I’ve been working on a case for the past several hours. It’s a new case and I’m reviewing documents at the request of the attorney. I want to pass on some information to parents generally about the quality of mental health services you are receiving.
The most useful information for me to review are reports by other mental health professionals. Here is some feedback about their reports:
1. They are ignorant and don’t know what they are doing. They are saying things in these reports that they simply say… they are NOT based on any knowledge in clinical psychology, and in fact, they are often exactly the wrong things – false things – and harmful things.
2. They do not do an adequate assessment of pathology. On a scale of 1 to 100 for quality of assessment, most professional reports I read for your families are at about 10 to 25. I would expect standard of practice from an intern to be at 75. So these are substantially deficient assessments. Even the custody evaluations; most custody evaluations I read are in the 5 to 10 range of clinical psychology assessment of the family functioning and family pathology.
3. There is rarely a diagnosis (almost never). There is never a treatment plan. Often the implied “treatment plan” is exactly the wrong thing to do. These professional failures are especially problematic since assessment leads to diagnosis and diagnosis guides treatment. An inadequate assessment leads to misdiagnosis; misdiagnosis leads to an ineffective treatment plan. That is what is happening with your families.
4. Most of the mental health reports I read are, in my opinion, beneath professional standards of practice and I would not accept them from an intern I supervised. If an intern submitted one of these reports to me, I’d likely pull patient contact for the intern and begin a program of remediation before patient contact is restored.
I am stone-cold serious – I have supervised intern and post-doctoral fellows at Children’s Hospital of Orange County where I was on medical staff as a pediatric psychologist, and I supervised interns in their APA accredited internship. I also supervised interns and post-docs at my clinic where I was Clinical Director, a three-university collaboration with the Department of Chidlren’s Services and the county Department of Mental Health for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children in the foster care system.
I know standards of professional practice in the real world.
I’m not a “forensic”, court-involved, “parental alienation”, world psychologist. I am a real world ADHD, school-based, attachment trauma, foster care system clinical psychologist who has supervised interns and post-docs. If an intern gave me a report like the ones I’m reviewing for your families, I would pull patient contact and begin a program of remediation.
Professional establishment psychology… listen to what Dr. Childress – a real-world clinical psychologist is saying… I would pull patient contact and begin a program of remediation based on the reports I am – consistently – reading.
APA… since June of 2018 you are clearly aware of the problem. You need to act to support Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code. What is occurring the in the field of court-involved psychology is severely problematic – in violation of professional ethics codes and professional standards of practice. It is rampant and unchecked… and the lives of children and families are being destroyed.
To my professional “colleagues”… If you believe your ignorance will not be exposed, and if you think you will not be held accountable… you are incorrect.
To parents… begin shifting your terminology. There are two phrases I want you to start using instead of “parental alienation.” The construct of “parental alienation” has two parts, the bad-parenting part, and the child-rejection part. I want you to begin using two phases, one for each part.
Bad-Parenting: For the bad-parenting part, use the term “cross-generational coalition” – this is the family systems therapy term for the parent manipulating the child. They have formed a “coalition” against you – a “cross-generational coalition” (Minuchin; Haley; Madanes).
Child-Rejection: For the child-rejection part, use the term “emotional cutoff” – this is the family systems term for a child rejecting a parent (or any family member rejecting any other family member).
Bowen Family Therapy:
So… what your (ignorant) mental health people need to assess with your children and in your families are two things…
1. Is there a “cross-generational coalition” of the child with your ex-spouse?
2. Is there an “emotional cutoff” in the child’s relationship with you?
Two things… 1) the bad parenting part (the coalition), and 2) the result, the rejection (emotional cutoff) part.
Asking the mental health person to answer these two questions will require them to know what these terms mean. That would be a good thing, for the mental health people working with your children and families to know something about families. That’s a start.
But there is a saying, “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing, it just frustrates you and annoys the pig.”
Whenever you begin working with a mental health professional, ask for a copy of their vitae. On the current case I’m working on today, I am going to ask the attorney to get me a copy of the mental health person’s vitae. That’s the first step.
A professional level description of your families should include constructs from family systems therapy (cross-generational coalition, triangulation, and emotional cutoff), from attachment (insecure attachment features; grief and loss; breach-and-repair), and from complex trauma (absence of empathy; inter-generational transmission of attachment trauma through personality disorder features, such as “splitting” – as defined through the DSM-5).
None of your reports do. They include no analysis using any constructs or principles of professional psychology. You might as well ask the kid serving you your McDonald’s fries what to do. Seriously. They are stone-cold ignorant. I read their reports.
Finally… let me say this one more time to be entirely clear…. if one of these reports came to me from an intern, I would pull patient contact and begin a process of remediation for the intern. The professional services you are receiving are substantially below professional standards of practice for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857
A former clinical supervisor, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, APA accredited doctoral internship program.