It is an unfortunate fact that, at present, professionals who are responsible for child custody evaluations, mediators, and other mental health specialists associated with the family court system generally lack in-depth training and expertise in the field of parental alienation. This is a highly specialized subcategory of specialization that requires exceptional skill and years of experience to assess and treat. At present, there is no credentialing body to provide specific criteria to help parents identify experts trained in the subspecialty of parental alienation because it is still an emerging field.
There is a core group of researchers and clinicians who have developed a knowledge base for the diagnosis, intervention, and treatment of parental alienation. Unfortunately, this information is not yet routinely included in the training of front-line clinicians. There is a strong commitment by leaders in the field to develop guidelines for specialized training and therapy. Training programs are beginning to happen, and worldwide training programs meeting these standards are planned within the next one to two years.
Steven Miller, MD, is a Harvard educator who specializes in teaching mental health specialists about making ethical decisions. According to Dr. Miller:
Alienating parents tend to present well; targeted parents tend to present poorly. As a rule, alienating parents present with the Four Cs. They are cool, calm, charming, and convincing. That is because effective alienators tend to be master manipulators. In contrast, targeted parents tend to present with the Four As. They are anxious, agitated, angry, and afraid. This is because they are trauma victims. They are attempting to manage a horrific family crisis, usually without success, often while being attacked by professionals who fail to recognize the counterintuitive issues. Indeed, non-specialists often get these cases backward.
Dr. Miller states that 95% of the time most professionals, unless they have both specific training in parental alienation plus extensive experience directly treating alienated families, make the wrong assessment.
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