enlighten decisions regarding custody and parenting plans, but different opinions exist about how best to involve children in the decision-making process. This article discusses why most procedures for soliciting children's preferences do not reliably elicit information on their best interests and do not give children a meaningful voice in decision making. Instead, these procedures provide children with forums in which to takes sides in their parents' disputes. In addition to hearing an individual child's voice, decision makers can use the collective voice of children, as revealed in research on such topics as joint custody, overnight stays, and relocation to help understand what children might say about these issues with the hindsight of maturity and in the absence of parental pressure, loyalty conflicts, inhibitions, and limitations in perspective and articulation.
Article
This article provides a detailed explanation of the use of clinical interventions, such as the Multi-Modal Family Intervention (MMFI), in situations where a child resists or refuses contact with a parent. Geared toward a multidisciplinary audience of judicial officers, family law attorneys, and mental health practitioners, the authors guide the reader through the conceptual formulations of the ways these interventions can be helpful and then offer three case examples that demonstrate the practical application of the concepts. The authors believe that effective clinical intervention is essential in resolving the resistance/refusal dynamic, and it also enables the child to experience and maintain a tenable space where having relationships with both parents is possible.
Article
This article reviews the characteristics of parents involved in the custody and visitation disputes in the legal system, foundations for treating such parents, and an integrative systemic therapy developed to intervene with these families. Parents and children involved in these conflicts are often at risk for a wide variety of problems. The integrative family therapy described utilizes multilevel intervention strategies and techniques drawn from different theoretical models. The article describes a protocol for treatment and set strategies for intervention that are useful for the whole family system, both parents, or only one parent. It is argued that a systemic perspective and linking work at all levels, including the court, is essential in the treatment of these cases.
Article
This volume is intended to be a useful resource for scholars and others interested in parent-child relationships. It highlights an area that has to date received inconsistent and inadequate attention, and it provides a source that both thoroughly reviews the literatures on parental psychological control and presents new methodologies and findings that enhance the study of this intrusive type of parenting. It is hoped that the volume will stimulate interest and much more work on a construct that appears to be an important component of the socialization of children. It is also hoped that the volume will stimulate thought and research focused on the intrusion into the psychological autonomy of children, adolescents, and other age groups in the variety of contexts that make up human social life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Parentification is a term commonly used to refer to role reversal in the parent-child relationship wherein parents rely upon their children for emotional support. The construct has been discussed widely within the context of divorce as a parenting behavior likely to place children at risk for poor outcomes; however, rigorous empirical examination of parentification following divorce remains sparse. The present paper provides a new framework for considering parental support seeking, suggesting that the process of family restructuring may blur specific parent-child boundaries related to intimacy and power. We elaborate on this model as a mechanism for integrating family systems and developmental psychopathology perspectives and as a framework within which to conduct future research on parentification. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This article challenges an increasing orthodoxy regarding the weight which courts might place upon the expressed views of children in a specific situation—high-conflict contact disputes. I am a child psychiatrist who acts as an expert witness within the family courts of England & Wales. I have conducted a statistical analysis of cases in which I have conducted assessments of children caught in such disputes between their separated parents. Fifty-eight children met the criteria for inclusion in the study—the child's consistent opposition to contact with the non resident parent (NRP), despite the court having determined that there was no good reason to constrain contact. My assessment routinely included attempted observation of the child at a visit with the NRP. Despite their stated views most children had a positive experience in those visits that took place, and despite the fact that most had not seen the NRP for a long time. Overall there was a statistical association between increased resistance to contact and the greater age of the child and the longer the time during which no contact had occurred. However, the responses of children and young people were unpredictable and it was impossible to conclude that apparent maturity or intelligence was a guide to the reliability of their expressed resistance. The possible reasons for this unreliability are discussed. I emphasize that my sample of children is unusual as many of the cases had involved serious, though unfounded, allegations of abuse. In addition most of the children showed indications of having become “alienated” from the NRP. I conclude that courts might exercise caution when evaluating the views of children and young people in this situation, and emphasises that assessors should consider including at least one observation of the child at a prolonged visit to the NRP. Because of the new orthodoxy some parents may be tempted to misuse their child's right to a “voice” in court in order to achieve their own ends. Practitioners who advise courts may need to be more aware of these difficulties.
Article
The term “attachment” is now in common usage and, as the readers of this Special Issue are aware, is referenced in a rapidly increasing variety of contexts involving child custody (McIntosh & Chisholm, 2008). The aim of this article is to provide judges, lawyers, mediators and mental health professionals involved in custody assessment with an overview of the history of the field of attachment and its principal measures, together with a clear description of what the term “attachment” does—and does not—mean to attachment researchers and theoreticians. Implications for normative separations that do not involve custody-related assessment or the intervention of courts or mediators are also considered. With respect to contested custody cases, we consider the use of standardized attachment measures, and note that sufficient validation for most such measures in clinical contexts is still developing. We describe three measures taken from the research literature (the Strange Situation procedure, the Attachment Q-sort and the Adult Attachment Interview), each subjected to meta-analyses and widely regarded as “gold standard” methods in research. These three methods come closest at this point in time to meeting criteria for providing “scientific evidence” regarding an individual's current attachment status. Limitations on widespread use include the need for substantiating meta-analyses on father-child relationships, and further validation across a wider spread of children's ages. We are confident that these restrictions can be solved by new research. In the interim, we argue that increased familiarity with the above measures will assist custody evaluators both in standardizing their assessment procedures and their capacity to gain more from the observational data available to them. Such increased standardization and depth of observation should be highly beneficial to the courts. Related to our endorsement of use of attachment measures in family law matters, we address issues of training, and strongly encourage custody evaluators to attend trainings in the principal methods of the field, and insofar as possible, to become certified in their use. Overall, we endorse the position that attachment theory provides important perspectives not only on the emotional process of divorce itself, but as well on the decisions made for and about the children concerned. Thus, this paper argues that attachment, correctly understood, creates a critical foundation for all professionals working with separated families.
Article
This article describes goals and strategies for family-focused counseling and therapy when children are alienated from a parent after separation and divorce. The confidential intervention takes place within a legally defined contract and is based on a careful assessment of the dynamics of the multiple factors that contribute to the alienation and how the chil?s development is affected. Strategies for forming multiple therapeutic alliances with often reluctant, recalcitrant, and polarized parents are discussed together with ways of helping the child directly.
Article
When caregivers conflict, systemic alliances shift and healthy parent-child roles can be corrupted. The present paper describes three forms of role corruption which can occur within the enmeshed dyad and as the common complement of alienation and estrangement. These include the child who is prematurely promoted to serve as a parent's ally and partner, the child who is inducted into service as the parent's caregiver, and the child whose development is inhibited by a parent who needs to be needed. These dynamics—adultification, parentification and infantilization, respectively—are each illustrated with brief case material. Family law professionals and clinicians alike are encouraged to conceptualize these dynamics as they occur within an imbalanced family system and thereby to craft interventions which intend to re-establish healthy roles. Some such interventions are reviewed and presented as one part of the constellation of services necessary for the triangulated child.
Article
Preliminary findings on the outcomes of family-focused counseling interventions for alienated and estranged children are presented based upon data from a longitudinal study of children in chronic custody disputes who were interviewed as young adults and from the clinical records of long-term therapy with these children who were resisting visitation.
Article
This article describes an innovative educational and experiential program, Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child RelationshipsTM, that draws on social science research to help severely and unreasonably alienated children and adolescents adjust to court orders that place them with a parent they claim to hate or fear. The article examines the benefits and drawbacks of available options for helping alienated children and controversies and ethical issues regarding coercion of children by parents and courts. The program's goals, principles, structure, procedures, syllabus, limitations, and preliminary outcomes are presented. At the workshop's conclusion, 22 of 23 children, all of whom had failed experiences with counseling prior to enrollment, restored a positive relationship with the rejected parent. At follow-up, 18 of the 22 children maintained their gains; those who relapsed had premature contact with the alienating parent.
Parentification: An overview of theory, research, and society issues
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Chase, N. (1999). Parentification: An overview of theory, research, and society issues. In N. Chase (Ed.), Burdened children: Theory, research, and treatment of parentification (pp. 3-34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Children who resist post separation parental contact
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Parental alienation: Overview, management, intervention, and practice tips
  • Warshak
Warshak, R. A. (2015). Parental alienation: Overview, management, intervention, and practice tips. Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 28, 181-248.
Implications of parent–child boundary dissolution for developmental psychopathology: “Who is the parent and who is the child?”
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Judge throws 3 kids in juvenile center for not being nice to their dad
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Abbey-Lambertz, K. (2016). Judge throws 3 kids in juvenile center for not being nice to their dad. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tsimhoni-judge-lisa-gorcyca-juvenile-detention_us_559e25f5e4b0967291557f38
Burdened children: Theory, research, and treatment of parentification
  • N. Chase
Reconceptualizing parental alienation: Parental personality disorder and the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma
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Childress, C. A. (2013). Reconceptualizing parental alienation: Parental personality disorder and the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma. Retrieved from http://drcachildress.org/asp/admin/getFile.asp?RID569&TID5 6&FN5pdf
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AFCC Task Force on Court-Involved Therapy
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Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy. (2011). AFCC Task Force on Court-Involved Therapy. Family Court Review, 49, 564-581.