The mystery of meaning in parental alienation

There are things which appear from the outside to be mysterious which when viewed from the inside look completely different and indeed, in a moment, explain how they were influenced into being.  This week I have been working in the moment with alienated children and have been observing how, when viewed through a particular lens, their behaviour means one thing, but when viewed through another, their behaviour means something else entirely. Most of all, when viewed through the lens of healthy love, children are free to be who they inherently are and their being is allowed to emerge instead of being shaped, forced and influenced into something else.

We all wear different lenses. As someone recently introduced to contact lenses the imagery seems perfect to me when thinking about parental alienation. Through the lens of my glasses the world looks one way, through the contact lens the world looks a whole lot different, sharper, more delineated. Perhaps we could devise a contact lens for those practitioners working with alienated families, it would bring everything into sharper focus and allow us to do what we know is necessary on a wider scale to help them.

Devising the lens through which practitioners working with families can more easily spot and treat the problem of alienation is our next task in hand. This year we will be training the Scottish Judiciary in understanding how to manage alienation cases as well as working with leading professionals in London with whom we continue to develop a multi model approach to bringing about better outcomes. This multi stranded approach, which is based upon best practice across the world, is our intervention of choice and is in step with all of the world wide practice by recognised experts, some of whom we are working closely with now to build our skills for the UK.  Working in teams with Clinical Psychologists and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrists, as well as Independent Social Workers and Guardians, the Family Separation Clinic is building an evidence base which is recognised in the family courts for its success. This is the route that will bring the UK the healthy outcomes necessary for families affected by alienation.  This is the lens we will be replicating this year because it is based on evidence not theory and practice not preaching.

Watching children return to health after being alienated is always my most favourite part of this work and I am never disappointed when the differentiation and treatment route is right. The lights that come back into children’s eyes as they no longer have to adapt and conform to requirements that they do not properly understand but obey anyway, are a joy to behold. Every child is the same when health returns, the lights come on, the animation returns and life flows just how it should. I am privileged in every way to play a small part in this and each success builds the determination in me to make what we do available on as wide a scale as possible.

There is a mystery of meaning in this work which I recognised the first time I helped to liberate a child. (That story can be found in the book by Thomas Moore called ‘Please let me see my son.’) Without becoming too mystical about it, there is a flow which is blocked which returns when the barriers are removed and as a practitioner, wearing the right lenses  is what enables us to see where the blocks and barriers are.  Those blocks and barriers are human, they lie in the relational world and it is in relationship to the people we work with, alienated children, alienated parents and most crucially of all alienating or favoured parents, that we encounter them. Shifting those blocks comes from doing and being, it is an active not passive encounter with families.  Change comes as families eat together, move together, do together and be together, not from sitting in a room in a static place shifting thoughts about in the mind.

Mysterious things happen all the time in this world that we work in but the magic never leaves it. That is what keeps me involved in it, through all of the ups and downs, all of the ego based arguments and all of the (perhaps) well meaning but misplaced strategies that are dreamed up by people who think they know, but who know very little at all about what it really means to do this work.  When I meet others who know, who truly understand and are gifted at what they do, I need no introduction because their intention is aligned with the way that they behave. Those people know, without mystery, what  recovery for alienated children means. They know what to do and when and they dance in harmony with the families that they work with. It is a joy to do this work with those people and uncover the meaning of the mystery of how families, once so badly broken, can be so easily repaired when the dynamics are right.

Energy flows where you put your attention and this week my attention is on the children I work with and those who are helping us achieve the very best for them. There is a momentum building which is exciting to be part of and we are supported in what we do by people who really know what to do to change the lived experience of alienated families.

Which means that more of what we do will be available to more of you.

Which is the meaning in the mystery of everything we do.



  1. CitymanMichael (@CitymanMichael) · January 19, 2016

    I remember my young son had broken his arm and after 6 or 8 weeks I took him to the hospital to have his plaster cast removed.
    The instant the nurse took the cast off he started wriggling his arm around – making sure it was working well! The nurse said that was how children reacted when the cast came off – as opposed to an adult who would gingerly start by moving their fingers.
    I imagine children, relieved from the constraints of alienation, would mentally react the same way.


  2. Anonymous · January 19, 2016

    That was certainly the case with my children @CitymanMichael. As soon as Karen brought them to me from their alienating mother, they literally ‘jumped in to my arms’. Now, every time I have them, they take about five minutes to forget about the alienation that is still so obviously present, before they are running around my house loving life. It is just a sad shame that their mother contacts them by phone around 5 times per weekend to interrogate them about what they are doing, as this undermines my time with them. Interestingly, I never hear from the when they are under the spell of their mother, thus proving she is still weaving her tangled web of alienation.


  3. Frankie · January 19, 2016

    Read “Please let me see my Son” after your recommendation Karen and it gave me hope!! Seems sometimes even when the Social workers and courts can see what’s happening they are too scared to rock the boat! 3 years later as a mother I’m no further on, yet everyone involved could see the alienation of my son by his father!!
    I will be there to catch him when he falls…. it’s what we do!!


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  6. truthaholics · January 19, 2016

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “Watching children return to health after being alienated is always my most favourite part of this work and I am never disappointed when the differentiation and treatment route is right. The lights that come back into children’s eyes as they no longer have to adapt and conform to requirements that they do not properly understand but obey anyway, are a joy to behold. Every child is the same when health returns, the lights come on, the animation returns and life flows just how it should. I am privileged in every way to play a small part in this and each success builds the determination in me to make what we do available on as wide a scale as possible.”


  7. Everythinghappensforareason · January 20, 2016

    I hope and pray you’ll carry the “powers that be” with you as a cultural shift seems to be the biggest barrier to long-term and meaningful change


    • Everythinghappensforareason · January 20, 2016

      Just downloaded Thomas Moore’s book to kindle and looking forward to the read….


      • Everythinghappensforareason · January 21, 2016

        Absolutely loved the forward, Karen – I feel like I’m about to read a sizeable amount of my own nightmare experience (between 2002-09) and already riveted with interest. Not sure whether that’s a sign of emotional progress or apathy!


      • Everythinghappensforareason · January 27, 2016

        Well….I was certainly not disappointed – what a great read!!

        I’ve learnt more from Thomas’ book than I have from being an aligned chid or an alienated father….about the nature of the real problem (an unaddressed personality disorder in the parent) and the only solutions (minimising the negative impact on the minor/adult child together with supporting the targeted parent in MANAGING the behaviour of the alienator).

        In many ways, what I read was a story of how Karen and Thomas managed the family court, social services and the alienator (including supporters)…..not to mention the “fickle finger of fate” that also played its significant part. The ever-so subtle push-back to Renhold when Thomas appeared before him, geuinely, expecting no end to the abuse of his son

        It’s a crying shame this book wasn’t a best seller as, I believe, it has far more in the way of answers to PA than politicians, the current legal system and corrupt individuals who blatantly prioritise profits from the “gravy train” that is family breakdown

        Having read extensively over the years, in this area, my no.1 spot had (since 2002) been occupied by Terence Frisby’s “Outrageous Fortune” which, for many, was an eye-opener into the dysfunctional workings of the family courts as far back as the 70’s. Needless to say, after 14 years, OF has been well and truly toppled by P……LMSMS

        I’d be grateful for book recommendations that anyone believe are the equal (if not better than) either of the above


  8. Anonymous · January 20, 2016

    There wasn’t a day gone by that John didn’t think about his children. Sometimes fondly, sometimes sadly their haunting presence somehow nagging. That innocent energy of youth alert and present their images frozen in time, just as he remembered them when they were very much part of the family.

    John had had the 5 star family court treatment programme. He had been “risk assessed” and held badges for both non-molestation and prohibitive steps orders. He was a front runner for this years prodigious crimes against the family award.

    He was in line for further honours from no less than the Prime Minister; “feckless father of the year”

    It was relatively easy to achieve this status. All the background work had been done for him by those thoughtful people in family services.

    The condescending roundly mumatious patronising protectionist unit who always put the children first, and within sight of their mother had written a report in which they used case law to show that John was indeed someone who we all needed to be wary of.

    John’s wife or should I say former partner had said that she felt stressed in John’s presence and that the poor innocent children would suffer as a result of this.

    Consequently John never saw his children and John’s children never saw him. This was heralded as a triumph for women’s equality. John’s wife went on to claim “woman of the year” award and the local paper congratulated her citing her courage in bringing up her children all by herself. A well known Supermarket provided funding for the plight of single mothers.

    John’s prospects didn’t look good. He had no money. His most precious relationship had been taken from him. He had been criminalised. He had been hounded for money to support children he was not allowed to see. He had stress related mental health issues.

    If you see John, down by the river, before it’s too late, see if you can convince him that there is a way back from the abyss; that in spite of everything that is wrong with society there is a way back.

    Listen to him. Tell him about your pain, your struggles, your failures and your successes because he needs you more than ever right now. He needs to know that he is not alone.

    He needs to know that there is a way back; his faith needs to be restored.

    Kind regards


  9. Everythinghappensforareason · January 20, 2016

    So so true!! John is not alone and more than able to meet this challenge that is “his story” – knowing that the enemy seeks to isolate him and erode his self-esteem might help reinforce the reality that he, ultimately, controls the narrative of HIS destiny and also can only ever do his best (and no more than that)


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