The concept of the alienated child was introduced by Canadian psychologists Kelly and Johnson (2001) who reworked some of Gardener's (1985) original analysis of ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome'. In the intervening years, the phenomenon of the alienated child has becoming more familiar to professionals working in the field of divorce and separation.
Courts and practitioners concerned with management of cases in court, are more regularly dealing with children who express a desire to end a relationship with a parent, and children whose wishes and feelings are expressed clearly and unequivocally may present particular dilemmas for the courts. With an increasing emphasis on hearing the voice of the child, understanding the deeper narrative of the separated family, as it is presented by a child's refusal, can throw up powerful challenges.
Alienation in children is the end result of a spectrum experience in which they are either influenced and or pressured by parents to align themselves to one or the other (or sometimes both at the same time) or by the difficult dynamics created by both parents that prevents children from being able to cross the psychological gap that exists between them.
The Family Separation Clinic accepts referrals for assessment and treatment where a child is, or is at risk of, rejecting one of their parents (including cases sometimes referred to as
alienation). Our approach provides a combination of differentiation analysis followed by the design, recommendation and delivery of combined treatment routes to free children from their rejecting
Assessment of referrals begins with a comprehensive analysis of the case to establish the root cause of the rejection, using a differentiation process to determine whether the child’s rejection may be described as justified, whether the child is responding to a conflicted dynamic within the family or whether the child is in the care of an implacably hostile or alienating parent.
Assessment includes an analysis of the history of the child's rejecting position, examination of the court paperwork and interviews with both parents and the child. Projective testing is utilised to understand the child's responses to their parental relationships and to determine whether or not psychological splitting is present. Occasionally, we may carry out an initial paper-based assessment on behalf of the court as a precursor to a full assessment.
In cases where a child is responding to a conflicted dynamics within the family, treatment routes may utilise a combination of specialised therapeutic interventions, parenting co-ordination and dispute resolution, together with targeted psycho-education. In situations where the child is in the care of an implacably hostile or alienating parent, more robust treatment routes may be recommended. All interventions are designed individually after a detailed assessment and all are convened in ways that offer the maximum benefit for the children concerned.
The cost of an assessment undertaken by the Family Separation Clinic is £2,750 (plus VAT) and travel costs charged at second class rail fare return from London or 41p per mile (plus any other reasonable travel costs).
The cost of a recommended treatment route is provided to the court after the assessment has been completed.
Exceptional costs associated with either assessment or treatment are agreed in advance.
Subject to the availability of the parties (including children) we aim to report to court within six weeks of instruction.