Work with adult children who want to reconnect with a parent from whom they were alienated has several facets. I hear often from parents whose adult children have read Divorce Poison or viewed Welcome Back, Pluto and found answers to their questions about how they became alienated. Relatives who look at these resources will find tips for helping formerly alienated children come to terms with their past.
The Divorce Poison Control Center on my website provides some key tips to help formerly rejected parents manage reunions with their adult children. Here is the link: http://www.warshak.com/alienation/d…
Scroll to the sections titled: Moratorium on Discussing the Past Helped Mother and Daughter Reunite, and Managing a Child’s Return.
But the best resource that I know of—the gold standard intervention—is the Family Bridges workshop. It helps adult children understand the forces that moved them into a position of demonizing and rejecting a loving parent. By understanding the vulnerability of normal individuals to such forces, Family Bridges helps children of all ages—including adults—reunite while saving face and relieving guilt. Because the workshop can be tailored to the needs of the participants, it helps adult children better understand how to frame their alienating parent’s behavior in a manner that allows them to maintain a relationship and avoid being consumed with debilitating anger at how they were treated as children.
Many parents report that although their children eventually reconnected, their relationship remains tainted and the children continue to be reserved in the relationship and show lingering damage from the period of estrangement. Many of these children continue to harbor uncertainty about the parent’s love and value because they have not truly understood the process by which their view of the parent was altered and the parent’s reputation smeared. Family Bridges can help adult children get over this hurdle and recover their ability to show genuine and deep love, affection, and connection.
I conduct ongoing research on outcomes of interventions for alienated children and if the results of my studies lead to other recommendations I will be sure to make that information public.
Those who need additional help to deal with loss and grief should see a psychotherapist who has training, a graduate degree, and supervision in the provision of mental health services. People who are proficient in conducting psychotherapy should provide the training. Helping someone deal with loss and grief requires special skills. It is not simply a matter of teaching people facts about parental alienation. I would be wary of seeing a therapist or counselor whose training to help formerly alienated children came exclusively from someone without such training and experience. While a therapist needs to understand the process of parental alienation in order to treat a victim of the process, the therapist needs to have a solid grounding in the nuances of working with patients and facilitating emotional recovery and behavior change. I know quite a few therapists who can assist adult children and their parents in reuniting, coming to terms with the past, and moving forward in their relationship. If you need a referral, email the request and let me know in what city you live.
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