Examining Parental Alienation Treatments: Problems of Principles and Practices
- 14 Downloads
When children of high-conflict divorced parents prefer one parent and resist or refuse visitation with the other parent, some authors have spoken of this situation as parental alienation (PA). PA refers to cases of avoidance of a parent in which the preferred parent is alleged to have manipulated the child’s thinking and created antagonism toward the non-preferred parent, and in which neither abuse nor neglect has been substantiated. Advocates of the PA concept have offered treatment methods that entail court-ordered separation of the child from the preferred parent, followed by intensive treatment and aftercare through specialized counseling, with separation and treatment sometimes lasting years. This paper examines the published evidence and other material related to the safety and effectiveness of PA treatments, and concludes that the treatments have not been shown to be effective, but are in fact potentially harmful. Suggestions are made for research approaches that could help to explain avoidance of a parent and that could yield effective treatment for such avoidance.
KeywordsParental alienation Divorce High-conflict families Visitation, reunification
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Author declares that she has no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by the author.
- American Psychological Association. (2000). Guidelines for psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Baker, A. (2008). Parental alienation syndrome: The parent/child disconnect. Social Work Today, 8(6), 26.Google Scholar
- Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
- Childress, C. (2015). An attachment-based model of parental alienation. Claremont, CA: Oaksong.Google Scholar
- Childress, C. (2018a). An attachment-based model of parental alienation: Single case ABAB assessment and remedy. Claremont, CA: Oaksong.Google Scholar
- Childress, C. (2018b). Unpublished testimony. Yolo County, CA: Sahar vs Sahar.Google Scholar
- Croezen, R., Ander, N., & Jones, A. (2018). The voice of the alienated child. In J.-P. Boyd (Ed.), Children’s participation in justice processes (Presentation 10). Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family. Retrieved from www.findingthebestwaysforward.com.
- Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Havighurst, R. (1972). Developmental tasks and education. New York: David McKay.Google Scholar
- In the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions.pdf/pdf.759957.pdf.
- Isicoff, J. (2015). Reunification in parental alienation cases. https://familylawyermagazine.com/articles/reunification-in-parental-alienation-cases/.
- Johnston, J. (2003). Parental alignments and rejection: An empirical study of alienation in children of divorce. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 31, 158–170.Google Scholar
- Meier, J. (2014). Child custody outcomes in cases involving parental alienation and abuse. Retrieved from http://www.ncdsv.org/GWU_Child-Custody-Outcomes-in-Cases-Involving-Parental-Alientation-and-Abuse-Allegations_4-25-2014.pdf.
- Nguyen, V., Witte, R., Rutanashoodeh, A., Villareal, M., & Horn, M. (2018). No oversight for programs advertising they reconnect children with “alienated” parents. NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/No-Oversight-for-Programs-Advertising-They-Reconnect-Children-with-Alienated-Parents-499412851.html.
- Sameroff, A. (Ed.). (2000). The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Tabachnik, C. (2017). They were taken from their mom to rebond with their dad. It didn’t go well. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/a-divorced-father-his-estranged-kids-and-a-controversial-program-to-bring-them-together/2017/05/09/b50ac6f6-204c-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html?utm_term=.efe145d8fc0a.