Parental Alienation

‘Parental alienation is the spectrum problem of induced defensive splitting in a child that, typically, occurs within the context of a divorce or family separation and which causes the child to pathologically align with one of their parents, rendering them vulnerable to that parent’s intra-psychic conflicts and defences.’

(Woodall & Woodall, 2019)


Parental alienation is a term used to describe a child’s unjustified rejection of a parent after divorce or family separation and may be regarded as a spectrum problem. Whilst, in a small minority of cases, a child may reject a parent for reasons that may be said to be justified, in most cases, a child’s rejection of a previously loved parent is a sign of a conflicted dynamic within the family.


In such cases, blame for the estrangement is projected onto the rejected parent either by the parent with whom the child lives and is aligned or, more problematically, by the child, themselves. This blame, when it is levelled by children, is often vehement and will be accompanied by justifications that range from the trivial or implausible to much more serious accusations of abuse or harm.


I have worked with children's rejecting behaviours for a number of year's and specialise in responding to parental alienation in my work at the Family Separation Clinic where I offer guidance sessions that provide support and information for parents who believe that alienation is or may be present. Using the Clinic's differentiation approach to alienation, we will help you to gain a greater understanding of the issues you face and the best approaches for dealing with them.


The Clinic's coaching and support service is designed to help you deal with the issues you are facing as effectively as possible. Whilst it offers a therapeutic approach that will help you to process what is happening and work to reduce any stress you may be experiencing, it is primarily focussed on helping you to understand the unique dynamics of your case and building strategies for action.


Through this work, we will explore with you the potential for you to create change without going to court or look at whether legal action may be necessary. We will also provide expert input to help you to understand post separation parenting hostility and children's rejecting behaviours.


Depending on the specific nature of your case, we may then support you to manage things in order to stabilise the relationship with your child or children, help you to change the existing dynamics in order to reduce any psychological pressures that are creating the problem, develop strategies for taking legal action to protect or restore your relationship with your child, or develop strategies to maintain a presence in your child's life and towards reconnection.


I also carry out Part 25 expert assessments and write court-ordered reports to help those working with families in conflict to understand the dynamics of the children's rejecting position, and carry out work to support families to meet their children's needs.


You can find out more from the Family Separation Clinic




Woodall, K. & Woodall, N. (2019). Working with post-separation pathological splitting in children. London: Family Separation Clinic