Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals, edited by Lorandos, Bernet, and Sauber, is a “how-to” manual for judges, lawyers, forensic child psychiatrists, and psychologists to turn to when helping children and families during highly conflictual divorce and custody battles. As a reference guide for developing data sources for testimony and reports, it identifies the important factual and scientific sources needed to address conflictual custody cases. For busy lawyers needing quick access to state-specific citations and case precedent, the book’s Supplemental Reference Guide for Parental Alienation—a CD-ROM residing in a sleeve in the book’s back cover—provides 1,000 bibliographic references, 500 court cases, and 25 sample motions involving parental alienation (PA).
Parental alienation is a form of child psychological abuse and traditional therapeutic approaches do not work with these types of cases. This article provides explanation for the gross failure of traditional therapeutic approaches. The rest of the article discusses the Family Reflections Reunification Program (FRRP), specifically designed to treat severely alienated children and their family system. This program was piloted in 2012 with 22 children in 12 families. Evaluations at the end of the retreat and at 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month follow-ups demonstrate a 95% success rate in re-establishing and maintaining a relationship between children and once-rejected parents.
This article reports on a qualitative study of adult children who were estranged from at least one parent. Twenty-six Australian participants reported a total of 40 estrangements. Of these, 23 estrangements were initiated by the participant and 16 were maintained by the participant after being initiated by the parent or occurring after a mutual lessening of contact. Participants reported three core reasons for estrangement: (i) abuse, (ii) poor parenting, and (iii) betrayal. However, estrangement was predominantly situated in long-term perceived or actual disconnection from the parent and family of origin. Most participants had engaged in cycles of estrangement and reunification, using distance to assess the relationship and attend to their own personal development and growth across time. Estrangement was generally triggered by a relatively minor incident or a more serious act of betrayal considered to have been enacted by the parent.
This article reports on qualitative research that examined the experiences of 25 Australian participants aged over 60 years who were estranged from at least one adult child. When participants were asked about their perceptions of the cause of the estrangement they described events prior to and at the time of the estrangement, possibly perceived as a form of parental rejection or relational devaluation by the estranged children. Findings suggested a complex interplay of long-term factors that appeared to contribute to an eroded relationship between parents and children, including divorce, third-party alienation, and multiple family stressors. Ultimately participants said that the adult children responded by: (1) choosing what they perceived to be a less rejecting or less dangerous relationship over a relationship with their parent; (2) choosing to stop contact or reduce emotional interactions with their parent; or (3) using estrangement to punish their parent for the perceived rejection.