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high conflict Family matters
What are High Conflict Family Matters?
High Conflict Family Matters refer to a range of unresolved issues, disagreements and arguements that create a great deal of antipathy, hostility and resentment between a couple, family or co-parents. These conflicts are generally a result of separation and divorce matters that involve finances, children's welfare and living arrangements. When trying to find understanding, solutions and agreements towards a well-balanced outcome for all parties (especially the children), the individual, couple or family struggle with emotional and psychological restraints that prevent them from negotiating reasonable, logical and amicable solutions. If these conflicts involve a difference of opinion, values and beliefs in a co-parenting situation and have no family violence allegations or orders attached then much can be done to help. We can assist you and your co-parent to develop the skills and understanding required to co-parent in a healthy child focused and amicable manner. (Please click the link for further information about New Ways to Families Counselling Course available with us.
Unfortunately some high conflict family matters involve allegations of abuse, family violence or mental health problems. Allegations must be taken seriously and it is the legal and court system's duty to make determinations from the evidence as to whether these allegations have merit or not. Often Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Counsellors, Social Workers and other Mental Health or Social Science professions are engaged to help determine if these allegations are real and contribute to the High Conflict Family Dynamics.
In some cases abuse and family violence are the reason or cause of the High Conflict dynamics in a family. However, more than often the main factors contributing to High Conflict Family Dynamics are due to the difficult personality structures and erroneous behavious of one or more of the family members. These behaviours can be overt or covert and eventually wear down the family unit. Usually there is a lack of insight into how these behaviours negatively affect the family. Eventually the family unit falls apart and there is little or no capacity to find any healthy resolve.
Erroneous behaviours from high conflict individuals or family members can become extremely toxic during separation and divorce. Some of these toxic and negative behaviours can be weaponized by a parent/s and/or family members in an attempt to rupture or sever the other parents' and/or family members' relationship with the children. Often this is done by using false or misleading accusations of abuse, neglect or violence against the targeted/rejected parent, by the alienating/favoured parent and/or family members. This harmful dynamic fuel's the high conflict situation further and generally ends up in bitter and expensive legal battles and even criminal behaviour. When one parent uses these pernicious strategies against another parent it is deemed child psychological abuse, family violence, undue influence, and parental alienation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation is the psychological manipulation of a child by one parent into rejecting or creating unwarranted fear for the other parent.
Prior to separation or divorce the child had a healthy and loving relationship with the parent who they now alienate, reject, and resist or refuse to engage with. Unfortunately PA can be instigated, not only by the other parent, but, by other family members, or by unenlightened professionals.
The loss of relationship and access to a child through parental alienation is one of the most traumatic experiences for a child and targeted/rejected parent. PA is a confusing dilemma, or loyalty conflict, for a child and is a form of psychological abuse and family violence towards the child and the targeted/rejected parent. Evidence shows parental alienation has lasting adverse psychological effects on both the child and the targeted parent.
What Is Justified Estrangement?
Justified estrangement refers to a child’s rejection of a parent for valid or justified reasons. That is, the child's rejection is a consequence of a parent’s history of family violence, abuse or neglect. A history of family violence usually involves police, an AVO (DVO), domestic violence services, a conviction, or at least some evidence, record or witness that these acts occured. It has usually gone on in the family for a long period of time and may have started before or during the marriage/cohabitation and prior to children. Children who witness family violence or are victims of abuse or neglect may estrange themselves due to fear or lack of trust for that parent. However, these children often don't alienate even the most abusive parents but rather are willing to have supervised contact and to work with therapists and familiy to support their own recovery and the recovery of their parent (if possible). These children often go on to learn healthy boundaries that positively empower them for future relationships and life .
What Is Unjustified Estrangement?
In contrast to justified estrangement, unjustified estrangement is where a child rejects, refuses, resists or alienates a parent for no valid or good reason. Parental alienation is unjustified estrangement. It rarely involves the kind of family violence involved in justified estrangement but often presents with acusations of family violence just before or just after separation. These accusations or false misrepresentations eventually prove to have little or no evidence, record or witness. However, they cause major havoc, disruption, and shear terror for the targeted parent, and incredible anxiety, loyalty conflict, and serious psychological harm to children. This is a form of family violence which is covert, manipulative and extremely dangerous for all who tread in its path.
How Does Alienation Present?
Alienation often presents when a rejected parent turns to the legal system and/or the mental health arena for support and understanding of what they experience as false allegations, misrepresentations and unwarranted fears of them by their ex-partner and/or their children. The rejected, or targeted, parent is often in disbelief, shock and horror at these allegations. The grief felt from the loss of relationship with their child/children, and the anger and disbelief at the high conflict interactions between their ex-partner is palpable. Unfortunately these hightened emotions frequently presents as defensiveness and dysregulation, instead of the complex and deep trauma symptoms they are.
Alienated children often respond to their favoured parent's anxious and hostile behaviours towards the rejected parent by emulating them. That is, the child responds to their favoured parents' perceived threat as a sympathetic nervous system response "fight, flight or freeze". The alienating parent's reaction to the child's mirroring behaviour (a fear they actually caused) is to console the child by attributing the fear to the targeted or rejected parent.
For example: The alienating parent might say to the child ......."I can't believe it !Dad/Mum is now taking me to court and wants to take you away from me. He/she is trying to take all the money! We will have nothing and no home. I don't understand why he/she is doing this." The child is then genuinely shocked by this statement. In an attempt to further console the child the alienating parent may say...."I'm so sorry dad/mum is making you so upset. I don't want you to be scared. This is between me and your dad/mum. I will always do my best to protect you " .
This example of inappropriate and inaccurate disclosures coerces and exposes children to complex adult matters. Developmentally children have little psychological capacity to reconcile their parent's different versions of 'the truth'. Therefore children become cognitively dissonant finding themselves in a loyalty conflict between their parents. The pressure to 'choose' one parent over the other is overwhelming and to protect their psychological safety the child feels required to side with one parent. This often results in an unhealthy enmeshment with the alienating (favoured) parent, stunting the child's ability to develop critical thinking skills and to individuate. Children may be infantilised (kept in an infant state) or falsely empowered (parentified and adultified) which damages the child's capacity to form healthy functioning relationships. Unfortunately, family, friends, professionals, and society frequently become blindsided by this deeply maladaptive and deceptive form of family violence and child psychological abuse!
What Can Be Done?
Consulting, Counselling or Coaching: Your situation may require a psychoeducation, specialist strategies and/or coping mechanisms to navigate through your High Conflict (HC) or Parental Alienation (PA) circumstances. Together we will explore educational and counselling programs unique to a HC situation or PA case. We will also look at communication methods for working with your ex-partner (or the favoured parent), and parent coaching for HC and PA cases pre or post parenting agreements. If your case is in court, or heading that way, I can assist you in preparation for a family therapist, familiy consultant, or in legal preparation assessing for a 'best interest of the children' or 'alienation' case. Together we will find clear pathways for what you can change, and an understanding, acceptance and resolve for what you cannot.
Mental Health Consulting for Parental Alienation: I can assist you to work with your lawyer or to find a lawyer and experts who are familiar with PA. That is; to consult in the background of your case with you and/or colloboratively with your lawyers, and independenant experts.
Family Therapy Specialising in High Conflict Divorce: If court appointed as a Family Therapist (reportable therapy) or as a private therapist appointed by one (or preferably both) parents, my work will assist the family (and courts) to seek understanding and resolution of any dysfunction or negative patterns that stop the family from co-parenting in a healthy child focussed manner.
Court Ordered Remediation Workshop (FBAC): As part of a fully trianed remediation team lead by Dr Stan Korosi, we can assess your case suitability for a court ordered Family Bridges Workshop for alienated children.(FBAC). https://dialogueingrowth.com.au/about-2/about/
Coming Soon: Reportable Intensive Family Remediation (RIFR) as an alternative to FBAC court orders.
NB: To find out more about these service please send me a contact form
How I Can Help You
Target Parent Trauma PTSD
Working with Alienation
PA Parent Coaching
A specialised and intense program has been created to work with the alienated parent to address trauma, PTSD and to begin the recovery process. The counselling and coaching program are created to develop specific skills and strategies to assist in working with challenging behaviours of both the alienating parent and the alienated child and to move forward towards creating opportunites for reconciliation with the child/children. A similar program has been created for the targeted parent , and the adult-child victim of PA, who have reunited (or would like to reunite) and are seeking specialised support to navigate this delicate process.
PA CONSULTANT & COACH
As a Mental Health & PA consultant I can help you to negotiate the PA elements of your family law proceedings. This could include working as a mental health consultant behind the scenes collaboratively with your lawyer or an expert witness to build a PA case or a best interest of the childrens case, and to avoid "points of slipage"(important information or evidence for your case.
Alternatively or additionally I can assist by reading and reviewing correspondence and providing you with guidelines for responding and submitting documentation from a Mental Health/PA perspective and framework.
PA and Family Law
Mental Health Consultant
Working with your Lawyer
For couples wanting to rebuild their relationship I have developed a strong program focused on gaining understanding of self and each other. The sessions and coaching program teaches how to work together to improve, repair and reconcile your relationship.
For an individual having a challenging relationship with family, work or friends, my system allows us to work together at your level to explore the difficulties and find understanding, strategies and solutions for lasting change and positive growth.
Healing Negative Emotions & Reactions
EMOTIONAL DYSREGULATION, PTSD, CPTSD , ADHDA
Do you, or someone you know;
React irrationally and uncontrollably in anger, fear, or extreme emotional states?
Often become verbally or physically abusive and over-reactive to others?
Suffer from sleepless nights, and/or non-productive days ?
These traits of emotional dysregulation are often associated with past trauma or mental health issues such as, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex PTSD, or Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD or ADHD) .
They cause great emotional pain & suffering and can result in relationship breakdowns, learning difficulties and conduct issues.
During my program I will help you identify the cause of your emotional dysregulation. This will involve therapeutic supports, psychoeducation, and resources and strategies to find pathways towards healthy emotional states and relationships.
For friends and loved ones: Just as importantly I offer education, strategies, resources and coaching for loved ones, friends or colleagues struggling to relate and work with someone who presents with traits of emotional dysregulation.
If one or both parties do not wish to continue their marriage, divorce counselling and coaching can help find understanding, and support around the stress of divorce. We are not taught the skills or strategies to deal with the emotional and psychological changes that divorce can bring, nor are we given the tools as individuals to help us make decisions to improve rather than hinder our present and future well being. My vast expertise in this area offers real options and clarity for creating amicable and equitable agreements.
How to Divorce Well
Specialising in High Conflict
The purpose of family therapy is to support family members to improve their emotional health and solve family problems/conflict through improved communication and greater awareness of family issues or dynamics. It will also assist in better understanding of special family situations such as high conflict divorce..
Family Therapy may be recommended by a GP, Lawyer or therapist and is usually not reportable. If Family Therapy is recommended by a single expert witness or the by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court it is likely to be reportable.
Having many years of experience helping individuals and couples through relationship issues, divorce, and parental alienation, I have developed methods to assist my clients overcome the emotional and psychological trauma associated with these life changing circumstances. My counselling sessions and coaching programs are designed to follow your process and to work together intensively to create positive outcomes.
My training has incorporated a broad range of modalities to accommodate different personality styles and cultural differences that make us unique. Over the last 15 years of study, research and practice, I have created a method and program that incorporates counselling, coaching and psychotherapy which can be tailored to the individual, couple or family's process. I specialise and practice mainly with relationship issues, divorce and parental alienation (PA). My focus in therapy and coaching is to assisst in understanding and resolving Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) , and Emotional Dis-regulation (ED) issues. My work and experience has allowed me to work with traits and diagnoses of Borderline Personality Discorder (BPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and Anti-Social Personality Disorder (APSD).
I will let the testimonials speak for me and my work and look forward to helping you find the peace, happiness and the resolution you seek.