***I will be closing my practice in Melbourne, Australia at the end of 2015 and relocating to Queensland where I will commence PhD research into the social phenomenon of parental alienation***
Firstly, I have been heartened by the large number of congratulatory messages after having clocked over five years specialising in the field of parental alienation; specifically working with rejected/alienated parents to help them reconcile with their children and to reconcile with themselves.
There have been some successes in helping parents and children reconnect. The process of reunification and reconnection has focused my thinking about alienation in a social and especially in a relationship context for which I have developed a working model.
However I have also been engaged with the broader social question about the dialogues we have about alienation; more specifically the silenced and subjugated narratives about alienation as a socially constructed phenomenon.
This has led me to commence my PhD candidacy in 2016 to undertake social science research into the social phenomena of parental alienation. Consequently I am closing my practice here in Melbourne, Australia in order to move interstate to Queensland to commence my research.
This will be the third doctoral level research programme underway in Australia.
It will be some time before I can take on new clients. I give thanks to the trust in which so many people have placed in me to share their traumatic experiences. This has given me the confidence to propose my research program and I also thank the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for accepting my proposal.
I was moved in this direction through my experience and that of my clients’ of a silencing of the lived experience of rejected/alienated parents, the seeming indifference to the traumatic impact upon children of parental rejection by alienation and its misattribution as the sequel to family violence and high conflict. This leads to the ongoing trauma for rejected/alienated parents and their alienated children where social silence about alienation becomes social and legal denial and complicity in the abuse.
If the current Royal Commission into institutionalised child sexual abuse is any guide, we know that it is in silence that abuse occurs because silence confers implicit permission and power. The ultimate purpose of the Royal Commission is to break down this silence and ultimately to disempower the abusers and empower their victims. This shifts the social discourse about this type of abuse from being ‘okay’ to ‘not okay’.
It is remarkable that alienation is the ultimate abuse of power by a parent over a child and the child’s loved parent. Yet our society is complicit by the absence of the ‘not OK’ social dialogue!
Family violence is ‘not okay’, child abuse is ‘not okay’, drug and alcohol abuse is ‘not okay’, what about parental alienation? Where does society stand on that?
I have felt for a long time now that certainly here in Australia we are operating in a social vacuum about parental alienation, or parental rejection, whatever politically correct term you wish to give it.
This may have led us into the situation now where we have a bad case of the ‘tail wagging the dog’. We have a psycho-legal system that has captured the domain of social engineering without having a clear mandate from society do so. We have a family law system that is deciding the construct of our families based upon presumptions and paradigms that have not been socially validated.
The bottom line is that it is society which decides what sort of family systems, values and beliefs are best for children, families and society, it is society which decides whether it is ‘okay’ or ‘not okay’ for a child to reject a loving parent for absolutely no valid reason other than by the adverse influence of the other parent. The law follows social development, not the other way around!
The question is how to break the cycle of social complicity in alienation? This question has increasingly haunted me until I decided to undertake social science research into the social phenomena of parental alienation. The ultimate purpose for this research is to develop a discourse for alienation equal to the discourses we have about other forms of abuse.
This is the discourse where society gets to say that parental alienation is ‘not okay’, where rejected/alienated parents will no longer have to face the implicit social sanction that they are ‘not okay’ and where society takes a stand for alienated children and says rejecting a loved parent is ‘not okay’.
And if society says parental alienation is ‘not okay’ then the law has to follow.