Assessment, Diagnosis, Treatment

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) – as described in Foundations – is not a “theory” – it is diagnosis.

Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.  Diagnosis.

A foundational principle of clinical psychology is that assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment. 

The pathology typically described as “parental alienation” in the popular culture is an attachment-related pathology called pathological mourning (Bowlby, 1980), involving a cross-generational coalition of the child with one parent against the other parent (Haley, 1977; Minuchin, 1974), resulting in an emotionalcutoff in the child’s relationship with a normal-range and affectionally available parent (Bowen, 1978; Titelman, 2003).

In 1993 (twenty five years ago), the preeminent family systems therapist, Salvador Minuchin and his co-author Michael Nichols provided a structural family diagram on page 42 of their book, Family Healing, for this type of family pathology. 

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