There are two ways severity can be looked at with parental alienation. The first is the level of severity of the alienating behavior. The second is the level of the severity of the child’s symptoms and behavior. It is the second way that is used to determine the level of severity for treatment.
Typical Treatment Approaches by Severity Level
Mild PA may be counteracted by educating the parents about the damaging effects of alienating behaviors such as bad-mouthing and how such behaviors undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent. Once parents realize the long-range damage such behaviors can do and realize that a major criterion for being a fit parent is the ability and willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent, many will willingly stop the behavior. Sometimes child development classes can help such parents relate to their children and better understand their developmental needs.
Moderate PA requires therapy focused on changing the behavior of the parents to reduce the level of conflict and improve communication. A Parent Coordinator may work with the parents together, while individual counseling is used to help the alienator stop indoctrinating the child against the target parent; to help the target parent be less frustrated; and, if there is a need, improve parenting skills; as well as to help the child avoid the parents’ battles and have a healthy relationship with both parents.
Severe PA requires the power of the court to act swiftly to protect the child by stopping the abusive behavior with a court order removing the child from the custody of the alienating parent.
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