Parental Alienation Syndrome is a controversial diagnosis, however it is becoming increasingly noticeable in the legal system involving custody and access of children. Parental alienation can occur when one parent deliberately and methodically tries to get a child to hate the other parent by means of verbal manipulation, threats, deception, distortion of the truth, and lies. The alienating parent may also threaten punishment, emotionally withdrawal from their child, demonstrate withholding or rejecting behaviour, or use any combination of tactics that psychologically force the child to side with one parent over the other. Alienation is often subtle, cryptic, and non-evident, taking secretive and insidious paths. Children who normally would have no aversion to or difficulty with (let alone hatred toward) a parent prior to separation or divorce can become insistent that they do not want to see the other parent. This can occur slowly over time, or it may be rapid and unpredictable, usually starting with the expressed desire not to visit or stay with a parent as frequently as before. This often then turns into complete estrangement even when there are no objective reasons to justify why children would totally reject or refuse to see their parent. It is more common for fathers to be aliented from their children than mothers, but it is also prevalent in women who have been estranged from their children. This usually follows a separation, divorce, or custody and access dispute that becomes part of a family court matter. Parents who alienate their children from the opposite parent often do so because they do not believe it is in the best interest of their children to have a relationship at all with the other parent. They attempt to sabatoge any efforts to foster a relationship of any kind, speak horrible of the other parent to their children, and make inappropriate comments and statements that in effect brain-wash them. Because children are put in the middle and used to hurt the other party due to the alientating parent's animosity, children often suffer extreme emotional distress. This is considered child abuse under the law. What is worse is that children who come from these home situations are more likely than other children to have psychological problems during post-divorce and family restructuring. They are also more likely to have mental disorders later in life than those who did not experience such family conflict.
We treat parental alienation syndrome, provide post-separation/divorce mediation for parents in conflict, therapeutically assist in family restructuring, provide Family Reconciliation and Parental Reunification Therapy and conduct court-ordered custody and access evaluations for high conflict couples.