Recovering Adult Children of Alienation

“However, the actual therapy for this form of disordered mourning is actually quite simple. We just need to provide the child with an accurate interpretation of his or her pain as an unprocessed grief response, dispose of the “deserves to be rejected” defense, and foster the child’s emotional release and bonding to the targeted parent. Once the child bonds with the beloved targeted parent the attachment system will no longer produce the grief response and the child’s pain vanishes immediately. Poof. All gone. If the pain ever begins to reemerge, possibly around feelings of regret and loss, all the child needs to do is express affectionate bonding with the beloved targeted parent and – poof – this new round of emotional pain also vanishes. It’s actually quite simple.”

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

As you can imagine, many targeted parents contact me seeking my advice and consultation regarding their family experience with “parental alienation.”  Unfortunately there are a variety of professional and legal reasons that prevent me from offering advice and counsel to targeted parent on their specific situations.  I am only allowed by professional practice standards to provide expert testimony in legal cases, and I am allowed by professional practice standards to provide professional-to-professional consultation to other mental health professionals.

My recommendation is for targeted parents to request from the mental health professional involved in your family situation that the mental health professional contact me to engage in a professional-to-professional consultation.  I cannot talk to the targeted parent regarding the specifics of your situation.  I can, however, talk with the mental health professional as part of a professional-to-professional case consultation as long as the mental health professional does not disclose identifying information…

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One thought on “Recovering Adult Children of Alienation

  1. “There are two phases to the solution for adult survivors of childhood alienation. We are currently in the first phase where there are no mental health professionals who are professionally competent with this form of family pathology. Hopefully, mental health professionals are reading my work and are becoming increasingly educated. In the next phase we will have many mental health professionals who will be available to help you and your adult children restore a healthy and affectionate bond.

    More importantly in this second phase will be adult survivor support groups that can help the adult survivors of childhood alienation learn and transition into a healthy attachment bond to their formerly targeted-rejected parent. I would like to see a network of recovered survivors of childhood alienation in online support groups who could help transition adult children into therapy and recovery.

    So I see two things, a network of competent therapists and a network of recovered adult children of alienation who can help transition other adult survivors of childhood alienation into recovery.

    But right now, neither of these exist. So we’re still in phase 1, with incompetent and ignorant mental health professionals and only an emerging peer support network. So what to do right now? This would be my recommendation.

    Love is always a good thing. I would recommend being relentlessly kind and gently inviting. Be available. Be authentic. Reach out gently and kindly.

    Offer understanding to your children, don’t ask them to understand you. The pathology of “parental alienation” is a trauma disorder. Trauma is created in the absence of empathy. Trauma is healed by the abundant presence of empathy.

    Your children did not choose to have a narcissistic/(borderline) parent. You chose this parent for them. Your children had to cope with having a narcissistic/(borderline) parent. It’s hard. Be empathetic. Be kind. Be available and gently invite relationship. The gently relentless power of rain can bring down great mountains, little by little. Invite… gently. Respond to opportunities with gentle kindness.

    Your children’s attachment system is still on, and it’s still motivating them toward bonding with you. It’s being artificially suppressed by their anger, and they are just hoping to end their pain, their grief, and find emotional peace by moving on. Totally understandable. But their grief won’t resolve until they complete the motivations of their attachment system.

    If an opportunity arises, be warm. Smile… a lot. Don’t argue. Don’t dwell on the past. Listen to who they are now, and show a sincere interest in who they are now. Solution focused, not problem focused.

    As we move forward my hope is that more and more therapists will begin to understand the attachment-based core of the pathology. As mental health professionals increasingly understand the pathology we will be able to increasingly help you and your children recover.

    The most pressing need right now is to stop the “bleeding out” of current active cases of “parental alienation.” We do this by expecting – and demanding – professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of the pathology. Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology (diagnostic indicator 1), personality pathology (diagnostic indicator 2), and psychiatric-delusional pathology in the child in order to meet the needs of the parent represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed. We must first start with obtaining an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology, which requires that ALL mental health professionals assess for the three diagnostic indicators of pathogenic parenting in cases of attachment-related pathology in high-conflict divorce.

    Once we achieve professional competence, we can turn toward solving the broken legal system response and we can expand to helping adult children of alienation recover, starting with individual therapy and peer support networks and moving into recovering the lost relationship with the formerly targeted-rejected parent.

    Step-by-step we’ll keep moving forward until all of your children are back in your arms.

    Craig Childress, Psy.D.
    Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857”

    Liked by 1 person

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