Counseling Today, Features

‘Child abuse in disguise’: The impact of parental alienation on families

By Scott Gleeson March 9, 2023

a young child hugs his parent's waist tightly; the parent's arm is around the child with their hand on the child's back

Tomsickova Tatyana/

Ingo Weigold, a licensed professional counselor at Centennial Counseling Center in St. Charles, Illinois, sat at his desk as tears rolled down his face. For five years, he had been alienated from his children by his ex-wife, which emotionally harmed his children and prompted him to regularly feel like an unworthy parent. But after a grueling court battle that spanned several years, a judge finally ruled in favor of Weigold to have majority custody of his two children, and his ex-wife was issued to pay child support.

“I’m sitting here reading the judge’s ruling just crying and thinking, ‘This can’t be real.’ All of the anxiousness, the fear, the anger and the suffering just drained out of me,” recalls Weigold, a member of the American Counseling Association. “Throughout this process of fighting for them, the most important thing for me as a man and as a father was to actually be there and be present, to give my kids a chance at being good members of society away from a childhood that was marred by child abuse. Because parental alienation is child abuse in disguise.”

Parental alienation has been defined by experts as a form of manipulative estrangement induced by an alienating parent that causes children to refuse to have a relationship with the targeted parent as a result of exaggerated or false information that dissuades an emotionally vulnerable child away from the targeted parent.

Although the term is controversial when used in the legal system, counseling experts are fighting to have it included in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) because of its hidden prevalence and the need to educate clinicians on efficient treatment methods.

“From a parent’s perspective, I think this is incredibly difficult,” Weigold says. “I see why parents walk away from their families because the easier thing to do is let the other parent have what they want, let them continue to dictate everything. I didn’t have a dad growing up. I could never do that with my kids; I couldn’t let them sit in this manipulation any longer.”

Now, Weigold is helping other parents who find themselves in similar scenarios in his work as a counselor, and he’s helping to spread word on an area that doesn’t receive enough attention in the mental health field.

“I was down to my last few pennies and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of my retirement on legal fees going to court,” Weigold says. “I know I was lucky and other people aren’t. There are people out there who need us as therapists to help, and we can help them by knowing how to be detectives and get to the truth of these situations.”

Whether treating children, working with families or providing care to an alienated parent as a therapist, experts agree that far more needs to be done to bolster awareness and training.

“Parental alienation leads to highly complicated and difficult cases that require far more knowledge and specialization,” notes Amy Baker, a psychologist and parental alienation expert who has written over 65 peer-reviewed articles on the matter. “In other words, even seasoned clinicians with experience in family systems are still, in a way, a novice when dealing with alienation. Humility would be the most important thing for clinicians to have in this regard.”

Seemingly counterintuitive

Baker, director of research at Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection, acknowledges that having clinicians take a humble approach to parental alienation treatment runs counterintuitive to most regular forms of mental health treatment.

“Parental alienation challenges our assumptions about what is happening in the family,” she explains. “It’s intuitive to believe that children side more with the better parent. That the kids know which parent is going to better take care of them, get them to soccer practice. That’s actually not always true. What’s also counterintuitive is this false notion that the stronger a child claims to believe or feel something, the more likely it is to be true. In parental alienation cases, kids can very strongly make their case or be adamant for something that is not actually how they feel.”

Baker advises therapists to keep their clinical “magnifying glass” out a little longer when assessing not only the children but also the parents in suspected alienation cases. Parents will often enter sessions wearing a mask or facade to portray themselves — and the situation — in a deceiving way that caters to them and to paint the other parent as problematic, she notes.

Another way parental alienation cases are counterintuitive, Baker adds, is based on the idea that the parent who seems calmer and more rational is the “better” parent. “This is profound because clinicians are trained to rely on what they feel with a client or parent of a client,” she says. “But how the parent presents to the therapist is not always diagnostically true. Of course, the alienating parents are acting that way because the kids are loving on them as a result of their manipulation; they’ve got everything going their way.”

“The alienated parent, meanwhile, is anxious, agitated and afraid,” she continues. “They have an agenda to try to convince everybody what’s happening to them is alienation. The disposition of a person could be based on the situation, and clinicians should not be making assumptions when the targeted parent is acting out.”

Baker, co-author of Co-Parenting With a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You and Surviving Parental Alienation: A Journey of Hope and Healing, says two instrumental goals therapists must strive for if they determine parental alienation is at play are correcting a child’s distortions of the situation and holding the favorite parent accountable in treatment.

The goal for parental alienation is to help the child have a healthy relationship with both parents, Baker stresses. “It’s important for clinicians to know that, in general, children do better when they have a relationship with both parents and that, in general, children do not always know what’s best for them,” she says.

Baker adds that divorces have an unhealthy side effect in overempowering children and that it’s important for parents not to acquiesce to their needs out of guilt. “There’s too often the notion of ‘that’s what the child wants,’” she says. “We don’t let children drink or get married and do all sorts of things when they’re too young. [Adults] have a responsibility to protect children, sometimes from themselves.”

“I do believe we have an obligation [clinically] to try to figure out what’s best for the child, taking their preference into account, but by no means is their say-so the north star,” she adds.

Stephannee Standefer, a licensed clinical professional counselor and program director at Northwestern University’s online counseling program, says the goal of therapists is not to disempower a child’s voice but rather to reestablish the family system that’s been misconstructed. Parental alienation cases often showcase a child having power in an unhealthy fashion, and they can become pawns to the alienating parent who is taking advantage of the fractured family system amid or in the aftermath of a divorce, she notes.

“We can know all of this about how it should be in a family system, but we have to ask ourselves, ‘Are we the ones to rebalance the power and homeostatic situation as therapists?’” says Standefer, an ACA member and president of the Illinois Counseling Association. “It’s important we don’t accidentally as therapists come into the family system or stay there.”

To evade becoming part of the family system, Standefer says it’s vital therapists establish rules that clearly outline what the therapist’s role is. That boundary, in turn, can help put the focus on the parents’ growth.

“An alienated parent, for instance, must be doing his or her own individual work. Because that much powerlessness they’re feeling will impair the parent and the children. And for the alienating parent, we must hold them accountable to be a part of the family system, not their own narrative that caters to them,” Standefer notes. “We can use all the microskills we want to help families with communication, but the macro has to be how each person is fitting into the system.

Avoiding distortion traps

Alienation cases vary, but court proceedings and even 50/50 splits don’t always determine how often the kids will see their parent because the distorted reality an alienating parent spins can prompt a child to remain allegiant to them by refusing to spend time with the targeted parent.

Weigold says in his situation the manipulation of his children (with his ex-wife telling them a false narrative) began as his marriage was ending and before the divorce was even finalized.

“It became this campaign of dad’s bad and everyone should stay away from dad, including you two as kids,” Weigold said of the alienation inflicted on his children. “It’d always be something like [his ex-wife saying], ‘When dad shapes up or stops abusing you, you can see him.’ When in reality that was a projection coming from her.”

Baker says the targeted parent who is being alienated often falls into a “distortion trap” where they frustratingly try to defend themselves or uncover the truth, but this only makes them look worse to the children.

“Clinicians can have the assumption that it takes two to tango or that there’s two sides to every story,” she notes, but “in a parental alienation, the truth is it only takes one parent to trick another parent.”

Susan Heitler, psychologist and parental alienation expert who wrote Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief From Depression, Anger, Anxiety and More, says the alienator’s narrative can fool lawyers, close confidants and even the targeted parent because they’ll often deprecate the targeted parent’s feelings to twist reality. They’ll go out of their way to cultivate a narrative not just to the children and targeted parent but to everyone in their life. One common theme that counselors need to look out for, Heitler says, is that the alienator often needs to be seen as the victim at all times.

“A [targeted] parent will feel sad and say, ‘I miss my kids,’” continues Heitler, who practiced treating families from 1975 to 2020 at the Rose Medical Center in Denver. “Instead of responding with compassion to the other parent, the alienating parent may say, ‘You shouldn’t feel sad’ or ‘You’re being foolish.’ That’s part of the manipulation. It works really well because alienators are usually quite charming to everyone on the outside, she notes.

“In most cases, the alienating parent is acting on feelings of hurt related to the divorce, which are not about the kids. Or that parent more than likely has an undiagnosed personality disorder that they’re inflicting onto other family members,” Heitler adds.

“It’s like getting sucked into a vortex,” Weigold says, describing his own situation with his ex-wife. “Principals, teachers and people in the community would believe her, as if she were the victim, and the people [in the children’s life] throw out logic and act on feelings. It’s why as therapists, even when we get a [behavior] report from a school, we need to do our due diligence because so many people can be duped by the [alienating] parent.”

Heitler agrees that it’s important to corroborate facts in alienating cases as a clinician. “We need to be investigative and gather all the facts and make sure they’re actually truths. One parent may claim the targeted parent is sexually molesting the kids. Well, there are lie detector tests to address this.”

Weigold says he saw the distortion trap he fell into only in hindsight. “I think my biggest mistake was for a time I tried not to acknowledge the lies being told to them. I’d try to stay neutral and be a calming presence to them,” he recalls. “I’d try to tell them, ‘You guys are too little — it’s OK.’ I would allow them to come and say things their mom was saying and I’d never argue back.” About a year and a half ago, he started telling them the truth about what their mom was saying, making it child appropriate, but he says this only distressed them because then they had one parent saying one thing and the other saying another.

That moment of feeling torn between two parents’ version of the truth is where children can get caught in the “loyalty conflict,” Heitler says.

“When a child loves mommy and [the] daddy has made her into a devil, they become dependent on the parent who is the alienator, so they often adopt the alienator’s ways of seeing the situation,” she explains. “It’s loyalty [to the alienating parent] but a loss of the self for the children, forming a symbiotic relationship.”

Writing out these accusations the children often say about the targeted parent can help them sort through what is true or not for themselves. Heitler once worked with two teenage sisters who were alienated from their father. “They had all these negative words to say about their dad,” she recalls. “So we wrote all the words like ‘selfish’ down, and I asked them, ‘Who does this more?’” They all responded that their mom was the selfish one.

Diagnosing parental alienation

Dr. William Bernet, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, says that he and colleagues in the field have made dedicated efforts to have parental alienation included as a term in the DSM because properly identifying and defining alienation from the onset is the best way to combat counselor negligence.

“The problem with not naming parental alienation anywhere in the DSM is that courts can argue it isn’t real, and then, in turn, parents cannot defend themselves legally,” Bernet says. But “if it’s taught to clinicians of all types and accepted into curricula, then mental health practitioners can be held more accountable to identify these cases.”

Bernet, co-editor of Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals, sees therapists making two mistakes with parental alienation. First, they often fail to properly diagnose parental alienation early on in treatment. Second, they rely on traditional clinical approaches for far too long when treating this issue.

“Traditional family therapy approaches can be helpful in mild cases,” Bernet says. “But in more moderate or severe cases, alienation needs to be identified and both parents need to agree to be part of treatment.”

Bernet says that having only one parent attend sessions or offering traditional family therapy without identifying alienation has the potential to worsen the balance and allow an alienating parent and child to continue to target the other parent. If that happens, “therapists actually can make it worse,” he stresses, “because a child is going to be even more narcissistically powerful and won’t do what the therapist asks out of allegiance to the alienating parent.”

Bernet developed the five-factor model, which is an effective method to use when diagnosing parental alienation. This model includes five criteria for diagnosis:

  1. Contact refusal: Is the child refusing contact with a parent?
  2. Previous relationship: Did the child previously have a positive relationship with the rejected parent?
  3. Lack of abuse: Does the rejected parent show signs of being abusive or neglectful
  4. Alienating behaviors: Is the preferred parent engaging in alienating behaviors?
  5. Child symptoms: Is the child manifesting symptoms of alienation?

Although it’s essential for counselors to properly diagnose for treatment, custody evaluators should be the ones making decisions related to parental alienation, Baker cautions. And she advises clinicians to call for a proper custody evaluation if they suspect parental alienation.
avoiding counselor negligence.

Avoiding counselor negligence

Heitler finds that counselor negligence is common in parental alienation cases, so she agrees that clinicians run the risk of making the situation worse when they enable the alienator or try to focus on surface tactics such as communicative skills in co-parenting.

“If the clinician doesn’t understand parental alienation and buys into the alienating parent’s story with their treatment plan, they’re participating in child abuse,” Heitler says. “It comes down to beneficence, not maleficence, do not harm in the [ACA Code of Ethics]. The naivete can result in extreme harm if it means backing up a mother or father who is the alienator.”

In a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage in 2020, Baker, along with two other colleagues, surveyed 120 clinicians in the United States who conducted work as court-ordered reunification therapists, and they found widespread negligence across the board.

“What’s happening in outpatient reunification therapy is not only not helping [but] it’s making things far worse,” Baker stresses. “One major problem in general is that clinicians often let these cases go on and on with middle-of-the-road treatments without getting to the underlying cause. Many therapists let these cases go for years without saying, ‘Gee, I’m not really doing anything good here.’”

“There’s this false belief that it’s impossible to tell what’s really going on,” she continues. But “it’s not impossible to tell if clinicians were trained specifically in this subspecialization.”

Baker stresses the need for therapists to use a timeline, such as six to 10 sessions, to make sure progress is being made. “If nothing good is happening in treatment, write a letter to the court and recommend a higher level of treatment,” such as having the family go to a facility that specializes in parental alienation, she advises.

Bernet says effective approaches, particularly when working with children affected by parental alienation, include the multimodal family intervention, which involves everyone participating in some way in the treatment plan, and family bridges, a cognitive behavioral approach where the main focus is helping a child adjust to living with a parent they claim to hate.

“It’s painful to be caught in between two parents who are fighting each other,” Bernet notes. “Then to make it worse, there’s hidden guilt and shame for the child for feeling like they played a part in rejecting the parent. It’s an unhealthy position to be in.”

Standefer agrees that counselors must hold themselves accountable to limitations and push themselves to be more equipped in helping families. She said one additional layer of negligence she sees is that clinicians may allow parents to dominate treatment time to the point that the children are not receiving proper care.

“What’s at stake here are the children,” Standefer says. “It’s important therapists create a safe space and build an alliance when working with them. They need a voice. … We just have to be careful that voice is not actually the alienating parent’s. It’s our job to bring out their true voice.”
creating a team of support.

Creating a team of support

The severity of parental alienation cases can be far-reaching. As Bernet notes, it not only affects children’s well-being but also leaves targeted parents in desperate need of support.

“It can be unbelievably frustrating and agonizing for the targeted parent,” Bernet says. “They’re in need of various forms of support and coaching on how to behave when they see their children. Because I’ve seen some cases where the targeted parent will become so aggravated and retaliate against the child even though the child themselves is just mimicking or representing the alienating parent who is hurting them.”

“In worse scenarios, it’s not just parents giving up on their kids,” he adds. “They give up on life and commit suicide. This is serious on multiple levels.”

As a parent in recovery from alienation, Weigold says that a support system in conjunction with a therapist was necessary in getting his kids back into his life. “I think it’s important for anyone who is going through this to find a supportive person in their life that can help them to pull out the truth of what’s going on,” he says. “You can start to feel crazy and wonder, ‘Am I really this person?’ The narrative becomes so strong from the children and the ex-wife together. You need to have people in your life who can say, ‘This is not real. Those are not truths; trust your gut.’”

This support often needs to come from more than just one person, Weigold adds. “In my situation, therapists along the way would tell me I’m a good father. My friends and mom would say, ‘You’re a good dad.’ God was a big thing for me in the beginning to see myself as not a bad person,” he recalls. “You almost need a whole team of people because this pull is so strong. It’s like a superhero movie, and you need all the Avengers to fight this — for yourself and your children. That’s how powerful the pull in the other direction can be.”

Heitler agrees a support system is vital. Because targeted parents often experience severe symptoms of depression and anxiety as a result of feeling miscast, she is intentional about outlining the difference between warranted estrangement from children (based on prior abuse in the household) and being alienated (based on no factual forms of abuse in the household before separation) to help reality test a client under the spell of manipulation.

“Clients who are alienated are often distraught because they’ve lost their children and they’re asking, ‘Who do I believe anymore?’ They can be habitually anxious,” Heitler notes. One treatment method she finds helpful is having them do a concerns dump. The client writes down all their worries, such as “I don’t know what’s going on anymore” or “I don’t have enough money to go to court” and hands them to Heitler. “One by one, we’ll go through and make a plan of action for all these anxieties swirling around in their head,” she says.

Although leveraging one’s support base is helpful, Weigold acknowledges that overcoming those fears and anxieties must ultimately come from within. And that takes courage.

“Someone told me once that the only time you can have courage is when you’re afraid,” Weigold says. “I was afraid when I went back to court. I feared I’d lose everything I have and end up with nothing better for my kids. My son said, ‘Dad, I want you to fight for us.’ That gave me the courage I needed. I just told myself I’m going to show my children I’m fighting for them even if I go down doing it. I hope they can take away that message someday — that their dad fought for them and now he’s not going anywhere.”

Scott Gleeson is a licensed clinical professional counselor in the Chicago suburbs, specializing in trauma and relational dynamics. He spent over a decade writing for USA Today, where he won national writing awards from the Associated Press and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. His debut contemporary novel, The Walls of Color, and its sequel, Spectrum, will hit bookshelves in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Editor’s note: Gleeson is colleagues with Ingo Weigold, one of the counselors interviewed for this article, at Centennial Counseling Center in St. Charles, Illinois.

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.


  1. Shelby Wright

    I was so excited to see the title of this article .  But so disappointed, disturbed that this was the feature.  You got it all wrong.  You just bought into the patriarchy machine and fathers rights movement.  Did you actually do in research into how parental alienation is being used by men to get custody away from protective moms.  The data and disturbing statistics would be overwhelming.  Of course you featured a man in this article and paid no consideration how discriminator family courts are towards women, which harms children.  The fathers rights movement is powerful and you were lured as well.  My experience with family court has been nothing but traumatizing and I would not wish that experience in anyone.  Family court is a corrupt for profit machine that damages women and children.  If this is your headline please tell the whole story.  Alienation, false claims of it, is used by men in the family courts to discriminate against women and harm children.  I am not saying it doesn’t happen to men, but it is far less than is portrayed in the media.  As a profession that works with children and families, the damage of the alienation game is vastly affecting more women and children.  Protective moms are called crazy, alienated when they are the safe and appropriate parent for the children, but lack the resources to fight the patriarchal family court machine.  This machine has the ability to deplete your resources and control women unregulated.  Men use the family court machine and false claims of alienation to continue to exert coercive control and abuse by proxy of a spouse who has chosen to leave an unhealthy relationship to benefit their children.  I am beyond disappointed that this is your lead topic and as a counseling agency that you failed to fully explore the problem but joined in the broken system that ultimately hurts children.  You are perpetuating the problem and devaluing the experiences of children in these situations that often seek support.
    Please do some research and explore the dangers that alienation and the family court system contributes to the mental health struggles of our children.  Women and therefore their children are far more harmed and alienated by fathers with the full support of the courts, they just don’t have the means to control the narrative and are often further controlled, gagged and baned by orders from telling their story.  I would be glad to share more stories, books, articles, and factual information on the true nature of these alienation claims.  The title of your article was appropriate and truthful, but did not tell the the story as it often plays out the it is in fact women are falsely accused and the father is allowed to use the courts to continue to abuse.
    Please do your due diligence to cover the full and true story that goes with the title of this article.  How are we to help children in this area if we don’t acknowledge the true reality of the abuse.
    Shelby Wright

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      Thank you for this feedback. The opinions and statements made in the articles do not reflect the views or opinions of ACA as an organization. We in no way want to suggest that we condone or support any one particular approach or viewpoint that is mentioned by the counselors interviewed for our articles. I think your comment can be the start of a healthy discussion on the best clinical approaches when working with cases of parental alienation. Again, I appreciate your feedback. We will take that into consideration for future articles on this topic.

    2. Lucas

      I’ve filled out surveys to the ACA wanting more content covering this topic. I feel as if it does not get the coverage it needs. As a counselor who has worked with families, it can feel isolating not to have the entirety of the counseling movement behind you. Most counselors opt out of these conversations or worse yet, don’t accept clients/families who are in need (because of the dreaded, “Will you testify?” question). As a professional, parent, and someone who has been through this process and barely made it out with my health; this area needs more attention.

      To Ms. Wright’s comment above. I have worked with men who subscribe to the movement you’ve referenced. I have talked with other professionals who have actively worked to suppress that particular narrative (in the courts). It is a misguided message to be certain. I did not think about that at all when reading this article. I would encourage all professionals to be slow to accuse others of being abusive or misusing power. I think we need to be vigilant not to reduce what’s happening to accusing genders of misbehaving. Abuse, neglect, personality disorders, and alienation can happen to anyone. I’ve seen (professionally and personally) it come from men and women. It’s not okay coming from anyone and the focus needs to be on the children and parents (who are the actual victims) who are most affected.

      I think accountability is necessary (I appreciated that being highlighted in the article) to truly support families and advance this topic in our profession. With that in mind, Ms. Wright, I would urge you to be respectful of the professional and parent who they interviewed for this article. As professionals, we are called to a higher standard when sorting through these difficult, emotional, and complex circumstances. To reduce this topic to the patriarchy or the men’s right’s movement misses a lot of what is at play here (and what was talked about in the article).

      I find that most have their own story who are attracted to this work. I can appreciate that this article may bring up powerful thoughts or feelings. It did for me when reading it. As professionals, we must do the work first so we can then help walk others through this painful process.

    3. Aimee Kitchen

      I agree Shelby. Just because ACA says this is the opinion of the author, it is dangerous to allow such a publication. I have done extensive research on this topic. Bernet and Baker are dangerous. How about the author speaking with kids who survived Family Bridges? The reunification therapy they offer can be compared to conversion therapy now outlawed in many states. Let’s review the origin of alienation. Created by Richard Gardner who published that children entice adults for sex acts. Richard Warshak studied under Gardner and now owns Gardner’s library after his suicide. Women and children blamed for many heinous behaviors of men.

      Randy Rand lost his license in CA yet rebranded this “threat therapy” as educational services.

      The APA and WHO and many more repeatedly debunk alienation. The people who make $$$$ on selling alienation can’t even agree on a single definition. Furthermore, there is no assessment or treatment.

      As a member of this organization, I want this article retracted and an apology issued.

    4. Maria

      Parental Alienation happens to good mothers and good fathers. Historically in the family court system, women have been favored. This is a fact and not my opinion.

      I know several amazing fathers that have been alienated from their kids (my husband being one of them). The lawyers and the courts have believed the moms (in the situations I’m referring to). As it turns out, when the alienating parent also has some sort of high conflict personality disorder (BPD, NPD, HPD, etc) they are very effective at manipulating EVERYONE that will give them the time of day.

      To be very transparent, your lack of compassion and empathy in your response to this article brings up lots of different questions about you that I will not be including here.

      I’m not arguing that false claims of alienation have not occurred and that women, men, and children have not been hurt by them. This is a tragedy and needs to be addressed by educating therapists, lawyers, etc. People will manipulate situations for their own benefit. This is exactly why PA needs to be added to the DSM. There needs to be more education on this topic for PROPER diagnosis & treatment. If there is more awareness and education then what you’ve described in your comments is less likely to occur.

      I think if you take a step back you will realize that we are all on the same team. Everyone here wants what’s best for the kids and (assuming there’s no physical, mental, or emotional abuse) it’s to have a relationship with BOTH parents. That’s what our attachment is based on. As I mentioned previously, in many cases of PAS, the alienating parent does have some sort of personality disorder and has emotionally and mentally abused the kids. In those situations, it’s up to a trained clinician to keep the kids safe and help ensure they are not put back in a situation where abuse is likely to occur. Just remember this… people that are guilty of abusing their kids will deny it 99.99% of the time.

    5. JSSain

      Hi Shelby, I would be very interested in learning more about your personal experience as a targeted parent of patental alienation. Thanks

  2. Russell Silver

    I am so alarmed and disappointed in ACA for publishing this propaganda, especially the EXPLICIT ENDORSEMENT OF COMPLEX TRAUMA FACTORIES LIKE FAMILY BRIDGES. My childhood was high conflict involving an absent parent and a narcissistic parent raised by grandparents, I’m a parent who has gone through the family court system, and a licensed clinical professional counselor. This propaganda piece avoids any mention of is inherent requirement for it to discount claims of abuse and endorsement of highly traumatic “therapies” focused on prohibiting the past, gaslighting and separating children from entire halfs of their family and other supports for YEARS. The proposed diagnostic criteria is also self-serving and circular. They also emesh mental health professional roles/views with the legal system.

    The “professionals” pushing this theory and very specific “therapy” are the ones being enriched by it by fees they compel via the family court system.

    I will never again join ACA for aiding this abuse.

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      Thank you for this feedback. The opinions and statements made in the articles do not reflect the views or opinions of ACA as an organization. We in no way want to suggest that we condone or support any one particular approach or viewpoint that is mentioned by the counselors interviewed for our articles. I think your comment can be the start of a healthy discussion on the best clinical approaches when working with cases of parental alienation. Again, I appreciate your feedback. We will take that into consideration for future articles on this topic.

    2. JSSain

      Hi Russel, could you provide a solution you would recommend in addressing parental alienation.? Thanks

  3. Martha Ann Alexander Paskins

    This article is very informative and eye opening into the dynamics that “Parental Alienation” plays in the family system. This diagnostic condition that is quite prevalent in dysfunctional families should definitely be included in the DSM, because it is very real. I greatly appreciate you posting this article.

  4. Barbara Shaya

    I wish to echo Shelby Wright’s comments. Parental alienation syndrome is not an actual syndrome and has no place in the DSM. It is a patriarchal propagandist attempt to obfuscate the more pervasive issue of men using the legal system to continue to abuse women. It saddens me that a professional organization would highlight this as a legitimate topic. It belongs in the waste basket along with false memory syndrome. Elevating this as a real topic without the research to support these claims is irresponsible.

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      Thank you for this feedback. The opinions and statements made in the articles do not reflect the views or opinions of ACA as an organization. We in no way want to suggest that we condone or support any one particular approach or viewpoint that is mentioned by the counselors interviewed for our articles. I think your comment can be the start of a healthy discussion on the best clinical approaches when working with cases of parental alienation. Again, I appreciate your feedback. We will take that into consideration for future articles on this topic.

    2. JSSain

      Hi Barbara, Could you share your personal experience as a targeted parent of parental alienation. Thank you.

  5. Robin Armour

    I am disappointed that ACA would feature and so prominently, an article that is based on a debunked concept, which was invented by a known child molester. I would refer everyone reading this to One Mom’s Battle, to get an accurate look at narcissistic abuse within the family court system, not this nonsense.

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      We appreciate your feedback. Please note that the opinions expressed and statements made in Counseling Today articles do not represent the opinions of the editors or policies of ACA. If you would like to discuss this further, please send us an email at

  6. Jackie

    As someone who has witnessed this with my husband and step-daughter. I find it refreshing that attention is being drawn to this issue. It is too late for our family but there is hope for others. It’s disappointing to see the comments claiming patriarchy. There are Mother’s out there that prevent relationships with their children’s fathers out of pure spite. Creating emotional turmoil for everyone involved. No child should be put in the middle of custody. How disheartening that people are always looking for and angle or someone to blame. It’s not a right or a left issue, it’s a humanity issue. When a Father isn’t abusive to his child, he should not have to endure the manipulation of the child at the hand of a bitter parent. Believe it or not, not all Father’s are bad. My husband desired a relationship with his daughter and asked more more time on numerous occasions and all the mother cared about was money and taking away his time. This happens ALL THE TIME! Wake up!
    Also, how pitiful that you choose to shame the ACA for displaying an article that you may not agree with. It’s ok to not agree with something. That doesn’t mean it should be censored.

    1. Elizabeth

      Well said Jackie. I agreed that something should not be censored just because one does not agree with something. That being said I too have seen first hand how one parent “alienated” child from other parent, by falsifying child abuse charges after toxic co-parenting their child for 13. Even after actual proof that the child abuse charges were false, accused parent can not even talk to their child anymore due to parental alienation. Perhaps in the future, if articles didn’t lay out specific details of mom or dad being the victim may minimize the bias and heat associated with articles such as this. (Perhaps even family court should start using more neutral terms as well such as Petitioner/Respondent so unintentional bias is not held towards gender).

      I think this topic in the article is very important however, and I hope all counselors dealing with children are at least aware of the problem. All counselors are supposed to advocate for their clients, including children. So if you have a child client saying “I don’t want to go home because parent A hits me” I would hope that counselors take parental alienation into account no matter how truthful the child may seem. Some kids aren’t necessarily lying as they fully believe that parent A hits them because Parent B has told them they have over and over again. So how do we advocate for our child client when we will never probably know the real truth? What type of techniques should be used? My first thought is support sessions with one or both parents (and it wouldn’t hurt to bring in any other major supports such as grandparents or stepparents). A United front in the eyes of the child is my best advocacy for child. Am open to hear what other think here? And when, oh when is CO-PARENT COUNSELING going to be required for divorced families with children :) ?

    2. JSSain

      Hi Jackie, Thank you for sharing your experience. Do you know any counselors that have personally experienced parental alienation within their own family go on to claim it doesn’t exist? Thanks

  7. Jenny Ingwersen

    I am beyond disappointed by this article. It is shocking to me that such a one sided and poorly researched piece was published. Parental Alienation is not an official DSM diagnosis and claims of parental alienation are most often leveed against mothers by abusive fathers and predatory attorneys and mental health providers. Parental Alienation used in family courts is a cottage industry making unscrupulous lawyers and MH clinicians wealthy while, more often than not, destroying families and profoundly damaging children. There are multiple state legislatures that are considering bills that regulate parental alienation “rehabilitation”centers, and ethical family lawyers working to educate judges and families about the frequent misuse of parental alienation in divorce and custody proceedings.

    1. JSSain

      Hi Jenny, Thank you for sharing. Could you share your personal experience encountered as a targeted parent of parental alienation. Thanks

  8. Colleen Bowman

    Divorce and custody battles can be very difficult for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that all cases are different and cases where women cause alienation of their children from loving, caring fathers who desire to be healthy role models for their children is a reality. Encouraging mental health counselors to be aware that these cases exist and how to navigate them to help their clients move through these challenges is the main point of the article. I have witnessed, as well as lived, these scenarios and can agree that there are many cases where it can be the mother being the manipulator out of her own pain and hurt pride and use their children as weapons against the person who emotionally injured them just as likely as the father. Regardless, it is abuse to use children as a tool to manipulate, hurt, or control another person and all professionals – mental health, legal, and otherwise – need to be cognizant of these possibilities and do your due diligence to not contribute to these patterns if they are evident.

  9. Russell Silver

    There are therapists discussing the trauma these programs produce and survivor testimonials trashing this theory and programs as profoundly harmful to them. Check out cptsdtherapist ‘s troubled teen industry post on TikTok. Also check out Center for Judicial Excellence Youth Speaks for information and videos with now adult survivors who personally experienced this “therapy” and how. It harmed their mental health.

  10. Meghan Garland

    To all the commenters speaking about men using PA to impact women… Please look at the numbers. Mothers are more often the victims of PA. This is not a gender issue. This is a control issue. I am a certified counselor and also a victim of PA. One of my children has recovered and returned to me. She has concrete examples of manipulation to reject me and now suffers guilt about her treatment of me. I have experienced incompetent therapists and spent thousands in a dysfunctional court system. This is a real issue with common themes, behaviors and patterns. It needs to be addressed for the sake of the children’s mental health and for their future functioning.

    1. Jssain

      Hi Megan, thank you for sharing your personal experience of parental alienation. With you being a licensed counselor, what was your greatest obstacle in maintaing a relationship with your child and do you have any suggestions on the best way to deal with this issue? Thanks.

    2. Teri

      Megan , I am also a counselor who has gone through the same thing as you and can very much relate. I would like to connect with you. Please let me know how to do so? Thank you

  11. Ashley B

    Disappointed in ACA for promoting this harmful cottage industry’s theories and legal tactics. These “professionals” are aligned with the child grooming/abuse moment (seems based on Gardner) and “men’s rights.” Alienation does happen, but the criteria is highly subjective and biased towards those willing to pay for an “expert” after abuse allegations. These experts ignore all claims of abuse or valid (to the child) reasons they may be estranged.

    Regardless, their go to practices are inherently harmful. Looking up their own material on these camps and aftercare they use isolation/separation from family and support systems, monopolization of perception, threats, degradation, demonstrating omnipotence, forced trivial demands. In all other contexts we know as therapists these are bad! Yet for PA they are supposed to be good?

    To the degree PA is a problem, these criteria and practices are not the answer. Just as or more harmful than PA and highly unethical.

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      We appreciate your feedback. Please note that the opinions expressed and statements made in Counseling Today articles do not represent the opinions of the editors or policies of ACA. If you would like to discuss this further, please send us an email at

  12. Katherine Jones

    I appreciate the heartfelt responses to this article. What these replies highlight to me is the prevalence of Parental Alienation. As an LPC, and a parent, I have both diagnosed and experienced the dynamics and manipulation associated with PA. It is a very real and insidious form of trauma that can destroy individuals and families. In my experience, it has less to do with gender, and is more about the mental health, moral character, family dynamics, and past traumas of those involved. That said, this is a control issue, and our social and legal systems are overwhelmingly skewed toward patriarchal power and influence. Inclusion in the DSM would serve to highlight this devastating dynamic, and inform and strengthen crucial support systems. Knowledge of PA would have empowered me as a victim, and enabled me as a clinician.

  13. Megan Hawkins

    enough adult survivor experiences have been shared online and in the media to discredit these individuals and the theories and programs they advocate for. Sad to have this endorsed here while laws are being passed to explicitly protect from this.

    1. Counseling Today Post author

      We appreciate your feedback. Please note that the opinions expressed and statements made in Counseling Today articles do not represent the opinions of the editors or policies of ACA. If you would like to discuss this further, please send us an email at

    2. Rachel Blanchard

      Women’s groups actively fought the acknowledgememt and attempted inclusion of parental alienation at least 15 YEARS ago!! This is disgusting and pathetic. And I do not care about ACA not being represented by the author of this piece. You included it. Period. And I will work to lead anyone I come across to abandon support for this organization effective immediately.

      The word alienation is simple based on its dictionary definition. However, the term parental alienation [syndrome] is an unscientific circle jerk that makes little sense to anyone with critical thinking skills and intelligence. In practice, both women and children are disbelieved and gaslit much akin to what happens to rape survivors.

      How does one prove it exists? One cannot–not without denying actual experiences and reality. Who is “diagnosed” with it? No one–because you cannot diagnose someone with something while saying another party is afflicted with it.

      See works by Lundy Bancroft and many others which resulted in briefings given to court systems across the US who were bankrolling judges, attorneys, guardian ad litems, and psuedopsychologists.

  14. Benjamin E. Nevins

    Claims of parental alienation are almost always a manufactured defense for people who are indeed caught abusing their kids or otherwise have valid reasons for the kids to not want a relationship. And all it does is it takes the symptoms of abuse and redefines them as symptoms of alienation, which is a circular defense. Every symptom of the abuse or poor parenting is just simply called ‘evidence’ of alienation”. Where else is the treatment for a mental health condition so fundamentally intertwined with severing custody and contact with family relationships? These people are selling abuse.

    1. D. Neath

      As a formerly alienated parent, I would be interested in you citing a source for your claims. A recent article in the Family Court Review entitled The use of parental alienation constructs by family justice system professional: A survey of belief systems and practice implications had some contradictory findings to your assertions. Taking into account only a portion of the 1049 interdisciplinary family law professionals who were participants were in the mental health field, when we look at the over 300 empirical studies (40% of them since 2016), it is widely agreed amongst psychological scholars (and family court professionals in the above-referenced article) that parental alienation is a valid concept supported by robust and well-developed scientific literature. It may also help you to speak to parents who have been alienated from their children. I am in contact with well over 100 if you would like some sources, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have. While there are a minority of abusers who weaponize the term parental alienation in family court, I can assure you the abusers are the individuals using coercive control to further abuse their former spouse through parental alienation. Your narrative is extremely harmful and further traumatizes victims.

  15. Shmuel Skaist

    Thank you for printing this important article! However, some of the comments above are quite troubling.
    Claims that Parental Alienation (PA) does not exist or that PA is “almost always a manufactured defense for people who are indeed caught abusing their kids” ignore reality. This ideological “controversy” goes back a few years, starting with unsubstantiated claims against Dr. Richard Gardner, who argued for a syndrome called Parental Alienation Syndrome. (If you would like to read the claims against him and his rebuttals to those claims, you can read them here:
    Additionally, the idea that PA claims are always used to cover up abuse accusations in court is simply inaccurate. Many PA cases occur outside the courtroom with the alienated parent unwilling to drag their children through such a painful process.
    Counselors need to know about PA and assess for it when dealing with a parent who says the ex-partner is not involved because they are abusive/horrible/irresponsible – as that claim may not be valid. If the child is the identified patient, their symptoms may be related to being alienated from one of their parents and may need to be a part of treatment.
    Call it PA or call it what you will, such cases are not uncommon, and the lack of sympathy for alienated parents and the undercurrent insinuation that all or even most such parents are deserving of a lifetime of separation from their children expressed in earlier comments is frightening. It is easy to have a gut reaction based on ideology. I wish those commenters would be more compassionate and consider how a parent who did not commit abuse suffers from losing a relationship with their child or children simply because their ex-spouse is spiteful towards them. Do these parents deserve a lifetime of angst because some horrible people have used PA in the courtroom as a defense for their misconduct!?

  16. Ingo

    I can assure you that my story is true and that this is not a case of someone abusing the court system. Ultimately, it is the children that suffer in these circumstances, of which my children have suffered plenty and still do so, even with the change in custody.

    There is a podcast episode DrinksnShrinks – Parental Alienation’s Impact on Families from last week that adds more context and clinical perspective to this written story. You can find it here

    Hope we can keep the discussion going and also hope that this leads to more awareness by clinicians and the court system.

  17. Lucas

    Thank you for sharing your story Ingo. I’m very sorry to hear about what your family has been through. I hope you and your family can heal over time.

  18. Jb

    It’s s 9:50 PM in Denver. I have not slept for more than 10 hours for the past 4 nights, I read these blogs to remind myself that im not alone, that im not making things up, that im not a bad mom. My 6 year old son refuses to speak with me, has called me the most unsavory names and told me that he does not have to have me as his mother, because his father told him that he has two other moms in Nigeria. This is my 4lb baby who I had at 36 weeks, my baby who I took and went to a place of support when his father threatened to take him and put me in a “nuthouse”. When I was pregnant, his father never went to one appointment with me, I put all his furniture together by myself, took him to all his appointments by myself, stayed awake for two nights monitoring his breathing when I took him home from the NICU, one night I was so tired, I begged his dad to just keep an eye on him for 1 hour so I can rest, he refused.

    I remember being told I was not a good mother because I could not produce enough milk, I was verbally and emotionally abused. Enough was enough when after witnessing his dads verbal abuse toward me, I witnessed my 7 month old frozen..with fear. I left, I left my abuser and I took my son with me, when we left he said he was glad we were leaving and that he doesn’t have to deal with us anymore. I brought my son back to spend time with him, because I was naive and I did not think it was my place to deprive my son of his father, he kept him, no one helped me until I had to move back into his home to get access to my son, and quickly had to escape to a DV shelter to protect myself from him. I had to fight in fear and near madness for my son. 6 years later, after sharing 50/50 custody, and being controlled and financially and emotionally abused by a custodial order, I requested a change, only to lose custody of my son and be described by an incompetent CFI as a selfish and unhinged parent due to a diagnosis of PTSD that I got from my abusive marriage, which was falsely attributed to my military service. Its 10:05 pm, I called my son for the 3rd night in a row and he does not want to speak with me. My mind feels numb, my chest is tight, my tears keep flowing and there is nothing I can do to protect me or my son as I lay in the musty confines of an extended stay away from my family and support system who are far away, so my ex doesn’t t find me, so I don’t get hurt by him, as I try one last time to appeal to this flawed family court system in Colorado. I don’t care what it is called, but it is a real phenomenon, It is abuse in all its forms, because it is manipulating the autonomy and maternal/paternal connection of a child in order to break victims physically, mentally, financially, spiritually. Yes men are most often perpetrators of this behavior, but refusing to recognize it for fear of it being weaponized does not help bring more awareness to the issue.
    I may lose a son, he may lose me and if he ever grows to realize the reality of things he may lose his father. No one wins if this is not rectified, but a cycle is created which transcends generations in many cases.

    I pray there is change soon

    1. Ashley Gay Gay Vocco

      JB, thank you for sharing your story. Your story highlights that alienation can exist, but I have a sneaky suspicion no one in the courts you are working with wants to call what you are going through ‘PA.” That’s the problem with this debunked science and term. It isn’t used to describe the abuse the victims of domestic abuse continue to endure in the court systems. That is why survivors, advocates, and more are working tirelessly to remove this debunked science from the court system and the mental health professions. It is used so erroneously that is often times is used against a protective parent, yes, usually a protective mother. It is another tactic abusers use in their litigation abuse against their victims and the courts and other professionals buy into it hook, line, and sinker. Having PA included in the DSM will harm more children than it will ever, EVER, help. we have to to remove that language and start calling it for what it is, it’s abuse of the other parent and abuse of the child.

  19. Linda Diaz-Murphy

    Thank you so much for this article! ACA is finally addressing an issue that has been ignored for generation. What I find interesting is that this is a worldwide problem and the behaviours etc are the same in every cultural, etc. I think men as well as women equally commit parental alienation and other abuses and it is time we hold EVERYONE accountable. I have witnessed parental alienation and other abuses for years growing up, as a parent watching other parents being abused and abusing their own children and other children and family members and friends, and as a clinician working with children and families for the last 20 plus years I would include Dr. Sam Valnin and others who provide valuable information on Narcissism, the devouring mother, etc. . I find the literature and trainings provided by Baker and others on parental alienation, narcissistic abuse, gaslighting etc to be on point. I am looking to be certified as a parental alienation therapist and/or coach. If anyone can share a certification training please do share. I would appreciate it.

  20. Valerie VOUILLE

    I am in France. Psychiatrists do not know about this issue as they should.
    Thanks to social media and podcasts I am starting to become aware what my mother did, and why my sister committed suicide.
    Thank you for your article.

  21. Daisy

    Journalism based on verification, context, and healthy skepticism is what this “article” (veiled sponsored content?) needs. Meanwhile, take note that, unlike PA advocates, real scientists doing that scientific research thing that they do best keep showing that PA is 1) not really emerging as a genuine disorder and 2) is undeniably entwined with sexist biases and strongholds in our justice system that effectively reinforce patriarchal status quo. See this 2020 study showing links between custody decisions and PA claims, *regardless of abuse*: (Forbes “Why Women Lose Custody” article on the study, if you cannot access the research article:

  22. Kristin Dattilo

    What a disaster this article is and how horrible misleading and negligent. As a counselor you are bound by a code of ethics. Gardner and his bs psuedoscience is just that. He was a pedi file and committed suicide. He was mentally ill and his beliefs (which is what they are) were not backed by any scientific data. There are more cases of justified estrangement than alienation especially when there are allegations of any type of abuse. Abusers do not want to get caught. In most cases… Reunification camps are nothing more than an attempt to brainwash the children to alienate the safer parent. These camps cause ore trauma and there are no studies that show they help but many say they hurt. You also have a generation of especially young girls who are being fed beliefs they to speak up when bullying, abuse or anything of the like happens in school and they the family Court system tricks them. they rule of abuse should then read “Unless it happens at the hands of a parent”, a “male parent” and then it is okay. Teaching girls love = abuse and it is not an offense if it is done at the hands of a parent. Shame. The Court system and certainly this author is part of the patriarchal abuse being done to children in the family court system. This article is not in the best interest of the majority of children.

  23. Stephen Miles

    Parental Alienation is real.
    It happens to moms and dads.
    If a parent has abused their kids, disowned them based on sexuality etc, it is not PA it is justified rejection.
    PA is when a child rejects parent who they used to have a previous loving relationship (did you read the article)
    False claims of PA by abusers should be treated the same as false claims of abuse, by either parent.
    This has nothing to do with Mens’ Rights. It’s about children needing both parents
    If this article was written in non gender roles, or reversed roles, would the angry Moms group be ok with the facts?
    Assuming it’s false because it’s a men’s right lie, it’s showing gender bias.
    Look at it through gender neutral eyes. What do the facts say?

  24. Japonica Kearney

    This article was interesting and spoke on some issues that continue to arise within the Custody hearing. I realize there are not enough educational formats that cater to Magistrates and Judges. Parents are pleading to a court representative that may not be knowledgeable about Parental Alienation or minimizes the effects that is will have on a child. Speaking from a personal and professional stand point, it is devastating to watch a parent who has a history of domestic violence, controlling, brainwashing and manipulation get custody and imposes Parental Alienation toward the other parent. Ironically, there was not a problem with visitation when the mother had the child. Factors that aren’t considered and their “personal opinions” are not welcomed as they are not comforting to the parent who is trying to keep the family safe. Parental alienation is raping a child of their bond, relationship and formulating memories that cannot be over turned, paused or erased. Who is educating, who is holding accountable and who is making the data transparent. Just like a Social Worker, has to have a certain amount of CEU’s, Magistrates and Judges should be required to do the same thing. They are dealing with lives that are impacted by their decisions. In Baltimore City Circuit Court Family Law Division they need to do better in their Family Law cases. Accountability and transparency is essential to minimize corrupt acts and judicial misconduct. Social Workers, need to be also mindful of the role they place in traumatizing children and ignoring policies and procedures.

  25. Dana Raff

    Thank you for this article, as it validates what my husband and I have been through. This exact thing happened to my husband and I. He married me after his divorce and his ex-wife tried to alienate both of us for eight years. She had a long history of mental illness since her teens. After eight years of taking us to court, bad mouthing, attempting to turn everyone against us, she shot herself in the head with a shotgun while the kids were on their custodial visit will us. They have been living with us ever since (last three years). I think the damage she did (which started when they were 4 and 6 years old) is so severe that they will never recover. We have tried talk therapy, medication, etc. and it seems as though things just get worse by the day. The damage extends beyond my step children as both my husband and I are suffer from PTSD from all the years of abuse from his ex-wife. Both his children were brainwashed so severely that to this day they think their mother was the greatest and we are the bad people. Trying to raise them since she passed has been hell, pure hell. My husband often says “she did not take one life, she took three”. Anyone who says that parental alienation isn’t real, send them my way, I could right book on the worst case you’ve ever heard of.

  26. Ben

    I found this article to be quite triggering… In my instance, it was pretty text-book. Fortunately, I was very lucky. I had court orders in place, what the court also calls ‘safeguards’ for when the children are with their mother (organised crime associations, previous threats – won’t majorly go into it), I speak good English and can navigate a tumultuous court system, and I had all the support in the world.

    And it was still a nightmare!

    The estrangement from my then 10yo son was “only” 8 months as he went into ‘protection-mode’ with his mother and her partner. Luckily, he voiced to his sister and I (and subsequently counselors) what and why he was doing: essentially, “If I’m with mum, he’s not there and he shouldn’t be” because of the threats that she’d shared with them. But he then started developing a narrative of his own about how bad I was and this was fostered by his mother.

    Fortunately, he and we have come through it. But only because a court set a date down after his mum contonued to ignore orders old and new about access and she was threatened with a “ circuit breaker”, meaning she would not see him for 90 days. Miraculously, at that point, everything changed. Court date was decided on a Thursday, by Saturday (when he was next due to be with me), he magically turned up… Ah, the magic of court (in this instance)

    Luckily, in my instance, there was a documented history of this kind of behaviour from her, and of course, it didn’t hurt that at the start, my sone with counselors what his plan was. And his 11yo (at the time) sister was able to confirm ;).

    But, I must say I don’t understand a lot of these comments. Parents of all genders can be abusive morons! I’m sure both male and female parents can alienate. In my instance, it was a female that did so, but this doesn’t mean to suggest that it’s only a female thing.

    Not everything has to be about gender. I don’t assume that all women have organised crime associations, hang out with (literal) murderers and tell their kids about lots of this stuff (from about 5 and 6 yo). That would be a daft assumption.

    It’s not always gendered, the patriarchy isn’t always out to get you, and the court system isn’t always against men.

  27. Sarah

    Hi, I’m very interested in more information about parental alienation. I believe this explains years of pain and conflict and inconsistencies for me. My ex-husband has always had full physical after our divorce when our kids were 2 and 4. I signed a separation agreement under extreme duress and due to vast income disparities I never managed to get back anything but joint legal and a more equitable visitation. For years my exhusband has painted me as bad mom and even told the kids I abandoned them, which is absolutely a lie. He also spent serious effort turning his extended family, our former friend and even some members of my immediate family against me.
    My son became distant and now that he is 18 I feel I have little or no place in his life. Our daughter however is 16, she is distressed because she feels like she has to go numb at her dads and adopt his world view and pretend to be “fine” all the time. She refused to go back to his house after a visit and it’s become very hard for her as a result.
    Now my ex has started taking her to a therapist he won’t name but my daughter told me she seems to be my old therapist during the
    divorce – who eventually I stopped seeing because I couldn’t afford it – who then took on my ex as her patient after our divorce.
    I do not have the resources to fight him at all but we are trying to file for a change of custody for the sake of my daughters mental health but I really want to know how I can get more information or find a therapist/legal advice from professionals who know and understand parental alienation.
    If this is what is happening, it would be so relieving just to be able
    To name this confounding and frustrating manipulation. It’s driven me to my breaking point over these past many years.

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