Dr. Daniel W. Bishop, PsyD Professor: Concordia University Chicago, Il Director: Credence Counseling & Therapy Elkhorn and East Troy, WI PAS Terminology • Parental Alienations Syndrome (PAS) is controversial and may be pulling away from the real issue, the health of the child, and focus on the “alienating” parent and his/her behavior. • Therefore, CBI utilizes more neutral terminology o Conflicted Child o Aligned Parent o Target Parent Definitions • Conflicted Child(ren): o One who expresses, freely and persistently, unreasonable negative feelings and beliefs (anger, hatred, rejection, and/or fear” toward a parent that are significantly disproportionate to the child’s actual experience with the parent” Kelly & Johnston, 2001, p.251) • This can be one child or an entire sib-ship. If entire sib-ship, will often be able to see one sibling more conflicted (traditionally 8-14), often oldest. Definitions • Not all anger at parents or refusal to visit is the same • Normal reaction for one child to align with one parent or favor one parent at different times of development or at different developmental milestones • Estranged o o o o o May be a healthy response Unreliable Consistently inadequate Abuse History of violence Definitions • Targeted Parent o The parent/caretaker who is the focus of the anger o Viewed as the “bad” parent • Can be more rigid and have an authoritarian parenting style • Lack of warmth or involvement Definitions • Aligning Parent o o o o o See’s self as protecting the child Overprotective Views children as fragile Doesn’t view need for other parent Speaks for the child's thoughts and feelings “Unjustified animosity, negative beliefs, and fears of a parent in the absence of alienating behaviors by a parent can also occur, alienating behavior by one parent is not necessary” Triangulated Children • Poor emotional control of the parents • Poor parenting • Failure to address their children’s needs create anguish, tension and anger • Typical but not ideal • Children are put into the conflict, invited to take sides • Child replaces the mate • Parents not able to communicate effectively and directly Healthy Child • A natural tendency to prefer on parent over the other for various reasons. Children in Family Court • When allegations of parental conflict resulting in child alignment and targeting of parents enter the court system, special services (legal, case management, counseling) may be necessary to help the child. • The child’s rejection can be the result of many things: the behaviors of each parent, high conflict between the parents, the adversarial process, attorney’s therapists and extended family members. The intensity and duration of the legal fight may serve to channel away feelings of depression. Continue Contact • Presumption that parent-child contact will continue otherwise resistance becomes entrenched. • Officials Involved: Consistent • A clear mandate for support, with court sanctions if necessary (financial payments, enforcement of an order, more driving responsibility) in supporting therapy and facilitating reasonable access. Early Recognition & Prevention - CBI • Parenting after separation (face to face or on-line) • If in doubt, early on referral to CBI o o o o Timeliness is important!!! 14 days to register. Therapeutic Contact (not “supervised” or “counseling”) Assure protection of the child if doubt exists Protection of false allegations to/about the rejected parent • Screening by Both Biological Parents/Guardians o Releases signed, agreement to participate , rights, financial issues o Focus on the child’s history and why child refuses visits First Sessions • First Couple Session with Both Parents/Guardians, if allowed o Works best if both guardians attend together o Explain the service o Explain the research on parental conflict on the purpose of the service to focus on the child’s best interest. o Psychoeducational about handling difficult situations o Appropriate behavior toward each parent and emotional regulation around the children o Discuss critical involved o Reporting to the Court o Triage (family counseling, parenting classes, personal counseling) keeping the number of professionals involved small and trained in the model Both Parents have some responsibility • Co-parenting by the Parenting Coach o Two times a month if 50% placement, one time a month if less placement o Focus is on the children's experience, developmental issues, emotional regulation o Recommendation of biblio-therapy and clear expectations of each others behavior o Continue screening for triaging necessary services • Both parents parenting is problematic • Likely there is some “truth”, but may be exaggerated (lack of warmth, parenting, anger, controlling, step parent). Goals of CBI • Reunification is NOT the primary or only goal • Encourage parents to engage in necessary services to make them “good enough parents” o o o o Parenting class Substance abuse evaluation and counseling Anger management, domestic violence, depression, anxiety Individual counseling • Restore appropriate co-parent roles and child boundaries • Restore healthy dynamics and emotional regulation Targeted Parents Have Issues? • • • • More critical and demanding parenting style Withdrawn Financial resource limitations Own feelings of abandonment Aligned Parents Have Issues? • Sometimes child support is a huge barrier • A new partner (for aligned or targeted parent) • “She is 10, she should be able to make her own decisions!” Child(ren) Services • Support group, counseling, counseling with target parent. • Given permission to be rude, increase empathy • Create critical thinking • Allow child to love both parents with feelings of loyalty. • Why are your parents divorced “does it matter?” • If PTSD, must be treated first! Lessons Learned • • • • • • • • • • Limit the “professionals involved” Professionals need training Limits to confidentiality Agreed on roles Parent Coach is team leader Bi-weekly contact to all team members, organized by Parent Coach Parent Coach completes quarterly reports to courts Limit time of CBI to 6 months No emergency (out of session) contact via e-mails or phone calls REALLY try and get both parents together for coparenting, it goes MUCH easier!