Connie Lupichuk, MSW, RSW

Senior Consultant at Incentive Counselling

Parental alienation occurs in custody disputes when a child is manipulated by one of their parents to engage in denigration against their other parent. This hatred can spread throughout the extended family of the targeted parent in high conflict divorce cases. Parental alienation typically occurs during the course of high conflict divorce cases and is considered a severe form of psychological abuse to the children involved.

Research suggests that both moms and dads may engage in this behaviour either intentionally or unintentionally, by encouraging the alienation to reject the other parent thorough transmitted messages or subtle forms of brainwashing that can have long term negative consequences on the mental health of the children involved.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is serious mental health condition where a child loses the capacity to love a rejected parent based on the belief that the rejected parent is untrustworthy or a threat to the stability of the relationship with the denigrating parent. Children exposed to these unfair circumstances, if left untreated, can have long term issues into their teen and adult years that may never properly heal.

In high conflict divorce cases, parents’ inability to focus on the needs of the child amidst ongoing litigation can, and does, influence the rejection of a parent, unfairly damaging the relationship with a targeted parent. This behaviour is a form of child abuse.

Most courts and lawyers are not equipped to handle the emotional and psychological damage that happens to children in these cases. The majority of mental health practitioners equally are not suitably trained to remedy these unfortunate circumstances.

The Impact of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) on the Behaviour of the Child

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that comes to fruition commonly in child custody disputes. Children are manipulated and encouraged to alienate a parent. Healthy parental relationships do not segregate a parent or influence the behaviour of the child to withdrawal from a parent.

PAS can be identified when the child engages in behaviour that breads animosity and favoritism in favour of protecting an alienating parent. Children can be seen participating in the campaign of denigration, at times may make false allegations and be adamant that it is their choice to engage in this behaviour in the courts, and typically are indignant when their favored parent is said to have manipulated them.

How the Courts and Lawyers Can Help Alleviate the Negative Impact of PAS on Families in High Conflict Divorce Cases

Children inherently want to maintain positive relationships with both of their parents and it is their right to do so. When working with parents in high conflict divorce cases requiring ongoing litigation, professionals in law are not trained to deal with the psychological impact these types of cases can have on their clients. Ethically, it is unfair to witness children go through this unfair process for a situation that is out of their control.

What can lawyers and the courts do for children caught up in this unhealthy dynamic that can have long term psychological consequences?

Minimize the extent of the damage but taking proactive measures to protect the children from this form of maltreatment by incorporating the Family Bridges program into their resolution strategies.

Reuniting and Strengthening Families through Family Bridges™ 

The Family Bridges ™ workshop is firmly grounded in well-accepted, peer-reviewed, and scientific research in cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, sociology and social neurosciences. With 23 years of history, the intervention of the program has shown remarkable results at restoring the damaged relationship between the rejected parent and their children.

In four days, the Family Bridges™ program accomplishes what therapists and the legal system have been unable to do over the lengthy course of litigation. The goal of Family Bridges is to assist children in having a positive healthy relationship with both of their parents, a relationship that is critical to their psychological well being and is intrinsically their right.

I am designated and trained to offer the Family Bridges™ program for Western Canada.

To learn more about a training seminar regarding Parental Alienation and or the availability for the Family Bridges™ program consultations for children at risk of Parental Alienation Syndrome contact me at