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Parental alienation: Targeted parent perspective: Parental alienation

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The aims of the study were to determine targeted parent experiences of parental alienation post-separation from the alienating parent, and to investigate common targeted parent characteristics. A total of 225 targeted parents completed an online survey. Targeted parents reported experiencing high severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics. Targeted parent sex and targeted child age significantly predicted variance in exposure to parental alienation. Targeted mothers experienced significantly higher severity of exposure to parental alienation than targeted fathers. Severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics significantly predicted increases in the appraisal of the parental alienation situation as threatening. The findings offered new insights into targeted parent appraisals of their parental alienation experience. The results signified the seriousness of the impact of exposure to parental alienation for targeted parents, and highlighted a need for empirical research into the effectiveness of interventions and support services to assist targeted parents.
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Parental alienation: Targeted parent perspective
Sian Balmer,
1
Mandy Matthewson ,
1
and Janet Haines
2
1
School of Medicine, Division of Psychology, University of Tasmania and
2
Salamanca Psychology, Hobart, Tasmania,
Australia
Abstract
Objectives: The aims of the study were to determine targeted parent experiences of parental alienation post-separation from the
alienating parent, and to investigate common targeted parent characteristics. Method: A total of 225 targeted parents completed
an online survey. Results: Targeted parents reported experiencing high severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics. Tar-
geted parent sex and targeted child age signicantly predicted variance in exposure to parental alienation. Targeted mothers
experienced signicantly higher severity of exposure to parental alienation than targeted fathers. Severity of exposure to paren-
tal alienation tactics signicantly predicted increases in the appraisal of the parental alienation situation as threatening. Conclu-
sions: The ndings offered new insights into targeted parent appraisals of their parental alienation experience. The results
signied the seriousness of the impact of exposure to parental alienation for targeted parents, and highlighted a need for empiri-
cal research into the effectiveness of interventions and support services to assist targeted parents.
Key words: alienated parent, parental alienation, targeted parent
What is already known about the topic?
1. Parental alienation is a legitimate and serious prob-
lem that affects the child, their parents, and the fam-
ily system.
2. Alienating parents use a number of tactics to damage
the relationship between the child and targeted
parent.
3. There is currently no agreed upon denitive set of
behaviours that constitute parental alienation.
What this topic adds?
1. Targeted parents are mothers and fathers who expe-
rience psychological distress as a result of being alie-
nated from their children.
2. Support services are needed to assist targeted parents
with their distress.
3. Psychologists need to be aware of the presence and
severity of parental alienation when working with
families who may be experiencing parental aliena-
tion.
Correspondence: Mandy Matthewson, School of Medicine, Division
of Psychology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 30, Hobart,
Tasmania 7001, Australia.
Email: Mandy.Matthewson@utas.edu.au
Received 22 September 2016. Accepted for publication 8
February 2017.
Parental alienation is a process by which one parent (alie-
nating parent) negatively inuences a childs perception of
the other parent (targeted parent). This results in the child
irrationally denigrating the alienated parent while expres-
sing strong allegiance to the alienating parent. Ultimately,
this can result in the alienating parent eradicating the rela-
tionship between the child and the targeted parent (Bernet,
Von Boch-Galhau, Baker, & Morrison, 2010; Garber, 2011).
There is currently no agreed upon denitive set of beha-
viours that constitute parental alienation, however, parental
alienation is understood to involve a number of tactics used
by the alienating parent in an attempt to program the tar-
geted child to reject the targeted parent (Bond, 2008; Gard-
ner, 2002; Hands & Warshak, 2011).
Much of the past literature has focused on the charac-
teristics of the alienating parent and the targeted child.
Alienating parents have been described as narcissistic,
paranoid, and cognitively disturbed individuals who have
difcult relationships with their family of origin
(e.g., Baker, 2005a, 2006; Ellis & Boyan, 2010; Kopetski,
1998a, 1998b; Lorandos, Bernet, & Sauber, 2013; Rand,
1997a, 1997b). It has been suggested that most alienating
parents are mothers (Bow, Gould, & Flens, 2009; Ellis &
Boyan, 2010; Gardner, 2002; Johnston, 2003; Meier,
2009; Nichols, 2013; Rand, 1997a, 1997b; Vassiliou &
Cartwright, 2001). Additionally, alienating mothers and
alienating fathers engage in differing alienating tactics.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
Australian Journal of Psychology 2017
doi: 10.1111/ajpy.12159
For example, alienating fathers are more likely to
encourage the child to be deant towards the mother,
whereas alienating mothers are more likely to denigrate
the father in front of the child (López, Iglesias, & Gar-
cía, 2014).
A number of commonly witnessed characteristics of tar-
get children have been outlined in the literature, including:
(1) having an unhealthy and age-inappropriate depend-
ence on the alienating parent; (2) female children are
slightly more likely to be targeted; and (3) children around
1014 years of age are more commonly alienated (Baker &
Darnall, 2006; Bow et al., 2009; Ellis & Boyan, 2010). Tar-
geted children have been observed to exhibit psychosocial
disturbances due to exposure to parental alienation. These
disturbances include disrupted social-emotional develop-
ment, lack of trust in relationships, depression, anxiety,
difculties controlling their impulses, social isolation, and
low self-sufciency (Baker, 2005b, 2010b; Ben-Ami &
Baker, 2012; Friedlander & Walters, 2010; Godbout & Par-
ent, 2012; Johnston, Walters, & Olesen, 2005; Kopetski,
1998b).
Despite the body of literature describing the targeted child
and alienating parent the perspective of the targeted parent
remains under-researched. Nevertheless, some studies have
identied common emotions experienced by targeted par-
ents. These include frustration, stress, fear, loss, powerless-
ness, helplessness, and anger as a result of the constant
interference by the alienating parent (Baker, 2010a; Baker &
Andre, 2008; Baker & Darnall, 2006; Vassiliou & Cart-
wright, 2001). Throughout the process of alienation, the
targeted parent can endure personal costs that leave them
emotionally and nancially exhausted (Walsh &
Bone, 1997).
Currently, the majority of descriptions of targeted par-
ent characteristics and experiences are drawn from
research with small sample sizes (e.g., N< 50) or from
reports of the targeted parentsexperiences from legal
and mental health professionals who have worked with
the targeted parent or targeted child, or from targeted
children when interviewed in adulthood. Additionally,
information about the targeted parent experience largely
has relied on American samples. No study to date has
employed an international sample (Baker, 2006, 2010a;
Friedlander & Walters, 2010; Godbout & Parent, 2012;
Johnston, 2003; Kelly & Johnston, 2001; Vassiliou &
Cartwright, 2001). Throughout this literature, targeted
parents have been described as rigid and unskilled in
their parenting style, emotionally detached and having
difculty managing their emotions. Further research is
needed examining the impact of parental alienation on
the targeted parentspsychological wellbeing and percep-
tion of parenting capacity from the targeted parent
perspective.
THE PRESENT STUDY
The aim of this study is to investigate the experience of paren-
tal alienation from the perspective of both male and female
targeted parents. This study aims to examine if there are sex
differences in the experience of parental alienation. The study
also examines if parental alienation severity predicts changes
in the targeted parentspsychological wellbeing, threat
appraisal, and perception of parental competence.
Based on previous research, it is predicted that fathers
will report greater severity of parental alienation than will
mothers. Parental alienation severity will be higher when
the targeted child is older and female. It is also predicted
that an increase in parental alienation severity will be asso-
ciated with poorer psychological wellbeing, greater threat
appraisal, and a reduction in targeted parentsperception of
their parental competence.
METHOD
Procedure
Following approval from the University of TasmaniasSocial
Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee, the researchers
approached support groups, private practices, and non-
government organisations providing assistance for parents
experiencing parental alienation to advertise the research on
the researchersbehalf. In order to obtain an international sam-
ple, the study was also advertised via an international online
support groups Facebook page. Interested targeted parents
were able to access the survey online via Limesurvey (Schmitz,
2015). The survey took approximately1 hr to complete.
Materials
An online survey was developed specically for the present
study. The survey utilised a combination of researcher
developed measures and published measures. Socio-
demographic information was collected via 13 questions
developed by the researcher, to give a clearer context in
which parental alienation occurs, as well as to determine
common characteristics among targeted parents.
The targeted parentsrecall of exposure to parental alien-
ation tactics was measured by 13 items developed by the
researchers. An example item includes, In the last month,
has the alienating parent attempted to remove your child from
your life completely?, rated on a 5-point Likert scale
(0 = never to 4= always). Internal consistencies were calcu-
lated using Cronbachs alpha for the severity of exposure to
parental alienation tactics, and were considered acceptable
(Cronbachsα= .85).
The stress appraisal measure (SAM: Peacock & Wong,
1990), consisting of 28 items (Cronbachsα= .67), was uti-
lised to measure cognitive appraisals that result in stress.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
2 S. Balmer et al.
Measured on a 5-point Likert scale, the SAM consists of
seven subscales: threat, challenge, centrality, controllable-
by-self, controllable-by-others, uncontrollable, and
stressfulness.
The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21:
Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), consisting of 21 items
(Cronbachsα= .95), was utilised to measure depression,
anxiety, and stress measured on a 4-point Likert scale
(0 = never to 3 = almost always).
The Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSCS; John-
ston & Mash, 1989) was utilised to evaluate competence on
a 6-point Likert scale (1 = strongly agree to 6 = strongly disa-
gree). This measure consists of 16 items, divided into two
subscales: satisfaction subscale with nine items (Cronbachs
αPre/Post = .75/.74); and efcacy subscale with seven items
(CronbachsαPre/Post = .76/.75; Johnston & Mash, 1989).
An example item is, I honestly believe I have all the skills nec-
essary to be a good parent to my child.
The ParentChild Relationship Inventory (PCRI: Gerard,
1994) was utilised to examine parental competence on a 4-
point Likert scale (1 = strongly agree and 4 = strongly disa-
gree). An additional response item (0 = Dont Know/Not
Applicable) was added to account for the fact that the cur-
rent sample may not have contact nor have had a relation-
ship with the target child, in order to enable them to
answer such questions. This measure consisted of 78 items
with 7 content scale, including: parent support, satisfaction
with parenting, involvement, communication, limit setting,
autonomy, and role orientation (Cronbachsα= .12.76).
The PCRI was used in this study because it provides a com-
prehensive measure of the parentchild relationship in the
absence of a measure of the parentchild relationship
within the context of parental alienation.
Participants
A priori power analysis using G*Power (version 3.1.9.2;
Faul, Erdfelder, Buchner, & Lang, 2009) was conducted. A
sample size of 179 would be required to achieve power of
.80 and a medium effect size (.25) at an alpha level of .05.
A total of 225 participants who self-identied as targeted
parents completed the survey. Each parent participated vol-
untarily. The inclusion criterion for the study was being a
biological parent of a child (under the age of 18 years) who
they were alienated from at the time of the study. Of this
sample, 105 were men (M
age
= 40.86 years, SD = 8.42) and
120 were women (M
age
= 40.73 years, SD = 7.05).
Analysis
To estimate the proportion of variance in severity of expo-
sure to parental alienation tactics that can be accounted for
by targeted parent sex, targeted child sex, and targeted child
age, a standard regression analysis was performed. A one-
way between groups analysis of variance (ANOVA) was
used to further investigate the differential severity of expo-
sure to parental alienation tactics for mothers and fathers.
Additionally, a series of one-way ANOVAs were conducted
to investigate any sex differences in targeted parentspsy-
chological wellbeing as measured by the DASS (Lovibond &
Lovibond, 1995), threat appraisal as measured by the SAM
(Peacock & Wong, 1990), and perception of parental com-
petence as measured by the PSCS (Johnston & Mash, 1989)
and the PCRI (Gerard, 1994). To estimate the proportion of
variance in parental competence, stress appraisal, and psy-
chological well-being that can be accounted for by the
severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics, a series of
standard multiple regression analyses were performed.
RESULTS
Sample characteristics
Close to half of the participants (48%) were living in the
United States of America, with 36.4% living in Australia
(see Table 1 for a summary of the characteristics of the
sample).
Sex differences in targeted parent experiences of
parental alienation
In combination, targeted parent sex, targeted child sex, and
targeted child age accounted for a signicant 7.8% of the
variability in severity of exposure to parental alienation tac-
tics, R
2
= .078, adjusted R
2
= .065, F(3, 220) = 6.19,
p= <.001, η
2
= .078. This demonstrated signicant positive
correlation between severity of exposure to parental aliena-
tion tactics and targeted parent sex, as well as targeted child
age. ANOVA revealed a signicant main effect of targeted
parent sex on the severity of exposure to parental alienation
tactics, F(1, 222) = 11.54, p= .001, η
2
= .049, in which
mothers (M= 42.01, SD = 8.45) experienced a signicantly
higher severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics
than fathers (M= 38.00, SD = 9.21). Furthermore, a series
of one-way ANOVAs demonstrated a signicant main effect
of targeted parent sex on the severity of exposure to the
alienating parent: interrogating the targeted child; speaking
badly about the targeted parent in front of the targeted
child; withdrawing love from the targeted child when they
express support for the targeted parent; demanding targeted
child be loyal only to them; inappropriately disclosing infor-
mation about the targeted parent to targeted child; encour-
aging an unhealthy alliance with targeted child; and
encouraging the targeted child to be deant while spending
time with the targeted parent. Planned contrasts indicated
that mothers experienced signicantly higher severity of
exposure to each of the tactics compared to fathers (see
Table 2).
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
3Parental alienation
A series of one-way ANOVAs revealed signicant main
effects of targeted parent sex on satisfaction with parenting,
parental involvement, and parental role orientation were
found. Planned contrasts demonstrated that mothers
reported signicantly higher reections of satisfaction with
parenting compared to fathers whereas fathers reported sig-
nicantly higher propensity to seek out their child and
show interest in being involved with their life activities
compared to mothers, as well as signicantly higher atti-
tudes consistent with the sharing of parental responsibility
compared to mothers (see Table 3).
Impact of parental alienation on targeted parents
psychological wellbeing, threat appraisal, and parental
competence
The severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics
accounted for a signicant 3.8% of the variance in appraisal
of the threatening nature of the parental alienation
situation. This demonstrated a signicant positive correla-
tion between severity of exposure to parental alienation tac-
tics and stress appraisal of the potential harm or loss that
may come in the future due to the parental alienation expe-
rience. The severity of exposure to parental alienation tac-
tics did not account for signicant variances for any of the
remaining outcome variables (see Table 4).
DISCUSSION
The present study was conducted to investigate the experi-
ence of parental alienation from the perspective of male
and female targeted parents. Specically, this study aimed
to examine if there are sex differences in the experience of
parental alienation. The study also examined if parental
alienation severity predicted changes in the targeted par-
entspsychological wellbeing, threat appraisal, and percep-
tion of parental competence.
Table 1 Socio-demographic variables of the current study sample
Socio-demographic Variables
Number
(%) M(SD) Socio-demographic Variables
Number
(%) M(SD)
Sample 225 (100) Age of TC 118 years 11.32
(4.74)
Age 1860 years 40.79
(7.70)
Gender of TC Male 102 (45.3)
Sex of parent Female 120 (53.3) Female 123 (54.7)
Male 105 (46.7) No. children shared
with AP
1 92 (40.9)
Country of residence USA 108 (48) 2 74 (32.9)
Australia 82 (36.4) 3 29 (12.9)
Canada 17 (7.6) 4 7 (3.1)
United Kingdom 10 (4.4) 5 3 (1.3)
New Zealand 5 (2.2) 6 1 (.4)
Ireland 2 (.9) No. children
alienated from
1 116 (51.6)
India 1 (.4) 2 80 (35.6)
Language English 220 (97.8) 3 17 (7.6)
Relationship status Divorced/
separated
102 (45.3) 4 7 (3.1)
Married/defacto 78 (34.7) 5 2 (.9)
Single 29 (12.9) 6 1 (.4)
Never married 16 (7.1) Current custody
status
No custody 61 (27.1)
Employment Full-time 131 (58.2) Non-custodial with
visitation
51 (22.7)
Part-time 32 (14.2) Primary custodial
parent
19 (8.4)
Unemployed 44 (19.6) Joint custody 39 (17.3)
Part-/full-time
student
18 (8) Custody
arrangement
No custody 6 (2.7)
TC resides with TP Yes 18 (8) Non-custodial with
visitation
59 (26.2)
No 207 (92) Primary custodial
parent
37 (16.4)
Children with someone other
than the AP
Yes 83 (36.9) Joint custody 84 (37.3)
No 142 (63.1)
Note. AP = alienating parent; M= estimated mean; SD = standard deviation; TC = targeted child; TP = targeted parent.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
4 S. Balmer et al.
Sex differences in targeted parent experiences of
parental alienation
The present study showed that, in combination, targeted
parent sex, targeted child sex, and targeted child age, signi-
cantly predicted changes in the severity of exposure to
parental alienation tactics. As targeted child age increased,
the severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics also
increased for the targeted parent. This nding supports the
hypotheses and is consistent with previous research.
Targeted parent sex was also found to signicantly predict
changes in the severity of exposure to parental alienation
tactics. Mothers experienced signicantly greater severity of
exposure to parental alienation tactics than fathers. This
nding did not support the hypothesis and previous
research. Previous studies have suggested that mothers are
most commonly found to be the alienating parents and,
thus, fathers experience a higher frequency and severity of
exposure to parental alienation tactics (Bow et al., 2009;
Ellis & Boyan, 2010; Gardner, 2002; Johnston, 2003; Meier,
2009; Nichols, 2013; Rand, 1997a, 1997b; Vassiliou & Cart-
wright, 2001). This difference may be accounted for by the
larger sample size and a higher proportion of targeted
mothers than previous studies.
In the present study, targeted mothers reported experien-
cing signicantly higher severity of exposure to alienating
parentsdenigration tactics than did fathers, which is incon-
sistent with López et al. (2014). This nding suggests that
alienating fathers may be more aggressive in their approach
to weakening the targeted mothers authority over their
children than rst thought.
The present ndings do offer some empirical support for
the suggestion that alienating mothers and alienating fathers
appear to engage in differing tactics against the targeted par-
ent (López et al., 2014; Lorandos et al., 2013). The current
Table 2 Means and standard deviations for the differential severity of exposure to parental alienation tactics between males and females
Males Females
(Two-
tailed)
M SD M SD F (df )η
2
t(df )pd
AP interfering with time
spent with TC
3.11 [2.89, 3.34] 1.16 3.29 [3.09, 3.50] 1.14 1.34 (1, 223) .006 1.16 (223) .248 .155
AP implications of TP
being dangerous
2.95 [2.71, 3.20] 1.27 3.06 [2.83, 3.29] 1.28 .39 (1, 223) .002 0.62 (223) .535 .083
AP interrogating the TC
after time spent
2.91 [2.65, 3.17] 1.35 3.41 [3.23, 3.59] 1.00 9.92 (1, 223) .043 3.15 (223) .002 .422
AP speaking badly about
the TP in front of the
TC
3.15 [2.94, 3.36] 1.08 3.55 [3.41, 3.69] 0.75 10.43 (1, 223) .045 3.23 (223) .001 .433
AP attempts to damage
loving connection
3.59 [3.45, 3.73] 0.73 3.72 [3.61, 3.83] 0.61 1.99 (1, 223) .009 1.41 (223) .159 .189
AP withdrawing love
from TC when they
express support for the
TP
2.40 [2.15, 2.65] 0.12 2.78 [2.54, 3.02] 1.33 4.84 (1, 223) .021 2.20 (223) .029 .295
AP demanding TC to be
loyal only to them
(AP)
2.75 [2.51, 3.00] 1.25 3.14 [2.94, 3.35] 1.13 5.99 (1, 223) .026 2.45 (223) .015 .328
AP inappropriately
disclosing information
about TP to TC
2.88 [2.63, 3.12] 1.28 3.32 [3.12, 3.51] 1.07 7.95 (1, 223) .035 2.80 (222) .005 .376
AP attempts to
completely remove TC
from TPs life
3.39 [3.20, 3.58] 0.99 3.58 [3.41, 3.74] 0.90 2.14 (1, 223) .010 1.46 (223) .145 .196
AP cut TP off from
receiving information
about TC
3.68 [3.55, 3.80] 0.64 3.59 [3.44, 3.74] 0.84 .71 (1, 223) .003 0.84 (223) .401 .113
AP encouraging
unhealthy TC and AP
alliance
2.44 [2.17, 2.77] 1.40 2.95 [2.72, 3.18] 1.27 8.27 (1, 223) .036 2.88 (223) .004 .386
TC being deant during
time spent with TP
1.78 [1.51, 2.05] 1.38 2.61 [2.34, 2.88] 1.48 18.64 (1, 223) .077 4.32 (223) <.001 .579
AP utilising outside forces
against TP
2.90 [2.62, 3.17] 1.41 2.99 [2.75, 3.24] 1.36 .27 (1, 223) .001 0.52 (223) .602 .070
Note. Bolded values indicate statistical signicance. AP = alienating parent; F= analysis of variance statistic; d= Cohensdeffect size; df = degrees
of freedom; M= estimated mean; η
2
= eta-squared effect size; p= signicance statistic; SD = standard deviation; t= correlational statistic; TC = tar-
geted child; TP = targeted parent.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
5Parental alienation
studysndings showed that, compared to targeted fathers,
targeted mothers reported signicantly greater severity of
exposure to numerous parental alienation tactics.
Impact of parental alienation on targeted parents
psychological wellbeing, threat appraisal, and parental
competence
One of the most important ndings of the present study
was that the targeted parentsperceptions of situational
threat to current and/or future wellbeing could be signi-
cantly predicted by increases in the severity of exposure to
parental alienation tactics. The nding that parental aliena-
tion is perceived to represent a risk of harm is important
because this perception may be a function of escalating con-
ict as well as a contributing factor in the conict. This is
because decision-making and emotional wellbeing can be
negatively inuenced when an individual feels threatened.
Therefore, it would be important for clinicians working with
targeted parents to take into account the level of actual and
perceived threat experienced by the targeted parent.
Additionally, the respondents appraised their current situ-
ation of parental alienation as highly stressful and threaten-
ing to their current and/or future wellbeing, as well as an
important determinant for their current and/or future well-
being. Furthermore, the sample indicated that they per-
ceived their situation to be moderately controllable by
themselves and moderately challenging to manage, yet
unlikely to be controllable by anyone else. Considering the
targeted parentsappraisal of the controllability of the
parental alienation process, it would be conceivable that
engaging in interventions might be difcult for targeted par-
ents. Similarly, if targeted parents appraise the situation as
unlikely to be controllable by anyone, they may be unlikely
to think that external help will be benecial. This may have
been a consequence of having sought external legal or psy-
chological help previously which was unsuccessful (Baker,
2010a; Vassiliou & Cartwright, 2001). Further investigation
of this issue may be benecial, with an aim to increase the
effectiveness of support services provided to targeted
parents.
The ndings of the current study also indicated that the
sample was experiencing moderate levels of depression,
anxiety, and stress. Although this nding may appear obvi-
ous based on the highly stressful nature of the parental
alienation process, there is limited evidence of targeted par-
ents experiencing negative affect, such as depression and
anxiety (Baker, 2010a). However, one study conducted by
Baker (2010a), examining the targeted parent experience of
the child custody dispute process, determined that all of the
participants reported experiencing anxiety and depression
(~80% rated high levels). Baker (2010a) also suggested that
high levels of depression and anxiety are counterproductive
in parental alienation, because it limits an individuals abil-
ity to interact with others effectively, including professionals
Table 3 Differential ratings of stress appraisal and affect between males and females
Males Females
(Two-
tailed)
M SD M SD F (df)η
2
t(df )pd
Parental responsibility 37.34 [34.77, 39.91] 10.37 40.16 [36.87, 43.45] 13.71 1.79 (1, 132) <.001 1.34 (132) .184 .006
Parental satisfaction 36.08 [34.35, 37.72] 6.80 37.22 [35.63, 38.81] 6.81 1.04 (1, 137) .011 1.02 (137) .309 .209
Parenting efcacy 21.31 [19.89, 22.73] 5.73 21.04 [19.75, 22.33] 5.57 .08 (1, 137) .024 .28 (137) .781 .311
Parental support 48.73 [46.49, 50.98] 10.16 51.34 [49.20, 53.48] 9.93 2.13 (1, 170) .009 1.46 (170) .146 .189
Satisfaction with parenting 48.36 [46.20, 50.52] 9.78 51.94 [49.83, 54.04] 9.76 5.61 (1, 166) .033 2.37 (166) .019 .387
Parental involvement 51.74 [49.47, 54.01] 10.25 48.44 [46.37, 50.52] 9.62 4.83 (1, 166) .028 2.20 (166) .029 .342
Parental communication 49.32 [47.14, 51.49] 9.83 50.61 [48.43, 52.80] 10.13 .99 (1, 167) .016 1.00 (167) .321 .255
Parent limit setting 50.94 [48.76, 53.13] 9.87 49.38 [47.26, 51.50] 9.85 1.40 (1, 165) <.001 1.19 (165) .238 .004
Parent role orientation 51.94 [49.91, 53.97] 9.18 48.32 [46.08, 50.57] 10.41 4.98 (1, 165) .029 2.23 (165) .027 .347
Parental autonomy 49.62 [47.51, 51.74] 9.58 50.64 [48.41, 52.87] 10.34 .53 (1, 166) .004 .73 (166) .468 .125
Situational controllability-by-
self
12.55 [11.49, 13.61] 4.18 11.72 [10.68, 12.77] 4.36 1.22 (1, 129) .006 1.10 (129) .272 .151
Situational threat 16.18 [15.39, 16.96] 3.10 16.51 [15.75, 17.27] 3.61 .36 (1, 129) .039 .60 (129) .548 .398
Situational centrality 18.05 [17.49, 18.61] 2.20 18.19 [17.61, 18.77] 2.42 .12 (1, 129) .013 .34 (129) .731 .225
Situational uncontrollability 13.27 [12.32, 14.22] 3.74 13.03 [11.97, 14.09] 4.40 .12 (1, 129) .009 .34 (129) .733 .195
Situational controllability-by-
others
7.66 [6.74, 8.58] 3.63 7.54 [6.69, 8.38] 3.52 .04 (1, 129) <.001 .20 (129) .842 .076
Situational challenge 12.47 [11.61, 13.33] 3.38 12.30 [11.51, 13.09] 3.29 .08 (1, 129) <.001 .28 (129) .780 .034
Situational stressfulness 16.61 [15.92, 17.31] 2.74 17.22 [16.61, 17.83] 2.54 1.71 (1, 129) .001 1.31 (129) .193 .077
Stress 8.97 [7.80, 10.14] 4.57 9.61 [8.34, 10.89] 5.23 .55 (1, 126) .001 .74 (126) .461 .073
Anxiety 5.75 [4.50, 7.01] 4.89 7.49 [6.05, 8.93] 5.91 3.25 (1, 126) .024 1.80 (126) .074 .313
Depression 9.87 [8.32, 11.42] 6.05 9.21 [7.70, 10.72] 6.19 .37 (1, 126) <.001 .61 (126) .544 .057
Note. Bolded values indicate statistical signicance. AP = alienating parent; F= analysis of variance statistic; d= Cohensdeffect size; df = degrees
of freedom; M= estimated mean; η
2
= eta-squared effect size; p= signicance statistic; SD = standard deviation; t= correlational statistic; TC = tar-
geted child; TP = targeted parent.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
6 S. Balmer et al.
and other support persons. In particular, the preparation,
energy, and motivation needed in custody disputes are con-
siderable and may be reduced by depression and anxiety
(Baker, 2010a).
Impacts on the targeted parent competence
The present studysndings showed that, overall, targeted
parents indicated high levels of satisfaction with parenting
and support as a parent. They also reported high propensi-
ties to be involved in their targeted childs life, high con-
dence in their ability to discipline and set boundaries for the
targeted child, high levels of encouragement of their tar-
geted childs autonomy, a good awareness of their ability to
communicate with the targeted child, and an attitude con-
sistent with the sharing of parental responsibilities. This
nding highlights that, despite the various difculties tar-
geted parents have in attempting to maintain a relationship
with the targeted child, they appear to have the desire to
continue to seek out involvement in their childs life. It is
possible that this desire for ongoing involvement both fuels
the parental conict, because it is inconsistent with the
desires of the alienating parent, and contributes to the tar-
geted parents feelings of uncontrollability and psychological
maladjustment.
The current ndings are in contrast to previous descrip-
tions of targeted parents as being rigid, controlling, distant,
unskilled, passive, and emotionally detached (Baker &
Andre, 2008; Drodz & Olesen, 2004; Friedlander & Walters,
2010; Godbout & Parent, 2012; Gottlieb, 2012; Johnston,
2003; Kelly & Johnston, 2001; Rand, 1997a, 1997b). For
example, previous literature has described targeted parents
as ambivalent about wanting a relationship with their child
(Baker & Andre, 2008; Friedlander & Walters, 2010). How-
ever, the targeted parents in the present study demon-
strated a strong desire to continue to seek out involvement
in their targeted childs life. The current sample may better
reect the actual experience of targeted parents. This is
because the current studysndings are based on the
reports of targeted parents themselves, whereas previous
research has relied on the reports of other informants.
Clinical implications
The nding that targeted parents feel their wellbeing is sig-
nicantly threatened by their exposure to the parental
alienation tactics signies a need for greater support services
for targeted parents. This need is highlighted by the nding
that the sample, overall, was experiencing moderate levels
of anxiety and depression. Such symptoms have potential to
interfere with the targeted parents motivation to seek out
support services, particularly as the present sample also
appraised their current experience as a moderately uncon-
trollable situation. Thus, mental health and legal profes-
sionals might do well to identify the presence of negative
affect and review the individuals cognitive appraisal of the
situation, to ensure that they are able to tailor the support
to the individual.
As the current ndings contradict depictions of targeted
parents in previous literature, professionals should not
make assumptions about targeted parents predominantly
being fathers. Also, professionals need to be aware of the
Table 4 Predicting stress appraisal, affect, and parental competence from severity of exposure to parental alienating behaviours
nR
2
Adjusted R
2
FB[95% CI] SE βtp
Parental responsibility 134 .000 .01 0.001 .004 [.255, .246] .127 .003 0.03 .973
Parental satisfaction 139 .011 .004 1.49 .084 [.052, .220] .069 .104 1.22 .224
Parenting efcacy 139 .024 .02 3.31 .102 [.214, .009] .056 .153 1.82 .071
Parental support 166 .009 .003 1.53 .108 [.064, .280] .087 .094 1.24 .219
Satisfaction with parenting 168 .002 .005 0.25 .044 [.218, .130] .088 .039 .500 .618
Parental involvement 168 .007 .001 1.13 .093 [.267, .080] .088 .082 1.06 .290
Parental communication 169 .016 .010 2.71 .144 [.316, .029] .087 .126 1.65 .102
Parent limit setting 167 .000 .006 0.001 .002 [.172, .177] .088 .002 .026 .980
Parent role orientation 167 .006 .000 0.93 .085 [.260, .089] .088 .075 .963 .337
Parental autonomy 168 .004 .002 0.65 .071 [.245, .103] .088 .062 .807 .421
Situational controllability-by-self 131 .006 .002 0.73 .039 [.128, .051] .045 .075 0.86 .393
Situational threat 131 .038 .03 5.11 0.073 [.009, .137] .032 .195 2.26 .026
Situational centrality 131 .013 .01 1.64 .031 [.017, .079] .024 .112 1.28 .203
Situational uncontrollability 131 .009 .002 1.23 .048 [.037, .133] .043 .097 1.11 .270
Situational controllability-by-others 131 .001 .01 0.19 .016 [.091, .058] .038 .038 0.43 .668
Situational challenge 131 .000 .01 0.04 .007 [.076, .063] .025 .017 0.19 .848
Situational stressfulness 131 .001 .01 0.19 .012 [.043, .068] .028 .038 0.44 .663
Stress 128 .001 .01 0.17 .022 [.083, .126] .053 .037 0.41 .682
Anxiety 128 .024 .02 3.08 .102 [.013, .217] .058 .154 1.75 .082
Depression 128 .001 .01 0.10 .021 [.108, .150] .065 .029 0.32 .748
Note. Bolded values indicate statistical signicance. Adjusted R
2
= adjusted estimate of t to model; β= beta standardised coefcient; B= unstandar-
dized coefcient; CI = condence interval; F=Fstatistic; n=sample size; p= signicance statistic; R
2
= estimate of t to model; SE = standard error;
t= correlational statistic.
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
7Parental alienation
presence and severity of parental alienation tactics because
the more severe the exposure to the tactics, the greater the
impact on the mental health of the targeted parent. This
could then determine how the provision of support is tai-
lored to best suit the needs of the targeted parent.
Limitations and direction for future research
There are some limitations of the present study that are
important to note. Firstly, the current study is cross-sec-
tional. A longitudinal study would assist to better under-
stand the development of the parental alienation process, as
well as associations between the targeted parent characteris-
tics and the severity of exposure to parent alienation tactics
over time. Additionally, a qualitative analysis of common
targeted parent characteristics and experiences would pro-
vide useful insights into the lived experience of parental
alienation from the targeted parent perspective.
Methodologically, the second set of regression analyses in
the study might be underpowered, as based on a power
analysis 179 participants would have been required to
detect moderate effect sizes, but only 169 participants com-
pleted the full survey. However, the small effect sizes sug-
gest that a larger sample size would have been unlikely to
affect the results.
This is the rst study to attempt to include an interna-
tional sample of targeted parents. The present study pro-
vides useful information about the impact of parental
alienation on targeted parents in English speaking countries,
however, further research is needed to understand the
impact of parental alienation cross-culturally. In the absence
of such research, conclusions cannot be made about the
representativeness of the current sample. Additionally, fur-
ther research is also needed to understand how parental
alienation presents in different family structures such as in
blended families, families with children of LGBT parents,
and families with adopted children.
Finally, in order to better understand the parental aliena-
tion process, it would be important to examine how it can
be successfully resolved. Therefore, examining the effective-
ness of interventions for parental alienation is important.
This is necessary to establish some evidence-based
approaches to support targeted parents and targeted chil-
dren experiencing parental alienation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank Dr Kimberley Norris for her advice
on the initial research design. We also thank the parents
who took the time to complete our survey.
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© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
9Parental alienation
... Wpływ ten ma charakter zarówno krótko-, jak i długoterminowy i jest wielowymiarowo szkodliwy dla dobrostanu dzieci (m.in. Baker, Ben-Ami, 2011;Verrocchio, Marchetti, Carrozzino, Compare, Fulcheri, 2019), zdrowia psychicznego niepreferowanego rodzica (np. Balmer, Matthewson, Haines, 2018), adaptacji psychologicznej (Tavares, Crespo, Ribeiro, 2020) i relacji rodzic-dziecko (np. Monè, Biringen, 2006). ...
... Dla alienowanych rodziców skutki wydają się podobne do innych form przemocy w związku (Harman, Bernet, Harman, 2019). Rodzice ci skarżą się, że doświadczają depresji (Taylor-Potter, 2015) i lęku, odsetek samobójstw jest wśród nich wysoki (Baker, Verrocchio, 2015;Balmer, Matthewson, Haines, 2018), stoją oni także w obliczu znacznej izolacji społecznej spowodowanej zachowaniami alienatora (np. utrata przyjaciół) lub niskimi kompetencjami w zakresie radzenia sobie z emocjami (Harman i in., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Artykuł jest analizą alienacji rodzicielskiej z perspektywy diagnozy psychologicznej umożliwiającej jej odróżnienie od reakcji dziecka na rodzica faktycznie krzywdzące-go. W pierwszej kolejności należy wskazać, że wywieranie na dziecko wpływu prowa-dzącego do alienacji jest formą emocjonalnej przemocy i powoduje skutki podobne do innych form jego krzywdzenia. Opiniowanie i wyciąganie wniosków wyłącznie na podstawie diagnozy dziecka nie jest wystarczające. Opierając się na współcze-snych modelach alienacji rodzicielskiej, proponujemy systemowe podejście do jej dia-gnozowania, w którym konieczne jest uwzględnienie psychologicznej charakterystyki funkcjonowania dziecka, cech funkcjonowania rodziców oraz interakcji między nimi, podłoża motywacyjnego towarzyszącego alienacji, a także relacji każdego z rodziców z dzieckiem. Artykuł kończą wskazówki mogące służyć diagnozie alienacji rodziciel-skiej i różnicowaniu tej sytuacji z innymi formami przemocy oraz sygnalizujące sytu-acje złożone, w których dziecko doświadcza wielu form krzywdzenia. Słowa kluczowe: alienacja rodzicielSka, przemoc, rodzina jako SyStem, diagnoza różnicowa
... El SAP se observa y diagnostica solo en los niños(as). A diferencia de la AP, que se considera un fenómeno sistémico que incluye a todo el sistema familiar y social de los afectados (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Harman y Biringen, 2016;Lee-Maturana, 2020). Se han identificado en la literatura Alienación parental: una revisión sistemática de la literatura basada en evidencia publicada en idioma español tres perspectivas en los intentos de definir la AP y abordar su estudio de manera más integral: desde una perspectiva enfocada en los comportamientos de los niños (Bernet, 2010;Garber, 2013;Lorandos, Bernet, and Sauber, 2013); desde una perspectiva enfocada en las conductas y estrategias alienantes de los alienadores (Baker, 2005a;Harman and Biringen, 2016); y la que se enfoca en el estudio del fenómeno desde la perspectiva del progenitor alienado (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Lee-Maturana, 2020;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, and Cox, 2017;Vassiliou and Cartwright, 2001). ...
... A diferencia de la AP, que se considera un fenómeno sistémico que incluye a todo el sistema familiar y social de los afectados (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Harman y Biringen, 2016;Lee-Maturana, 2020). Se han identificado en la literatura Alienación parental: una revisión sistemática de la literatura basada en evidencia publicada en idioma español tres perspectivas en los intentos de definir la AP y abordar su estudio de manera más integral: desde una perspectiva enfocada en los comportamientos de los niños (Bernet, 2010;Garber, 2013;Lorandos, Bernet, and Sauber, 2013); desde una perspectiva enfocada en las conductas y estrategias alienantes de los alienadores (Baker, 2005a;Harman and Biringen, 2016); y la que se enfoca en el estudio del fenómeno desde la perspectiva del progenitor alienado (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Lee-Maturana, 2020;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, and Cox, 2017;Vassiliou and Cartwright, 2001). ...
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A systematic literature review about parental alienation published in Spanish language was conducted, in order to provide a state of art of this phenomenon and suggest further recommendations for future research. Following the PRISMA-P protocol, the academic data bases Web of Science, PubMed, ProQuest, EBSCOHost, Science Direct, PsylNFO, Scopus, Scielo, Latindex y Redalyc were systematically searched for a three months period. Four articles were included in this review reporting evidence-based studies on parental alienation in Spanish speaking countries. Despite the scarce number of articles, valuable information published in Spanish language about parental alienation was obtained, which is similar to that published in English. This review showed that research published in Spanish is sparse and more studies are needed in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon in Spanish speaking countries.
... El SAP se observa y diagnostica solo en los niños(as). A diferencia de la AP, que se considera un fenómeno sistémico que incluye a todo el sistema familiar y social de los afectados (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Harman y Biringen, 2016;Lee-Maturana, 2020). Se han identificado en la literatura Alienación parental: una revisión sistemática de la literatura basada en evidencia publicada en idioma español tres perspectivas en los intentos de definir la AP y abordar su estudio de manera más integral: desde una perspectiva enfocada en los comportamientos de los niños (Bernet, 2010;Garber, 2013;Lorandos, Bernet, and Sauber, 2013); desde una perspectiva enfocada en las conductas y estrategias alienantes de los alienadores (Baker, 2005a;Harman and Biringen, 2016); y la que se enfoca en el estudio del fenómeno desde la perspectiva del progenitor alienado (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Lee-Maturana, 2020;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, and Cox, 2017;Vassiliou and Cartwright, 2001). ...
... A diferencia de la AP, que se considera un fenómeno sistémico que incluye a todo el sistema familiar y social de los afectados (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Harman y Biringen, 2016;Lee-Maturana, 2020). Se han identificado en la literatura Alienación parental: una revisión sistemática de la literatura basada en evidencia publicada en idioma español tres perspectivas en los intentos de definir la AP y abordar su estudio de manera más integral: desde una perspectiva enfocada en los comportamientos de los niños (Bernet, 2010;Garber, 2013;Lorandos, Bernet, and Sauber, 2013); desde una perspectiva enfocada en las conductas y estrategias alienantes de los alienadores (Baker, 2005a;Harman and Biringen, 2016); y la que se enfoca en el estudio del fenómeno desde la perspectiva del progenitor alienado (Balmer, Matthewson, and Haines, 2017;Lee-Maturana, 2020;Templer, Matthewson, Haines, and Cox, 2017;Vassiliou and Cartwright, 2001). ...
... To understand targeted parents' experiences, it is also necessary to understand each of the emotions they might display during the alienation. Some of the emotions reported by participants in this research have been reported in previous literature as distress (Balmer et al., 2017;Poustie et al., 2018); frustration (Baker, 2010b;Baker & Andre, 2008;Baker & Darnall, 2006;Poustie et al., 2018;Vassiliou & Cartwright, 2001); anger and guilt (Finzi-Dottan et al., 2012;Goldberg & Goldberg, 2013) and shame (Baker, 2010;Baker & Andre, 2008;Goldberg & Goldberg, 2013). ...
... Targeted parents in this research described experiences consistent with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. These findings are consistent with previous literature on PA which report the same symptoms as consequence of the alienation in their samples (Baker, 2010b;Balmer et al., 2017;Sher, 2015). Importantly, the experiences of targeted parents in the current research and described in previous literature are the same psychological consequences reported by survivors of IPV and survivors of psychological aggression (Campbell, Kub, & Rose, 1996;Golding, 1999;Kruk, 2015;Lawrence, Yoon, Langer, & Ro, 2009;Marshall, 1999;Sher, 2017;Stewart & Vigod, 2017;Taft et al., 2006;Woods, 2000;Zlotnick, Johnson, & Kohn, 2006). ...
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The Top 10 Key Findings is the result of a 4-year research study on the targeted parents’ experiences of parental alienation. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted on 54 targeted parents alienated from their children. The data were analysed thematically following a qualitative descriptive design. This article contributes to a greater understanding of the targeted parents’ experiences and needs. The Top 10 Key Findings are based on the own perspective of targeted parents and are created with the aim to assist in the development of future appropriate support services and intervention programmes for them.
... They experience dissatisfaction with the legal and mental health systems. Depressive and anxiety symptoms and high trauma levels have been verified, with parents perceiving a highly threatening and stressful situation (Balmer et al., 2017;Harman et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Although the emotional consequences of childhood exposure to parental alienation behaviors in children and adolescents of divorced parents are known, there is scarce evidence on their long-term consequences in adulthood. Therefore, this work aims to conduct a systematic review of the state of research in this area and its main conclusions and identify gaps and limitations to guide future research. A search of the literature was performed in electronic databases PsycInfo, MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Web of Science, PubMed, Cochrane Library, DART-Europe, ProQuest, Wiley, TESEO and Dialnet, and a secondary review of the bibliography; in February 2019 updated in December of the same year. Thirteen pieces of research were selected after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria; twelve published articles from journals and one doctoral thesis, both with qualitative and quantitative methodology. Children exposed to parental interference and alienation show in adulthood depression and anxiety symptoms, a higher risk of psychopathology, lower self-esteem and self-sufficiency. As well as, higher alcohol and drug use rates, parental relationship difficulties, insecure attachment, lower life quality, higher divorce rates, feelings of loss, abandonment and guilt. They also report repetition of these alienating behaviors on their children by their partner or their own children's grandparents. Some limitations of the study are described, and proposals are made for future research.
Child maltreatment (CM) has been enormously studied. However, a preventive practice still requires comprehensive and effective instruments to assess the risks for CM in a family context. The aim of this study is to describe the development process of an evidence-based CM risk assessment instrument (Family Needs Checklist, FNC) for primary prevention online utilization. This article reports the development process of the checklist and its mobile application, consisting of a systematic literature review, identification of known risk factors using the content analysis method, and generation of the checklist, including a multidisciplinary group in the design and feedback. As a result, a comprehensive and compact checklist was developed to be used by parents or caregivers as a self-referral instrument with an option to be used with professionals as a basis for joint conversations. The FNC consists of parental, family-, and child-related risk factors. Based on the international evidence, the online application consists of knowledge about different CM types, information about risk factors and protective factors as well as recommendations and guidance to support services. The FNC is based on robust evidence on known risk factors causing CM in families. It can be used for primary prevention utilization in the general population.
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The study aimed to verify the relationships between the child gender and the custodian, the child age at divorce, and its relationship to the attitude towards parents among children with parental alienation syndrome at the end of the custody age. The study relied on the descriptive-analytical method. The sample consisted of 102 cases whose ages ranged from 16 to 21 years old. The sample was chosen intentionally. The study relied on the diagnostic list of symptoms of parental alienation to select the sample. The study prepared a measure of attitude towards parents. A chi-square test used for the independence of two variables to analyze the required relationships. The study concluded that there is a dependence of the custodian gender variables and the attitude towards the target parent levels. While the variables of the level of attitude towards the target parent and the child's gender were independent, the levels of attitude towards the target parent and the dominant parent were independent.
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Antecedentes: Son diversos las/os investigadoras/es que se han interesado por el fenómeno de la alienación parental. No obstante, esta compleja dinámica relacional no ha estado exenta de controversias. Objetivo: Realizar una revisión sistemática de las perspectivas y tendencias actuales del concepto de alienación parental, sus características y efectos en la población que experimentan estas circunstancias. Método: Se utilizó la metodología PRISMA-P para llevar a cabo una búsqueda bibliográfica exhaustiva de artículos publicados entre el año 2016 y junio de 2020 en revistas indexadas Scopus y/o WOS. Se contemplaron 95 estudios, de los cuales 11 fueron considerados para la revisión, de acuerdo con los criterios de inclusión y exclusión preestablecidos. Se identificó un amplio campo investigativo en el cual se circunscribe la alienación parental, como dinámica relacional. Resultados: Los 11 estudios seleccionados establecían relaciones entre la experiencia de alienación parental e indicadores de salud mental, tanto en niños, niñas, adolescentes, como adultos que experimentan o experimentaron estas dinámicas. Así también, se relacionó con maltrato psicológico. Conclusiones: La alienación parental es un fenómeno con una importante prevalencia en la población y se ha vinculado con un deterioro en la salud mental de las personas que la experimentan o la han experimentado.
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Resumo: A alienação parental refere-se a um conjunto de comportamentos emitidos, consciente ou inconscientemente, por um dos genitores, com vistas a impedir o relacionamento da criança com o outro progenitor. O objetivo deste artigo foi analisar, com base em uma revisão sistemática da literatura, a qualidade dos instrumentos psicológicos adotados em pesquisas sobre alienação parental. Para isso, consultou-se as bases de dados Pubmed, PsycoINFO, Scielo, Scopus e Web of Science. Nesta revisão, incluíram-se artigos empíricos publicados entre os anos de 1986 e 2019. A seleção dos artigos foi realizada por duas juízas independentes. Foram recuperados 184 artigos. Desses, 17 foram analisados. Quanto às propriedades psicométricas, todos os estudos apresentaram evidências de precisão satisfatórias. Contudo, somente seis instrumentos apresentaram evidências de validade baseadas na estrutura interna ou em evidências de validade relacionadas com variáveis externas. Uma vez que a alienação parental é um fenômeno complexo e, a maioria dos instrumentos identificados não apresentou informações suficientes para a sua utilização no contexto profissional, é importante que se invista em iniciativas que qualifiquem os instrumentos nessa área.Palavras-chave: alienação parental; validade de testes; psicologia forense.Abstract: Parental alienation refers to a set of behaviors emitted, consciously or unconsciously, by one of the parents, to prevent the child's relationship with the other parent. The aim of this article was to analyze, based on a systematic literature review, the quality of the psychological instruments adopted in research on parental alienation. For this, Pubmed, PsycoINFO, Scielo, Scopus and Web of Science database were consulted. This review included empirical articles published between 1986 and 2019. The selection of articles was carried out by two independent judges. 184 articles were retrieved. Of these, 17 were analyzed. As for the psychometric properties, all studies presented satisfactory evidence of accuracy. However, only six instruments showed evidence of validity based on the internal structure or evidence of validity based on relationships with external variables. Since parental alienation is a complex phenomenon and most of the instruments identified did not provide enough information for their use in the professional context, it is important to invest in initiatives that qualify the instruments in this area. Keywords:parental alienation; test validity; forensic psychology.
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Assessment in counseling is strengthened when research exists to demonstrate the psychometric strength of scores from a particular instrument across samples. This study presents a psychometric synthesis of data across 52 publications that met criteria and reported use of the Parent‐Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI; Gerard, 1994) across disciplines and in numerous contexts. Results revealed low score reliability, with aggregated alphas of .63 to .83 and test‐retest coefficients of .62 to .79 over a 1‐year retest period across subscales and total score. There was little evidence of score validity, including no exploratory or confirmatory factor analytic studies, or evidence of diagnostic validity. Cautions for use of the PCRI and implications for professional counselors and researchers are discussed.
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Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals is the essential “how to” manual in this important and ever increasing area of behavioral science and law. Busy mental health professionals need a reference guide to aid them in developing data sources to support their positions in reports and testimony. They also need to know where to go to find the latest material on a topic. Having this material within arm’s reach will avoid lengthy and time-consuming online research. For legal professionals who must ground their arguments in well thought out motions and repeated citations to case precedent, ready access to state or province specific legal citations spanning thirty-five years of parental alienation cases is provided here for the first time in one place.
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The Parental Alienation Syndrome, so named by Dr. Richard Gardner, is a distinctive family response to divorce in which the child becomes aligned with one parent and preoccupied with unjustified and/or exaggerated denigration of the other, target parent. In severe cases, the child's once love-bonded relationship with rejected/target parent is destroyed. Testimony on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in legal proceedings has sparked debate. This two-part article seeks to shed light on the debate by reviewing Gardner's work and that of others on PAS, integrating the concept of PAS with research on high conflict divorce and other related literature. The material is organized under topic headings such as parents who induce alienation, the child in PAS, the target/alienated parent, attorneys on PAS, and evaluation and intervention. Part II begins with the child in PAS. Case vignettes of moderate to severe PAS are presented in both parts, some of which illustrate the consequences for children and families when the system is successfully manipulated by the alienating parent, as well as some difficult but effective interventions implemented by the author, her husband Randy Rand, Ed.D., and other colleagues.
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Allegations of family violence, child abuse, and alienation often occur in the same contested child custody case. Custody eval-uators often are poorly trained in forensic assessment of allegations of domestic violence and allegations of alienation. The authors of this article suggest language that is designed to differentiate between cases in which the term alienation is appropriate, as in non-abuse cases, and when it is best to use other language such as estrangementsabotaging, and counter productive protective parenting in cases where there is abuse. This article describes a decision tree that is designed to assist evaluators in identifying the causes of multiple allegations of maltreatment and abuse.
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This article considers characteristics and processes of parent-child relationships during the many changes that take place during adolescence. Evidence suggests that the content and quality of parent-child relationships, rather than the action of either parents or children alone, determines the nature and extent of family influence on child development. This article is divided into five sections. First, we consider theoretical accounts of how adolescent development may impact parent-child relationships. Second, we consider how parent-child relationships may influence adolescent development. Third, we consider how parent-child closeness may impact the developmental course of parent-child relationships and individual differences in these trajectories. Fourth, we consider how parent-child conflict may impact the same developmental trends and individual differences. Finally, we consider how varying forms of parent-child closeness and parent-child conflict may impact adolescent outcomes over time. In each of these areas, special attention will be given to the role of social, cultural, and contextual factors surrounding parent-child relationships.
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Two factors were analyzed in 72 divorced couples: the fact of having custody of the children or not, and the sex of the parent granted the custody. These factors influence the use of 27 different alienation strategies selected for study by the authors.The results show that the fact of having custody or not affects the number and type of alienation strategies used, whereas sex of the parent with custody only appears to affect the kinds of strategies used. This marks a qualitative difference between custody-holding men and women in relation to the way they exercise alienation.
Article
Theories of parental alienation abound in high-conflict custody cases. The image of one parent brainwashing a child against the other parent fits with what we think we know about family dynamics during divorce. The concept of a diagnosable "Parental Alienation Syndrome" ("PAS") developed as an attempt to explain this phenomenon, but it has been widely discredited by mental health professionals and thus fails the standard for evidentiary admissibility. Nevertheless, PAS and related theories continue to influence the decisions of family courts, and even in jurisdictions that explicitly reject such theories, judges still face the daunting task of resolving these volatile cases. In the midst of this highly adversarial process, children deserve independent representation to ensure that their interests remain front and center. Mandating the appointment of guardians ad litem in cases involving allegations of abuse or alienation will assist courts in conducting individualized, fact-specific investigations into such allegations to craft custody orders that serve the best interests of children.
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This qualitative study concerns the life paths and lived experiences of 6 adults who have been alienated from a parent in the past. The results suggest several hypotheses concerning the factors that might place children at risk of being alienated from a parent. The presence of postseparation conflict and, in some cases, domestic violence, as well as the triangulation of the child appear to be elements that favor the emergence of parental alienation. Moreover, this study supports a multifactorial explanation of parental alienation. In the scope of lived experience, respondents associated alienation with difficulties at school, internal and external behavior problems, and a search for identity after reaching adulthood. Finally, overcoming the state of alienation involves issues surrounding the establishment of boundaries with the alienating parent and the rebuilding of a relationship with the alienated parent.
Article
A sample of 50 college students responded to a questionnaire measuring perceptions of alienating behaviors on the part of their parents and their current relationship with each parent. Data revealed a higher degree of alienating behavior by divorced parents when compared to non-divorced parents. Mothers and fathers were rated about equally likely to engage in such behaviors. A higher incidence of alienated parent-child relationships in divorced homes approached, but did not reach, statistical significance. Students who were alienated from one parent report higher levels of alienating behaviors on the part of their parents. The results suggest that parental alienating behaviors, and the phenomenon of a child becoming alienated from a parent after divorce, are departures from the norm and worthy of attention and concern.
Article
In this retrospective study, we examined several long-term psychological correlates of experiencing parental alienation (PA) as a child, defined as reporting that one parent tried to undermine the child's relationship with the other parent. Differences between those who did and did not endorse having this experience were measured on self-sufficiency and four aspects of well-being: alcohol abuse, depression, attachment, and self-esteem. Results indicated significant associations between perceived exposure to parental alienation as a child and lower self-sufficiency, higher rates of major depressive disorder, lower self-esteem, and insecure attachment styles as adults. This research suggests that there are significant long-term psychological associations in the lives of adults who experienced parental alienation as children, which created observable vulnerabilities that differ from normative divorce situations.