The start of the new century has seen some progress in the recognition of Parental Alienation by influential organisations, but frustratingly slow progress in tackling the root causes or addressing the power balance that perpetuates the problem.
By the end of this fresh decade, as a passionate advocate for positive change, I want to see PA eradicated as a major cause of psychological child abuse. These are some of the early steps that need to be taken on that journey:
- Formation of an early intervention team consisting of ‘experts by experience’, a parent affected by PA, adult survivor of PA, grandparent affected by PA, professionals from law, social work psychotherapy, family therapy, psychology and other voluntary organisations.
- Launch of public health campaign to raise awareness of the short and long term psychological damage caused by PA.
- Establishment of a PA drop in triage surgery serviced by social workers/systemic family therapists and a legal professional referred by professionals and others to screen for PA.
- Children’s helpline for those affected by parental relationship distress.
- Targeted training to Children’s Safeguarding Boards including the Police, social workers, Cafcass, NSPCC, Headteachers, Health Visitor’s, Paediatricians, Doctors, Save the Children, Barnardo’s, Probation Service and other designated safeguarding leads for their organisations to attend.
- Aligning with a University to undertake research on what works and why in terms of PA.
- Writing to Family Justice Council’s to deliver a lecture on early intervention in PA and offer information about signposting to appropriate resources.
- Contact Ministry of Justice with a proposal to offer parents assessments for diversion to systemic co-parenting family therapy if appropriate.
- Helpline and support group for alienated parents.
- Harness the expertise of the early intervention team to develop a mission statement focussed on:
- promoting settlement of conflict
- offer assistance to the court and families in crisis
- to act in the interests of all family members and children in particular
- to assist families in litigation to to settle their conflicts outside court
- to reduce the traumatic effects of engaging in long term adversarial processes
- to address the emotional and familial needs of the litigants
- to offer therapeutic parenting support
- to offer short term solution focussed counselling to parents in conflict about their children
You will notice that, unlike the end of the last decade, I’m no longer talking about having to cut through the smoke and mirrors to prove the existence of this cruel affliction still hiding in plain sight. That debate effectively ended when Cafcass’s outgoing CEO acknowledged PA and the widespread nature of the problem. But, as any suffering child or tortured parent knows, there’s a world of difference between naming and framing and actually taking tangible steps to address the issue, upstream, where the problems first set in. And it is undoubtedly here where the greatest change is needed.
While continuing with my own case load, I shall be working hard over the next decade to build bridges and form coalitions within the professional communities to combat PA as there is little doubt that we can only achieve the change needed by working together.
In the meantime, I am very interested in the thoughts and reflections of the communities impacted by Parental Alienation as it is clear from my recent international travels that this has fast become a worldwide pandemic underwritten by legacy practices unfit for purpose and ignited by social media.