July 1, 2015
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Dr. Richard Warshak has a new paper published by the peer-reviewed journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. The title is “Ten Parental Alienation Fallacies that Compromise Decisions in Court and in Therapy.” It’s aimed at mental health professionals, but could usefully be read by family lawyers and judges too. As the title indicates, its purpose is to correct common misconceptions about alienated children, their diagnosis and treatment. The article contains practice recommendations for therapists.
Here’s the abstract of the article:
False beliefs about the genesis of parental alienation and about appropriate remedies shape opinions and decisions that fail to meet children’s needs. This article examines 10 mistaken assumptions: (a) children never unreasonably reject the parent with whom they spend the most time, (b) children never unreasonably reject mothers, (c) each parent contributes equally to a child’s alienation, (d) alienation is a child’s transient, short-lived response to the parents’ separation, (e) rejecting a parent is a short-term healthy coping mechanism, (f) young children living with an alienating parent need no intervention, (g) alienated adolescents’ stated preferences should dominate custody decisions, (h) children who appear to function well outside the family need no intervention, (i) severely alienated children are best treated with traditional therapy techniques while living primarily with their favored parent, and (j) separating children from an alienating parent is traumatic. Reliance on false beliefs compromises investigations and undermines adequate consideration of alternative explanations for the causes of a child’s alienation. Most critical, fallacies about parental alienation shortchange children and parents by supporting outcomes that fail to provide effective relief to those who experience this problem.
Thanks to Prof. Warshak for this advance in the identification and treatment of parental alienation. By now it’s clear that those who claim PA either doesn’t exist or is a plot by fathers to deprive mothers of children have been entirely discredited. Prof. Warshak and countless others have fought that fight and won. The beneficiaries are children and parents. Slowly, family courts and lawyers are getting the message as well.