Therapist’s Role In Parental Alienation – Parental alienation is considered a form of emotional abuse and is a serious issue that must be addressed. It occurs when parents separate or divorce after having children and one parent turns the children and others against the other parent (referred to as the rejected parent) for unfounded reasons. This is done through emotional manipulation, withholding of communication and visitation, or false accusations. It is important to remember that the parent who is being alienated is being unfairly treated by the other parent, and accusations are baseless. Parental alienation does not include when children are withheld from a parent due to abuse or other legitimate safety concerns. The effects of going through parental alienation are pervasive for a child and can cause negative effects that persist well into adulthood.
Addressing Parental Alienation
At Horizon Plymouth, our qualified counsellors can work with both the children and parents involved in parental alienation situations to try to help mitigate the negative effects for the children, as well as attempt to improve the relationships and communication between all parties. Some of the ways that counsellors can work with those going through parental alienation include:
- Working with the rejected parent: Being the rejected parent can take a huge mental and emotional toll and is a devastating experience for these individuals. These parents can feel lonely, isolated, confused, and rejected. In certain cases, some professionals even compare being the rejected parent with experiencing the death of a child. Working with a counsellor can help the rejected parent to explore their feelings and find healthy coping strategies as they work through these difficult times.
- Working with the alienated parent: Often the parent who is alienating the other parent is unwilling to seek help or counselling. However, if they are willing, a counsellor can work with them on improving the parent relationships and promoting healthy outcomes for their child and former partner. Sometimes working with a counsellor as an unbiased party can be a valuable way for these parents to evaluate their actions and move forward in a heathier manner.
- Working with the children: Parental alienation takes such an incredibly long-lasting toll on the children involved, harming their ability to form meaningful relationships well into their adult lives. Counselling for these children can help to mitigate these negative effects and promote healing of the relationship between child and both parents.
Preventing Parental Alienation
Obviously, the most positive outcome for both children and parents is when strife between parents never escalates to the level of parental alienation at all. The therapists at Horizon Plymouth can help to reduce the likelihood that this will occur by working with both parties throughout the entire separation process to help improve outcomes and support communication between parents, as well as promote healthy interactions between parent and children.
In fact, working with a counsellor can potentially improve relationship outcomes in a number of situations between parents and children. When two parents know that they will be going through a separation, especially a separation that is not amicable, one of the most important prevention strategies is to begin counselling as soon as possible to promote beneficial outcomes throughout the process. Things that a counsellor could work with the family on to help prevent parental alienation include:
- Open communication
- Boundary setting
- Coping strategies
- Setting realistic expectations
- Navigating changing life roles after separation
If you or someone you know is going through a separation and you are worried about preventing or addressing potential parental alienation, our qualified team is here to help! Contact Horizon Plymouth to schedule your initial consultation today and start promoting healthy coping and relationship strategies today!