Dr. William Bernet – 3 levels/stages Parental Alienation

Dr. William Bernet of Vanderbilt University describes the three stages or levels of Parental Alienation including Yellow, Orange, and Red categories. His list is combined below with Dr. Douglas Darnall’s description of three categories of Parental Alienation, including Mild, moderate and severe.

(Yellow) Mild: The child may briefly resist contact with the alienated parent, but does have contact and enjoys a good relationship with the targeted parent once they are together. When it is mild, the child may have a strong, healthy relationship with both parents, even though the children recites criticisms of the alienated parent. The alienator is usually naive. The alienators are ignorant of what they are doing and are willing to be educated and change.

(Orange) Moderate: The children may persistently resist contact with the alienated parent and will continue to complain and criticize the alienated parent during the contact. The child is likely to have a mildly to moderately pathological relationship with the preferred parent. The alienating parent is an active alienator. When they are triggered, they lose control of appropriate boundaries. They are volatile and lose control, but won’t admit it.

(Red): Severe: The child strongly and persistently resists contact and may hide or run away to avoid seeing the alienated parent. The child’s behavior is driven by a firmly held, false belief that the alienated parent is evil, dangerous and or worthless. The child is likely to have a strong, severely pathological relationship with the preferred parent, perhaps sharing a paranoid worldview. The alienating parent is obsessed with breaking down the attachment between the target parent and child. They come from a delusional system where they are committed to destroying the relationship and doing a “parentectomy” of the targeted parent



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