Cafcass Library Parental Alienation Resources

Estimated reading time: 29 min

In March 2016 a Researcher asked cafcass to disclose a list of articles and resources held within the Cafcass Library and available to Cafcass FCAs on the subject of Parental Alienation.

This is the list they received back:


Journal Article
Contrasting complex with highly complex contact disputes between parents / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 56(7), 2015 pp. 590-594
This article discusses the complexity of seeking a solution to problems associated at times with parental alienation. Two scenarios are presented. Both cases involve a child who does not wish to have contact with an absent parent after the separation of the parents due to implacable hostility between them. In the first case, the child had a good relationship with the now absent parent. In the second case the child never had a close relationship with the absent parent. Each case needs to be assessed on its own merits. Conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made as to how to deal with such issues.

Journal Article
A qualitative study of child custody evaluators’ beliefs and opinions / SANDER, Leslie et al.
In: Journal of Child Custody 12(3-4), 2015 pp. 205-230
Practices in child custody evaluations have created controversy and debate among professionals. Semi-structured interviews of 10 highly experienced child custody evaluators were analyzed to gain an understanding of the evaluation process, changes in the field, and evaluators’ opinions and beliefs, especially concerning intimate partner violence (IPV) and parental alienation. Although a small qualitative sample, multiple evaluators had extreme beliefs and opinions about the prevalence of IPV in child custody cases, the belief that there is no such thing as parental alienation syndrome (PAS), and the need to differentiate between alienation and estrangement. Evaluators continue to value the ability of parents to co-parent as a top variable for making custody recommendations, seemingly regardless of alleged or substantiated IPV. Other concerning themes were identified and theoretical problem areas are discussed.

Journal Article
How can the process of parental alienation and the alienator be effectively treated? / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 56(8), 2015 pp. 657-662
This article discusses primarily approaches or methods in dealing with a parent who alienates a child against another parent due to the hostility developed following divorce and separation. The basic vision or aims for combating parents in conflict are delineated. This is followed by the importance of being aware of the problems resulting in parental alienation (PA). To overcome PA an orderly set of stages from soft options to severe strategies are presented, with reasons for the use of the more severe method being provided. Finally, there is an appeal to the family courts and its judges to consider seriously the conclusions reached by one expert witness in how to combat PA by considering first and foremost the short- and long-term needs of the child and secondarily the alienated parent.

Journal Article
Are children susceptible to manipulation? The best interest of children and their testimony / CLEMENTE, Miguel & PADILLA RACERO, Dolores
In: Children and Youth Services Review 51; April 2015 pp. 101-107
In Richard Gardner’s proposed parental alienation syndrome, children reject contact with the noncustodial parent due to manipulation from the custodial parent. We investigated whether children are, in fact, easily manipulated, and how. Half of a sample of children ages 6 to 12 witnessed an incident of verbal aggression, while the other half did not. All were asked to report what happened. Half were then subjected to high pressure, stating that the aggressor would be their future teacher. Subjects were furthermore told that the perpetrator was either a good person or a bad person. After these two manipulations they reported again what they had witnessed. The results indicate that children rarely lie, and that although 40% of those who witnessed nothing created a false memory of an aggressive incident, this outcome was not influenced by the degree of pressure or positive or negative manipulation. We found no significant differences based on gender or age. We conclude that Gardner’s ideas about parental alienation syndrome, and in particular the ease of parental manipulation of children, were not empirically verified. We recommend that this concept not be used in the legal system

Journal Article
Understanding and working with the alienated child / WOODALL, Karen
In: Seen and Heard 24(2), June 2014 pp. 37-48
This article looks at how parental alienation can be dealt with. The author argues that deeper assessment, therapeutic support and robust judicial control are almost always necessary in cases of parental alienation, alongside child-focused interventions.

Journal Article
Exploring the lived experiences of psychologists working with parental alienation syndrome / VILJOEN, Marile & VAN RENSBURG, Esme
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 55(4), 2014 pp. 253-275
Divorce is a common modern phenomenon. Changes in legislation to support the best-interest-of-the-child principle are argued to have escalated conflict between parents during custody disputes. Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a controversial concept in high-conflict divorces and has received both praise and criticism over the past 2 decades. This study explores the experiences of psychologists working with PAS in private practice. A snowball sample (n = 8) of psychologists willingly participated in the study. Data collection took place by means of in-depth interviews. Transcribed data were analyzed by means of thematic analysis, and themes and subthemes were derived. The 2 main categories that emerged were the participants’ general understanding of PAS and the operational and practical experiences working with PAS. The participants working with PAS referred to it as complex and destructive. The involvement of lawyers, parental pathology, and legislation all contribute to the complex task of intervening in cases where PAS is present. The impact of working with such a complex phenomenon has emotional effects like self-doubt, disappointment, and anxiety. In some cases, this resulted in an active decision on the part of the psychologist not to work with forensic cases any more.

Journal Article
Parental alienation gradient: strategies for a syndrome / LOPEZ, Teresa Junco; IGLESIAS, Victoria & GARCIA, Paula Fern’ndez
In: American Journal of Family Therapy 42(3), 2014 pp. 217-231
Two factors were analyzed in 72 divorced couples: the fact of having custody of the children or not, and the sex of the parent granted the custody. These factors influence the use of 27 different alienation strategies selected for study by the authors. The results show that the fact of having custody or not affects the number and type of alienation strategies used, whereas sex of the parent with custody only appears to affect the kinds of strategies used. This marks a qualitative difference between custody-holding men and women in relation to the way they exercise alienation.

Journal Article
The chameleon child: children as actors in the high conflict divorce drama / GARBER, Benjamin
In: Journal of Child Custody 11(1), 2014 pp. 25-40
Contemporary theory asserts that children become triangulated into their parents’ conflicts due to alienation, estrangement, and enmeshment. These dynamics account for some children’s alliance with one parent and rejection of the other. The present article suggests that the child’s innate need to adapt and the caregivers’ corresponding needs for confirmation together create an additional dynamic that must be considered as part of any family system evaluation. The “chameleon child” engages in necessary and natural short-term adaptive behaviors at unknown developmental costs. An observational protocol is described with which evaluators can begin to distinguish among these dynamics. Case illustrations are provided.

Working with alienated children and families: a clinical guidebook / BAKER, Amy & SAUBER, S Richard
New York, NY: Routledge, 2013
This edited volume is written by and for mental health professionals who work directly with alienated children and their parents. The chapters are written by leaders in the field, all of whom know how vexing parental alienation can be for mental health professionals. No matter how the professional intersects with families affected by alienation, be it through individual treatment, reunification therapy, a school setting, or support groups, he or she needs to consider how to make proper assessments, how to guard against bias, and when and how to involve the court system, among other challenges. The clinical interventions presented in this book will help professionals answer these questions and help them to help their clients. The authors present a range of clinical options such as parent education, psychoeducational programs for children, and reunification programs for children and parents.

Journal Article
Is the concept of parental alienation a meaningful one? / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 54(8), 2013 PP. 658-667
Many members of the judiciary do not yet accept the concept of parental alienation (PA) or parental alienation syndrome (PAS). It has not as yet been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–5 or International Classification of Diseases–11. This article discusses the concept of PA as meaningful and resulting from serious conflict before, during, and after separation of parents. It results in a child failing to have good contact with the now absent parent, despite the fact that the child previously had a good relationship with that parent. The concept of PA is defined and is differentiated into types. The behavior of the alienator and the alienated parent is described. The incidence, symptoms, and diagnosis of PA is also delineated, as are the long-term effects and treatment of PA.

Journal Article
Enforcing child contact orders: are the family courts getting it right? /
TRINDER, Liz; MACLEOD, Alison, PEARCE, Julia; WOODWARD, Hilary & HUNT, Joan
In: Family Law 43(9), September 2013 pp. 1145-1149
There are long-standing concerns that courts fail to enforce their own orders in child contact cases following parental separation. Part of the problem has been that the available sanctions – fines, imprisonment or change of the child’s residence – may be impractical or contrary to the child’s welfare. The Children and Adoption Act 2006 sought to address this by introducing a new sanction of unpaid work (community service) for a defaulting parent. This new sanction has been rarely used. The Coalition government is now considering other policy options. To date, however, there has been no research on enforcement to inform policy makers about the nature of the cases or the approach of the family courts. This article summarises findings from the first ever empirical study of enforcement in England based on analysis of 215 enforcement cases. It finds that most enforcement cases are about mutual conflict, risk and child refusal of contact rather than implacable hostility of the resident parent. The courts generally take an appropriately problem-solving rather than a punitive approach to these cases. There is no evidence that further punitive sanctions would be more widely used or more appropriate or more effective

Children who resist postseparation parental contact: a differential approach for legal and mental health professionals / FIDLER, Barbara Jo; BALA, Nicholas & SAINI, Michael
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013
Interest in the problem of children who resist contact with or become alienated from a parent after separation or divorce is growing, due in part to parents’ increasing frustrations with the apparent ineffectiveness of the legal system in handling these unique cases. There is a need for legal and mental health professionals to improve their understanding of, and response to, this polarizing social dynamic. Children Who Resist Post-Separation Parental Contact is a critical, empirically based review of parental alienation that integrates the best research evidence with clinical insight from interviews with leading scholars and practitioners. The authors – Fidler, Bala, and Saini – a psychologist, a lawyer and a social worker, are an multidisciplinary team who draw upon the growing body of mental health and legal literature to summarize the historical development and controversies surrounding the concept of “alienation” and explain the causes, dynamics, and differentiation of various types of parent-child relationship issues. The authors review research on prevalence, risk factors, indicators, assessment, and measurement to form a conceptual integration of multiple factors relevant to the etiology and maintenance of the problem of strained parent-child relationships. A differential approach to assessment and intervention is provided. Children’s rights, the role of their wishes and preferences in legal proceedings, and the short- and long-term impact of parental alienation are also discussed. Considering legal, clinical, prevention, and intervention strategies, and concluding with recommendations for practice, research, and policy, this book is a much-needed resource for mental health professionals, judges, family lawyers, child protection workers, mediators, and others who work with families dealing with divorce, separation, and child custody issues.

Journal Article
The attitude of the Shari’a courts to parental alienation syndrome: understanding the dynamics of the syndrome in Arab society / GITH, Emad
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 54(7), 2013 pp. 537-549
In addition to the many factors leading to parental alienation syndrome (PAS), including the narcissistic injury felt by the abandoned parent, or the custodial parent’s personal difficulty, there are further factors unique to Arab society—including strong influence by the extended family on the child. Although all the components of PAS exist and are well known to the shari’a courts, no parallel concept is found in the Arab legal lexicon. This article presents 1 case of a shari’a court hearing that illustrates this phenomenon. The conclusions indicate that the shari’a court considers this a serious phenomenon and sees coping with the situation as an essential and preliminary condition to the custody hearing.

Journal Article
Is parental alienation disorder a valid concept? Not according to scientific evidence. A review of parental alienation, DSM-5 and ICD 11 by William Bernet PEPITON, M Brianna et al.
In: Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 21(2), 2012 pp. 244-253
This article reviews a recent book arguing how a concept known as parental alienation syndrome – now parental alienation disorde  should be included in official psychiatric/psychological and medical classification diagnostic manuals. Anecdotal cases and opinion are presented as research and scientific evidence, and stories are presented as research studies. In addition, the book often contradicts itself in different sections. The author is not familiar with scientific methodology, confuses various statistical and research procedures and terminology, and thus misleads the reader in trying to promote this theory. This book’s claim that it is the most comprehensive compilation of the evidence supporting parental alienation disorder/parental alienation syndrome is false, and it is not recommended by the reviewers.

Journal Article
The experience of motherhood for alienated mothers / FINZI-DOTTAN, Ricky; GOLDBLATT, Hadass & COHEN-MASICA, Orlee
In: Child and Family Social Work 17(3), August 2012 pp. 316-325
The concept ‘parental alienation syndrome’ (PAS) refers to child visitation interference with the non-resident parent following divorce. The refusal of children to maintain contact with mothers may be particularly traumatic because of social expectations surrounding women’s maternal responsibilities. This qualitative study sought to examine the experience of being an alienated mother, how it impacts her identity as a mother and a woman, as well as its impact on her life as a whole. Data were collected by in depth semi-structured interviews with 10 women whose children refused any contact with them. Findings revealed a main theme, ‘merging vs. detachment’, referring to an ongoing struggle that the women had experienced throughout their lives. This consisted of 4 subthemes: marriage as an illusion of salvation from an abusive home; giving birth to a child as compensation for chaotic childhood experiences; husband exploiting and abusing their sense of failing motherhood; and the husband and mother-in-law expelling the mother. These findings were interpreted within the framework of Bowen’s theory. The interpretation suggests that impairment in the mothers’ and ex-husbands’ differentiation of the self is manifest in the shattered mother–child relations and in the mothers’ loss of their children in the struggle with their mothers-in-law. Implications for practice are included.

Journal Article
Child contact disputes between parents and allegations of sex abuse: what does the research say? / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 53(3), 2012 pp.194-203
This article is written by a psychologist practicing in the area of clinical and forensic psychology. He has written widely in the area of child sex abuse, including a book entitled Paedophilia. He has dealt with many cases of parental alienation where sex abuse by one parent has been alleged. The object of this article is to try to provide a way of clarifying whether or not sexual abuse has occurred between an adult and a child, especially when implacable hostility exists between the parents who have parted. It is at such times that many custodial parents make allegations of sexual abuse against a now-absent parent, usually the father, to prevent access. It is important to protect children from actual sex abuse when it has occurred and to prevent this from reoccurring. It is, however, equally important not to allow false sexual allegations against a former partner who might have done nothing wrong but carried out his role as a caring and loving parent. The appendices of the article consist of an inventory that can be used by practitioners to differentiate true from false sex abuse allegations especially in relation to parental alienation conflicts.

The essentials of parental alienation syndrome (PAS): it’s real, it’s here and it hurts / EVANS, Robert & BONE, J Michael Palm Harbor, FL: The Center for Human Potential of America, 2011
Looks at all aspects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), making the distinction between PAS and Parental Alienation.

Journal Article
The psychosocial treatment of parental alienation / DARNALL, Douglas
In: Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 20(3), 2011 pp. 479-494
Parental alienation occurs in divorces when one parent indoctrinates the child to dislike, fear, and avoid contact with the other parent. Mental health professionals who treat children and adolescents are likely to encounter victims of parental alienation in clinical practice, and it is important to identify and treat these youngsters earlier, when the condition is mild, rather than later, when the parental alienation is almost intractable. This article presents an overview of the treatment of parental alienation, which is called reunification therapy. All the parties involved in the case have a role in the prevention and treatment of parental alienation.

Journal Article
What if the custodial parent refuses to cooperate with child contact decisions? / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 52(5), 2011 pp. 322-325
This article considers the failings at present of the judicial system in not being even handed in providing justice for the noncustodial parent, who has for whatever reason been ousted from the relationship and has poor, if any, contact with his or her children. The advice being provided by the current psychologist dealing with such cases is for the judiciary to adopt a much firmer approach. This will lead to the judiciary being respected rather than being considered unjust. The article is concerned with severe parental alienation and provides a solution to the situation to prevent further emotional abuse of children against an absent parent. The author encourages mediation to commence with and then continue when making decisions as to who should have custody of the children who have been emotionally abused via an alienating parent.

Journal Article
High-conflict contact disputes: evidence of the extreme unreliability of some children’s ascertainable wishes and feelings / WEIR, Kirk
In: Family Court Review 49(4), October 2011 pp. 788-800
This article challenges an increasing orthodoxy regarding the weight which courts might place upon the expressed views of children in a specific situation high-conflict contact disputes. I am a child psychiatrist who acts as an expert witness within the family courts of England & Wales. I have conducted a statistical analysis of cases in which I have conducted assessments of children caught in such disputes between their separated parents. Fifty-eight children met the criteria for inclusion in the study the child’s consistent opposition to contact with the non resident parent (NRP), despite the court having determined that there was no good reason to constrain contact. My assessment routinely included attempted observation of the child at a visit with the NRP. Despite their stated views most children had a positive experience in those visits that took place, and despite the fact that most had not seen the NRP for a long time. Overall there was a statistical association between increased resistance to contact and the greater age of the child and the longer the time during which no contact had occurred. However, the responses of children and young people were unpredictable and it was impossible to conclude that apparent maturity or intelligence was a guide to the reliability of their expressed resistance. The possible reasons for this unreliability are discussed. I emphasize that my sample of children is unusual as many of the cases had involved serious, though unfounded, allegations of abuse. In addition most of the children showed indications of having become alienated from the NRP. I conclude that courts might exercise caution when evaluating the views of children and young people in this situation, and emphasises that assessors should consider including at least one observation of the child at a prolonged visit to the NRP. Because of the new orthodoxy some parents may be tempted to misuse their child’s right to a voice in court in order to achieve their own ends. Practitioners who advise courts may need to be more aware of these difficulties.

Journal Article
Parental alienation and the dynamics of the enmeshed parent-child dyad: adultification, parentification, and infantilization / GARBER Benjamin
In: Family Court Review 49(2), April 2011 pp. 322-335
When caregivers conflict, systemic alliances shift and healthy parent-child roles can be corrupted. The present paper describes three forms of role corruption which can occur within the enmeshed dyad and as the common complement of alienation and estrangement. These include the child who is prematurely promoted to serve as a parent’s ally and partner, the child who is inducted into service as the parent’s caregiver, and the child whose development is inhibited by a parent who needs to be needed. These dynamics—adultification, parentification and infantilization, respectively—are each illustrated with brief case material. Family law professionals and clinicians alike are encouraged to conceptualize these dynamics as they occur within an imbalanced family system and thereby to craft interventions which intend to re-establish healthy roles. Some such interventions are reviewed and presented as one part of the constellation of services necessary for the triangulated child.

Birnbaum, Rachel & Bala, Nicholas
Family Court Review 48(3), 2010 pp. 403-416
Social science research and the courts have begun to recognize the special challenges posed by “high-conflict” separations for children and the justice system. The use of “high conflict” terminology by social science researchers and the courts has increased dramatically over the past decade. This is an important development, but the term is often used vaguely and to characterize very different types of cases. An analysis of Canadian case law reveals that some judges are starting to differentiate between various degrees and types of high conflict. Often this judicial differentiation is implicit and occurs without full articulation of the factors that are taken into account in applying different remedies. There is a need for the development of more refined, explicit analytical concepts for the identification and differentiation of various types of high conflict cases. Empirically driven social science research can assist mental health professionals, lawyers and the courts in better understanding these cases and providing the most appropriate interventions. As a tentative scheme for differentiating cases, we propose distinguishing between high conflict cases where there is: (1) poor communication; (2) domestic violence; and (3) alienation. Further, there must be a differentiation between cases where one parent is a primary instigator for the conflict or abuse, and those where both parents bear significant responsibility.

Journal Article
Parental alienation disorder: why label children with a mental diagnosis? / WALKER, Lenore & SHAPIRO, David
In: Journal of Child Custody 7(4), 2010 pp. 266-286
The proposal to include Parental Alienation Disorder (PAD) in the new proposed Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) creates a host of problems. The first major problem is the labeling of children with a mental disorder who may simply be reacting with anger to the changes in their lives from the separation and divorce of their parents by rejecting one parent and aligning with the other. Diagnosis may bring with it shame and have a chilling impact on parents report of domestic violence. Although proponents of PAD are aware that it is inappropriate to diagnose children who have been exposed to child abuse and/or domestic violence with PAD, they do not clarify how to make such differential diagnoses. It is suggested that there are insufficient empirical data to differentiate abused and traumatized children from those who are alienated or estranged from the rejected parent. Nor are there sufficient scientific data to account for other child vulnerabilities such as neurological immaturity, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), other anxiety and mood disorders, or oppositional defiant disorder. There are too few comparisons between the risks and benefits of adding a new diagnosis of childhood disorders to justify its inclusion in the DSM-V. Appropriate intervention strategies recommended for PAD children include contact with the rejected parent, which differ widely from trauma victim/survivors who need assurance of safety and healing before contact is re-established. Ethical standards that may be impacted by this new diagnosis and admissibility issues raised by its predecessor, Parental Alienation
Syndrome (PAS), are also discussed by the authors.

Journal Article
Attachment theory and parental alienation / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 51(3), 2010 pp. 157-168
Following an acrimonious divorce or separation, arguments are frequently presented as to why a child should not be with a nonresident parent. The custodial parent, whether a father or a mother, uses the concept of a child being attached to himself or herself and therefore this should prevent the child from having actual or reasonable contact with the absent parent. This view is based on antagonism between the former partners rather than the importance of the attachment theory being relevant. The attachment theory is also used to discredit the intentions of the noncustodial parent. This is especially the case for the younger child. With older children this is not likely to be as relevant. The history of the development of the attachment theory commencing with Bowlby and Ainsworth is presented, and the counterarguments are also presented. Attachment to the mother is obviously important initially but attachment to the father is equally important to the child and such bonding is likely to lead to positive emotional and behavioral development. It is therefore argued that both fathers and mothers have an important role to play and are, or should be, responsible for the rearing of children. The acrimony between the couple should not be considered as relevant as it is, in fact, the real reason why attachment theory is used against a nonresident parent.

Journal Article
Family bridges: using insights from social science to reconnect parents and alienated children / WARSHAK, Richard
In: Family Court Review 48(1), January 2010 pp. 48-80
This article describes an innovative educational and experiential program, Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child RelationshipsTM, that draws on social science research to help severely and unreasonably alienated children and adolescents adjust to court orders that place them with a parent they claim to hate or fear. The article examines the benefits and drawbacks of available options for helping alienated children and controversies and ethical issues regarding coercion of children by parents and courts. The program’s goals, principles, structure, procedures, syllabus, limitations, and preliminary outcomes are presented. At the workshop’s conclusion, 22 of 23 children, all of whom had failed experiences with counseling prior to enrollment, restored a positive relationship with the rejected parent. At follow-up, 18 of the 22 children maintained their gains; those who relapsed had premature contact with the alienating parent.

Fidler, Barbara Jo & Bala, Nicholas
Family Court Review 48(1), 2010 pp. 10-47
This article provides an overview of the key concepts, themes, issues, and possible mental health and legal interventions related to children’s postseparation resistance to having contact with one parent. We maintain that the too often strongly gendered polemic on alienation and abuse is polarizing and needs to be replaced with a more nuanced and balanced discussion that recognizes the complexity of the issues so that the needs of children and families can be better met. This article reviews the historical development of the concept of alienation; discusses the causes, dynamics, and differentiation of various types of parent child contact problems; and summarizes the literature on the impact of alienation on children. These are complex cases. A significant portion of the cases in which alienation is alleged are not in fact alienation cases; for those where alienation is present, interventions will vary depending on the degree of the alienation. More severe alienation cases are unlikely to be responsive to therapeutic or psycho-educational interventions in the absence of either a temporary interruption of contact between the child and the alienating parent or a more permanent custody reversal. We conclude with a summary of recommendations for practice and policy, including the need for early identification and intervention to prevent the development of severe cases, interdisciplinary collaboration and further development and research of interventions.

Jaffe, Peter G.; Ashbourne, Dan & Mamo, Alfred A.
Family Court Review 48(1) 2010 pp. 136-152
Offers a new framework to prevent parental alienation occurring.

Bala, Nicholas; Hunt, Suzanne & McCarney, Carolyn
Family Court Review 48(1) 2010 pp. 164-179
This article looks at the role of parental alienation in the Canadian family law system.

Friedlander, Steven & Walters, Marjorie Gans
Family Court Review 48(1), 2010 pp. 98-111
Looks at Multi-Modal Family Intervention (MMFI)

The scientific basis of child custody decisions / GALATZER-LEVY, Robert; KRAUS, Louis & GALATZER-LEVY, Jeanne Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2009
The legal system requires mental health professionals to provide research summaries to support their evaluations in child custody cases. Contributions from leading developmental researchers, legal professionals, and clinicians describe how scientific evidence is properly used in court. The Second Edition adds chapters on family observation, parental alienation, and sexual abuse.

In the name of the child: a developmental approach to understanding and helping children of conflicted and violent divorce / JOHNSTON, Janet; ROSEBY, Vivienne & KUEHNLE, Kathryn (2nd ed.)
New York, NY: Springer Publishing, 2009
The fully updated and revised edition of In the Name of the Child examines both the immediate and long-term effects of high conflict divorce on children. By combining three decades of research with clinical experience, the authors trace the developmental problems affecting very young children through adolescence and adulthood, paying special attention to the impact of family violence and the dynamics of parental alienation.

Journal Article
Implacable hostility leading to parental alienation / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Justice of the Peace 22/3/2008 pp. 185-187
The author provides twenty four strategies for reducing the destructive effects of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. There is emphasis on seeking to provide good mediation and good contact between the non custodial parent and his/her child/children.

Journal Article
Reducing the hostility / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In; Justice of the Peace 17/5/2008 pp. 322-324
The author provides twenty four strategies for reducing the destructive effects of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. There is emphasis on seeking to provide good mediation and good contact between the non custodial parent and his/her child/children.

Journal Article
A stepwise approach to evaluating for Parental Alienation Syndrome / ELLIS, Elizabeth
In: Journal of Child Custody 4(1-2), 2008 pp. 55-78
Parental alienation syndrome continues to be a term that is widely used in child custody conflicts but which is also controversial. Previous authors have defined the term but have not established a standardized assessment process for PAS. The author emphasizes the importance of focusing on the child’s behavior, then proceeding through a three step process: (1) determining if the refusal of contact with the parent is extreme and the alienation is severe, (2) determining if there is no basis for the extreme fear and anger toward the parent, (3) then determining if the child meets at least 10 of the 15 criteria that are proposed. The assessment process for each of the 15 criteria is outlined in detail with examples of each. Novel strategies and interview questions are suggested. The author includes a supplemental section for interview techniques that might be used with the alienating parent.

Journal Article
Confusion and controversy in parental alienation / CLARKSON, Hugh; CLARKSON, Dale. – 2007
In: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 29(3 – 4), 2007 265-275
There is considerable confusion and debate about the best way to describe those cases where a child refuses to have further contact with one parent following parental separation. There are advocates for a syndromal approach and advocates for a continuum approach. Moreover, there is also confusion between descriptions and explanations in the relevant literature. Such confusion has caused problems for the courts when evaluating expert evidence. This article reviews the available descriptions and explanatory formulations that have been proposed.

Journal Article
Parental alienation syndrome: breaking the ties that bind / BAKER, Amy
New York, NY: W W Norton, 2007
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) occurs when divorcing parents use children as pawns, trying to turn the child against the other parent. This book examines the impact of PAS on adults and offers strategies and hope for dealing with the long-term effects

Journal Article
In: Family Court Review 45(4) 2007 pp. 588-599
A child’s visitation resistance and refusal (VRR) in the context of parental separation, divorce, and post-divorce litigation must not prematurely be interpreted as evidence of alienation, a conclusion which can be as detrimental to the family system as it is ill founded. The present article proposes a child-centered, developmentally informed heuristic with which forensic evaluators might begin to more uniformly approach the potential causes of and remedies for VRR. An attachment-based, step-wise decision tree is described together with an overview of the remedies presently believed most appropriate to each. Recommendations for empirical study of the multiple convergent dynamics which determine VRR and establishment of corresponding interventions follow.

Books/Monographs QLK XXK N BLISS
Parental alienation, how to understand and address parental alienation resulting from acrimonious divorce or separation / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig. –
Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing, 2007. 208p. ISBN 978-1905541102
Drawing on international research, this book discusses the problems and suffering encountered by parents and their children when parental alienation occurs and identifies the signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PA S).

Journal Article
Alienated children and parental separation: legal responses in Canada’s family courts / BALA, Nicholas & FIDLER, Barbara-Jo
In: Queen’s Law Journal 33(1), 2007 pp. 79-137
Looks at the approach to cases involving parental alienation in Canada.

Journal Article
Unadulterated Arrogance: Autopsy of the Narcissistic Parental Alienator / SUMMERS, David; SUMMERS, Collette. – 2006
In: American Journal of Family Therapy 34(5), October-December 2006 399-428
This article guides professionals to recognize and gain insight of the inner dynamics and profile of the narcissist and the chronic parental alienator, particularly within the context of a divorce or custody dispute. It covers and exposes the commonalities of both their modus operandi and characteristics. Parental Alienation stems from intolerance, denigration, prejudice, and deep-seated dysfunction. The Narcissistic Parental Alienator is one who systematically deceives and turns their own children into little abuser proxies. Narcissists lie, manipulate, and speak in mixed messages. All too often mental health and legal professionals and judges do not listen to the target parent and they are fooled or tolerate Narcissistic Parental Alienators out of faith, trust and a sense of fairness. The Narcissistic Parental Alienator’s deceit and defiance must be recognized and seen for what it is. Evaluators, courts, and
therapists, at that point, should consider this danger directly and act swiftly.

The alienated and aligned child: a best evidence review / COLDHAM, Paul
Northumbria University, 2006
This review explores what is known from the research evidence regarding a phenomenon apparent within the family courts. Some children of separated parents are observed to develop extreme alignments with one parent and reject the other parent without ambivalence or remorse and often without any apparent good reason. This occurs in the context of parental disputes over residence and contact in respect of the children of separated and divorced parents.

Journal Article
Patterns of parental alienation syndrome: a qualitative study of adults who were alienated from a parent as a child / BAKER, Amy
In: American Journal of Famiyl Therapy 34(1), 2006 pp. 63-78
A qualitative retrospective study was conducted on 40 adults who experienced parental alienation as a child. Individuals participated in one-hour, semi-structured interviews. Audiotapes were transcribed verbatim and submitted to a content analysis for primary themes and patterns. Findings pertaining to the process of alienation from the targeted parent were analysed for this article. Results revealed three distinct patterns of alienation (1) narcissistic alienating mothers in divorced families, (2) narcissistic alienating mothers in intact families, and (3) abusive/rejecting alienating mothers and fathers. Each of these patterns is described in detail along with five additional notable findings: (1) Alcoholism, maltreatment, and personality disorders co-occurred in most of the alienating families, (2) parental alienation occurred in intact families, (3) parental occurred in non-litigious divorced families, (4) some of the targeted parents appeared to play a role in their own alienation, and (5) the alienation was not always completely internalised. The clinical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Blank, G. Kim & Ney, Tara
Family Court Review 44(1), 2006 pp. 135-148
In high-conflict divorce litigation involving custody and access, mental-health professionals are often used to assess the case and make recommendations. Using Foucauldian theories of discourse, this article suggests that these assessments, which are intended to resolve the conflict or offer profitable information, often participate in the conflict by constructing assessments and diagnoses that fit with legal discourse, and thus with the outcomes of adversarial-styled rulings and ideologically driven interests. This article suggests that so long as such professionals are driven by the privileged discourse of law and psychology/psychiatry, the best interests of those at the center of the conflict can have their experience co-opted by the iatrogenic features of these discourses.

Johnston, Janet R.; Lee, Soyoung; Olesen, Nancy W. & Walters, Marjorie G.
Family Court Review 43(2), 2005 pp. 283-294
In this study of 120 divorced families referred for child custody evaluations and custody counseling, multiple allegations of child abuse, neglect, and family violence were raised in the majority of cases. About half of the alleged abuse was substantiated in some way with one fourth involving abuse perpetrated by both parents. Different kinds of allegations were raised against mothers compared with fathers. Implications of these findings for social policy, family court interventions, and the provision of coordinated services within the community are discussed

Journal Article
Is it alienating parenting, role reversal or child abuse? A study of children’s rejection of a parent in child custody disputes / JOHNSTON, Janet; WALTER, Marjorie & OLESEN, Nancy
In: Journal of Emotional Abuse 5(4), 2005 pp. 191-218
This study of custody disputing families tests competing hypothesis about the correlates of children’s alignment with one parent and rejection of the other. Hypotheses include: parental alienation by the aligned parent; abuse by the rejected parent; and boundary diffision or role reversal in the family.

Neff, Ron & Cooper, Kat
Family Court Review 42(1), 2004 pp. 99-114
Six-, 12-, and 15-month follow-up data are presented evaluating a program for highconflict parents. Funded by a grant from Health and Human Services, the program’s content reflects an extensive review of research literature, including the relevant literature on personality disorders. Introduced in Phoenix, Arizona in October 1999, the program has served more than 1,000 families in several jurisdictions. Whereas other programs for entrenched, high-conflict cases are typically time intensive, involving 2 to 6 months, this is a one-time 4-hour program. As such, the authors are heartened to report a surprisingly positive—and enduring—response from the parents.

Neilson, Linda C.
Family Court Review 42(3), 2004 pp. 411-438
This article explores issues associated with mutual claims of domestic violence in the context of research on gender and violence, and in the context of litigation tactics commonly employed by perpetrators in child custody and access cases. Quotations from parents involved in such cases illustrate why accurate assessment of mutual cliams requires complete information about social context and the analysis of patterns of domination, power and control in the relationship over time. Recent developments in Canadian law ought to enhance the ability of judges to take such evidence into account. The article aims to provide a lens through which to understand and assess such cases.

Journal Article
Commentary on Kelly and Johnston’s ‘The alienated child’ / GARDNER, Richard
In: Family Court Review 42(4), 2004 pp. 611-621
Offers thoughts on Kelly and Johnston’s article – catalogued at 165080

Journal Article
Problems suffered by children due to the effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) / LOWENSTEIN, Ludwig
In: Justice of the Peace 15/6/2002 pp. 464-466
Describes the impact that relationship break-ups and adverse alienation procedures have on the child or children from damaged relationships.

Journal Article
Parental Alienation Syndrome and UK family courts Part 2 / HOBBS, Tony
In: Family Law, May 2002 pp. 381-387
Continues from 134065 and discusses the legal issues where one parent has inappropriately influenced the child(ren) of a broken marriage against contact with the non-residential parent. The Court of Appeal has acknowledged the existence of parental alienation syndrome

Journal Article
Parental Alienation syndrome and UK family courts Part 1 / HOBBS, Tony
In: Family Law, March 2002 pp. 182-189
Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a psychological form of child abuse where one parent seeks, deliberately or not, to alienate their children from the other parent. This can become acute when contact orders following divorce are being decided by the courts. This article discusses the medico-legal status. Continued at 134351

Stoltz, Jo-Anne M. & Ney, Tara
Family Court Review 40(2), 2002 pp. 220-231
The authors argue that current formulations of the problem of resistance to visitation in separation and divorce are conceptually weak because they fail to take into account the adversarial influence of the legal paradigm. First- and second-order change theory is used to clarify the problem, and a new formulation is proposed that shifts the focus from the parent and/or child exclusively to the resistance dynamic as a whole. General guidelines for intervention are proposed based on a holistic, participatory model that takes into account the tensions involved in working toward compliance while upholding the best interests of the child.

Lample, Anita K.
Family Court Review 40(2), 2002 pp. 232-235
Alienated children in high-conflict (HC) custody cases differ from nonalienated children in HC custody cases. Efforts to assess and differentiate between the children should focus first, on establishing what differences do exist and then on what psychometrics are of most help in the assessment. Five categories of HC children and areas where HC children are all alike and where alienated and nonalienated children differ are reviewed. Psychometrics appropriate for the tasks of research and evaluation are proposed.

Journal Article
Legal and psychological management of cases with an alienated child / SULLIVAN, Matthew & KELLY, Joan
In: Family Court Review 39(3), July 2001 pp. 299-315
Cases entering the family court with an alienated child require intensive and coordinated case management to intervene effectively. It is critical to link the authority of the court with the delivery of mental health services to address the complex systemic factors that may entrench a chilďs unwarranted rejection of a parent. This article provides principles of legal and psychological case management for families with an alienated child, followed by various structural interventions, including sample court orders, for managing these cases as they progress through the family court process. Finally, criteria for making custody recommendations in the most severe cases of child alienation are provided.

Journal Article
The alienated child, a reformulation of parental alienation syndrome / KELLY, Joan; JOHNSTON, Janet. – 2001
In: Family Court Review 39(3), 2001 249-266
This article discusses controversies and problems with parental alienation syndrome. A reformulation focusing on the alienated child is proposed, and these children and clearly distinguished from other children who resist or refuse contact with a parent following separation or divorce for a variety of normal, expectable reasons, including estrangement. A systematic array of contributing factors are described that can create and/or consolidate alienation in children, including intense marital conflict, a humiliating separation, parental personalities and behaviours, protracted litigation and professional mismanagement. These factors are understood in the context of the child’s capacities and vulnerabilities.

James Williams, Justice R.
Family Court Review 39(3), 2001 pp. 267-281
Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation are evolving clinical concepts. They are controversial. Their limits, the limits of the legal system, and recent developments in the use and admissibility of expert evidence call into question the appropriateness of their use within the trial process.

Zirogiannis, Lewis
Family Court Review 39(3), 2001 pp. 334-343
Expert testimony on unsubstantiated social science syndromes such as the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) has been increasingly admitted in courtrooms across the United States. This is a problem because a trier of fact is making a determination based on theories that are inaccurate or incorrect. To remedy this, the standards of admissibility for expert testimony must be heightened. The broad discretion given to trial judges in determining admissibility should be reevaluated and a new rule of evidence for social science testimony should be adopted.

Journal Article
Therapeutic work with alienated children and their families/ JOHNSTON, Janet; GANS WALTERS, Marjorie & FRIEDLANDER, Steven
In: Family Court Review 39(3), 2001 pp. 316-333
This article describes goals and strategies for family-focused counseling and therapy when children are alienated from a parent after separation and divorce. The confidential intervention takes place within a legally defined contract and is based on a careful assessment of the dynamics of the multiple factors that contribute to the alienation and how the child’s development is affected. Strategies for forming multiple therapeutic alliances with often reluctant, recalcitrant, and polarized parents are discussed together with ways of helping the child directly.

Journal Article
Assessing for alienation in child custody and access evaluations / LEE, Margaret & OLESEN, Nancy
In: Family Court Review 39(3), 2001 pp. 282-298
In-depth child custody evaluations can be critical in forming an accurate understanding of families in which alienation of children is a concern. By integrating interview and psychological test data of parents and children along with collateral information the evaluator can differentiate an alienated child from children with other forms of parental rejection and can form a thorough understanding of the multiple contributants to the alienation. This comprehensive and integrated understanding is then used to develop a clear and specific intervention plan.

Books/Monographs (Pam) QLK XXK N PAMPHLET BLISS
Research papers and articles on parental alienation syndrome: volume 1. -2000
This document brings together a number of papers on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PA S).

Books/Monographs (Pam) QLK XXK N PAMPHLET BLISS
Research papers and articles on parental alienation syndrome: volume 2. – 2000
This document collects together a number of papers on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PA S).

Journal Article
The parental alienation syndrome: what is it and what data support it? / FALLER,Kathleen Coulborn
In: Child Maltreatment 392), May 1998 pp. 100-115
This article describes the parental alienation syndrome, its proposed characteristics and dynamics, and the methods used to document its presence. Research related to various tenets of the parental alienation syndrome is then reviewed. Finally, the syndrome’s utility for mental health professionals and courts in explaining allegations of sexual abuse in situations of divorce is evaluated.


Here is the link to the original FOI request:

Here is a copy of the original supplied list from Cafcass:


Sadly there is no requirement for Cafcass FCAs to actually use these resources or journals as part of their training, and neither are they included in much of the training provided by Cafcass. As we’ve shown previously Cafcass do not have any training modules on Parental Alienation available to their FCAs and when their CEO Anthony Douglas ran a specific webinar on it only a handful could be bothered to actually turn up.

If you know your Parental Alienation resources it’s interesting to note the inclusion and/or absence of key journals and key studies from the list provided by Cafcass. Admittedly this list was compiled by them in January 2016 and it may have been updated by them since then but still, even in January 2016 they should have known better.

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