Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation Counseling & Therapy

What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

What is parental alienation and how can counseling ad therapy help me and my kids if we’re dealing with parental alienation?

Parental alienation is defined as the successful efforts of one parent – typically estranged or divorced – to undermine the reputation, authority and relationship the other parent has with the couple’s children. If mom or dad, whether intentionally or subconsciously, speak so ill of the other parent that the child begins to dislike the other parent and reject the relationship, parental alienation is happening.  Bad mojo.

Parental alienation can be devastating to both the child and the alienated parent.  In severe cases, the child won’t want to see or talk to the alienated parent as a result.  Once the alienation reaches this point, it is difficult to reverse and the damage to the child and to the relationship between the child and the alienated parent can be prolonged or even permanent.

Parental Alienation deprives children of their right to be loved by both parents and to show love for both parents.  The effects of this alienation will become apparent as the child’s mental and emotional well-being will be affected.

To determine if parental alienation is happening to your kids, look for these symptoms:

  • A sudden, prolonged change in attitude between child and parent
  • Extreme loyalty to the alienating parent
  • Rejection or suspicion of the alienated parent
  • School problems
  • Trouble adjusting to different home environments
  • Over-identifying or repeating self-destructive behavior of the alienating parent
  • Blaming, shaming by the children and a demand for the alienated parent to admit their wrongs to the child
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion about things that were formerly clear
  • Self-destructive behavior such as abusing drugs or alcohol or self-harming behavior

Parental alienation is most often present in high conflict marriages, separation or divorce. Most people do not know about Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting until they experience it.  We know it all too well and have been helping families for years.

There are many reasons and causes for parental alienation and each situation is different.  We want to help you learn to co-parent productively to prevent the devastating effects of parental alienation.

There are times, of course, when one parent is not willing to cooperate, but that does not mean you can’t still do your part.  Give us a call today and let us educate you and help you and your children through this difficult time.

What Are More Warning Signs of Parental Alienation?

If you fear your child may be suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome, keep a watchful eye out for the following characteristic behaviors in your child or ex-partner:

  • Sudden rejection or vitriolic hatred of the alienated parent by the alienating child, as evidenced by:
  • A refusal or reluctance to spend time alone with the rejected parent
  • Abrupt paranoia or fear of the estranged parent, including false allegations of child abuse made by the alienating child
  • Overt hostility, disrespect, defiance, abusive language, or aggression directed toward the scorned caregiver
  • Vandalism of the non-preferred parent’s property
  • Spurning the alienated parent’s attentions or affections (resisting love; declining or destroying gifts; sullenly refusing to return hugs or to engage in good-natured conversation)
  • Co-occurring evidence of the alienating child’s psychological manipulation by the “preferred” parent, as demonstrated by the following persuasion or control tactics:
  • Blame: Your child echoes your ex-partner’s indictments of your behavior and blames you as the responsible party for the divorce and its associated consequences (e.g. new sources of financial strain or scheduling difficulties; the need to maintain separate households, etc.)
  • Vilification: The antagonistic parent badmouths or “vilifies” the alienated parent and rewards the alienating child for engaging in similar acts of backbiting, defamation, or criticism
  • Withholding Affection: The hostile parent demands that the child chooses one parent over the other and withholds affection from the child until the “right” decision is made
  • Guilt: The child is programmed to feel guilty for demonstrating affection toward the non-preferred parent
  • Denying Visitation: The combative parent incentivizes the child to forgo visitations with the alienated parent by presenting carefully crafted temptations, bribes, and scheduling conflicts (e.g. outings to the arcade; sleepovers; showering the child with presents, etc.)
  • False Allegations: The manipulating parent unjustly convinces the child that the alienated parent was a perpetrator of child/spousal abuse, infidelity, drug use, or illegal activity
  • The White Knight: The biasing parent brands himself or herself as martyr, protector, redeemer, or savoir—reinforcing the stark contrast between his or her role as white knight and the vile conduct of the alienated parent
  • Dependence: The abusive parent brainwashes the child into a sense of thought-prohibitive, psychological reliance, discouraging the child from formulating objective assessments of the rejected parent and revoking love when the child disobeys


How Can Therapy & Counseling for Parental Alienation Improve My Relationship with My Child?

Effective and comprehensive interventions to counsel sufferers of parental alienation should adopt a three-pronged or triangulated approach to bridging the parent-child divide that investigates the motives of all parties involved, including: the alienated parent, the alienating child, and the offending parent. The course of treatment is usually as follows:

  • For alienated parents: An introspective and honest reflection on your own behavior at the outset of therapy.

Asking yourself:

  • How could my own actions be contributing to my child’s estrangement or hostility?
  • How do I maintain the moral high ground while my ex is laboring to destroy my relationship with my child?
  • Are any of my behaviors intentionally or unintentionally alienating (promoting discord between my child and his or her other parent)?
  • Mending (where possible) the relationship that exists between the alienated parent and the offending parenting:
  • Learning how to co-parent your child effectively despite the resentment or emotional heartache of a contentious separation
  • Examining how parental friction adversely affects your child (academic or behavioral consequences; mental health challenges; or risky behaviors, etc.)
  • Putting an end to “backbiting”, or criticizing the other parent in the presence of your child
  • When the combative or offending parent refuses to cooperate…
  • Understanding your legal recourses, including: court-mandated family therapy, parental visitation rights, and court orders or civil laws
  • Deprogramming your child without bashing the other parent
  • Equipping your child with the skills to recognize and resist psychological manipulation
  • Liberating your child from “reflexive” thinking patterns, or “parroting” the beliefs of the offending parent
  • Extending unconditional love to your child
  • Counseling and therapy for parental alienation can be helpful to anyone struggling with this very damaging issue! Don’t go through it alone!
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