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Child Custody Evaluator Training

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Parental Alienation An Attachmentbased Model

childress: well thank you so much. i want to start by thanking California Southern University for this opportunity to talk today. The issues surrounding what has traditionally been defined as parental alienation are extremely tragic family circumstances and to the extent that this talk today might help lead to a resolution of those family tragedies it is much appreciated. Now today, I’m going to be talking about the theoretical underpinnings for a different approach to defining what parental alienation.

Is than what has traditionally offered or described. i have limited time today, only about an hour and a half or so and then some questions period. I’m going to limit my discussion today to just those theoretical underpinnings and the theoretical framework and structure for an attachmentbased model to understanding what’s traditionally been defined as parental alienation. I’ll be talking next week at a different seminar for about five hours where I will apply the model then to the diagnosis, to treatment,.

To the legal setting. i won’t be able to get into those issues today, but if you’re interested on more information along those lines I suggest I have my website, I have a lot of writings up on my website. I also have a blog that you can access and I recommend that. I’ve already got what I believe are some interesting posts up there and I anticipate getting some more very intriguing posts on my blog. To start today regarding an attachmentbased model to parental alienation, I’m going to start by talking about the current or the.

Previous structure that was purposed for understanding parental alienation. the construct of parental alienation is essentially a child initiated cutoff in the child’s relationship with a normal range and affectionally available parent and this typically occurs as part of highconflict divorce. Now in the mid 1980s psychiatrist Richard Gardner proposed a model, he recognized a al phenomena having to do with what he called parental alienation and he proposed a model by which it would be identified. He.

Referred to it as parental alienation syndrome. he discussed a set of anecdotal al indicators by which it could be recognized and he also went into describing how oftentimes in these situations there are false allegations of child abuse involved in this. His model however has generated a great deal of controversy. First because it moved beyond standard and accepted psychological principles and he proposed this new syndrome of al indicators that weren’t really based in any standard or established psychological constructs.

Or principles. then secondly by purposing that parental alienation could often involve false allegations of child abuse the whole dialogue and discussion with array, away from parenting into child abuse allegations and those sorts of things. It’s generated a lot of controversy. It’s been about thirty years now and it’s still semiaccepted in the professional community. In my view, Gardner’s model of PAS while he did identify a al phenomenon, it represents a failed paradigm. It’s a failed legal paradigm.

Because it fails to produce the changes necessary to solve the family problems. families have to litigate whether or not there’s parental alienation. That can takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. If families can’t litigate, then it simply is unsolvable. It’s a failed theoretical paradigm because he too quickly abandoned established psychological constructs and principles and the rigor necessary to define what the al phenomenon is within those principles. By doing that, he’s.

Constructed a model that’s founded on the shifting sands of anecdotal al indicators. When we try to leverage his model in the legal system or in the mental health system, the sands shift beneath our feet and the whole structure collapses. We’re not able to leverage the model because it’s not based in established psychological constructs. It’s a failed diagnostic model, because by going to anecdotal al indicators rather than established constructs it’s hard to determine whether or not parental alienation exists.

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