Please comment here or contact us with any more ideas that didn’t get properly shared in London. For example:
Points from the group Nick was in included the idea that you can treat “alienation” as a narrative that has got dominated by the main one that everyone and courts is backing.
PA and The Nuclear Family
We wondered about PA in various countries and cultures. PA is unlikely to be found much in more traditional cultures. In particular, perhaps PA develops where we think of family so totally dependent on two or one parent/s. If we think of the “old” extended family context – of how it takes a village to raise a child – then it seemed somehow less likely that the intense possessiveness towards a child could develop. Or at least a child would have a range of other family and friends around to support and moderate side-taking.
Sharing young children
Hamish ended the day – with no time to hear more – with a strong statement about the debate on whether babies and young children need to be mainly cared for by one parent (typically, the mother; but not necessarily), not divided between two when parents separate. He said that this theory had been shown to be unfounded. This would be an important discussion to find out about further here.
Implications for therapists with clients
Does learning about family patterns of alienation simplify or complicate our work with clients and families? A major lesson for therapists is to recognise how unaware therapy can merely add to the tribal conflict of a high conflict family case. Especially for systemic therapists – and all those other professions with a more explicit responsibility for the whole family (especially the children) – how do we both fully listen and value the client who comes in to tell their often highly stressed story as well as bear in mind other different or conflicting versions of the same situation or events?
OK maybe we should all be competent to manage that double track thinking – as long as we can ensure that our own assumptions are not ignorant. But what if one’s role or method is to keep space open for actually meeting or getting the other people and stories involved (as family therapists would normally do)? How do we meet, say, one separated client (or the child), take them seriously but also from early on explore and set up the reasons and possibility to contact and meet the other party who is in dispute with them? Could we share our thoughts, experience and advice here on this blog please?