Parental alienation: the negative impact on child development and lifelong psychological distress
When a child rejects a parent with whom they had a prior loving, good-enough relationship – too often no-one seeks to answer the question “Why?” In the absence of abuse or bad parenting, this rejection in a child is a symptom of underlying psychological distress. Failure to identify this psychological distress, its aetiology and offer appropriate intervention leaves a child at risk of lifelong poor emotional well-being, psychological disorder and dysfunctional relationships. Severe parental alienation is child psychological abuse. Statutory agencies and professionals are all too often complicit in perpetuating alienation through a lack of knowledge and understanding. Parents, powerless to protect their children, experience distress and mental ill-health which impacts on all spheres of their life.
Dr Sue Whitcombe is a Counselling Psychologist. She is a Chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), Deputy Chair of the Training Committee for Counselling Psychology and sits on the BPS Expert Witness Advisory Group.
Sue has 20 years’ experience working with children and families and is Principal Psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which she founded with the support of Teesside University. Sue works with children, adults and families who experience life and mental health difficulties as a result of relationship issues. In particular, Sue provides affordable, targeted and tailored evidence informed interventions where there are entrenched and hostile relationship difficulties and parental alienation.
In addition to her therapeutic work and clinical supervision, Sue also delivers training and consultancy to the legal, mental health and social work professions on implacable hostility and parental alienation. She also conducts assessments for family court proceedings.