Alienation watch: The lesser spotted alienation aware professional

This week I have been confronted with the dearth of alienation awareness and expertise in the UK field of family services.  This is not a surprise to me but what has been surprising if not alarming is the emergence of a new type of professional, the lesser spotted professional if you like (it is coming up to the weekend, humour me).

This lesser spotted professional is someone who for the sake of a few hours training could be the alienation aware professional who knows what to do and how to do it.  That this person remains ignorant, not only of what they don’t know but what they do know, is both astounding and terrifying to me in equal measure.  This week, on wading through yet another case file, I became aware that the case, which has been bouncing back and forth twixt professionals in public and private law, was actually beautifully described in a section 7 report some SIX YEARS ago.  The problem is that the social worker, who wrote so eloquently about the child’s campaign of dislike and hatred, the fused indignation of the child and parent, the furious and unreleneting denigration of the rejected parent, had not the first idea of what she was looking at.  And so, concluded, in a pitiful and damning ending to her sixty page description of a severe case of alienation that, the child is the subject of a contact dispute in which both parents are to blame and the child should be left with the preferred parent with no contact now or in the future to the parent rejected by the child.  Grim reading.  Parentectomy due to lack of awareness of the professional charged with analysis. Little wonder parents in the UK go mad, get bad or simply end their lives because of the intolerable ineptitude of the people charged with safeguarding our children.

The question for me is why do our family services know so little about Parental Alienation and, when they do know something about it, (which clearly the author of this report does, she described it so perfectly) why do they not want to find out more about it.  Why, for example, did this social worker, on hearing a child say ‘I wish he would just die’ and ‘I would kill him if I could’ not consider that to be concerning?  Why, when a child says that her father should be ‘shot and thrown into the river’ does a social worker not decide that this requires further examination?  Why do social workers and other family workers not realise, when they see a child who is utterly determined to uphold the aligned parent’s perspective – to the point of delusion – go on to conclude that this is just a contact dispute.  What sort of mind block prevents professionals in family services from understanding the reality for alienated children?  Politics? Discriminatory practice? Or simple ‘he said/she said’ fatigue?  Whatever it is it is causing our children to become stuck in the most appalling circumstances within the court process, subjected over and over again to professionals who are well meaning but unskilled in the field and to a flimsy court management process which aids and abets institutionalised abuse of children. All of which, frankly, appalls me.

Parental Alienation is NOT a simple contact dispute, it is, in severe cases, child abuse, nothing more nothing less.  In less severe cases, hybrids perhaps or those which are created by naive alienators, it is all too easy for it to trip into child abuse and should always be approached as a case where children are at risk. And lest you think this is just an all out attack on family support services, let me tell you that I have worked in cases where social workers and CAFCASS officers have approached the problem as a child protection issue. Where those people have really ‘got it’ from the outset and we have worked together to tackle the problem immediately and systemically, bringing change for child rapidly and effectively.  Those people are like golddust (you know who you are) and I salute each and every one of them for there are, in this country, some brave and fearless people who make a massive difference.  If only there were more.

The reason there are not more of these people is perhaps answered in the arguments which are raging between parents and state services up and down this land of ours.  From the islands to the highlands from the borders to the metropolis, parents are campaigning to have Parental Alienation recognised by the people who serve our families. Pleas which are falling on deaf ears mostly and which receive dismissals and derisory commentary from those who profess to be in the know and who are most certainly in power.  How and why is alienation ignored is the question being asked. When is the question I am asking. When will family services recognise the problem of children who are stuck with an angry, vengeful and determinedly alienating parent is not just a contact dispute but a case of child abuse which must be stopped.

That question when, is one which rattles around my brain as I read through the teeth grindingly painful accounts of social work interactions with families where alienation is alive and kicking.  When social workers describe a child who has been ‘spousified’ and who is being used as a confidant and a replacement partner but see nothing to be concerned about in that. When social workers listen to children parroting angry words and untruths about a parent they think deserves to be kicked out forever and hear nothing wrong in that. And when social workers speak only of contact disputes instead of child abuse in the face of those things , the answer to the question when will they recognise this, appears to be never.

The problem in my view lies in the institutionalised acceptance of disposable parenthood and the notion that family separatin is normal and simply something that causes a bit of an upheaval for a while but everyone gets over it eventually.  Far from getting over it however, there is a significant cohort of people for whom getting over it is not possible and for whom an alternative reality is revenge, cold blooded or otherwise or a definite and distinct unhingement from normal behaviors.  The truth is that everyone goes a little bit mad when they separate.  It is after all a most unpleasant and terrifying experience.  What everyone doesn’t do however, is hook their children up to their revenge making machine and drop them hook line and sinker into the shittiest parts of adult rage.  Most reasonably healthy adults know that this stuff is not for their children.  Most people, however mad they go, manage not to take their children with them.

But a significant number of people do and this is where being able to understand this group and differentiate them from the rest of the general family separation cohort is vital for family services.  In this group are people with personality disorders, people with rage problems and people with enmeshment and other issues that cause an inability to tell the difference between their own feelings and those of their children. It would seem like basic social work practice to me to be able to recognise those people but judging by the reactions of social workers when confronted with them and by their behaviours, it is easier to not see the reality than see it, name it and deal with it.

And perhaps that last sentence says it all because dealing with it appears to be beyond the capability not only of those who support the family but those who assess the family and those who make judgements in family courts. Clearly recognising problems is one thing but doing something about it is quite another, perhaps it is this which leads social workers and other family professionals to act like the three wise monkeys when they are confronted with Parental Alienation, if they see it and hear it but manage not to speak of it, will anyone notice or even really care (apart from the rejected parent who can so easily be picked off with the accusation that they are simply an aggrieved parent who did not get what they wanted in court).

Which leaves us with a generation of children and their families who have been torn apart by Parental Alienation, who have turned to the courts for assistance and found none and for whom the future for their children, looks very bleak indeed.

And all for the sake of a few hours training, a willingness to act and a family court system with enough guts to protect children who are being abused.

The only condition required for evil to flourish is that good people do nothing.

And in my view, too many good people, lesser spotted or otherwise are doing nothing at all.

(All readers should note that I am bound by the code of ethics for Experts in the Family Courts as well as by the code of ethics for counselling and psychotherapy.  As such each and every case study or reference that I make to my work is heavily disguised to ensure that I do not reveal any of the details of cases I am working on past and present or that any family member with whom I work or professional with whom I am working, could recognise themselves or each other on this blog.  As such, my writing refers to real life work but the cases are a patchwork of different elements of cases that I may have or may be working on. I take my responsibilities seriously in the Family Courts, however much I may criticise them and I also take my work as  therapist equally seriously. At all times I balance the act of writing and speaking out with my absolute committment to the rights of families for a fair, just and confidential service.  I write because I consider it my duty to raise awareness of alienation and the way in which it is not recognised by family services.  Where I see best practice I acknowledge it as I have in this article.  I am working for better outcomes for alienated children and their families at all times).

25 comments

  1. Mumsy · November 14, 2014

    I have suffered the same as that poor father for years too. (Only I’m a mother). My belief is this happens because Social Services have such concrete thinking when it come to the ‘wishes and feelings’ of the child. They treat the child’s wishes as determinative. This inappropriately empowers children who are, in reality, acting as the mouthpiece for the brainwashing alienating parent. And as social services prevaricate over this issue in various rounds of Court the alienation hardens and becomes more impossible to reverse. By upholding the distorted thinking of the child, supporting this stance, they are in effect acting as proxy alienators themselves further cementing the alienation.
    I know of a case where a more enlightened officer actually added the term ‘parental alienation’ to the child protection report of a child on the ‘at risk of emotional harm’ register. Yet they still acted on the child’s wishes and let her stay living with the alienating parent responsible for this emotional harm. The PA ‘did not meet the threshold for removal from the alienated parent’. I’d like to know what does!
    They are poorly equipped to understand when ‘best interests of the child’ and a little common sense should override and a decision should be made on the child’s behalf. They state that Court ‘does not recognise PA’. Then why not call it a more familiar name? Like what it is – extreme emotional abuse. There needs to be joined up thinking and training for Judges and heads of children’s services that filters down through ALL the channels of children’s services. PA is not difficult to identify with children who voice such an unsubstantiated pathological hatred for a parent. It needs to be added to ‘meeting the threshold of emotional abuse’ and acted on swiftly!
    But then there is the problem of a lack of specialists other than yourself to help with therapeutic intervention…
    Karen – what can we do to help change this policy in order to protect other children in the future?

    Like

    • (Dr.) Nigel Miles · September 20, 2015

      My Dear Mum’s. ..my heart flew on reading your words and now remember the meaning of interaction of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.

      Thank you for your deep insight and reality of this current debacle. You express a total relevance of reality and the real need for all our children’s best interest and that of society as a whole.

      The incompetent unprofessionalism of the traditional and undereducated SS/Cafcass operatives is in the main, axiomatic and incredulous.

      Karen and her work is fundamental and wonderful but this is a symptomatic need and currently such action requires expansion by 100 x across our nation to be effective. As you requested there needs to be action. E.g.

      1. Get the facts; affecting 20% of all families or 13.5 million people in this country alone who put their confidence in family courts which has not served their purpose, that is why we have 3.9 million children are being psychologically abused. In 10 homes close to you 2 will have children who are being domestically abused in this manner because of the unprofessional stupidity and incompetence and often perjurying by certain Local Authority public servants in Courts, and perverting the Course of Justice which if in Brazil or Mexico they would serve a custodial sentence of a lengthy period with the parent perpetrator too. AND nor should we dare forget 25,000 women who go to bed at night with suicidal thougts because of enacting P A against them by the alienating father.

      IT NOT A GENDER ISSUE, IT IS ONE OF ABUSE AND EQUALITY.

      2. Educate everyone. Imagine there were 13.5 million asylum refugees attempting to cross into the EU let alone the UK. We would soon have local, national and international debate? If you went into your village, town or city 1/1000 people would have heard the term PA or equivalent! We need a national debate universally through paper and digital social media, radio and TV. Harrass them if need be them until they listen; 13. 5 million people are NOT wrong. The debate has to include judges, lawyers, SS/Cafcass, educated PA specialist child psychologists, (cf: Dr. Steve Miller, Kirk Weir et al Goggle them), health visitors, parents and children too need to be present and of course MP’s AND prospective MP’s (as far as l am aware the Green Party are only the political one to insuperably support parity of parenting). Complementing this.

      3. Without this debate we will not get any form of legislative change which is an urgent act to reverse the current scandal. We had an opportunity with The Children and Family Act ( 2014) under private law to have a wingeing and mooted “shared parenting”
      (which some say was killed by a section of the NSPCC) but it denied responsibility of parity. Equality without parental responsibility is not being a real parent. This was its fault. You cannot have a right to be a parent without unmitigated responsibility.

      I know this missive is long but l would ask you to recall what William Wilberforce ( an icon for Abraham Lincoln), did 200 years ago to rid the UK and it’s Empire of physical slavery. He made free the Rights of all to equality (eventually). What do you think he would be doing now knowing the current situation, that responsible parity of parenting would free all our children.

      If you want to remember the words of “Amazing Grace” please future forward 200 years and let your heart listen and then act!

      Amazing Grace our Lost Generation. Join us!
      Contact me for reality furtherance at
      nmipbes@hotmail.com

      Like

  2. Miriam · November 14, 2014

    Karen,

    As you say, the problem is a gap in knowledge and understanding, and interpreting correctly what is going on. I did a lot of child protection training in my last job, and the issue of child abuse as a result of separation and divorce never came up. It was only when I experienced it first-hand as a targeted parent, that my background in child protection training and understanding of abuse made me say that what my children were going through was not just bad luck, and a result of a chaotic and difficult breakup. It was abusive, and they need help and protection.

    I think there is a societal acceptance that some separations are just awful, and there is not much that can be done about it. The loss of a relationship with one parent is collateral damage. In the past we accepted other forms of abuse, which we now recognise as wrong in the society we live in.

    The question is what exactly needs to change, where are the levers for change, and what power do we as targeted parents have?

    Like

  3. daveyone1 · November 14, 2014

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

    Like

  4. John Allman · November 14, 2014

    Spelling mistake in post title. (No need to publish this.)

    Like

    • PapaMissingKids · November 21, 2014

      wherer? Owt of interest?

      Like

  5. John Allman · November 14, 2014

    Karen, this is extremely timely. Could you please email me?

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  6. mickey · November 14, 2014

    wouldnt it be a step in the right direction that if in the future the government decide to legislate an investigation into this type of child abuse of the mind.
    if you beat a child it leaves bruises and the parent shall be prosecuted or even jailed.
    what if a grown child victim of alienation decided to press charges against an alienating parent on the grounds of abuse.
    with substantial evidence i believe this could become a reality.
    a child who has grown who feels wronged and deprived because of the alienating parents behaviour and the parent punished.
    this would give food for thought to those commiting this hiddeous crime.
    i mean you only have to look at the disgusting crimes against children are being unearthed from decades ago.
    just a thought.
    did this make you laugh??

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 14, 2014

      It didn’t make me laugh Mickey, it chimes exactly with my thinking….bang on the money….I think this WILL happen. K

      Like

  7. Anonymous · November 14, 2014

    When a couple who have been parenting children for some ten years or so split up you would have thought it a reasonably easy task for Cafcass to come to the conclusion it would be vitally important for the children to keep both parents. However this is not the case; even with glaring evidence of the children bad mouthing and abusing one parent the Cafcass inspired “solution” is to say to the parent who is under attack from his former loving children, and I quote, “wait until your children are grown up and then you can go back to them”.

    There just seems to be no will in the social professional services to attempt any restorative family work. Working in a social services capacity myself the work seems to be more about covering your own back and making sure you tick the right boxes and avoid trouble for yourself. It’s not about helping the people you are dealing with. It’s about getting the report out on time, showing how efficiently you can reduce the workload, and encouraging your clients not to complain. There are lots of forms to fill, rules and conditions to be aware of. You are in constant fear of being suspended for not following procedures or forgetting to do the right thing. The hours are long and often plagued by time off through stress related sickness. You become like a robot simply following the dictate of your Boss who in turn is constantly trying to cover up for everyone’s mistakes (i.e. the errors in procedure)………….

    What the job lacks is empathy for the client.

    A cold detachment and lack of respect for humanity is the norm.

    Sometimes this extends to a callous disregard of clients such that behind closed doors they are ridiculed in their predicament.

    The “child welfare check” list does not help because there is no mention of any attempt at restorative work to maintain relations between children and both parents. It’s more about the children being fed, and clothed and supported in whatever circumstance they find themselves………….no mending of relationships just stoic acceptance of whatever situation the children find themselves………..readjustment to life without the target parent.

    Kind regards

    Like

  8. PapaMissingKids · November 14, 2014

    Sorry Karen, weekend or not, I’m just not going to humour you: I wrote on another posting of yours about 10 days ago that I am less and less inclined to call these so-called court personnel as professionals and I still don’t. I actually prefer what the first response here stated – that such people are “proxy-alienators”. Yep, that’s a good one, for at least one weekend!

    I never, ever, EVER, thought I’d say this but, and only and ONLY because of my respect for your judgement Karen, please allow me to join you in saluting those, and only those, gold dust social workers and CAFCASS officers that you salute. Salutations and Namaste people! 🙂 and God bless 🙂

    Perhaps these are the real lesser spotted Professionals?

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  9. risingtothesurface · November 15, 2014

    I, too, wonder what will happen to those alienators. I will soon bring legal action against the court evaluator and the two therapists who have been my ex-husbands assistants in facilitating his alienation of my daughter from me. Their arrogance and lack of training in assessing the behavior of a sociopath have been so very damaging. My daughter will come to understand how much she has been lied to and used as a tool of revenge. I can absolutely see her bringing charges against her father for his sick-minded abuse of her.

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  10. Kat · November 15, 2014

    I have recently come across the term maternal alienation. My understanding of this term is that it covers women who exit abusive relationships and end up being alienated from their children by their abusive ex (i.e. in my world parental alienation where the mother is the rejected parent). However, what frightens me about this term is that it is deliberately used to distinguish it from parental alienation, which is described as a contentious allegation used by men in custody disputes to cover up their abuse of their ex wives. Thus alienation does exist, but only as a form of violence against women perpetrated by men.
    Combine that with reading an article about children abusing their parents (in my world an indication that something is terrible wrong in that child’s life and this child incl. the child’s family is in dire need of help) which also was framed around this being a form of violence against women and never mind the child.
    Both of these statements to me indicate an unbelievable lack of empathy and I pity the women who are offered “services” developed in that kind of environment as much as I pity the children and men who are not offered the help they need. The lesser spotted alienation aware professional then suddenly does not seem such a strange breed.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 15, 2014

      Interesting stuff Kat, I bet those terms maternal alienation and the concept of the child being violent towards the women both come from the women’s rights movement.

      There is a need in my mind to recognise that Parental Alienation shows different strategies when used by different people and being a gender mainstreamining specialist in another life, I am always interested in gendered aspects of everything. I do think that alienated mothers sometimes experience different issues to alienated fathers, particularly in the way that alienation is engineered and the continuation of pre – separation dynamics – BUT – the women’s rights movement are often really anti Parental Alienation as a concept but quick to claim violence when it happens to women – that they are differentiating it is interesting.

      I guess the issue about children being violent and it being seen as a violent act against women is how one conceptualises onself in relationship to others. If a woman is taught to believe that she is oppressed and anyone violent towards her is proving her oppression then it is easy to accept that even children can be exercising their privilige against you – instead of accepting one’s role as adult to their child and the need to ensure their safety and wellbeing and see their violence of a sign that something is terribly wrong. The women who are offered these services are brainswashed in my experience – in exactly the same way as the alienator brainwashes. They are institutionalised alienators as PMK says – I see them all the time, they are all around the world – they assume they have the right to ‘educate’ women to understand their oppression – they strip children from parents without a backward glance – these people are, to me, the vultures in this world, they make themselves feel better by destroying others. Violence and harm to others is deadly serious issue but it is being treated in the wrong way and has been for forty years – it is time we looked at this whole issue differently – I will write about this in the next couple of weeks. K

      Like

      • Kat · November 15, 2014

        I have no problem with the term maternal alienation per se, as long as it is considered a subcategory of parental alienation alongside the other category paternal alienation. That would allow us to explore and understand the differences in the experience of alienated mothers and fathers and the different strategies deployed by male and female alienators – something you have touched upon in other posts already. Help can then be tailored accordingly.
        To me the idea of women a perpetual victims in itself helps fuel continued violence. When you abdicate personal responsibility where is the motivation to change? When you are empowered by your status of victim where is the motivation to heal and move on?
        Back to alienation: I think the description of mothers leaving abusive relationships only to end up alienated from their children is very real. I have seen it happen and seen the same happen to men who leave abusive relationships. However, the mechanisms must be different as only the female alienator has the initial support of the family justice system to carry this out. The male alienator will have to “recruit” the system to be on his side, something I have seen done very successfully though I am not quite sure how. I suspect the lesser spotted alienation aware professional is easily blinkered. (PMK that is professional used in the loosest of terms: they are paid to do this job, no competence implied)

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  11. Nick · November 16, 2014

    Hi Karen,
    From day one at Court the issue of parental alienation was raised. It was ignored, eventually after a year and a half a Guardian Lietem was assigned. The Court gave two instructions:- wishes and feelings of the child and if necessary an investigation into possible P.A. Over the next few weeks an exchange of correspondence with the Guardian took place. Logically the P.A. seemed appropriate to be tackled first as in P.A a child is in effect repeating the other parents beliefs. The Guardian insisted the reverse order with Wishes and Feelings first. On pressing him to get a child Psychologist or Psychiatrist to confirm in writing that his was the appropriate order, he volunteered that no such qualified person was employed by Cafcass. No investigation into P.A ever took place.

    From day one the Court was asked to include counselling to resolve the children’s position. The Courts reply was to say it didn’t have enough resources to cover it’s serious cases. On offering the Court the resources and the opinion of well respected psychiatrists it rejected both of these as well.

    I learnt much about the Courts ‘culture’. In effect it’s a ‘cheap jack’ one size fits all. I suspect unless an extremely overt and clearly documented abuse by a mother takes place the child will be placed with her. All children left unprotected. Courts in my opinion the most illogical and unimaginative and damaging place to resolve the ‘bread and butter’ of a relationship breaking down.

    It’s very good to hear of your work. Maybe Cafcass/ Family Courts would not be able to operate as they do with Child psychologist within its board of directors?

    Like

  12. Anonymous · November 16, 2014

    Sad to say Nick, clearly documented abuse of children by mother does not mean your child will be placed with you. In the first instance child abuse by mother instigates an enquiry within Social Services which comes to the conclusion that mother is unhappy. The reason that she is unhappy is because of you (that’s the father). In effect anything the mother does contrary to her normal job as childcarer is your fault. If you cause a fuss they will cover up any incriminating evidence, re-writing and re-phrasing original reports. If you phone childline or NSPCC they will sound concerned, but horror of horrors it is their legal duty to refer their concerns back to social services. You soon discover that this is where the buck stops. You may think the physical damage you child has suffered, witnessed by your Doctor is going to make a case for you, but once again you are mistaken. The Doctor refers back to social services. Once the Doctor here’s of your concerns for the children he will block your attempts for more information, saying things like it is up to the children to make a complaint (as if a 10 year old is going to make a complaint and take it to court !!!!).

    In the very unlikely event that because of mother’s abuse of your children she is not considered fit to care for them it is not your job to take over. The children will be sucked into the social services care machinery. From then on you will have to justify to the courts and social services that you are fit to look after your own children.

    Again this is not an easy task. You are not liked and people are deeply suspicious of your motives. You may have to counter non-molestation and prohibitive steps orders.

    Perhaps ironically living apart from your ex may have been the solution. now you can concentrate on helping your kids cope. You can examine ways of continuing a relationship with your children, using the tools at your disposal from the counter-parental alienation course you have been on. You can subtly find indirect ways to pacify your formerly raging ex. You can self-examine and empower and strengthen yourself to re-direct your life.

    Kind regards

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  13. Heartbroken · November 20, 2014

    The Social Worker that did this to my children has died. I have always been hopeful that my children would one day write to him and let him know the pain he imposed on them. He was an arrogant man that felt he knew everything. His expertise was with jailed criminals and not with children or families. He had built up such a reputation for himself that he felt he was above the law and the obligations of his professional responsibilities. I brought the assessment he did to the Association of Social Workers in our area. They took two years to reply, two years of utter agony for me. When they replied they told me I had to go to court to have the Assessment looked at again. However they did give the Assessment to a Psychologist of Social Work, an expert herself in the area of examining practices and protocol to see if the man had followed what he was supposed to do. The Association refused to give me the report from her and told me I had to go to court and have a Judge order they give me a copy. After paying over $140,000 in court fees I was unable to go to court for this matter. So the report sits in a file somewhere unless it mysteriously disappeared. I felt there was a cover up for this man that had such a reputation. The truth is his reputation on the street is that ” he can be bought”. Do Social Workers make enough money to own a large home in an exclusive area on their regular salary? I think not.

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  14. CG · November 20, 2014

    Karen – today’s blog post (as below) from Cafcass entitled, without irony, “Keeping the family alive, even if they can no longer be together” left me initially speechless.
    Again, what a low bar has been set – and what does ‘keeping the family alive’ mean – a meaningless phrase, just like ‘in the child’s best interests’ that has no qualification about what it means (so no way of judging ‘success’, or ‘failure’ – although Cafcass don’t recognise, record or measure ‘failure’ anymore) and yet it will be the new phrase that will be bandied about as some badge of honour by Cafcass, as “we’ve enabled xx number of families to ‘stay alive’ since we began this new ‘exciting’ approach. Exciting! The language is patronising, meaningless, shameful. My initial reaction was that ‘keeping the family alive’ is an apposite phrase when children suffering the effects of parental alienation are often described as hostages – shouldn’t keeping them alive be the bare minimum. 2 letters a year as the only court allowed contact is ‘keeping the family alive’ – torturing someone to within an inch of their lives by brutal, callous mistreatment and cruelty is also ‘keeping them alive’.

    Keeping the family alive, even if they can no longer be together
    Thursday November 20, 2014
    Anthony Douglas
    This is an exciting time for us as we start to expand our pre-court dispute resolution role in private law cases. Supported by the Ministry of Justice, we are strengthening our pre-court interventions in Newcastle, York, Scarborough, Bristol, Norfolk and Kent, aiming to divert cases from court by supporting parents to establish a line of communication again about their child or children. Our aim is to keep the family alive even if they can no longer be together. In some areas we are carrying out this work directly ourselves. In others, we are commissioning voluntary sector organisations to do this. Common to each of the pilot areas is an emphasis on providing a keyworker to families for a short period of time pre-court, to help them use the best resource available for them and to be on hand to offer advice and support. We hope this will deter people from using the court process just because they do not have enough support and encouragement to consider the alternatives. In those same five areas, we are offering awareness sessions and a telephone consultation service to local mediators about child protection issues, if they have concerns. Mediators often sit outside the local safeguarding mainstream when considering risks to vulnerable children or adults and our service aims to increase mediator’s knowledge and confidence when dealing with such issues in their work, without them always feeling they need to grant an exemption and allow people to go forward into a court application and battle. I hope these initiatives will re-position pre-court private law services into mainstream early help services locally. Dealing successfully with the aftermath of relationship breakdown is a key local public health and wellbeing issue. So much unseen and unreported damage comes from high conflict post-separation which is allowed to carry on without an end for the child in sight. This drains a child of hope and positive emotion. Pre-court private law practice is far from a cost cutting exercise in relation to court applications. It is based upon a strong belief in Cafcass that many disputes which go to court can be more easily resolved out of court. We are putting more time and effort into this, and we will evaluate the outcomes with the Ministry of Justice within twelve months to see if it will be possible in future to establish a viable out of court service, one which is more powerful, accessible and constructive than going to court with all of its attendant risks of escalation and with heightened anxiety for all involved.
    Written by Chief Executive Anthony Douglas at 09:00

    https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/blog/posts/2014/november/20th/keeping-the-family-alive,-even-if-they-can-no-longer-be-together.aspx

    Like

  15. dokaohi · November 23, 2014

    As I read through all of the replies, I am sickened to my stomach and in tears as this blog perfectly describes the pain and agony I am going through. Friday Nov. 21st was one of the most difficult days in my life as the entire day was spent in court and it is not over. The Judge will file his decision with the courts on December 24th, yes the day before Christmas.

    If the court system here recognized it as parental alienation and child abuse, it could clearly see this is maternal alienation case. It is sad because the custody evaluator in her report stated both parents clearly cannot co-parent but she still recommended a 50/50 joint custody, even though three family therapists recommended full custody to the mother.

    I found a HAP/PA assessment tool online and gave it to my child’s therapist. Though she did recognize it as PA, only then did she recognize how extreme this case was, but still would not make the call to CPS, again because it is not commonly recognized in the system as abuse. Our two adult children in fact were my ex’s only witnesses who testified that I should not be the custodial parent. The court system could have recognized my two daughters are already alienated and aligned with their father. My attorney (my fourth one in three years mind you) did not want to base my case on PA specifically because the court doesn’t recognize it and our three witnesses, though experts in their field of family therapy and counseling, are not experts in PA.

    Previously, I called CPS myself and they said I as the parent couldn’t make the determination as abuse and would need a professional to make that determination because my case sounded more like emotional and not physical abuse therefore she couldn’t open an investigation. To me abuse is abuse, therefore it SHOULD be recognized.

    Karen, if you could let me know where these professionals could go to get the necessary training so they too can become gold dust, we could make a difference in so many children’s lives. My ten year old son is one of them.

    Our marriage and family therapist recommendation was for me to get full custody and move off this island. The judge even asked me of I had any intention of moving. However, the other two counselors recommended at least some visitation with the dad as he is bonded so much to the father. On a side note, they both read the HAP/PAS assessment tool and did see that the recommendation that the parents custody status be temporarily suspended but said the court system works no way go in that direction. Of course had they been trained, they could very well advocate as such.

    We will have to wait until the day before Christmas to see what the Judge’s decision will be regarding my sons custody. Whatever the outcome, I will be an advocate for our court system to be able to acknowledge parental alienation as a form of abuse.

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  16. Howie Dennison · November 23, 2014

    Great article on the central issue of parental alienation. Agreed, the vast majority of mental health professionals and ordinary citizens do not act as if it were severe child abuse. I agree with everything said in the article, but I would add one more observation. In the year 2000, the top law enforcement official in the United States for childhood sexual abuse, FBI special agent Kan Lanning, said this about people’s failure to observe sexual abuse and act: “Emotion versus Reason: Regardless of intelligence and education and often despite common sense and evidence to the contrary, adults tend to believe what they want to believe. The greater the need, the greater the tendency.” “Many individuals do not prevent, recognize, or accept sexual victimization of a child by a respected member of society because they cannot believe that a man who is good and spiritual and who seems to truly care for children could be a child molester”. Obviously, that is about sexual abuse. But I believe the same forces come into play for parental alienation. It is simply to threatening for people to believe that a “good person” could be a molester. Or that a “good parent” could really be harming their child. http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC70.pdf#page=3 If Lanning is correct, the scandals in the Catholic Church and Penn State are what is to be expected, not the exception. That is where mandatory reporting laws come from. And seeing seeing mental health ignore the problem would be what is expected. A Star Trek style “cloaking device” takes over the brains of mental health when parental alienation is involved.

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  17. repeatedPattern · December 13, 2014

    Maybe you have to dumb it down for them

    “This child is a pawn that is used by a vindictive resident parent to exact their revenge on the non resident parent without a care or concern of the effect that it is having on the child’s welfare, development & self-esteem. This is not new. ”

    The problem is as ‘old as the hills’. It has been happening ever since we left the wisdom of the tribal or village cheifs who would have sorted it in 5 minutes with an ‘in the stocks you go’ comment … and replaced it with an adversarial system which relies on conflict to make their living …., and does not make their living from resolving conflict.

    The man or woman in the street knows this. What needs to be shown is that the system knows it too, but is acting for personal gain and empires, rather than the best interests of the suffering children. Find a way to get that message across, and it will be acted on as quickly as the rotherham abuse (which despite multiple cover-up attempts, is on leader v3 due to public outcry at insiders investigating themselves)

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  18. John Allman · January 8, 2015

    Reblogged this on John Allman . UK and commented:
    This November 2014 blog post, on the part of Karen Woodall, has remained in my mind ever since I first read it.
    Three days after it was published, I was a physically assaulted by an unaware professional, who seems to be decidedly incapable of recognising alienation , even when it is staring her in the face.
    The consequent events of 11th December are viewable at

    The ideal outcome would be that my son’s head teacher, who I predict God will rule has not half the brains of my four year-old son whom she is abusing, will read this, become “alienation aware” herself, thus educated repent, changing sides, and render unnecessary the litigation I have planned for her, if she remains alienation unaware, and as stubborn as she has been do far.

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  19. Pingback: Why do our family services know so little about Parental Alienation? | PARENTS HEALING FROM ESTRANGEMENT
  20. everythinghappensforareason · May 31, 2016

    just discovered this old post – it should be re-posted regularly to remind us of the simple explanation for PA and, also, of how little change there’s been (apart from the year-on-year increase of this disease!)

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