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QLD Psychologists Board tries to hose down acceptance of Parental Alienation

The Australian Newspaper Article 07/04/08

The Australian newspaper
7 April 2008

Ruling debunks custody diagnosis
By Tony Koch

Child custody determinations in scores of Family Court decisions could be challenged following a ruling debunking parental alienation syndrome, a controversial diagnosis of the effects on a child when one parent denigrates the other.

The Psychologists Board of Queensland last month disciplined prominent Brisbane clinical psychologist William Wrigley, saying he had acted unprofessionally in giving evidence about parental alienation syndrome to the court.

An investigation found that Dr Wrigley's evidence three years ago, which had led to a mother losing custody of her two children, constituted "professional conduct that demonstrates incompetence or a lack of adequate knowledge, skill, judgment or care".

The Australian understands that Dr Wrigley has identified the syndrome as a factor in other cases to the Family Court. So have psychologists and psychiatrists throughout Australia.

The syndrome was diagnosed in 1985 by US clinical psychiatrist Richard Gardner, an advocate of a father's right to custody, even in cases where he had been accused of abuse. He argued that some parents who criticise other parents or step-parents in front of children were guilty of psychological abuse. Dr Gardner's theories remain highly controversial among psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, who claim they are simplistic or erroneous.

The complaint was lodged by the Brisbane mother who lost custody of her two children in 2005 when Family Court judge Neil Buckley determined, acknowledging the evidence of Dr Wrigley, that she had affected the children with the syndrome.

Justice Buckley said Dr Wrigley's reports provided a "comprehensive and balanced assessment" of all relevant issues.

"It has to be said that in terms of objectivity, professionalism, fairness and balance, his reports are in stark contrast to those provided by (other professionals)," he said.

The board advised Dr Wrigley on March 3 of its unanimous decision that he had "acted in a way that constituted unsatisfactory conduct" for "referring to an unrecognised syndrome in his reports".

"It was inappropriate for the registrant (Dr Wrigley) to either diagnose the children or state there was a likelihood the children could develop parental alienation syndrome, as it is not a recognised syndrome," it said.

"To diagnose a patient as suffering from or demonstrating a potential to develop an unrecognised syndrome is contrary to the code of ethics."

However, the board advised that details of the disciplinary action not be recorded on the public register because it was "not within the public interest".

The board told The Australian it was precluded by law from commenting on the disciplinary action taken against Dr Wrigley.

Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant last year posted on the family law court website a "fact sheet" about the syndrome, which said the malady was used in evidence, but warned that it was not accepted as "a psychiatric disease".

Chief Justice Bryant's notice cited several cases "where PAS has been rejected or not accepted as a concept".

The cited cases, with names excluded, included the controversial matter for which Dr Wrigley was disciplined by the psychologists board.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23495760-2702,00.html
Family report writers, for this very reason, refuse to use the phrase parental alienation. Instead, they use the term "alignment" which is more about who the child allies themself with (passive) rather than about what a parent has done to promote this behaviour (active).

With this in mind, I think it is important that there is a study or a focus on parents who persist in engaging in entrenched, one-sided, conflict and an analysis as to whether these individuals can be diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Normal court orders will have limited effect to alter the behaviour of the person who is a sufferer of a personality disorder.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Personally I agree with the family law courts statement that it is not a psychiatric illness, however it is a deliberate attempt to "alienate" the other parent involved in conflict. I'd also wager money on it that the perpetrator suffers from some sort of personality disorder.


When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
I don't know so much Jazdia when describing the Syndrome it is the child was has been mentally abused ( in some cases ) to the point where it effectively damages their outlook on their ID and that of the society around them this could indeed effect their whole life even after that parent has died.

I know of two or even more cases where the children are now adults and still strongly effected mentally and emotionally by events over 30 years prior, in one case the initiator is dead in the other case the initiator is still actively controlling.

So although it may be a Human made illness I would suggest it is on par with combat fatigue if not more debilitating for the victims.

QLD Psychologists Attack Parental Alienation (Syndrome) (PAS)

Anything to maintain the cookie-cutter-one-size-fits-all preference for maternal custody and father exclusion, to the detriment of the best interests, welfare and safety of children.
The Australian said
The Psychologists Board of Queensland last month disciplined prominent Brisbane clinical psychologist William Wrigley, saying he had acted unprofessionally in giving evidence about parental alienation syndrome (PAS) to the court. An investigation found that Dr Wrigley's evidence three years ago, which had led to a mother losing custody of her two children, constituted "professional conduct that demonstrates incompetence or a lack of adequate knowledge, skill, judgment or care".
Consider carefully before you use the term PAS in an Australian family law court; especially using the word "syndrome".  Better perhaps to talk about "brainwashing", "extreme alignment" or just "parental alienation".
The Australian said
The complaint was lodged by the Brisbane mother who lost custody of her two children in 2005 when Family Court judge Neil Buckley determined, acknowledging the evidence of Dr Wrigley, that she had affected the children with the syndrome.
Something for fathers to consider: Taking action, and following it through, as this mother did, often achieves more than simply complaining to friends in forums.  Sometimes we have to make the effort to work through the process and paperwork; rather than throwing our hands in the air and saying things like "it's all too much" or "it's not my thing".
The Australian
7 April 2008

Ruling debunks custody diagnosis
By Tony Koch

Child custody determinations in scores of Family Court decisions could be challenged following a ruling debunking parental alienation syndrome, a controversial diagnosis of the effects on a child when one parent denigrates the other.

The Psychologists Board of Queensland last month disciplined prominent Brisbane clinical psychologist William Wrigley, saying he had acted unprofessionally in giving evidence about parental alienation syndrome to the court.

An investigation found that Dr Wrigley's evidence three years ago, which had led to a mother losing custody of her two children, constituted "professional conduct that demonstrates incompetence or a lack of adequate knowledge, skill, judgment or care".

The Australian understands that Dr Wrigley has identified the syndrome as a factor in other cases to the Family Court. So have psychologists and psychiatrists throughout Australia.

The syndrome was diagnosed in 1985 by US clinical psychiatrist Richard Gardner, an advocate of a father's right to custody, even in cases where he had been accused of abuse. He argued that some parents who criticise other parents or step-parents in front of children were guilty of psychological abuse. Dr Gardner's theories remain highly controversial among psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, who claim they are simplistic or erroneous.

The complaint was lodged by the Brisbane mother who lost custody of her two children in 2005 when Family Court judge Neil Buckley determined, acknowledging the evidence of Dr Wrigley, that she had affected the children with the syndrome.

Justice Buckley said Dr Wrigley's reports provided a "comprehensive and balanced assessment" of all relevant issues.

"It has to be said that in terms of objectivity, professionalism, fairness and balance, his reports are in stark contrast to those provided by (other professionals)," he said.

The board advised Dr Wrigley on March 3 of its unanimous decision that he had "acted in a way that constituted unsatisfactory conduct" for "referring to an unrecognised syndrome in his reports".

"It was inappropriate for the registrant (Dr Wrigley) to either diagnose the children or state there was a likelihood the children could develop parental alienation syndrome, as it is not a recognised syndrome," it said.

"To diagnose a patient as suffering from or demonstrating a potential to develop an unrecognised syndrome is contrary to the code of ethics."

However, the board advised that details of the disciplinary action not be recorded on the public register because it was "not within the public interest".

The board told The Australian it was precluded by law from commenting on the disciplinary action taken against Dr Wrigley.

Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant last year posted on the family law court website a "fact sheet" about the syndrome, which said the malady was used in evidence, but warned that it was not accepted as "a psychiatric disease".

Chief Justice Bryant's notice cited several cases "where PAS has been rejected or not accepted as a concept".

The cited cases, with names excluded, included the controversial matter for which Dr Wrigley was disciplined by the psychologists board.

Probably not sufficient grounds for a successful appeal

While Dr Wrigley may have been to be unprofessional for mentioning PAS (The syndrome) in the FCoA, a Judicial officer is supposed to consider all the evidence. While Dr Wrgley may have described a range of behaviours as PAS, it is more likely it was the behaviours that convinced the Judge to take the children off the mother.

In reality, PAS has not been an accepted term in Australian Courts for a long time. That doesn't mean the courts won't make tough decisions where it becomes obvious a parent is damaging a childs relationship with the other parent.

Put another way, the prefered term is alignment! If a child becomes aligned with one parent because of constuctive behaviours, this is normal relationships. But where the behaviors leading to the alignment are destructive, then it is likely the child will suffer. long term consequences.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!

FLA Section 60CC (c)

The best way to deal with alienation is not to mention PAS but to address the underlying issues, per relevant legislation (Section 60CC of the FLA), in an affidavit application to the court outlining the facts re the Act, specifically:

FLA Sections 60CC (3c) "the willingness and ability of each of the child's parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent;
FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 60CC said
How a court determines what is in a child's best interests

Determining child's best interests

(1) Subject to subsection (5), in determining what is in the child's best interests, the court must consider the matters set out in subsections (2) and (3).

Primary considerations

(2) The primary considerations are:

a) the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child's parents; and

b) the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

Note: Making these considerations the primary ones is consistent with the objects of this Part set out in paragraphs 60B(1)(a) and (b).

Additional considerations

(3) Additional considerations are:

a) any views expressed by the child and any factors (such as the child's maturity or level of understanding) that the court thinks are relevant to the weight it should give to the child's views;

b) the nature of the relationship of the child with:

(i) each of the child's parents; and

(ii) other persons (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);

c) the willingness and ability of each of the child's parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent;

d) the likely effect of any changes in the child's circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from:

(i) either of his or her parents; or

(ii) any other child, or other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child), with whom he or she has been living;

e) the practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent and whether that difficulty or expense will substantially affect the child's right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis;

f) the capacity of:

(i) each of the child's parents; and

(ii) any other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);

to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs;

g) the maturity, sex, lifestyle and background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child's parents, and any other characteristics of the child that the court thinks are relevant;

h) if the child is an Aboriginal child or a Torres Strait Islander child:

i) the child's right to enjoy his or her Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture (including the right to enjoy that culture with other people who share that culture); and

(ii) the likely impact any proposed parenting order under this Part will have on that right;

(i) the attitude to the child, and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the child's parents;

j) any family violence involving the child or a member of the child's family;

k) any family violence order that applies to the child or a member of the child's family, if:

i) the order is a final order; or

ii) the making of the order was contested by a person;

l) whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to the institution of further proceedings in relation to the child;

m) any other fact or circumstance that the court thinks is relevant.

(4) Without limiting paragraphs (3c) and (i), the court must consider the extent to which each of the child's parents has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, his or her responsibilities as a parent and, in particular, the extent to which each of the child's parents:

a) has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity:

(i) to participate in making decisions about major long-term issues in relation to the child; and

(ii) to spend time with the child; and

(iii) to communicate with the child; and

b) has facilitated, or failed to facilitate, the other parent:

(i) participating in making decisions about major long‑term issues in relation to the child; and

(ii) spending time with the child; and

(iii) communicating with the child; and

c) has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, the parent's obligation to maintain the child.

(4A) If the child's parents have separated, the court must, in applying subsection (4), have regard, in particular, to events that have happened, and circumstances that have existed, since the separation occurred.

Consent orders

(5) If the court is considering whether to make an order with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings, the court may, but is not required to, have regard to all or any of the matters set out in subsection (2) or (3).

Right to enjoy Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture

(6) For the purposes of paragraph (3)(h), an Aboriginal child's or a Torres Strait Islander child's right to enjoy his or her Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture includes the right:

a) to maintain a connection with that culture; and

b) to have the support, opportunity and encouragement necessary:

(i) to explore the full extent of that culture, consistent with the child's age and developmental level and the child's views; and

(ii) to develop a positive appreciation of that culture.

pa

Parental alienation vs alignment … same, same, NO, DEFINITELY NOT.

I am hearing "don't call it PA, they now call it alignment".

Whilst the courts do not take to pas for various reasons they are open to what the bad parent is doing and how it is effecting the kids.

Whether we call it "alignment" or "Parental alienation" does matter in that the act of parental alienation leads to alignment and that is real as many here know, we should not give in to one case where the term alignment was used rather than parental alienation, they are in fact two different things, even as linked as they may be.

I feel it is very important that we all identify (parties, xperts, legals and courts included) properly as to what is going on with parental alienation, IT IS CHILD ABUSE, alignment is JUST ONE OF the results, and that we do not allowourselves to go soft because of the outcome or content of one or two cases infavouring the term alignment over PA.

Forget "politically correct" and call it for what it is, parental alienation/child abuse.

Having gone through 5 years of it now and talking to many, many, many others that have also and are still going through it, no "soft" term is going to do it for me.
Personally I think Alignment covers a multitude of sins that can be clustered under one umbrella.

Lets face it a child can align with a parent where the relationship is healthy and productive, it would not be the first time I've heard of children aligning them self with one of the parents because the enviroment in the other is dysfunctional.

No love is lost but they simply feel safer in the productive enviroment for many varied reasons.

There are many variations of this increasing in strengths to the point where various conditions are forced upon children until abuse is inflicted.

One party may well feel it is acceptable to use guilt and fear to align the children to them, the child is exposed to guilt for enjoying the time with one parent then again followed up with the guilt enforced on them for leaving the parent whom is making them feel guilt to heighten the impact words to the effect of " You like them better and I bet you wish you could live with them maybe I should just let you " impact on the fear of the child that they will lose this parents love.

Yet the above is not what I would consider P.A.S. yet fits into alignment.

I agree Aussie alignment down grades the stigma of P.A. and S.

If you get the opportunity to listen to someone who has suffered hard core P.A.S. take the time to listen to the depravity they and the children have been put through and you will also have the same opinion about the word Alignment.

Agree with D4E re: term alignment with regard to PAS.  Brainwashing is much closer to the truth.  My best mate suffered this and even though she has learned the truth of the circumstances surrounding her parents' divorce when she grew older, she admits that many years later she still gets irrationally angry with the parent who was the victim of the 'alignment' and the emotional fallout has affected her self esteem and entire life.
The trouble is that if you bandy that term around this site, someone will blurt it out in a family report. That would not be very good.

You can talk about all the negative, entrenched behaviours. You can talk about alignment.

It pays to practice the right terminology.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Totally agree Artemis in regards to the terminology that is neccessary in court and the importance to those who are proceeding through the court system need to recognize that the correct terminology must be used in regards to any legal references.

But

Surely with this being mentioned to all in regards legal proceedings a healthy discussion as to the relevance and importance of recognizing the differing variations of abuse that exists will help those effected determine how to best counter such problems.

If we decide to just do as we are being ask and disperse everything into one heading as alignment then it effectively diminishes such afflictions into becoming lost.

This would be akin to turning your back on history and stating " It did not happen ", we may understand that the correct terminology is " Alignment " because somebody is prepared to close their eye's, block their ears and chant " you don't exist ".

Adaption should be made to accommodate the legal process but I'm not sure that anyone should be ask to change a belief that is held. History is filled with cases of people remaining adamant about a belief that eventually has been accepted.

The term may not be acceptable in legal format but it will always be a term to distinguish it's victims due to it's severe consequences.
   
I do not have to agree with the term of Parent Alienation not being part of legal terminology but I accept the use of it will be extremely negatively viewed.

And this is what makes it important to use the term Alignment in all aspects of terminology.
PA and PAS are totally different.

PA is an acronym for Parental Alienation and PAS is an acronym for Parental Alienation Syndrome. It is easy to see why they are confused.

Parental Alienation (PA) is a catch phrase to explain a situation where one parent alienates the other parent from the child's association. This is an understood and accepted situation that is recognized by the FCA.

Alignment seems to be a new term that is being used because there is so much confusion between PA and PAS.

PAS (as far as I am aware) is registered into the American DSM IV making it a diagnosable psychological condition that appears not to be accepted in the FCA.

PAS is a condition of the child as a result of the parents behavior. PA is descriptor of the parents behavior only.

When I hear a very young child say such things as "I don't like daddy because he does not pay enough money to mum", I can only believe that the condition described as PAS does exist in some situations.

I do however agree that if the FCA does not accept PAS as a diagnosed condition then it should be presented as a collection symptoms.

For example - the [parent]'s denigration of the [other parent] has resulted in the child falsely believing that the [other parent] is deficient in [his/her] parenting role and is now reluctant to have association with [other parent].

These things are very harmful to children so don't be afraid to raise the issue. Just don't use the term PAS and remember PA is accepted.

Most importantly, don't confuse PA with PAS.

Last edit: by NewMember

While Australia court do not acknowledge the term PAS the effect on a child is the same.  I do believe there is a term the court will understand, that term is mental abuse.  In a letter I am drafting to the other party lawyer I will use the term PA.  I have read about PAS and most of the behavior are observable in my boys.  What ever it might be called PA / PAS / abuse the damage on a child is real.
I'm afraid that I'll stick with the badges on this one in regards as to the descriptor that best suits court.

Alignment

Artemis and oneadadc have the inside run on this and I agree with the point of what is best to use in court. My main point was that we shouldn't forget about P.A.S. because of the reality of it's existence, discussing it and debating things may well help those who are being effected by it find support. In a few cases that I've been involved discussing with people they have said they had not realized that P.A. and P.A.S. was what was being inflicted on them and they now had a better understanding which help them make positive moves forwards.

At no time would I, have I or will I use the phrase Parent Alienation in a legal document, mainly because of the resistance caused by the term P.A.S. when looking at legal battles you have to make compromises so the machine is well oiled, if you use terms that create friction the by product id heat.

I may be pro the existence of P.A.S. but I will always oil the wheels to my advantage.

The same issues can be addressed with simple word plays relating to the issues but direct assimilation with the use of P.A.S. and even in some cases P.A. will have a negative effect.

So to benefit ones case it's essential that we all follow the advice of those who have been there done that and use alignment on paper and keep the debate left on the portal/forum.

 

 

Do this at your peril

newguy said
While Australia court do not acknowledge the term PAS the effect on a child is the same.  I do believe there is a term the court will understand, that term is mental abuse.  In a letter I am drafting to the other party lawyer I will use the term PA.  I have read about PAS and most of the behavior are observable in my boys.  What ever it might be called PA / PAS / abuse the damage on a child is real.

Do this and your ex-partner's solicitor will be rubbing their hands together with glee.

You need to talk about entrenched, negative behaviour and illustrate that behaviour (making sure you have EVIDENCE).

Also, consider - if negative attitudes are a main plank of your case… do you want to telegraph this to the solicitor?

If you want a particular behaviour to stop, state the behaviour and ask for it to stop as it is detrimental (on whatever basis) to the child.
Be very, very careful in how you come across in the letter. You may appear to be denigrating the mother. This will be used against you in court later on.

Monster, you are on the right track.

If the example is: Mum not allowing phone calls (and they are ordered) or mum allowing phone call to end very early…

Letter to solicitor should say:

on xx/xx/xx at xxxxpm I attempted a phone call with my child/ren. This was not possible because x,y,z.
Please explain to your client their obligations of facilitation under the family law act, as the "lives with" parent.

I look forward to the behaviour improving and being able to speak with my child/ren.

If this continues to be a repeated thing, then you can list all of the dates and suggest that your only recourse will be to run a contravention.

A particular judgement relates to this called the "folded arms" judgement.
"Lives with" parents have onerous obligations placed on them to keep the other parent in the child's life, as it is good for the child.
The legal reference escapes me now, but must be referred to if you intend to run a contravention.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
you don't have to point out to the mothers solicitor in a letter that she is not facilitating the relationship if you are going to court . let her shoot herself in the foot because she should know not to do that, if anything you can help her case because it is easier for her to amend her behaviour, sometimes its better to let person act in a certain way for a long time and get evidence that they are hostile or having a negative impact on the kids. you cant argue that she is doing that if she amends her behaviour by the time you get to court because you are helping her lawyer run her case. .

Last edit: by monster


Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
It's a balance. If you want to show yourself as the more insightful parent, you need to identify the really bad behaviours and ask for them to stop.

I'm not just talking about "Mum says dad doesn't pay child support".

I'm talking about the really full on stuff, like a child refusing to call the child "Dad" etc.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I found it was very important that I made sure of an discussion I was going to have with the x or her lawyer, both were adversarial and both used and attempted to create flash points to entrap myself into conflict.

If you can avoid these by carefully placed words it can not be used negatively against you but it means being on constant guard.

This is one reason I was greatfull for proof readers of my letters it's hard to remain neutral and keep emotions out. When you know a catch phrase it's hard not to reference it with negative implications, you are basically accusing this person of being akin to the most negative side of the condition and that can be considered a put down, realistically you may be right but you are not in a position to adhere this to the person.

Better to let your evidence do the talking and your words lend to the evidence.

The above is simply my perception of how things went for me so other input may clarify better techniques.

 

alignment

Alignment (as i understand the word to mean) can happen because of a number of reasons without pa even being present and that is what makes the two very different, pa is a deliberateact on behalf of a bad parent, alignment is a result and not always as a result of PA.

Don't back down from reality on this, if those that fought for change in the FLA backed down as easily we would not have got the chages we did, we actually should be fighting to have the term pa [not pas] recognised, and not be in acceptance of a white wash.

I aggree with stay right away from the term pas, the courts don't like it and we "normal" people are not qualified to make such a statement, describe what is happening and let the experts diagnose and report, this is the only chance we have in that regard.

Your right about the evidence D4E, get it and corrobarate it if possible, then present it in a civil manner.
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