What works in parental alienation? Look for the evidence …
In a recent systematic review Templer and colleagues (Templer, Matthewson, Haines, & Cox, 2017) derived a set of shared characteristics for intervention programmes with positive outcomes. The shared characteristics are – any family therapeutic intervention for parental alienation must involve the targeted child, targeted parent and alienating parent and therapy should:
- include sessions with family members together as well as sessions with individual family members so that both individual and systemic concerns can be addressed
- provide each family member with psychoeducation about parental alienation and its sequelae
- protect the targeted children from harm caused by the alienation
- use therapeutic intervention that reduces the targeted child’s distress and improves psychological well-being
- use techniques that challenge the targeted child’s distorted thinking and teach them critical thinking skills
- work to improve the targeted parent-child relationship
- prepare the alienating parent for an improvement in the quality of the targeted parent-child relationship and challenge their distorted thinking
- employ conflict resolution techniques to repair the co-parenting relationship
- establish healthy boundaries and communication within the family.
I hope that in sharing the recommendations of this review, parents, legal professionals and social workers will be more confident in evaluating the interventions on offer here in the UK.
Templer, K., Matthewson, M., Haines, J., & Cox, G. (2017). Recommendations for best practice in response to parental alienation: findings from a systematic review. Journal of Family Therapy, 39(1), 103–122. http://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12137