WHAT IS PARENTAL ALIENATION?
Parental alienation is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child's relationship with the other parent and to turn the child's emotions against that other parent. The end result is that the child completely rejects the targeted parent and their extended family. The damage arises because the child, who still loves the targeted parent, is coerced into behaving in a counter-intuitive way, causing long-term psychological and emotional trauma.
The mission of the Parental Alienation Legislative Group (PALG) is to change laws and eliminate parental alienation, which is a form of child abuse. It is our fundamental belief that all children have the right to love both parents freely and without guilt.
“(In the United States) three to four million children are moderately to severely alienated from a parent.”
Dr. Jennifer Harman, Associate Professor of Psychology, Colorado State University
There are 22 million alienated parents and many more children in the US alone. A District Attorney commented that "the aim of an alienating parent is the complete devaluation of the alienated parent. It is this annihilation that justifies in the mind of the alienator and the alienated children of the psychological and physical killing of a parent."
Parental alienation (PA) is a result of a high-conflict custody dispute, often related to a bitter divorce. These situations require judges to make difficult decisions, often with little reliable information at hand. They frequently defer to the reports provided by mental health professionals and minors counsel.
Unfortunately there is no training in parental alienation within the mental health profession. As Dr. William Bernet, a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University observed:
“the concept of parental alienation is not accepted more widely by mental health professionals, legal practitioners and policy makers. The most basic reason is that the topic of parental alienation is not ordinarily presented during the professional education and training of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, attorneys and judges."
The dynamics of parental alienation cases are profoundly different than most custody cases and require specialized training. As Dr. Steven G. Miller explains:
“As a rule, alienating parents present with the Four C’s. They are cool, calm, charming, and convincing. That is because effective alienators tend to be master manipulators…In contrast, the targeted parent tends to present with the Four A’s. They are anxious, agitated, angry, and afraid. That is because they are trauma victims.”
Without an understanding of these dynamics, the recommendations of mental health professionals often reinforce the abuse of the child by further pushing the alienated parent aside and binding the child to the manipulations of the alienating parent.
W. Bernet, Understanding the reality of parental alienation, L'Encéphale, Volume 43, Issue 6,2017, p. 507