Ten Parental Alienation Fallacies

I am pleased to announce my new paper, published online earlier this month by the American Psychological Association (APA). Ten Parental Alienation Fallacies That Compromise Decisions in Court and in Therapy passed a peer review process and was published in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

This article identifies ten prevalent and strongly held assumptions and myths about parental alienation found in reports by therapists, custody evaluators, and child representatives (such as guardians ad litem), in case law, and in professional articles. These false beliefs lead therapists and lawyers to give bad advice to their clients, evaluators to give inadequate recommendations to courts, and judges to reach injudicious decisions.

Drawing on research and experience, the paper sheds light on the arguments and assumptions one often encounters from mental health professionals, lawyers, and judges in cases where professionals’ decisions fail to help children overcome unreasonable rejection of a parent.

Awareness of the evidence exposing these false beliefs should guide decision makers and those who assist them to avoid biases that result in poor outcomes for alienated children. The result will be a better understanding of the needs of alienated children and decisions that are more likely to get needed relief to families who experience this problem.

Click here to purchase the article directly from the publisher. Here is the Abstract with the list of the ten fallacies.


False beliefs about the genesis of parental alienation and about appropriate remedies shape opinions and decisions that fail to meet children’s needs. This article examines 10 mistaken assumptions: (a) children never unreasonably reject the parent with whom they spend the most time, (b) children never unreasonably reject mothers, (c) each parent contributes equally to a child’s alienation, (d) alienation is a child’s transient, short-lived response to the parents’ separation, (e) rejecting a parent is a short-term healthy coping mechanism, (f) young children living with an alienating parent need no intervention, (g) alienated adolescents’ stated preferences should dominate custody decisions, (h) children who appear to function well outside the family need no intervention, (i) severely alienated children are best treated with traditional therapy techniques while living primarily with their favored parent, and (j) separating children from an alienating parent is traumatic. Reliance on false beliefs compromises investigations and undermines adequate consideration of alternative explanations for the causes of a child’s alienation. Most critical, fallacies about parental alienation shortchange children and parents by supporting outcomes that fail to provide effective relief to those who experience this problem.

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