A get together about not wanting to get together

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 13.42.36There are many organisations called Wellspring. One of these is a long-established charitable psychotherapy and counselling organisation based in Edinburgh. They have an annual lecture open to a a wide range of interest. This year they were keen to innovate from their usual lecture format.

The Wellspring Board and I have had fun developing a more innovative interactive kind of event on Friday evening, 30th October under the title:

Alienation: a get together about not wanting to get together

If you’re interested and can get to Edinburgh, you can find more information below and on the Wellspring website. And you can book online on the Queens Hall website.

Now, the one thing I do NOT aim to present then is the field of Child and Parental Alienation itself (PA)!  That will remain ‘in the wings’ on that occasion.

Instead it will be more like an exercise in paving the way for a broader professional audience who are not engaged with PA yet. I will be exploring related ideas and work that they are already familiar with, things that will be useful to them in their own work anyway. Some of the words we use around PA (e.g. alienation, narcissism, attachment) overlap with their use in psychoanalytical thinking.

Engaging a wider audience

I hope that the event reduces any of this wider audience’s possible allergy to the idea of Alienation. The event and preparing for it are part of my pet strategy based on the idea that Alienation is not some weird thing that most people steer clear of. It is an entirely expectable pattern at one end of all kinds of the normal range of family relationships.

Of course I do hope that afterwards people will want to read more about Parental Child Alienation. They will all have the link to my concise comprehensive overview of PA: http://tinyURL.com/NickChildPA. And to this blog too.

So this Wellspring event is more my work in progress to develop and share broader thinking that shows that PA is a very expectable pattern within familiar experience of all kinds of normal, troubled and changing relationships. PA is not some weird unbelievable thing. For October, I am preparing to look at aspects of the wider field of attachments, relationships, changing or broken loyalties, all of which make the occurrence of PA  absolutely no surprise to any of us.

More of the blurb

Here’s a shorter blurb for the event that describes what I hope to think through with those who come:

“… We are all drawn to some things but put off others. We feel affiliated here, but cannae be doin’ wi’ they folk over there. Love some, lose others … and keep the gap please. But bridging gaps is what helping professionals and academics often hope to do.  This workshop seeks not to overcome off-putting relationships but to befriend them. The aim is to enjoy and explore our tribe-choosing and gap experiences without deep analysis on either side, without trying to bridge the differences. There will be an easy interactive structure – Nick talks for a bit, then you’ll talk among yourselves for a bit, and so on.

Nick hopes to cover some of the following topics:

  • how we get together with one career and preferred modality rather than another;
  • several spectrums of close and distant relationships;
  • the vicissitudes of attachment;
  • the use and abuse of labels;
  • patterns of simple distance-keeping, estrangement or alienation; and
  • more active patterns of three-party Alienation (ie when one party turns a second against a third in a lasting way for no good reason). …”

See some of you there! … And if not, I’m sure I will be writing it all up somewhere, maybe on this blog even!

Nick Child, Edinburgh

About Nick Child

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


  1. Here’s the ‘get-together’ programme inside and out. (Click past Dropbox’s pop up box).


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