Posted in Linda Turner

Failure is an option

Therapists may need to learn how to be more explicit about endings from the start. “In my beginning is my end” may be the mantra to be adopted, with a focus on self-management from the start and an emphasis on endings. One could imagine conversations at the early stage of an intervention along the lines of “My job is to try and help as much as I can, but the focus is really on you finding ways to draw on your own strengths to manage your own life and finding a balance that is right for you.” Or “Given the difficulties you are experiencing and your context, you have a x% chance of being completely better (or completely meeting your goals) and a y% chance of being much improved (or partially meeting your goals.” Or “I would expect x change on measure y by z date. It is important to note that research shows that even without help a specific percentage of people will get better with time anyway. We can discuss the pros and cons of different types of help, and also agree when it looks like you may be better off managing things yourself, or if there is nothing else I can usefully suggest.” Or “Not everyone is helped by this treatment, but people do find ways to live with these difficulties. If what we have agreed to try first doesn’t seem to help you, then you might try x and y, but even if that does not help we find that people can live with these difficulties using strategies such as a and b.” It might be that one way to discuss these issues is to talk about the way people manage to live positively with ongoing difficulties: “Some of our most productive members of society live with ongoing challenges of bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-harm, and anorexia, for example. Some would even argue that it provides them with a wisdom and perspective they might otherwise not have.

”I believe that there is an ethical imperative to be more explicit in our communal recognition of the limits of treatment, and on the definition of treatment failure and appropriate response to it. Being unrealistic with service users about possibilities of treatment failure may mean that all too many are left feeling to blame for not having succeeded in therapy. Remaining silent on the levels of treatment failure stops service-level discussion of what should be done for these individuals. It reduces rational use of resources, stunts service development, and might contribute to forms of both therapist-blaming and patient-blaming. For these reasons, I would argue that there is a pressing need for greater research into and discussion of the limits of treatment and treatment failure, which I hope this Essay might play some part in stimulating.

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation

Damaged Adult Alienated Children


What do you do when your adult alienated child is so badly affected by the trauma of many years of Parental Alienation?

When they have become a replica of the Alienator?

When they are so full of hate, and toxicity runs through their veins.

How do you help a severely Alienated Adult Child?



You will end up emotionally and financially drained and exhausted trying to get them to change.

They will not recognize they have a problem until disaster strikes.

They have been living this way for many years, imitating their Alienating Parent.

This is normal behavior to them.

Damaged but repairable when they are ready to seek help.

You have to learn to accept what you cannot change, you cannot change the Parental Alienators behavior, so why do you think you can change your adult alienated child’s behavior?

I have asked myself this question so many times recently, now I have the answer.

Change the way I react, change the way I respond.

Posted in Alienation

(PDF) Statement of the Global Action Research Integrity in Parental Alienation

The various violations of research integrity such as major plagiarism, deformation, mutilation and modification of the original manuscripts, have generated a series of sophisms regarding parental alienation that have negatively impacted on multiple levels.

Posted in Complex Trauma, Post-traumatic Stress


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment.  Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.  For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.

Posted in Complex Trauma, Post-traumatic Stress

The Inner World of Trauma

Donald opened with a poem by Emily Dickinson

There is a pain – so utter –

It swallows substance up –

Then covers the Abyss with Trance –

So Memory can step

Around – across – upon it –

As one within a Swoon –

Goes safely – where an open eye –

Would drop Him –

Bone by Bone.(Selected Poems, Everyman, 1996)

According to the Donald, this poem describes how the inner world comes to the rescue of the trauma survivor. In terms of the psyche, trauma is any experience that causes unbearable pain or anxiety. Anything that leaves the child feeling that the essence of who they are is defective or missing in essential value and therefore at risk of annihilation is traumatic. Dissociation is necessary for the individual to go on living; the pain is distributed to make it more manageable. It also saves something of spirit for later growth. This is a self-care system that allows one part to regress and the other part to progress.

Donald spoke of the split between the innocent part of the self that has been saved by an ‘imaginal inner world of companions’. This self is now in hiding from the real world with its undependable attachments. This is a world of tyrannical infantilism where the victim becomes the perpetrator, where the personal is projected onto the general and vice versa. He describes a ‘Self-Care System’ that protects the personality from disintegration, a system that a) makes meaning for child’s life, b) that regulates distance from the world of others – ‘all by myself’ might be the catchword, c) establishes self-regulation to control aggression towards the other and d) promotes self preservation by keeping feelings at bay, very often through addictions – a slow suicide. This is a world where there are no memories, only flashbacks and repetition.  Relationship is the conduit through which this painful work can be repaired. He articulates what we as humanistic and integrative psychotherapists have held – that relationship is the way through this impasse.

Posted in Pete Walker

Managing Flashbacks – Pete Walker

Posted in Complex Trauma, Pete Walker, Post-traumatic Stress

Pete Walker – Why do you specialize in Complex PTSD?

There’s an old adage: “Teach what you know.” I know about trauma because I survived childhood in the war zone of a severely dysfunctional family in NYC in the 1950’s. The frontline was definitely in my house, but there were many traumatizing skirmishes on the streets and in the Catholic school where I was held captive by mean, red-faced, yardstick-wielding women in penguin suits. I escaped my family into the Viet Nam era army, and although I only went there briefly, my year of training to be a combat platoon leader helps me see the parallels between war-induced trauma and dysfunctional family begotten trauma.

By the time I was 25, I had survived a decade of high risk activity peppered with what now look like unconscious suicide attempts, before I finally realized that I was seriously hurting. I have spent four decades personally exploring varied psychological and spiritual approaches to healing my trauma, and the personal gains I have made coupled with the healing I have witnessed in my clients and students over the last 30 years has given me, I believe, a unique perspective and set of tools to share with my fellow PTSD sufferers. I have pieced together a map and an eclectic blend of perspectives and techniques that can significantly ameliorate Complex PTSD. My approach helps manage the complex symptomology of emotional flashbacks and provides encouragement to endure the long, arduous, Sisyphean climb out of being continuously triggered into unresolved childhood abandonment pain. (For more on the map, see “Managing the Abandonment Depression” on this website.)

In my ongoing work with PTSD recovery, I repeatedly experience much gratitude toward the many clients who’s authenticity and vulnerability while in flashback help me further illuminate the map; and I am further grateful for how they validate to my inner child that: “Yes it’s true, there really are parents who were so mean and/or so out to lunch, that they installed in us this painful, stubborn syndrome of Complex PTSD”.

Posted in NSPCC

How many children die due to abuse or neglect?

This briefing looks at what data and statistics are available about child deaths due to abuse or neglect.

Official measures are likely to be underestimations of the number of children who die due to abuse or neglect for a number of reasons, including:

  • the legal complexity of proof of homicide
  • misdiagnosed cause of death
  • abuse not being the immediate cause of death, but being a contributing factor
  • cause of death remaining unknown or unexplained.

However, based on the number of child homicides recorded by the police each year, we know that, on average, at least one child is killed a week in the UK.

Findings from the data

  • In the last five years there was an average of 62 child deaths a year by assault or undetermined intent in the UK.
  • Children under the age of one are the most likely age group to be killed by another person, followed by 16- to 24-year-olds.
  • Child homicides are most commonly caused by the child’s parent or step-parent; whilst adolescent homicides are most commonly caused by a stranger, friend or acquaintance.