High conflict separation

My work with families includes support through and after separation.  I work particularly with children who are resistant to parenting time or who reject a parent after separation.  My work in this field is based upon the research of Professor Bala and his colleagues at Queen’s University in Ontario Canada, where a route to understanding why children reject a parent after separation has been robustly developed.  Combining this understanding with family systems therapy, has allowed me to build a way of working with families that frees children from the dynamics that cause rejection.  I am currently involved in developing and testing this approach further with colleagues at the Family Separation Clinic.

As part of this work I assist Local Authorities in cases where high conflict separation has lead to their involvement as well as CAFCASS workers, Social Workers and Family Support Practitioners to assist teams to understand the dynamics of separation and its impact on children.

I also work within the Family Courts, offering assessments and support to the court in understanding parental alienation and implementing treatment routes to alleviate the problem.

A wide range of resources and help for families where children are affected by alienation and related behaviour can be found at the Family Separation Clinic 

Referals can be made by emailing info@familyseparationclinic.co.uk


  1. Karen i have just reviewed your article most interesting! sadly I am going through this at present after a loving relationship with my children I have not seen my son for 3 years he is 17 and my daughter for a year she is now 9.
    I have spent nearly 20k in the courts to no avail. My ex wife is the source of the parental alienation of my children towards me. Up until 2007 I had a full active life in bringing up my children. Your work has certainly made me sit up – well done

  2. This is a world apart from the attitude I encountered in court. Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly that the focus should be on the helping the child to cope with changed circumstances, the unpalatable reality is that the alienation does not just happen, it is more often pushed along by the would be resident parent. Courts seem reluctant to consider the deliberate misleading of a child to be a form of abuse even though the potentially severe outcomes noted in the video are well known, and regularly appear to forget that emotional abuse in law, even if not so obvious and more difficult to prove, is there on a par with physical abuse.

    What many parents know is that the ease with which the other parent can relocate merely facilitates the chances to further the alienation, either purposefully (aided often by the appalling inequality in state support to both parents) or by dint of cutting the other parent out of the child’s life to such an extent as to make that parent increasingly irrelevant to it. The law on relocation seems unacceptably confused with precedents being picked, depending entirely on a judge’s whims. It is rarely discussed properly. My MP, who sits on the Justice Select Committee which carried out the pre-legislative examination of the Children and Families Bill, appears to think that it is acceptable for the mother to relocate with the child if she claims (but does not need to prove) that she is seeking work, claims (but does not need to prove) that she wants family support or claims (but does not need to prove) to have found a better school, even if this is contrary to the child’s wishes or when there is no paternal abuse, or no existing educational deficiency and regardless of the impact of such instant distancing on the father child relationship. Expecting one parent, substantially cut out of a child’s life by the underhand tactics of the other, to somehow conquer the frequent depression that results, cope with extensive travelling at great cost and physical strain, retain a meaningful relationship with the child and reach some parenting agreement with the parent who has manufactured the alienation in the first place, is a very tall order. I wonder how you advise parents in such circumstances.

  3. I think you are amazing, why can’t there be more of you. I started following you because I have one of the most amazing friends. She made a silly mistake nearlly three years ago. She lost everything, main thing being her son. Despite all she picked herself up and survives every day. The dad has done everything he can to stop their son wanting to see the mum. She hits a brick wall every day because of him. She regually receives hope from the legal system and child specialists. But It always ends the same and she can’t see her son. How can a child being washed fool so many professionals. You are her hope and inspiration.

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