Understanding and Working with Children and Families Affected by Alienation

One Day Practitioner Training

With Karen Woodall and Nick Woodall


Next events:


All our face-to-face training is temporarily suspended. We are currently developing new online training resources.Please follow our Twitter account @FamSepClinic for updates.

About this training:

The term parental alienation is used to describe the complete unjustified rejection by a child of a parent who was once loved dearly. It is a dynamic seen in a particular group of families in which there are identifiable traits. In the most severe cases a child will completely refuse to see a parent, resisting parental encouragement, professional intervention and even orders of the court, leading many to believe that it is not possible to intervene, especially with older children.


In reality, the alienation reaction seen in the child is induced psychological splitting that is rooted in the child's relationship with the parent they have become aligned to. Such cases are often a result of enmeshment, role corruption and unresolved trauma in the aligned parent. Whilst they often appear as high conflict 'contact and custody' disputes they are, in fact, child protection cases.

The Family Separation Clinic is a specialist agency working with alienated children and their families and has significant success in delivering positive outcomes for alienated children and their families. The Clinic has a track record of facilitating children to reunite with a rejected parent and rebuild relationships with both parents on an ongoing basis. The Clinic also provides interventions in which children are assisted to move from a rejecting position into being cared for by both parents.

Drawing on international research and extensive clinical knowledge in working directly with alienated children and their families, this one day practitioner training is designed to equip practitioners with a first level training that is in line with international standards of intervention. The training examines the research evidence and the translation of this into UK family law and includes case studies from practice.

Suitable for: counsellors and psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Content includes:

  • Contextual understanding: putting parental alienation into historical context and different theoretical perspectives.
  • Broadening practice: working with parental alienation as a child protection issue and critical principles of intervention.
  • Theoretical foundations: psychoanalytic, transgenerational, structural and other approaches to understanding alienation.
  • Induced defensive splitting: attachment, conscious and unconscious inducement, role corruption, identification with the aggressor and personality disorder.
  • Introduction to differential assessment: developing nuanced understanding of each case, understanding the depth of the problem and the causal dynamics.
  • Introduction to intervention and treatment: matching the treatment routes to the problem, principles of reunification.


Your trainers:

This training is delivered by Karen Woodall and Nick Woodall who work with alienated children and their families in court cases.


The foreword to their co-authored book, Understanding parental alienation: Learning to cope, helping to heal (Charles C Thomas, 2017), was provided by William Bernet M.D. Professor Emeritus of Vanderbilt University and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He said of the book:


'Understanding Parental Alienation is unique... a balance of scholarship and practical, hands-on experience. The notion of parental alienation has been described in mental health literature since the 1940s. Nevertheless, the typical mental health or legal practitioner was not taught anything about parental alienation during the course of their professional education. Understanding Parental Alienation by Karen Woodall and Nick Woodall, may be their textbook and study guide as they learn about this serious mental condition and challenging legal situation.'


Professor Gordana Buljan Flander, Ph.D. who is the Director of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, a Child protection consultant to UNICEF and a Council of Europe expert on child protection described it as:


‘a must-read book for every mental health professional, social worker or legal professional working with families in divorce.’


Book a place:

Understanding and Working with Children and Families Affected by Parental Alienation

One day parental alienation practitioner training.

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