Understanding Parental Alienation

by Karen Woodall and Nick Woodall

 

Contents

 

PART ONE: UNDERSTANDING

 

1. ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION

A Very Brief History of Parental Alienation

Understanding Parental Alienation in a Social Context

Understanding Parental Alienation in a Historical Context

Who this Book is for

About the Terminology Used in this Book

Recognizing an Alienation Reaction in a Child

The Particular Problems of Listening to the Voice of the Child in Alienation Cases

The Signs that a Child is Fully Alienated

Understanding the Experience from a Child’s Eye View and the Risks to the Child

Key Players in Treatment Routes

Beginning the Process of Change

 

2. DIFFERENTIATION

What Does Differentiation Mean?

About the Differentiation Tools Used in this Book

Determination of Severity of the Alienation

Mild Alienation Reactions

Moderate Alienation Reactions

Severe Alienation Reactions

Determination of Category of the Alienation

Justified Rejection

Justified Rejection or Not

The Use of Justified Rejection by Alienating Parents

Understanding the Child Who is Being Alienated Through a Justified Rejection Narrative

Hybrid Alienation Cases

Pure Alienation

The Behaviors of Alienating Parents

The Double Bind in Pure Alienation Cases

How a Parent Alienates a Child

Pure Alienation is a Child Protection Issue

 

3. DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

Analysis of Power and Control Dynamics Between Parents

Analyzing Power and Control

Analyzing Power and Control Dynamics for Alienation Risk

Relationship Control Analysis

Power Over the Child

Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma

Family Trees and Psychogenealogy

The Transition Bridge

Assessment of Attachment Relationships

Other Attachment Problems Seen in Alienation Cases

Separation Anxiety

Collapsed Attachment Hierarchy

Enmeshment

Spousification

Parentification

Boundary Violation

Triangulation

Psychological and Psychiatric Problems

Understanding Psychological or Psychiatric Problems

About Personality Disorders

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Other Disorders that May Be Seen

False and Fabricated Allegations of Abuse

False Allegations

Fabricated Allegations

 

4. THE TRANSITION BRIDGE

A Little Bit About Attachment Theory

Maintaining Connectedness

Encountering the Transition Bridge

Crossing the Transition Bridge

Partitioning

Splitting

Making Sense of the Transition Bridge

All Children are Different

It is Parents that Create the Conditions

High or Ongoing Conflict

Ongoing Litigation

Undermining

Triangulation

Poor Parenting Skills

Disparate Places

Enmeshment

Abandonment and Alignment

When Might is Met with Meekness

Parents Moving On

The Transition Bridge in Summary

 

PART TWO: COPING

 

5. DEVELOPING COPING STRATEGIES

The Impact of Alienation on Rejected Parents

Understanding the Psychological Adaptation to Alienation

Coping Strategies

Coping with Your Child’s Behaviors

Signs of a Child’s Descent into Alienation

Managing Your Child’s Behavior Using Empathic Listening and Responding Skills

Helping a Child to Cope with a Parent’s Unhealthy Behaviors

Helpful Coping Strategies When You are Alienated from Your Child

Solution-focused Coping for Stress

Becoming Solution Focused

Developing a Mindful Approach to Coping

Combining Solution-focused Coping with Mindful Strategies

Developing New Relational Patterns

Owning Your Own Stuff

Remaining a Parent

Committing to Coping

 

6. ANALYZING YOUR CASE

Recognizing the Dynamics

Reframing Your Perspective

Personal Behavior Inventory

Self-inventory Questions

Mapping the Route into Alienation

Creating a Timeline

Analyzing Your Family Dance

Recognize the Key Players in the Dysfunctional Family Dance

Using Your Analysis to Build a Strategy

A Note of Caution About Treatment Routes

Concluding Your Analysis

 

7. TAKING ACTION

Understanding the Reality of Your Situation

Countering the Alienation Process

Examining the Dynamics

Remaining Present

Transformative Parenting

Encouraging Critical Thinking

Calming and Soothing Anxious Children

Empathic Listening and Responding

Maintaining Boundaries

Conscious Decision Making

Force Field Analysis

Risk vs. Reward Analysis

Sometimes You Have to Do it for Your Own Sanity

When You are Unable to Bring About Change by Yourself

Deciding to Use the Courts

 

8. PRESENTING YOUR CASE IN COURT

The Need to Win

Creating a Chronology

Preparing Your Statement to the Court

The Elevator Pitch

Less is Definitely More

Dealing with a Child’s Wishes and Feelings

The Dangers of Criticizing Professionals

Including all the Relevant Evidence

Telling the Court What You Want

Taking the Long View

The Importance of Remaining Flexible

Legal Representation

Non-legal Support

Meeting the Professionals

 

PART THREE: HEALING

 

9. SEPARATION, REUNIFICATION, AND HEALING

Separation: Healing the Self

Repositioning the Locus of Control

Learning to Reframe

Dealing with Frustration

Using Counterintuitive Behaviors to Reduce Frustration

Treatment for Complex Traumatic Stress Symptoms

Choosing to Heal

The Tasks of Acceptance

Mindfulness

Retaining the Essential you

Reunification: Healing the Child

Spontaneous Reunification

Helping Children with Spontaneous Reunification

Assisted Reunification

Forced Reunification

Reunification After Removal from a Parent

The Tasks of Reunification for Children