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Parental Alienation: Understanding, assessment, and intervention for children and families

20 October 2016 10:30 am - 5:30 pm
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Parental Alienation refers to a child’s rejection of, or resistance to, contact with a parent, and often that parent’s family and friends, which seems unwarranted based on the child’s actual experience of that parent. This is most usually accompanied by an intense alignment with the other parent.

Alienation most usually occurs within the dynamics of high conflict family breakdown. Although the symptoms may be apparent in the child, alienation is a systemic issue and requires a tailored systemic response based on a thorough, holistic assessment and formulation of each case.

Repercussions for the child can be chronic, with evidence of impaired social function, poor mental health, enduring relationship issues and damaged sense of self. Alienated children may display anger, withdrawal, aggression, defiance, rigidity and school refusal at a level that is higher than those children who maintain a relationship with both parents. Depression, anxiety, somatic complaints and sleep disturbance have also been identified.

Alienation is best tackled with early intervention, as when entrenched it is particularly resistant to change, leaving the child at risk of significant psychological, behavioural and social difficulties throughout their life course.

Target audience 

This workshop will be of benefit to any practitioner who regularly works with children, adults or families, and of particular benefit to practitioners working in primary and secondary mental health services for children and adults, educational settings and independent practice.

This workshop will also be of benefit to any practitioner who provides psychological therapies or support to adults, children or families, as well as those practitioners working in child and family social care.

BPS London Office
30 Tabernacle Street

Event Location: 

  • An overview of the global research and evidence base related to parental alienation
  • The identification of risk factors and alienating behaviours in children, parents and families
  • The differentiation between justifiable estrangement and parental alienation
  • A consideration of assessment strategies
  • A consideration of appropriate, tailored, evidence based interventions

This workshop aims to:

  • raise awareness of the key indicators, risk factors , behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with a child’s unwarranted rejection of a parent
  • enable practitioners to identify the alienation dynamic in non-specific clinical settings
  • outline tools for assessment 
  • consider appropriate evidence based interventions

Dr Sue Whitcombe, CPsychol, is Director and Principal Psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company which works with families experiencing difficulties due to conflict and hostility, and has provided expert opinion in complex private family law cases in which parental alienation is considered to be a factor.

Clinically, she provides assessment and tailored, evidence-based interventions for children, adults, couples and families experiencing a range of issues arising out of relationship difficulties.

She is developing collaborative provision in the North East of England for families who ordinarily would be unable to access services, and has lectured at Teesside University.

Her research into parental alienation has been disseminated at a number of conferences and she has published several peer-reviewed papers in this area.

Sue is also a member of the international Parental Alienation Study Group – an interdisciplinary group of mental health, legal and social care practitioners and academics.

Non-Members £158 (£131.67 + VAT)
Affiliate Subscribers £119 (£99.16 + VAT)
Society Members £99 (£82.50 + VAT)
Cognitive Section Members £82 (£68.33 + VAT)
Education Section Members £82 (£68.33 + VAT)

Please note: online bookings will close on 19 October 2016.

Please call +44 (0)1952 214065 for availability after this point.

To pay by cheque or request an invoice complete and return the registration form below.

Please note that we are only able to accept invoice requests at least 6 weeks before the event date.


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