What do you do if you’re the targeted parent?
1. Don’t destabilize
You are the healthier parent. You are the protective parent. Don’t rely on the mental health system to see the nature of the problem. You have no support.
You will need to generate the support you need. You are the leader of this family. The child has chosen you for that leadership position by giving you the problem to solve – because the child knows you can solve it.
The family is transitioning from its prior intact family structure to a new separated family structure. The intact family was united by the marriage. The separated family is united by the child’s bonds to both parents.
Divorce ends the marriage, not the family. There will always be a family as long as there is a child.
You will need to take leadership for the family’s transition into a healthy and normal-range separated family following divorce. You are the healthier parent. You are the protective parent.
This is child abuse, we must protect the child. We need you for leadership in that. We then need to generate the professional support you need to protect your child.
2. Don’t Trust Professional Psychology
You must become an informed consumer of mental health services. This is too important for you to be ignorant, lazy, or overwhelmed in your anxieties.
You must understand what is happening at a professional level of understanding. You should NEVER have to explain pathology to a doctor, they should be explaining it to you… but that’s not the case in the family courts with “forensic” psychologists.
That’s an indication of the extraordinarily low quality of the professional services in the family courts when patients are explaining the pathology to the doctors – but that’s what needs to happen because that’s the state of the current situation.
You must work in the broken systems, fixing them, making them work properly. You have everything you need – they are simply not motivated. Holding them accountable to Standards 2.04, 2.01, and 9.01, of the APA ethics code and for their failure in their duty to protect obligations will potentially help them find their motivation.
All mental health professionals have duty to protect obligations. This is child abuse – Child Psychological Abuse DSM-5 V995.51. This is spousal psychological abuse using the child as the weapon – Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological DSM-5 V995.82.
Don’t destabilize. Become an informed consumer of mental health services.
3. You want a treatment plan to fix things
This is the WORST possible attachment pathology. The attachment system is the love-and-bonding system of the brain. It is a primary motivational system of the brain developing its patterns for love and bonding during childhood.
There is no worse attachment pathology than a complete breach in the parent-child attachment bond, that is as bad as attachment pathology gets. We need to fix it.
We need a treatment plan to fix it.
Google mental health treatment plans and read the top two returns. Read WikiHow Mental Health Treatment Plans. Become an informed consumer of mental health services.
Know what you should be receiving so you know what you aren’t receiving. You want a treatment plan to fix things.
For that you’ll need an accurate diagnosis for what the problem (pathology) is. The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.
You may need to point that out to the ignorant, incompetent, and unethical forensic psychologists – that the treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes when they tell you that they “don’t diagnose” pathology.
Then how do you know what to do if you don’t even know what the problem is?
These two sentences mean exactly the same thing, you can use the language interchangeably.
We must first diagnose what the pathology is before we know how to treat it. We must first identify what the problem is before we know how to fix it.
Diagnosis = identify
Pathology = problem
Treatment = fix it
You have a problem. You need to fix it. You want a treatment plan from the mental health professionals to fix the problem. They will first need to identify what that problem is before they can understand how to fix the problem… is it cancer or diabetes?
There are two possibilities. You may need to explain that to the doctor. Either you are causing the problem – OR – the other parent is causing the problem.
Patients educating the doctor about the pathology should NEVER happen… but it needs to happen here because you need to protect your child and the mental health system in the family courts is entirely dysfunctional.
See 2 – don’t trust the mental health system.
4. Find your allies
There are excellent mental health professionals. I’ve worked with them my entire life. They are in clinical psychology working with every other pathology except here in the family courts.
Here in the family courts, you’re the fiefdom of “forensic” psychology and they are the worst imaginable. They are simply here for your money, they solve nothing.
You do not want a forensic custody evaluation. You want a clinical diagnostic assessment.
You will need to go to clinical psychology on the outside of the family court mental health system to obtain the competence you need, and then recruit them back to work with your situation in the family courts.
They will refuse. It’s too dangerous to their license. They have the right to not put their career and livelihood at risk for your situation. We need to make it safe for clinical psychology to return.
We do that by making everything here very organized and structured. We start by bringing Dialectic Behavior Therapy to the family courts (DBT; Linehan). DBT will bring the structure.
DBT will need to be adapted to the family situation in the courts, but the structure of DBT – CBT – Mindfulness – skills instruction – will provide the needed structure for safety to the professionals.
The other group of clinical psychologists who may come to the courts right away are the trauma psychologists working in spousal abuse pathology – Intimate Partner Violence (IPV; “domestic violence”).
The pathology in the family courts is fundamentally a spousal abuse pathology – the emotional and psychological abuse of the ex-spouse using the child as the weapon.
In weaponizing the child for spousal abuse, the pathological parent creates such significant psychopathology in the child that it rises to the level of Child Psychological Abuse (V995.51). But fundamentally, at its core, this is a spousal abuse pathology using the child as the weapon (DSM-5 V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological).
The IPV therapists may come to the family courts once they see and have a path to solution.
I recommend that everyone look to the DBT therapists. I recommend that targeted dads frame the issue for the DBT therapists from the personality pathology of the ex-spouse (borderline spectrum, expand to the darks). DBT therapists will easily recognize borderline pathology.
I recommend that targeted moms also look to the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) group of therapists, commonly called “domestic violence”.
Professionals use professional constructs for a variety of professional reasons. There are what I call DV-monkeys, mental health professionals caught on a “side” in parallel process. You don’t want these, and they are not looking to help you either. You want the real spousal abuse professionals, they will understand and use IPV as their organizing construct.
IPV has research support. Professionals remain grounded in research not in their passions (counter-transference).
1) Don’t destabilize. You are the protective parent.
2) Don’t trust professional psychology, you must become an informed consumer of mental health services.
3) You want a treatment plan to fix things. Successful treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis. If we treat cancer with insulin, the patient dies from the misdiagnosed cancer.
4) Find your allies in professional competence and recruit back. Look to Dialectic Behavior Therapy. Look to IPV therapists. You have my Mental Health Consultation page on my Consulting Website as a resource link you can provide to mental health professionals.
Doctors should explain pathology to doctors, but they’re not (yet) motivated to learn what they’re doing. So you will need to explain things to them.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA PSY 18857