APA affirms that parental alienation is child abuse in the limited sense discussed herein

As of 2016, the American Psychological Association does, in net effect, say that parental alienation is child abuse and is as harmful as sexual abuse, in the limited sense discussed below, that they published a peer reviewed article in their own APA journal that says it is psychologically abusive to children, endorsed the underlying study with their namesake APA 2015 Forensic Journal, and the APA Council recommends that all parenting coordinators understand all the core components of parental alienation, while saying that child psychological abuse is as harmful as sexual abuse. See below.

To be sure, the 2008 APA Policy statement on parental alienation says that it has no official position and was officially approved by the APA Council of Representatives, but the APA has done several important things since then that contradict it and make this position untenable, meaning that in a limited sense and in net effect, the APA agrees that parental alienation is child abuse. By the legal principle of estoppel, which loosely translated means "you cannot have it both ways", the APA cannot logically say that they have no position on parental alienation, and then turn around and publish papers saying it is child abuse.

For the official APA policy to read that the has no official position despite all the items below, it may not be too far wrong to say that there is a mental health child abuse scandal. Read this 21 page eBook for an explanation of that perspective.
  1. In 2016, a petition entitled “New APA Position Statement: Some children are manipulated into rejecting a parent” triggered an APA review of its 2008 policy. APA CEO Dr. Belar noted in October 2016 that “The American Psychological Organization has received many messages about this issue and we are exploring the best way to address concerns which have been raised.” There have been periodic updates to the petition as the APA exploration continues. Then on July 10th 2017, the APA's Kim Mills, Senior Communications Advisor, was directed by the APA Board to say that a working group will be appointed.
  2. In 2015, in an APA Journal named Professional Psychology: Research and Practice:
    •  the APA peer reviewed and published a paper entitled Ten Parental Alienation Fallacies That Compromise Decisions in Court and in Therapy
    •  It cites two papers that say parental alienation is child abuse: "Based on their study of 1000 custody disputes, Clawar and Rivlin (2013) identify the favored parent’s programming as the primary dynamic behind a child’s alienation, and they regard such programming as psychologically abusive. Kelly and Johnston (2001) agree that the behaviors of the favored parent “constitute emotional abuse of the child” (p. 257)."
    •  The second study is later more clearly identified as Kelly, J. B., & Johnston, J. R. (2001). The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome. Family Court Review, 39, 249–26
    • These two references were used to support a major conclusion: there is a fallacy circulating out there that both parents are equally responsible for parental alienation. The author, Dr. Warshak, argues that no one argues that a spouse is responsible for being the recipient of domestic violence (abuse) from the other spouse, therefore, no one can argue that both parents are equally responsible for parental alienation (because it is child abuse).
    • For the APA to argue that parental alienation is NOT abusive, it would mean that their peer review process has problems.
    • The APA cannot really say "we published a peer reviewed paper in our own journal that says it is child abuse, but it is not child abuse"
    • Furthermore, Kelly and Johnson (2001) refer to parental alienation as a "clinical phenomenon".
  3. In 2015 APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology cites this same Kelly and Johnston 2001 paper 6 times, in Chapter 13:
    •  That is an endorsement for the paper from the APA's namesake psychology handbook.
    •  The APA cannot now argue that, oops, the paper we cited 6 times and quoted from extensively is all wrong.
    •  Further, since the price of the handbook as of 10/11/2016 is $395, evidently the APA believes it is an important book.
    • The quotations that 2015 APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology makes are:
      • About the child:
        • “The child’s complaints and allegations about the rejected parenting may reflect some true incident that has been grossly distorted and exaggerated, resulting in the child holding highly negative views and feelings without a reality based foundation that makes this a pathological response"
        • Children act as a “Greek chorus,”
        • “Rejection of that parent stridently and without apparent guilt or ambivalence. They also may strongly resist or completely refuse any contact with the rejected parent.”
      • About the alienator:
  • “Harbors a deep distrust and fear of the other parent.”
  • “Is absolutely convinced that the other parent is irrelevant and/or an evil influence on the child.”
  • "May use virtual allegations.”
  • “Views the rejected parent’s attempts to visit the child as harassment.”
  • “Does not pass along letters or phone messages from the other parent.”
  • “Strongly supports the child’s rights to make his or her own decisions about visiting the other parent.”
  • “Confirms for the child that the other parent is not worthy of the child’s attention.”
  • “Denigrates the erased parent in the child’s presence and the child is encouraged to point out the other parent’s faults.”
  • “Convinces the child that the other parent does not and has never loved or cared for the child.” T
  • “Joins with the child to tell stories about the other parent’s lack of care and love, demonstrating the other parent’s presumed lack of concern.”
4. In 2014, the APA issued a press release saying the "childhood psychological abuse as harmful as child sexual abuse."
  • There is growing awareness that people cannot just be fine with psychological abuse
  • The APA cannot say "no worries, it is only psychological abuse"
5. In 2013, Dr. Childress provided rigorous scientific criteria for when attachment-based parental alienation should be diagnosed as DSM-5 V995.51, based on approximately 60 references to the standard literature of psychology.

6. In 2013, the APA supported the creation of DSM-5, creating an official diagnosis for Child Psychological abuse, V995.51:
  • Again, this shows very appropriate increased awareness and concern about child psychological abuse
  • And under the diagnosis of parent-child relationship problem, DSM-5 notes the possibility of “negative attributions of the other’s intentions, hostility toward or scapegoating of the other, and unwarranted feelings of estrangement.”
  • In 2016, the relevant authors of DSM-5 wrote a technical paper to confirm that parental alienation is indeed in DSM-5, under child psychological abuse, child affected by parental relationship distress, and parent child relationship problem.
  • These guidelines were approved by the APA Council. They are official.
  •  If parental alienation is NOT abusive, then why do parenting coordinators have to understand refusal to visit parents AND personality disorders AND psychological abuse AND coercion AND intimidation? That is the very fabric of severe parental alienation.
  • Additional information is available for coercive and controlling parenting
8. In 2010, the APA's Dr. Silva criticized the study upon which the 2008 policy is based, saying it is “outdated” and in need of review , while declining to make it available.
  • There are also many additional problems.
  • It remains a mystery as to how the entire basis for the policy can dissolve without triggering a re-review of the policy
9. In 2010, Dr. Paul Fink, a former president of the APA, said “I do not deny that parental alienation occurs and that a lot of people are hurt when there is an alienator.”

10. At some point, the US Department of Justice provided significant confirmation by noting on its website that parental alienation is domestic violence because:
  • An organization that purports to actually be concerned about child abuse simply cannot have a policy that says we don't even care if you abuse children, we have no official policy, even though our namesake peer reviewed journal says parental alienation is child abuse. Again, no mental health organization can say "go ahead, abuse that child, we don't care, do what our journal says is child abuse"

It is simply not possible for the APA to deny that parental alienation is child abuse.  Otherwise, the APA would have to say:
  •  that it should never have published a paper in its flagship namesake journals saying that it is child abuse
  •  that ts peer review process fell far short
  •  the council was wrong on the parenting coordinator guidelines
  •  that its namesake Forensic Handbook should not have relied heavily on Kelly and Johnston 1981 because they were completely wrong
  •  the DoJ is wrong
  • that its statement is wrong about child abuse being a national emergency and that it's role is to provide psychological information about child abuse
  • that it doesn't care about it's former president admitting that it exists and that it is hurts a lot of people
  • that even though the APA itself criticizes the 2008 policy (see above), "that's our policy, go ahead and abuse children until and if we update the policy"
By the principle of estoppel, the APA cannot say in its peer reviewed journals that parental alienation is child abuse and then claim otherwise.

The events since 2008 mean that the APA is saying, in net effect, that parental alienation is child abuse, in the sense discussed above.

View six fully empirical, peer reviewed studies showing that parental alienation is child abuse.

Other worthwhile topics on this web site: