The Type of Remedial and Therapeutic Methods required in Parental Alienation
Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D
Southern England Psychological Services
The therapeutic or remedial methods necessary in such cass is a very robust type of therapeutic method combining both understanding and firmness in attempting to:
- Destroy the effects of denigration by one parent towards the other by making the child aware of the happy history before the acrimony and separation between the parents occurred.
- Getting the child to see the good points about the denigrated parent.
- Be firm and proactive in changing attitudes and behaviour that has caused the parental alienation.
- Try to get the alienating parent to co-operate in stopping the alienation. This is easier said than done as many alienators will refuse to co-operate in this, although claiming otherwise. This is even the case when it is highlighte that such actions are harmful to the child’s development.
- Appeal to the child’s conscience that he/she is rejecting, hurting and humiliating an innocent party who cares for the child.
- Have the child together with the alienated parent in due course while seeking to change both attitudes and behaviour via rational emotive therapy. There is a need in the process for very firm communications.
- Make the child aware that the blood relative, i.e. the alienated parent, might sacrifice for that child which will not be the case for strangers.
- Warn the parent who alienates the child of the harm they are doing to the child, not just in the present, but also in the future.
- Appeal to the child’s critical thinking (intelligence and emotions) and make the child aware of the unfairness and cruelty in rejecting a loving parent.
- Make the child aware that they need both parents without endangering the relationship with the alienating parent.
- Make the child aware that they may lose a good parent if the process of alienation continues.
- A child should be made aware that the extende family of the alienated parent is also being unfairly rejected.
- Encourage the child not only to engage with the alienated parent but with the alienated parent’s extende family, that is the grandmother, grandfather, uncles, aunts ect. This will serve to reverse the alienating process.
- Curtail or eliminate telephone calls and other communications from the programming parent while the child is with the non-custoial parent when that occurs.
- It is important for the child/children who have been alienated to spend as much time as possible with the alienate parent alone so that a relationship van redevelop between them. The longer the individual contact occurs, the greater the likelihood the alienating process will be depleted or reversed.
- Curtail the child being used as a spy against the alienated parent.
- In the extreme case the child/children should be removed from the influence of the alienating parent and be given in custody to the alienated parent or another body, including a family member. This is to protect the chil from further alienation.
- Passivity and tolerance are ineffective when dealing with parental alienation. What is required is a confrontation of a very powerful type to counteract the effect of the alienation and reverse it.
- The power of the Court must back the parent who is trying to remove the alienation effects.
- The child may oftern need to be removed to a neutral setting such as a hospital to prevent further alienation. This is only in very extreme cases where severe psychological damage has been done to such a egree that the chil suffers from delusions about the alienated parent, i.e. the parent is trying to murder them etc.
- In the case of severe alienation it is best for the alienated parent never to approach the home of the alienator, but rather to use an intermediary for the transfer of contact with the children.
- It shoud be remembered that the child who has been the victim of ‘brainwashing’ needs to know that it is safe to be with the alienated parent without this reducing their loyalty and commitment to the other parent. Hence the alienated parent should do as much as possible to reassure the child that there is nog desire to separate the child from the other parent.
- Alienated parents once they have contacte their children should concentrate on talking about the past and the happy times together supplemented by pictures and videos. Initially, a child could be very offhand or even fail to have eye contact but this can be reduces through reminders of happier times in the past and how this can continue in the future.
- Alienated parents should not give up easily but should persevere in their efforts to make and maintain econtact with their chil. Constant rejections from the child is likely to be humiliating and demoralising, but persistence sometimes leads to success with the help of an expert and the support of the Court. The latter is especially important.