As you may already know, a big focus of my work within the last few years has been that of education. I have found that most parents learn of the minefields and trip wires of parental alienation only after they have been stumbled upon and have exploded.
Let me say that again. Being a veteran of a war does not make one an expert on war.
By that I mean this. The war veteran is an absolute expert on his or her experience with the war in which they found themselves, but this experience alone does not equip them to teach at, say The War College.
Likewise, one’s personal experience with Parental Alienation, as tragic as it may legitimately be does not - by virtue of that personal experience alone - qualify one to serve in an expert capacity for other people’s cases. Expertise to do this should be grounded in a combination of deep academic experience, research experience, clinical experience "in the trenches" as they say, with many families in a variety of circumstances, as well as with professional experience in a more general sense in order to place all of these specific experiences in a broader context.
But, you say, what about all of the support groups, websites, etc. offering support and advice? Are they not legitimate? Of course they are, and I applaud the wonderful work and support that they provide, and this is not what I am referring to at all. I am a supporter of a great many of them, and hold them in the highest regard. They are wonderful sources of education and validation of the experience of alienation, and enough cannot be said about how profoundly valuable these efforts are.
The distinction I wish to make is the distinction between support and education, and the giving of specific strategic advice - which is based in mental health or legalistic principles - to individuals in their cases, and doing so for a fee.
I hear stories from time to time that make me cringe as I hear of the specific advice that has been handed out to a client under these circumstances that was obviously based more on that advisor's own personal experience with Parental Alienation, than it is based on the facts and factors of the client's specific case.
It is important to understand that, while the phenomenon of Parental Alienation is indeed very patterned, that it also is individually nuanced. One size does not fit all.
The best advice I can give is to kick the tires of any potential advisor. Find out about the depth of their academic background, the depth of their experience in dealing with Parental Alienation, as well as the depth of their experience in dealing with families where Parental Alienation is not present. Both categories should be significant. Find out about the number of cases in which they have been involved and ask for references.
In my experience, parents who have experienced Parental Alienation are very often inspired to help others and will not be put off by being listed as a reference. Finally, find out how versed they are in the legal system, assuming they are not a lawyer.
If their advice comes from more of a mental health perspective, find out what expertise, training and background they have in the mental health field, both related to Parental Alienation and not related to Parental Alienation.
None of the questions suggested here should put off anyone you are considering becoming involved in your case. They are reasonable and completely justifiable and should not ruffle feathers. If feathers do get ruffled however, perhaps the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
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Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day (PAAD), a day created as a part of the global awareness campaign about Parental Alienation.
On Sunday, March 11th at 8 PM EST, Dr. Michael Bone and Dr. Robert Evans will be our guest speakers for our international support conference call. This call is devoted to the problem of the education - or the lack of education - of professionals regarding parental alienation. Many of you are going through litigation. Some unfortunately have attorneys and other professionals who know little to nothing on the subject of alienation. Many of you are going pro se on your cases. This is absolutely a call you will want to be on.
Persuasive Rhetoric refers to using language in an emotionally laden manner with the purpose of convincing the audience of some particular perspective. Persuasive Rhetoric is a tool for selling ideas, beliefs and positions on a given topic or subject. It is unrelated to truth. It only refers to the spin, the story and the goal of winning over the audience. Nothing in the message requires truth.
Parenting, when Parental Alienation is present, requires super-human strengths and the patience of Job.
Parenting under the best of circumstances, is challenging. It creates the greatest joys of life as well as its deepest agonies. It is, to say the least, challenging. When you add Parental Alienation into the mix, the word “challenging” becomes pale and weak.
I am typically contacted by parents who find themselves in the throes of parental alienation. Occasionally, I am contacted by a Family Lawyer, but primarily it is parents who reach out to me.
After I have some sort of consultation with a new parent and we both decide that my help is indicated, that parent will contact their lawyer, if they have one. It is at this point that my involvement can become derailed.
J. Michael Bone, PhD.
Dr. Bone is an experienced consultant for cases involving Parental Alienation and has spent over 25 years working with high conflict divorce as a therapist, expert witness, mediator, evaluator and consultant, both nationally and internationally.