Children Who Resist Post-Separation Parental Contact: A Differential Approach for Legal and Mental Health Professionals
Interest in the problem of children who resist contact with or become alienated from a parent after separation or divorce is growing, due in part to parents' increasing frustrations with the apparent ineffectiveness of the legal system in handling these unique cases. There is a need for legal and mental health professionals to improve their understanding of, and response to, this polarizing social dynamic. Children Who Resist Post-Separation Parental Contact is a critical, empirically based review of parental alienation that integrates the best research evidence with clinical insight from interviews with leading scholars and practitioners. The authors - Fidler, Bala, and Saini - a psychologist, a lawyer and a social worker, are an multidisciplinary team who draw upon the growing body of mental health and legal literature to summarize the historical development and controversies surrounding the concept of "alienation" and explain the causes, dynamics, and differentiation of various types of parent-child relationship issues. The authors review research on prevalence, risk factors, indicators, assessment, and measurement to form a conceptual integration of multiple factors relevant to the etiology and maintenance of the problem of strained parent-child relationships. A differential approach to assessment and intervention is provided. Children's rights, the role of their wishes and preferences in legal proceedings, and the short- and long-term impact of parental alienation are also discussed. Considering legal, clinical, prevention, and intervention strategies, and concluding with recommendations for practice, research, and policy, this book is a much-needed resource for mental health professionals, judges, family lawyers, child protection workers, mediators, and others who work with families dealing with divorce, separation, and child custody issues.
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