Psychology Today, the APA and Parental Alienation

Psychology Today openly defines and discusses parental alienation (PA) — when a child refuses to have a relationship with a parent due to manipulation.

In addition, many articles by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. and Edward Kruk, Ph.D. take the topic head on acknowledging:

  • “Parental alienation is more common than is often assumed”
  • “scholarly consensus {is} that severe alienation is abusive”, and
  • “child welfare and divorce practitioners are often unaware of or minimize its extent”

The online articles tend to attract several comments in the vacuum of other reasonable, credible professional forums on the topic.


The APA has taken a very different stance on PA.  Way back in 2008, they issued a brief statement that there was not enough information on the subject.

Since then, the APA has been inconsistent publishing papers that refer to PA as abuse but without ever spearheading their official stance by clearly, publicly defining parental alienation.

Family Courts & Fatherlessness

Troubling research concerning family courts is coming to light. 

According to recent Pew Research, six in ten dads report spending too little time with their kids.  And one in five of that group reports the reason is because they don’t live with them.  That equates to one in eight fathers effectively blocked from their kids by their custody scenarios. 

Fatherless has been correlated to poverty, teen pregnancy, child abuse, substance abuse and incarceration.  Even school shootings are being tied to kids who grew up without fathers.

As a society we can’t afford to wait for yet another study to make the short, cognitive leap between blocked parents, PA and the horrible outcomes for kids, parents and society in general.

Courts are hogtied lacking professional recommendations to begin a reasonable path of training credible court professionals who can identify PA.  Only then can they protect children and parents alike.

The family courts are allowing PA – in part because they have no expertise in the matter.  And as a result, abuse is occurring in the courts. Horrible, destructive abuse.

Psychology Today

Psychology Today has done an awesome job of sticking their necks out when the APA has obviously dropped the ball.  I encourage Psychology Today to boldly take the next steps:

  • Create a small, national group of qualified psychologists to assist in educating the courts on PA  (Steve Miller, Craig Childress and Amy Baker come to mind for starters)
  • Openly define your mission and call out the APA as unable or unwilling to take on the task (if the APA picks up the ball or assists, we all win)
  • Create a recommended strategy for courts for training staff for identifying and navigating parental alienation scenarios

APA – Call to Action

The APA’s silent stance on PA is borderline criminal at this juncture (bad clinical reference intended).

Please take two minutes and report an ethical issue to the APA.  Point out that people are being abused in the family court systems as a direct result of no credible PA definition.  Cut and paste their own ethics general principles if necessary which include integrity, justice and respect for people’s rights.

There will be little justice in family courts until we can have reasonable open discussions about PA. Not people creating their own definitions on the fly or running around calling it pseudoscience.


PASG Parental alienation database:

APA Film festival

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