A wider welcome to ‘the alienation experience’

Welcome_PebbleStop press! … ‘the alienation experience’ blog is opening up for wider discussion. Make sure you visit and sign up for fresh posts on all aspects of the alienation experience. Use the guidelines in ‘About’ and below to submit your own thinking for the world to share here on this fast developing field. And of course you can still access the virtual version of the London Oct 2014 conference – click London 2014 at the top.

About ‘the alienation experience’ blog:

  • This blog “the alienation experience” is to serve and promote interest in an off-putting pattern of relationships that happens in family and other close groups of people.
  • We want to engage you if you are put off this topic. Read more on Not sure about?.
  • We want to support and broaden your range of thinking if you are already persuaded.
  • We welcome world-wide interest which we hope will particularly benefit us in the UK as we try to get our act together better.
  • Click to Follow the Blog with email links that you can easily control.

Where the blog began

This blog started as a virtual version of the presentations and discussions begun at a conference held on 25th Oct 2014 in London on Parental Alienation. Presenters and audience there were multi-disciplinary and included those affected. Click ‘London 2014’ in the menu to retrieve all of the posts about it. Here’s a brief report of the whole day. The organisers were mainly systemic family therapists – AFT London (AFT is the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK), working with the SSoPA group (Systemic Study of Parental Alienation). Systemic means that all relevant views and people are welcome!

What the blog is about

In the title of the blog, the word “alienation” is chosen – even though it is itself rather off-putting – because it is widely used for this pattern and so it cannot be avoided. The use of “the” means the pattern is real, difficult, and can be seriously harmful. And the word “experience” opens up a wider range of contexts to apply and adapt our thinking to (e.g. family courts and high conflict separations, family life in general, and therapy). “Experience” refers both to the experience of families affected, and to the experience of professionals who help. Peter Marsden-Allen came up with the idea of the more subjective “alienation experience” as some people struggle with PA’s rather concrete quality.

Alienation has many common meanings. For all meanings, the implication is that alienation is not good, that it is something to prevent or repair. This blog focuses on a more specific pattern: One person actively turns another person against a third person when there is no good reason for it – that is, where there had been and could be a good and safe relationship with that third person. Note that the alienation – the being turned away from – happens to the middle person, typically a child. However upset the other parties are in their plight, the favoured and rejected parents, it is the child in the middle who should be everyone’s primary concern.

The most severe and harmful form of the pattern is more accurately called Child Alienation. But the original name Parental Alienation has stuck and we have to use it too – sometimes with “Syndrome” added. This form is typically found in high conflict family separations and family courts. The pure form is distinct and rarer (say 1:100) than the picture of both sides throwing insults and allegations at each other with legal help in the family courts help (say 1:10). Another descriptive name used for the 1 in 10 high conflict cases that includes pure or hybrid alienation is  Children Who Resist Post-Separation Contact with a Parent.

In this blog, we encourage the use of capital letters e.g. “Alienation” to refer to the more serious end of the spectrum. Non-capitalised “alienation” is for other less specific contexts. Read more on the spectrum of meanings, ‘a’ ‘A’, here: Not sure about?.

Useful tips

Please comment (at the bottom of other posts) or submit a fresh post of your own. Your first comment will appear within hours – after we check that you’re genuine! – but after that, comments will appear straightaway.

Because fresh posts get notified to those interested (and comments don’t), please don’t be shy. Make your views into a post rather than just a comment. Good comments might be turned into fresh posts by us!

A new post shows the first 40 words on the front page. You may want to choose those first 40 words so they give the best preview of what your post will be like. A photo or image makes all the difference to attracting interest.

You can Follow the blog by clicking top right. You can then set your own preferences about email delivery – click on “manage” and “delivery settings”.

How to contribute

Thoughtful posts – comments and articles for “the alienation experience” – are welcome from anyone. But we will especially welcome thinking that is relevant to and helps us develop in a UK context. All first contributions will be moderated before being published.

The blog is managed and edited by: Nick Child with help from London conference colleagues. We will be seeking to build a wider team to help. The guiding principles for this blog can be found in the Contact us page. But you can also contact us here or just leave a Reply anywhere:


About Nick Child

Retired child and family shrink and family therapist living, working and playing in Edinburgh.

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