Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, Social services

Covert Surveillance

See these examples at 3.15, which again have obvious parallels for social workers tasked with gathering evidence to support their assertions about disguised compliance or ongoing relationships etc for the purposes of care proceedings:

Example 1: A police officer undertakes a simple internet search on a name, address or telephone number to find out whether a subject of interest has an online presence. This is unlikely to need an authorisation. However, if having found an individual’s social media profile or identity, it is decided to monitor it or extract information from it for retention in a record because it is relevant to an investigation or operation, authorisation should then be considered.

Example 2: A customs officer makes an initial examination of an individual’s online profile to establish whether they are of relevance to an investigation. This is unlikely to need an authorisation. However, if during that visit it is intended to extract and record information to establish a profile including information such as identity, pattern of life, habits, intentions or associations, it may be advisable to have in place an authorisation even for that single visit. (As set out in the following paragraph, the purpose of the visit may be relevant as to whether an authorisation should be sought.)

Covert surveillance
2.1 Part II of the 2000 Act provides for the authorisation of covert surveillance by public authorities listed at Schedule 1 of the 2000 Act where that surveillance is likely to result in the obtaining of private information about a person.

2.2 Surveillance, for the purpose of the 2000 Act, includes monitoring, observing or
listening to persons, their movements, conversations or other activities and
communications. It may be conducted with or without the assistance of a surveillance
device and includes the recording of any information obtained
2.3 Surveillance is covert if, and only if, it is carried out in a manner calculated to ensure that any persons who are subject to the surveillance are unaware that it is or may be taking place
2.4 Specifically, covert surveillance may be authorised under the 2000 Act if it is either
directed or intrusive:
• Directed surveillance is covert surveillance that is not intrusive and is carried out
in relation to a specific investigation or operation in such a manner as is likely to
result in the obtaining of private information about any person (other than by way
of an immediate response to events or circumstances such that it is not
reasonably practicable to seek authorisation under the 2000 Act);
• Intrusive surveillance is covert surveillance that is carried out in relation to
anything taking place on residential premises or in any private vehicle (and that
involves the presence of an individual on the premises or in the vehicle or is
carried out by a means of a surveillance device)5
2.5 Chapter 3 of this code provides a fuller description of directed and intrusive
surveillance, along with definitions of terms, exceptions and examples. Surveillance
carried out as part of an equipment interference warrant issued under the 2016 Act
does not require a separate authorisation under the 2000 Act (see paragraphs 3.41
to 3.44 below). Continue reading “Covert Surveillance”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, Police, Social services

“surveillance” of Facebook accounts was common

What The Times say is that the study they are referring to found ‘“surveillance” of Facebook accounts was common. Social workers used fake profiles to “friend” parents in cases where their posts were not publicly viewable. They watched parents’ relationships and behaviour, looking out for factors such as abusive partners or drug use.

Oddly, I’ve been able to find no trace of this study and it has been suggested that what is being referred to is some sort of leaked draft. No matter, the point is that it chimes with my own experience. Social workers do this stuff because it is a very effective way of seeing whether parents are walking the walk as well as talking the talk. You’d be surprised how often parents will insist that their lifestyle is all Little House on the Prairie, but their Facebook feed suggests it is rather more Kardashian (I don’t really know who the Kardashians are but I believe they have big bottoms and very exciting lifestyles). And of course parents/ex partners harvest and produce this stuff too when warring over children or divorce.

Many would say that if it’s on a public Facebook page it is fair game, and if it shows a child is at risk it should be admitted in evidence (and can you just stop complicating things please, Reed?). Those are reasonable perspectives. But just because something is a good idea or is a means to an end, doesn’t mean its lawful. And where it is the state gathering and using this material there is a pretty good chance that it isn’t lawful at all (parents need not panic this applies to situations where social workers are looking at and gathering data about private individuals).

So. The law. Do you have a caffeinated drink and a stress ball handy? Then I’ll begin. What follows is merely a sketch, not a comprehensive guide.

  • Social workers are employed by local authorities. As such, when they are carrying out their job they are acting as agents for a public authority. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 regulates surveillance of private individuals (you and me) by public authorities (NB same probably also applies to CAFCASS guardians and reporting officers).
  • The 2000 Act regulates this activity not by saying what is unlawful, but by providing a route to give authorisation for specific types of covert surveillance – it’s a piece of shield legislation. That is to say that if a public authority sticks to the requirements of the Act it is protected against claims under the Human Rights Act. If it doesn’t, it’s fair game and may find itself liable under various bits of law (tort, criminal, human rights, privacy etc etc). Unless of course some other law specifically authorises the activity.
  • Surveillance ‘includes monitoring, observing or listening to persons, their movements, conversations or other activities and communications.’
  • It’s ‘covert’ if it is carried out in ‘a manner calculated to ensure that any persons who are subject to the surveillance are unaware that it is or may be taking place’.
  • RIPA divides covert surveillance into ‘directed’ or ‘intrusive’ surveillance. In short intrusive is surveillance of people’s homes and cars. Directed surveillance is surveillance that doesn’t qualify as ‘intrusive’, but is conducted for the purposes of a specific investigation and likely to result in the obtaining of private information about any person.

Continue reading ““surveillance” of Facebook accounts was common”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, Social services

Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Health Care Providers Need to Know


Parent alienation syndrome (PAS), a type of emotional mistreatment experienced by children of divorce or high-conflict parent separation.

Divorce is recognized as one of the most common adverse childhood experiences.

PAS is a psychologic condition caused as a result of one parent (often the one with primary custody) exercising power over the child and preventing the child from coexisting with the child’s other parent; PAS is a mental state in which a child has untrue, illogical, exaggerated, or unfounded negative feelings against, or rejection of, one parent, due to the influence of the alienating parent.

Health care professionals need to be aware to the features of PAS and support them in identifying children who may require further mental-health-support services from other members of the health care team.


The consequence of emotional strain on children has been documented along with the connection between deleterious life experiences and undesirable future health trajectories. The emotional maltreatment of children may be the most difficult to identify in clinical practice and is thus underrecognized. With a fundamental mission to promote child health, pediatric and family practitioners are in an ideal position during well-child visits to screen for parent alienation syndrome (PAS), a type of emotional mistreatment experienced by children of divorce or high-conflict parent separation. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the PAS construct to providers who are unfamiliar with this syndrome. Additionally, this report aims to alert health care professionals to the features of PAS and support them in identifying children who may require further mental health support services from other members of the health care team.

Continue reading “Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Health Care Providers Need to Know”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, Social services

£6.5 million to put social workers in schools to support children at risk

Social workers will be placed in schools to help spot the signs of abuse and neglect more quickly and work with teachers to support children at risk.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced nearly £10 million for projects aimed at boosting the educational outcomes of vulnerable children, and to keep them safe from harm.

This includes £6.5 million to involve more than 150 schools in a project that will place social workers in schools to work with teaching staff, reflecting that the second largest source of referrals to children’s social services is schools (18%).

Part of a series of measures unveiled at the Prime Minister’s virtual Hidden Harms Summit in Downing Street on Thursday 21 May, the funding package comes as early evidence from pilot studies shows placing social workers in schools helps keep children safe because they are able to work with teaching professionals to identify children in need of support.

It follows news that reports of domestic abuse incidents have been on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, with some children also experiencing exposure to drug and alcohol misuse or at risk from online harms.

Continue reading “£6.5 million to put social workers in schools to support children at risk”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, Social services

Why is there a need for Whole Family Assessment?

2.17 This approach reflects a view that existing assessment tools did not always
assess the needs of the whole family (generally being focused on the
individual) and crucially, did not always examine in detail the complex interrelationships between family members. Local areas have taken one of two

 developing a whole family assessment to help understand the issues
families face and why existing support has been unsuccessful. The
most comprehensive of the whole family assessments gather detailed
information on a wide range of issues for all family members, for
example: physical and mental health issues; alcohol and substance
misuse; employment; housing; debt; parenting; relationships between
family members etc;

 not developing a new assessment tool but using existing assessments
and information sources to develop an overview of the whole family’s
circumstances and needs, and from this developing a single
action/delivery support plan.

2.18 At the family level, a whole family assessment means that an understanding
of the complexity and interrelated nature of the issues faced by families can
be developed. At the delivery level it ensures the right services are involved,
that they have an accurate picture of the family’s needs and that the same
questions are not asked more than once. At the delivery level it also
provides a coherent and holistic response to families’ needs.


Whole family assessments – GOV.UK


Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Parental Alienation PA, PERSONALITY DISORDERS, Social services

Double Chain

The therapist models many of the skills and validates the valid thoughts, wants, and emotional responses of each family member along the way or coaches family members to do this, thus demonstrating or facilitating skillful responses and alternatives for the clients and cheerleading their new steps (Fruzzetti & Ruork, 2018).


Much like the process of individual chain analysis (e.g., Rizvi & Ritschel, 2014), a double chain analysis is an opportunity for both assessment and intervention. The goal is to understand the antecedents and consequences of a problematic behavior in order to facilitate the generation of possible solutions. Typically, in individual chain analysis the therapist and client will discuss the client’s behavioral chain (vulnerabilities, thoughts/judgments, emotions, sensations, actions) and then identify and practice possible solutions to “break the chain.” All events are understood primarily from the perspective of the client. In a double chain analysis, each individual’s chain is described, including points in which their chains intersect and affect each other. These “public” links are shaded in Fig. 1, and only one occurs at any given moment, highlighting actions or verbal behaviors that are relevant to both people. In contrast, the “open” links are drawn for each person simultaneously. A double chain thus can illuminate a great deal about the transaction between one individual’s overt behavior and the other’s dysregulated emotion (and vice-versa), allowing for the selection of specific targets to treat, ultimately replacing problematic reactions and other behaviors with new emotional or relationship skills, as well as mutual understanding.

To begin a double chain analysis, the therapist (with input from the individual client and the family) selects a specific instance (specific day, time, and place) of a problem or conflict. Each family member then goes though the links on the chain, including vulnerabilities, thoughts, urges, emotions, and actions (verbal or other). As shown in Fig. 1, the shaded links represent the public events and the nonshaded links represent private experiences (thoughts, emotions, desires, etc.), that can only be understood once described in an accurate way. Each individual has the opportunity to disclose his or her experiences and validate the other’s experiences. With this greater knowledge of the chain of events, each person can discuss and practice skillful alternatives to “break the chain” and end the interaction in a completely different manner.

In the session, one or more people may be dysregulated, and conducting a double chain analysis (or any meaningful exchange) may be difficult. DBT couple and family therapists may need to utilize various session-management strategies in order to run the session effectively. These include blocking dysfunction early, inviting accurate expression, providing at least minimal validation to soothe negative emotional arousal, making sure not to show up parents or partners (instead, try to make them look good and build competence), real-time skill coaching in the session, and the therapist may even employ a “revolving door” in which more regulated and collaborative family members spend short periods of time in the waiting area while the therapist tries to understand, block, and teach or coach relevant skills to the more dysregulated family member to allow for meaningful discourse in the session together (see Fruzzetti & Payne, 2015, for more details about these strategies).

Continue reading “Double Chain”

Posted in Alienation, Social services

Family System: Genogram

The genogram gives the play therapist a visual representation of the family structure and history. A sample of the formats and symbols used to represent various familial relationships is included in the Intake form. The genogram should go back at least two generations and include all first-order relatives to provide as clear a picture of the family as possible. Several items should be specifically noted on the genogram.

All family members, living and dead, should be included. This means you may have to ask directly about miscarriages, stillborn infants, and children who died in infancy. Often, families do not mention these members as they are not currently a part of the family.

It may be useful to include unrelated persons who live in the same household as part of the genogram. Again, this will give a more complete picture of the family and the nature of their relationships.

Any hereditary or recurring illness, both medical and mental, should be noted. If necessary, the genogram should be expanded to show how these individuals fit into the family tree.

Intergenerational child abuse and/or substance abuse and/or mental illness should also be noted.

The genogram can be completed by hand and inserted into the ecosystemic intake, or it may be completed with one of several genogram computer programs now available, e.g.,;; For additional information on creating genograms, see Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, 3rd edition (McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008). This book includes a particularly useful chapter for play therapy treatment planning – Family Play Genograms, co-authored with Eliana Gil (Gil, McGoldrick, Gerson & Petry, 2008). In this version, miniature toys are incorporated into the family creation of a genogram. The genogram is first drawn on a large sheet of poster board or paper and should include all biological and legal members of the family, as well as any other people important in the family and even pets. Family members then select, from several miniature people, animals, and objects, an item to represent each person on the genogram, and take turns talking about their choices. With support, even children as young as 5 years old can engage in this activity. Once completed, the therapist can, with the family’s permission, take a picture of the genogram, creating a permanent record of the final product.

Continue reading “Family System: Genogram”

Posted in Alienation, Social services

Family genogram

The genogram is a frequently used method for identifying who is in the family, and what role important family members play with respect to one another. The conventional genogram includes biological family; however, genograms may also include individuals based on the function they serve within the family. For example, in our own work with inner city African-American families (Greenwood, Herves et al., 1995; Greenwood, Samuels, et al., 1995), defining “family” solely through biological relationships fails to represent the complex family/kinship network of these families. What is required is a more flexible approach to identifying family/kin that examines: (i) blood relation and/or extended kinship; (ii) perceived strength and duration of relation-ships; and (iii) perceived support—in either direction—(including financial, emotional, and instrumental help, e.g., who provides transportation, child care, and other types of assistance). In our experience, “family” often includes all individuals living within a household (except for roommates and transient “live-ins”) as well as other important significant others who may or may not be biologically related to one another.

The genogram is like a family tree in that it depicts all of the important relationships within the family. One of the most important reasons for constructing a genogram is to obtain a more complete picture of the family constellation. The genogram is a tool for systematically identifying who is in the family—getting around the common problem of some families not letting therapists know about key but conflicted or undesirable relations. Thus, the genogram can also be useful in helping the therapist depict adaptive and maladaptive family interactions (e.g., conflicted or supportive relations may be depicted using a jagged line or straight line).

There are many strategies for conducting genograms, and various symbols are used to denote meaningful relationships and/or roles within the family. Regardless of the strategy or symbols used, the genogram is an excellent method for organizing the complex interconnections between family members in a coherent, organized manner. The drawback of the genogram is that it is a “snapshot” of the family, and as such yields relatively little information about family interactions. In other words, the genogram tends to be static rather than dynamic. Genograms represent the first stage of the assessment process, and are often used to establish rapport and gather information about who are the potentially critical “players” in the youth’s life. This information provides the context for further assessment into the dynamic interaction patterns that characterize the family members identified in the genogram.

Posted in Alienation, Social services

The Genogram and Social Work Practice

The genogram may be defined as a visual tool for exploring a client’s social relationships across time. Typically, these are familial relationships. In general, the genogram is useful in gathering information, understanding relationship dynamics and behavioral patterns, promoting the client’s self-understanding, conducting assessments, and guiding the practitioner to interventions.

The use of the genogram in social work practice is supported by the profession’s knowledge base as well as its values and ethical standards. A central benefit is that this instrument introduces a client to the principles of systems theory, which are fundamental to social work practice (McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008). Such a framework can help practitioners determine the sources of presenting issue(s) and the foci of interventions.

Additionally, social work emphasizes the “not knowing” stance, acknowledging the client’s socially constructed understanding of his or her world and fit within that world. The genogram offers insight into that very understanding. For example, the genogram offers the opportunity to define and explore the family by acknowledging the client as the “expert.” This practice accounts for the evolving conceptualization of the family continually influenced by shifting cultural norms (Connolly, 2005). Similarly, the genogram invites the client to share personal identification in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and cultural affiliation, which aligns with the discipline’s emphasis on understanding the various aspects of identity.

Genograms used with families may also be helpful in overcoming resistance “as they begin to see the connections between their concerns and historical family patterns” (McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008, p. 228). Identifying these connections can be useful when clients are stuck in a narrow view of the problem, blaming a particular family member for the issues of concern in the family.

Seeing family behavior and relationships graphically can also help to reframe and normalize clients’ perspectives on their concerns. As the genogram is helpful in understanding patterns and connections, it has been noted as “the supreme integrative tool” (Gerson, 1995, p. viii). The genogram can be useful in charting the basic family structure, recording individualized information (e.g., biological or legal details) to better understand relationship dynamics, and delineating family relationships (Connolly, 2005). Further, the experience of constructing a genogram with clients can be therapeutic in and of itself (Papadopoulos & Bor, 1997). Given these factors and the overall flexibility of its use, the genogram is well-suited for generalist and clinical social work practice.

Although most genograms graphically represent multiple family generations and the quality of family relationships, genograms can be designed to capture other information, as well. For example, spiritual genograms provide a way to map significant events, affiliations, and family conflicts related to religion (Frame, 2000; Hodge, 2001). Spirituality and religious beliefs are often a source of strength and identity for individuals and families, so displaying this significant aspect of life can be useful for clients.

Weiss and colleagues (2010) have proposed a military genogram for use in assessment and intervention with clients who have service members in their families. This type of genogram takes into account strengths, as well as environmental, occupational, psychological, and family stressors that are unique to military life and culture.

Other genograms might be used to attend to cultural aspects of the client situation, such as “depicting significant cultural patterns, beliefs, values, traditions, and family strengths in African American families” (Chavis, 2004, p. 30).


Posted in Alienation, Social services

Why would I use a genograms?

A genograms is a really useful tool to for helping us to understand the key people and relationships in a clients life. It can also help us to see patterns within those relationships and generational patterns which are affecting our client. Because of the pictorial nature of a genograms it easily shows issues and concerns that might not be spoken about usually in a non-threatening manner.

Genograms also help our clients to put a framework together that explains their circumstances. Many young people who are being abused struggle to speak about it, however showing them how to draw a genograms can lead them to drawing the abusive relationship which opens the dialogue. It can also help them see the concerns that we have as professionals for themselves. What a strengths based way of working through the issues.