best interest of the child

What Does a Judge Taking Into Consideration When Deciding “The Best Interest Of The Child?”

best interest of the child

 

The judge considers many factors in determining child custody during divorce. Most important is “the best interests of the child.” To determine best interests, the judge may look at the following factors:

When Deciding The “Best Interest Of The Child?”

Home Environments. This refers to the respective environments offered by you and your spouse. The court may consider factors such as the safety, stability, and nurturing found in each home.

Emotional Ties. The emotional relationship between the child and each parent may include the nature of the bond between the parent and child and the feelings shared between the child and each parent.

Age, Sex, and Health of the Child and Parents. Louisiana no longer ascribes to the “tender years” doctrine, which formerly gave a preference for custody of very young children to the mother. If one of the parents has an illness that may impair the ability to parent, it may be considered by the court. Similarly, the judge may look at special health needs of a child.

Effect on the Child of Continuing or Disrupting an Existing Relationship. This factor might be applied in your case if you stayed at home for a period of years to care for your child, and awarding custody to the other parent would disrupt your relationship with your child.

Attitude and Stability of Each Parent’s Character. The court may consider your ability and willingness to be cooperative with the other parent in deciding who should be awarded custody. The court may also consider each parent’s history, which reflects the stability of his or her character.

Moral Fitness of Each Parent, Including Sexual Conduct. The extent to which a judge assesses the morals of a parent can vary greatly from judge to judge. Sexual conduct will ordinarily not be considered unless it has harmed your child or your child was exposed to sexual conduct.

Capacity to Provide Physical Care and Satisfy Educational Needs. Here the court may examine whether you or the other parent is better able to provide for your child’s daily needs such as nutrition, health care, hygiene, social activities, and education. The court may also look to see whether you or your spouse has been attending to these needs in the past.

Preferences of the Child. The child’s preference regarding custody will be considered if the child is of sufficient age of comprehension, regardless of chronological age, and the child’s preference is based on sound reasoning. Louisiana, unlike some other states, does not allow a child to choose the parent he or she wishes to live with. Rather, the court may consider the well-reasoned preferences of a child, at any age. Typically, the older the child, the greater the weight given to the preference. However, the child’s reasoning is also important.

Health, Welfare, and Social Behavior of the Child. Every child is unique. Your child’s needs must be considered when it comes to deciding custody and parenting time. The custody of a child with special needs, for example, may be awarded to the parent who is better able to meet those needs.

The judge may also consider whether you or your spouse has fulfilled the role of primary care provider for meeting the day-to-day needs of your child.

One tool to assist you and your attorney in establishing your case as a primary care provider is a chart indicating the care you and the other parent have each provided for your child. The clearer you are about the history of parenting, the better job your attorney can do in presenting your case to the judge.

Look at the activities below to help you review the role of you and your spouse as care providers for your child.

Parental Roles Chart

Activity Mother  Father
Attended prenatal medical visits
Attended prenatal class
Took time off work after child born
Got up with child for feedings
Got up with child when sick at night
Bathed child
Put child to sleep
Potty-trained child
Prepared and fed meals to child
Helped child learn numbers, letters, colors, etc.
Helped child with practice for music, dance lessons, sports
Took time off work for child’s appointments
Stayed home from work with sick child
Took child to doctor visits
Went to pharmacy for child’s medication
Administered child’s medication
Took child to therapy
Took child to optometrist
Took child to dentist
Took child to get haircuts
Bought clothing for child
Bought school supplies for child
Transported child to school
Picked child up after school
Drove car pool for child’s school
Went to child’s school activities
Helped child with homework and projects
Attended parent-teacher conferences
Helped in child’s classroom
Chaperoned child’s school trips and activities
Transported child to daycare
Communicated with daycare providers
Transported child from daycare
Attended daycare activities
Signed child up for sports, dance, music
Bought equipment for sports, music, dance
Transported child to sports, music, dance
Attended sports, music, dance practices
Attended sports games, music, dance recitals
Coached child’s sports
Transported child from sports, music, dance
Know child’s friends and friends’ families
Took child to religious education
Participated in child’s religious education
Obtained information and training about special needs of child.
Comforted child during times of emotional upset

Domestic Violence. Domestic violence is an important factor in determining custody, as well as parenting time and protection from abuse during the transfer of your child to the other parent. If domestic violence is a concern in your case, be sure to discuss it in detail with your attorney during the initial consultation so that every measure can be taken to protect the safety of you and your children.

The post What Does a Judge Taking Into Consideration When Deciding “The Best Interest Of The Child?” appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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make co-parenting easier

Technology: How It Makes Co-Parenting Easier

make co-parenting easier

 

Deciding to go through a divorce is not an easy decision and it is especially difficult when children are involved. While the process can be long and grueling, it can get even harder once the divorce is final.

Having to learn how to co-parent is a new and challenging experience. One way that co-parenting can be made easier is through the use of technology. When sitting down with your divorce lawyer, make sure to dive into all the different ways you can co-parent and see if they can offer some suggestions of what works and what does not.

How to Make Co-Parenting Easier

Common Co-parenting Issues:

While raising your child as a team sounds great, it can get messy when you can’t agree on certain things with your ex. Finding ways to make these issues more subtle or even resolve them can take time. Some of the most common issues that may come along with co-parenting include:

How technology can help:

With all the recent advancements in technology being able to communicate with each other anytime is easier than ever. Without being in the same state or even country you can still communicate and video chat with your kids at any time.

This can help when co-parenting issues may arise, like one parent needing help from the other. In addition to being able to communicate at almost anytime, it can also help parents who work full time.

If you have to watch your children at home, the option of being able to work from home is as easy as ever. You can still put in a productive workday while still being able to be around and watch your children. Technology has also made it easier to minimize miscommunication among divorced parents with children.

Making sure who has the kids and who is picking them up or dropping them off is very simple with technology. Being able to simply text or call to make sure that communication is clear or even sharing a schedule online can limit any potential issues.

Keep in mind:

While technology can bring in a plethora of benefits, it is important to keep in mind the possibility of some misunderstandings. Being able to avoid certain pitfalls when it comes to the use of technology during the co-parenting process. When texting with your ex-spouse understand that a written record of the conversation is being established.

If you do not have the best relationship with your spouse, keeping your texts professional and tone free can ensure a quick and smooth interaction.

Try to keeping texting to a minimum, and have it be used strictly for emergencies, quick notifications or updates, and any logistics that may need to be discussed. Setting up rules like this can help make technology extremely helpful not only for communication but for avoiding conflict as well.

How can your lawyer help?

A divorce lawyer can help you with potential co-parenting issues. With the help of an expert divorce lawyer, you can help you solve issues that you are having with your ex-spouse, whether it is child custody or visitation rights, our team will work to make sure that you get the best possible outcome for you.

Technology has made our lives much easier, one of these ways is through communication. This can help divorced parents and deal with co-parenting. Know that even though it may seem difficult right now, a divorce lawyer can assist you when it comes to solving any co-parenting issues that you may be having.

The post Technology: How It Makes Co-Parenting Easier appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

What do military parents need to do to ensure their children are cared for prior to deployment?

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Military parents have a great deal on their minds, both before setting off for deployment and while overseas. If you count yourself among those people who serve in our armed forces I would like to first thank you for making that sacrifice for all us here in southeast Texas. We are indebted to you for your willingness to go above and beyond in protecting our country. The sacrifices that you make are especially difficult if you are a parent.

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is geared towards helping you to know what is recommended for you to take care of prior to your being deployed. Obviously, it will be very difficult for you to focus on anything other than your mission once you are overseas, so it is much wiser to start focusing on these issues now rather than later. Financial, medical and emotional support for your children is essential to their being able to grow up and become positive contributors to our country.

Does your child have a legal father?

This is not the same question as asking whether or not your child has a father. If you are a mother who was not married to your child’s father at the time your child was born, he or she could be lacking a legally recognized father. When two parents are married, there is a legal presumption that when a child is born the mother’s husband is the father to the child. No further action needs to be taken by the couple to have this legally established. However, that presumption does not exist when parents are not married.

If you and the other parent were not married when your child was born you could have completed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (AOP) that is your statement under oath that this child is your biological offspring. If you and the child’s father fills out one of these forms and files them with the state, no further action will need to be taken. The father of your child will from that point forward be the legal father of your child. While an AOP may not have been completed, a court order may have been obtained previously that legally recognizes the father of your child.

Or, you could find yourself in a position where fatherhood was not acknowledged voluntarily and you have not yet been to court. Some people in your position find themselves not knowing at all what the situation actually is. Does your child have a legally established father or not? If this sounds like where you are, then you can choose to go one of the two routes I described above. You and your child’s father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity or you can file a paternity lawsuit and have paternity determined through a court case.

Are there orders in place from a court that deals with custody, visitation and child support?

This is another big issue that you need to attend to prior to going overseas. It is likely that you and your child’s other parent will share parental rights and responsibilities. A possession order will determine how much time you will be able to spend with your child and when. With your going overseas it is seven more important that you know what the visitation you will have with your child is going to be like once he returns from overseas. Most parents who have gone through family law cases are joint managing conservators. You can ask a court to have your ex-spouse or child’s other parent to be able to determine the primary residence of your child while you are outside of the country.

Rights and duties relevant to the possession of your child

While most parents in Texas share on a near equal basis in the rights and duties associated with raising their child, one right that is not held equally is the right to determine the primary residence of your children. Either you or your child’s other parent will hold this right individually. The parent who has this right is known as the custodial parent. The other parent is known as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent has their time spelled out in the court orders under a possession order.

An important question to ask yourself is who will be able to have custody of your child while you are deployed overseas. As mentioned a moment ago, you can ask the court to be able to allow the other parent to be able to determine where your child lives while you are away overseas. Likewise, if you are the noncustodial parent to a child then you can ask the court to assign your visitation time with your child to another adult.

What is the parenting plan going to look like while you are deployed?

A court order goes into a great amount of detail regarding a number of different subjects related to you and your child, but it typically will not discuss with much detail what will happen with your child should certain contingencies occur in your lives. There just simply is not enough room to work every hypothetical situation into this document.

What you and your child’s other parent can do is create an agreement/roadmap that will go into the level of detail that you would like. That way there will be no question as to what will happen when you are deployed and are not able to fulfill your duties as a parent when you are shipped overseas.

What about child support? Will your child still be able to receive support even after you are not ln the country. A child support order includes two requirements. The first is that financial support be provided to your child and the second is that medical support will also be provided. If you are the noncustodial parent, then you need to be aware that your net monthly resources will be what is needed in order to determine how much child support you will pay.

It happens on occasion that sometimes parents who are deployed overseas seas is that their income can change- either positively or negatively. If this occurs, you can request a modification of the current court orders to show exactly what degree of an income increase or decrease has occurred. This could be true even if you are the parent of a child who will not be deployed but who raises a child with a person who will be. You can also ask to have a modification of the amount of child support that you receive done.

You may want to see if you can arrange it so a relative of yours has access to your bank accounts while you are overseas. This can come in handy if your child needs someone to help him or she pays for something while you are deployed.

How to get child support set up before you go overseas for deployment

If you and your child’s other parent have never been able to agree upon how much child support should be paid, then it is a good idea to attempt to get this number established by a court prior to your being deployed.

Many parents find themselves in a position where he or she will agree with the other parent on an amount to pay in child support, only to see that other parents increase the amount for seemingly no reason at all. Thus, if you want to avoid the chances of your child’s other parent asking for an increase in child support while you are deployed, it is wise to attempt to get a court order before you even leave the country. Since custody, visitation and other aspects of parenting are also taken care of in a child support case, there are even more reasons to attempt to establish a fixed amount of child support prior to deployment.

Can you designate another person to receive information about the amount of child support that you pay or receive when you are out of the country on deployment?

You are able to designate another person to receive information about your child support case by filling out a form and sending it into your local child support office. You can go to the Office of the Attorney General’s website for more information on this. Likewise, you can also revoke this form when you return from deployment.

What happens if you are already deployed and your child is born?

As far as logistics is concerned, it would be a lot easier for you if your child is born before you are deployed to another country. However, sometimes you cannot control when these things happen. In the event that you are overseas when your child is born and you are not married to the child’s mother, you can still establish paternity via an Acknowledgment of Paternity being completed.

You may not be sure if you are the child’s father. If that is the case you should not sign any paperwork until you can have genetic testing administered. Free DNA testing is offered through the Office of the Attorney General.

If you are beyond the point of establishing paternity, you should do whatever you can to maintain a relationship with your child when you are overseas. Technology has made this task much easier given that phone calls, email, Skype, social media and text messaging are all prevalent. It is true that you will not have as much of an opportunity to take advantage of these methods of communication but you should seek them out when you have the available time. You can have a profound impact on your child even when you are thousands of miles away.

You can also check in with your child’s other parent so you can maintain a sense of decision-making capabilities when it comes to the daily life of your child. School activities, extracurricular events, doctor’s visits, and many other occurrences will go on in your absence. You can feel less homesick and distant from your child by keeping up to date with what is going on in their life as best you can.

What should you do when you get back home from deployment?

You should get in touch with the Office of the Attorney General’ child support division in order to re-establish who is to receive child support on behalf of your child and who can access information about your child now that you are back home.

Noncustodial parents should ask the OAG to review your case if your income has increased or decreased as a result of being deployed. The child support that you pay no longer be correct based on those changed circumstances.

Finally, you should spend as much time with your child as possible. While he or she is likely very happy to have you back home, it may take some time for him or her to adjust to your being home instead of overseas. You can learn about your child’s life and how it has changed. This will help you to make decisions with your child’s other parent about your child’s well-being.

Questions about family law issues in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Do you have any questions about the content in today’s blog post? If so, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in being able to help the people that live in our community. We practice in all of the family courts of southeast Texas and work every day to help our clients achieve their goals. If you are facing challenging circumstances related to your family, you need to look no further than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to assist you in whatever capacity you need.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Narcissistic Parent booket cover

Phases of Immediate Solution

When Dr. Childress provides training to Child Protective Services, at that point we will have reached the end. That is the arc we are on. It will eventually result in ether Dr. Childress providing training to CPS, or if I’m not around, then the rest of clinical psychology will be providing training for Child Protective Services.

There are points along the path. The publication of Foundations was a substantial step forward along that path.  The presentation to the APA of the paper, Empathy, the Family, and the Core of Social Justice (Childress & Pruter, 2019) at the national APA convention represents another milestone point along the path.

Beginning the Journey to (Immediate) Solution

I had the structure of AB-PA by 2013, you can see that from my posts to my website: 

Childress, (2013) Reconceptualizing Parental Alienation: Parental Personality Disorder and the Trans-Generational Transmission of Attachment Trauma

Childress, (2013) Parental Alienation and Boundaries of Professional Competence

I didn’t think this knowledge would be used at the time, it was too early in the process. But one of the primary principles guiding my work throughout has been to make the information available as quickly as I had it.  If it can help one person, one family as we shift into system-wide solutions, then the knowledge and information is available.

Public Education Responsibilities

Part of our role as clinical psychologists is to provide the public with knowledge from professional psychology when that knowledge would be helpful for solving problems.

For example, in school-based clinical psychology (ADHD, learning disabilities, behavior problems) we are often in the role of educating teachers about the knowledge of professional psychology and interventions in the classroom. If we do an assessment and the child has a learning disability, autism-spectrum pathology, or ADHD-spectrum pathology, we explain the child’s difficulties to the parents, teachers, and school in language and ways they can understand, that will help the child receive the proper support and treatment. In our reports we provide specific recommendations for solutions that parents and teachers can use at home and in the classroom to reduce the child’s pathology and maximize the child’s development and education.

Take a look at my vitae (Childress Vitae). Toward the back you’ll see where I have all those preschool training seminars. That corresponds to my work at Children’s Hospital and the University of California Irvine (UCI), Child Development Center. I was out providing education seminars for preschool teachers on ADHD-spectrum issues in children, and solutions for the preschool-age child.

Who was paying me to do that? Not the preschools. Choc and UCI Child Development Center had grants from the state and county, and part of the grant money allowed me to provide training for preschool teachers on issues like school readiness, child development, functional behavioral analysis (FBA), and behavioral and attachment issues. Preschool age is a prominent age for attachment and separation issues.

I’m not the “AMAZING” Dr. Childress, “expert” in child development. I’m just a clinical psychologist doing what we all do, in our areas of knowledge. If a clinical psychologist works with eating disorders, they educate the public with whom they interact about eating disorders, same for a psychologist who works with schizophrenia, or autism, etc. That’s what we do, that’s part of our job.

Sometimes it’s one-on-one with a teacher, sometimes it’s in session with our specific client, sometimes it’s more general seminars for the public on our domain of pathology knowledge.  For me as a school-oriented clinical psychologist, I provided seminars for teachers or the PTA (parents).  I once provided a day-long seminar arranged through the UCI Child Development Center (Dr. Swanson) for all of the county’s Head Start teachers.  Several  years later, while in private practice, I provided a seminar for all the summer camp counselors for Los Angeles county, several hundred summer counselors, on handling and responding to autism-spectrum pathology in children.  

That’s what clinical psychologists do.  Commonly.  We educate, about pathology, about solutions.

We’re not “experts” – we’re clinical psychologists. We have knowledge, we apply knowledge, that’s what we do. Most of the time, no one notices us. We work with the client child and parents, in our office, confidential, no one sees… we change things by applying knowledge.

What knowledge? Anything we need. We know everything about the pathology we’re working with, and if we shift pathologies, we learn everything there is to know about the new pathology. That’s called “boundaries of competence” – the “boundary” is knowing everything about that pathology. Everything.

Knowledge & Boundaries of Competence

On my Vitae, you can see when I expanded into early childhood and attachment I took additional training in diagnosis and treatments related to early childhood mental health, and an additional seminar series from Fielding Graduate University in infant psychology.  I was already a clinical psychologist working with ADHD and autism, and when I expanded to early childhood more generally, I sought out additional training.  You can see it on my vitae.

If a clinical psychologist is working with a pathology, that clinical psychologist knows everything there is to know about that pathology.  That’s called standard of practice for a clinical psychologist.

That’s what I find so amusing and frightening about these people calling themselves “experts” over here in forensic psychology.  If they know everything there is to know about the complex attachment-trauma family systems personality disorder pathology they are involved with, then they have just reached the ground foundational level of a clinical psychologist.

Hi.  Glad to see you.  I’ve been waiting to have a discussion about the epigenetic transfer of a fear-organized brain from trauma instead of a healthy brain organized by healthier attachment bonding motivations.  And I’ve been dying to discuss the hyper-aroused intersubjective field from selective affective attunement and misattunement, the child as a regulatory object, and the child’s disordered emotional regulation during the breach-and-repair sequence.  Clearly this is a cross-generational coalition and emotional cutoff from multigenerational trauma, in which unresolved parental anxiety from childhood trauma is intruding into and overwhelming the child’s psychological boundaries, creating the enmeshed over-involved relationship that is compensated for by the emotional cutoff.

Perry, Sapolsky, Stern, Tronick, Minuchin, Bowen.

That discussion would be basic competence for a clinical psychologist.  Over here in forensic psychology, those sentences are like speaking Martian to another professional.  Parents shouldn’t understand what I just said and engage me in professional dialogue on each of those three points (there are only three points in all of that, one for each sentence).  Nor should legal professionals necessarily know what I just said and be able to engage in professional dialogue about those three issues.

But every single mental health professional working with this pathology should absolutely understand the full meaning and impact of all three issues raised by that paragraph, and should be able to dialogue about each one at a professional level.

Number four is, to what degree is the delusional pathology related to disorganized attachment pathology in the parent?  There’s four issues that should be easily conversant for the clinical psychologist.

If the “expert” knows everything there is to know about attachment, and trauma, and family systems therapy, and personality pathology, and the neuro-development of the brain in the parent-child relationship, then… they have reached the standard level of a clinical psychologist working with that pathology. 

So on a scale of 1-to-100, if a clinical psychologist knows 99-100, everything there is to know about the pathology… what’s the rating for an “expert” over here in forensic psychology?

From what I’ve seen, it’s about 0-to-5.  Seriously, that is what I see.  I see a lot of made up stuff, no actually grounded application of knowledge.

But the “experts” are claiming some sort of superior special “knowledge” beyond everything there is to know in multiple domains of psychology (attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, the neuro-development of the brain; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick).  Yet they don’t even actually apply any of the existing knowledge of professional psychology. 

And they are supposedly the “experts” in the pathology.  A truly remarkable phenomenon of the social distribution of narcissistic pathology when ignorance becomes the “expert.”

In ADHD, Russell Barkley, Keith Conners, and Jim Swanson would all be considered preeminent “experts” – but it is others who look to them in that role, they don’t claim to be “experts” – we, the rest of us, see it in their body of work.  They are the producers of the knowledge through their research, often clinical research, and yet we all know exactly the same knowledge – every one of us knows the same knowledge.  We’re clinical psychologists working with ADHD, we know everything there is to know about the pathology, the recognized preeminent figures are the ones generating knowledge, we all know the same knowledge, we learn, we apply, we all know the same knowledge.

We, clinical psychologists, also rely heavily on the research, that’s why we basically know the same knowledge across all clinical psychologists working with any given pathology. We learn everything there is to know, then we read journals to stay current. That’s true of the clinical psychologists working with eating disorders, or autism, or attachment pathology, or ADHD. That’s considered standard of practice.

It’s been a while since I was directly involved with autism, but back in the day I would have considered Stanley Greenspan (Floor Time) the preeminent “expert” among many. Autism clinical psychology relies heavily, heavily, on research knowledge. I studied directly with Dr. Greenspan.  You see that DMIC diagnostic system on my vitae?  That’s from Dr. Greenspan and the Interdisciplinary Council.  For DMIC diagnostic training, I went back to Virginia for a 4-day series of training seminars in that early childhood diagnostic system.  

The DMIC is way more sensitive to autism-spectrum symptom features than the DSM-IV back then, but the DSM-5 revision caught up to some degree, I like the direction of the DSM-5 revisions to the autism-spectrum diagnosis.  The other early childhood diagnostic system on my vitae, the DC:0-3, is wonderfully sensitive to attachment symptoms and features.  It’s become established as THE early childhood diagnostic system for clinical care.  For billing purposes the DSM-5/ICD-10 system remains required, but the DC:0-3 is the clinical care diagnostic system for early childhood (attachment-spectrum pathology).

When we work with a pathology, a clinical psychologist knows everything there is to know about that pathology.  Everything.  Everything.  That’s called the boundary of our competence… everything there is to know, that is the boundary.  When we reach everything, then we reach the boundary and are now competent with that pathology.

In trauma, the recognized “experts” are Bruce Perry and John Briere for death-trauma and Bessel van der Kolk for complex trauma (relationship-based trauma in childhood). Death-oriented trauma is when the nervous system becomes overwhelmed by fear and arousal.  That’s from community violence or combat exposure, or rape. Perry and Briere are the leading figures there.  Then there’s a second type of trauma where the nervous system never becomes overwhelmed by fear, but is always bathed in constant unrelenting stress and fear.  That’s called “complex trauma” and the leading figure in complex trauma is Bessel van der Kolk.  I am a huge-huge fan of van der Kolk in childhood trauma.

When I was Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center, our clinical staff participated in a three-day online seminar with Bruce Perry on trauma.  Remarkable.  His work on full trauma is remarkable, spot-on.  Briere is wonderful, I am fully in line with Bruce Perry for trauma.

Yet we all know the same knowledge, they are leaders in finding that knowledge. They share it.  We learn it. We use it.  We teach it.  The scientifically established knowledge is what it is.

We could consider the leaders in finding the knowledge, Perry, Briere, van der Kolk in trauma; Barkley, Connors, Swanson for ADHD; Bowlby, Ainsworth, Sroufe for attachment; Minuchin, Bowen, Madanes in family systems therapy; Kernberg, Beck, and Millon in personality disorders, they could be considered the “experts” in their respective fields because they generate the scientifically established knowledge… but we all know the same knowledge, and we all apply the same knowledge, the scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology.

Through scientifically grounded research, they find knowledge and share knowledge, we learn knowledge and we apply knowledge.  Everyone knows the same knowledge in whatever field we work, and we always know everything there is to know about the pathology, that is the entry into professional competence in working with that pathology.

So the knowledge of professional psychology moves from its source in the scientific research out into application through the clinical psychologist.  They find it in research, we apply it in practice.

In personality disorders, it is absolutely start with Otto Kernberg (depth), that’s what I Kernberg book coverwas told by Dr. Schfranske when I entered personality disorders, that’s what I would tell a post-doc entering personality disorders – start with Kernberg.  Then expand to Theodore Millon (descriptions), Aaron Beck (models), and Marsha Linehan (treatment). All four are essential, each has a different orientation, they blend into a comprehensive understanding of “personality disorder” pathology.  I put quotes around “personality disorder.”  

With the pathology, you’ll also want to know the Dark Triad personality.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark Triad of Personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 556–563.

“First cited by Paulhus and Williams (2002), the Dark Triad refers to a set of three distinct but related antisocial personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Each of the Dark Triad traits is associated with feelings of superiority and privilege. This, coupled with a lack of remorse and empathy, often leads individuals high in these socially malevolent traits to exploit others for their own personal gain.” (Giammarco & Vernon, 2014, p. 23)

Personality disorders as a separate pathology are going away.  They almost went away with the DSM-5.  The research is identifying “personality disorders” as trauma-related pathology, particularly complex trauma attachment-related pathology.

For attachment pathology, the grand-god is John Bowlby.  The grand-pantheon of clinical psychology is Freud, Beck, and Bowlby.  My personal pantheon is Stern (neuro-development), Ainsworth (attachment research), and Minuchin (family systems therapy).

Bowlby has three volumes, Attachment, Separation, and Loss.  For me, Mary Ainsworth symbolically represents all of the research handbook of attachmenton the attachment system from the past 50 years.  There is substantial research on the attachment system, it is one of the best research data sets in professional psychology, rivaling autism and surpassing ADHD in my opinion.  The attachment research even extends down to the neuro-biological level (right prefrontal orbital cortex; Shore). 

The central organizing book for the research information is the Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Application.  If I was training a post-doc in attachment, this is the book I would assign the post-doc to read.  For a post-doc under my supervision, I would require all of the book (it’s a thick book) and about 20 additional articles I’d select, for a pre-doctoral intern, I’d assign three or four chapters from this book and two articles if the intern was working with attachment pathology under my supervision.

But that is definitely not all that’s needed from attachment.  Fonagy is must, Stern is a must, Tronick is a must, Sroufe’s longitudinal research is a must… all four… must know.  Siegel, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Developing MindBrain Interact to Shape Who We Are is an entry book.  Siegel is not the direct line researcher (Stern, Tronick, Shore, Trevarthan, others) but he pulled all of the knowledge into one organized book place.

We all know what each other knows.  Research.  It is all based on the scientific research.  Some, like Ainsworth and Stern and Tronick, generate the research, some like Siegel and Shore organize the research into single location books.  The rest of clinical psychology learns and applies the research when working with the pathology, any pathology, all pathology.

That’s how clinical psychology works throughout all of the rest of professional psychology… except here, in court-involved forensic psychology, a “special” type of psychology.  

When a clinical psychologist is working a pathology, that psychologist knows everything there is to know about that pathology… everything.  That is called the “boundary” of our competence – knowing everything about the pathology.  Once we reach everything we cross the boundary into competence.

Everything.  Then we read journals to stay current. That is the boundary.  If that is true, then you are competent to practice with that pathology.  If that is not yet true, then you are not yet competent to practice with that pathology and you need to learn more until that becomes true – know everything.

APA Ethics Code
Standard 2.01 Boundaries of Competence 
(c) Psychologists planning to provide services, teach, or conduct research involving populations, areas, techniques, or technologies new to them undertake relevant education, training, supervised experience, consultation, or study.

That’s why you will typically not see clinical psychologists with a very wide spread of treatment specialties, because we need to know EVERYTHING about the pathology in order to add it to our competence… everything = basic competence.  If you don’t know everything, then you need to “undertake relevant education, training, supervised experience, consultation, or study” – that’s not optional, that’s required, mandatory.

The APA ethics code is not optional for psychologists.  Mandatory, required.

What’s pretty “special” over here in forensic psychology are the huge number of “experts” of all hues and shades.   Positively awash in “experts” and entirely absent of applied knowledge, a remarkable phenomenon.  Rather than knowing everything about a pathology being standard of practice for professional competence, instead we have “experts” describing ideas without any research foundation to support them. It’s a loose definition of “knowledge” that’s not linked to any actual reality.

From everything I see as a clinical psychologist, the “experts” here in forensic psychology are actually ignorant.  That is not a personal criticism, that’s simply language.

Google search: ignorant ADJECTIVE
1. lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.
2. lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.

The glaring absence of knowledge is in family systems therapy.  Attachment is another area of complete ignorance.  Again, that’s language.

Google search: ignorance NOUN
1. lack of knowledge or information.

The neuro-development of the brain in the parent-child relationship is another area of complete ignorance (language: a complete lack of knowledge and information).

Complex trauma is still another area of near-complete ignorance, and even for personality disorders there is only marginal knowledge only occasionally displayed.

In order to be competent with complex family conflict surrounding divorce, the mental health professional must be knowledgeable in five areas of professional psychology (i.e., know everything), 1) attachment, 2) family systems therapy, 3) personality disorders, 4) complex trauma, 5) the neuro-development of the brain in the parent-child relationship.

Bowlby – Minuchin – Beck – van der Kolk – Tronick.

Yet none of the mental health professionals here in forensic psychology possess all five domains of required knowledge, and most of them possess none of the necessary knowledge… zero.  They are, by definition, ignorant… and yet they self-assert that they are “experts.”  I fell down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, a world where ignorance is the “expertise.”

So, the “experts” who are claiming to be an “expert” when I am identifying merely as a clinical psychologist (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck are “experts” if anyone is), these “experts” here in forensic psychology are claiming that they know more about court-involved complex family conflict pathology than Dr. Childress… who is simply a clinical psychologist, and that they are at some higher top-tier echelon of professional psychology, the level of Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, Kohut, Rogers, Bowen, and above that even since they are applying none of that knowledge.

Me, Dr. Childress, I am no different than any of my professional colleagues, any other clinical psychologists, except in the pathologies we work.  I am simply a clinical psychologist, it is my professional obligation of competence to know everything there is to know about any pathology I work with.  If I don’t know everything, I refer the patient to someone who does and I set about learning everything there is to know about the pathology.

I have worked with many pathologies over my career, so I know a lot of stuff.  I am competent in many areas of professional practice.

I have worked with the following pathologies, I would consider each one to be within the boundaries of my professional competence, meaning that I know everything about that pathology;

ADHD, oppositional-defiant behavior, learning disabilities, mental retardation and developmental disabilities, conduct disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, depression of adults and children, anxiety disorders of adults and children, autism-spectrum pathology, pediatric-medical psychology, substance abuse disorders, attachment pathology, trauma and complex trauma, family and marital therapy, and the  procedures for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology.

I have worked with each of those listed pathologies, which means that I am competent in each of those domains, which means I know everything there is to know about each one of those listed domains of knowledge.  Everything there is to know. 

Don’t believe me, ask me a question.  Knowing everything means that I am at a fundamental level of competence as a clinical psychologist in that pathology.

Do you want your heart surgeon to know everything there is to know about heart surgery?  Do you want your oncologist to know everything there is to know about cancer?  If your child has autism, do you want your clinical psychologist to know everything there is to know about autism? 

Of course.  Of course.  Of course.

Keith Nuechterlein, a leading figure in schizophrenia, a researcher generating the scientifically established knowledge for understanding and unlocking schizophrenia, and everyone at the UCLA Aftercare Clinic where I worked, knows everything there is to know about schizophrenia.  Every one of them. 

Jim Swanson and everyone at the UCI Child Development Center knows everything there is to know about ADHD. All pediatric psychologists at all Children’s Hospitals know everything there is to know about pediatric-medical psychology.  That’s called standard of practice and boundaries of competence… everything = competence.

The term for knowing everything is “competence” – the “boundary” for competence is everything there is to know.   Once you know everything there is to know, then you are competent.  Is there an acceptable level of ignorance for your heart surgeon?  No.  Is there an acceptable level of ignorance for your child’s clinical psychologist?  No.

Master’s Level Acceptable Ignorance

It could be argued that there is an acceptable level of ignorance for Master’s level mental health professionals because their work is more limited in scope and less sophisticated in application (the construction worker does not need the knowledge of the architect, the front-line soldier does not need the guiding knowledge of the officer). 

I don’t believe that.

I’ve worked with a lot of Master’s level clinicians over the years in many-many settings, and all of them have held themselves to the “knows everything there is to know” standard for professional competence in the domain of pathology they work.  

Psychiatrist Boundary of Professional Competence

For psychiatrists, they are MD doctors with nearly zero education or training in clinical psychology, psychological psychopathology, or psychotherapy.  Psychiatrists go to medical school.  They are MD doctors.  Toward the end of medical school, they specialize, some become heart surgeons, some become pediatricians, some go into psychiatry where they learn everything there is to know (competence) about the many-many types of medications for all the many different types of mental disorders in the DSM-5. That is their specialty, medications.  They are MD doctors.

Clinical psychologists know some information about medication if we are working with a medication-involved pathology, such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, but we always defer to the greater knowledge of psychiatrists regarding medication-related decisions.  They are MD doctors, their specialty is medication.

I have worked with some top-tier psychiatrists and developmental pediatricians (my favorite medical professional is a developmental pediatrician, more than psychiatry).  These top-tier psychiatrists and developmental pediatricians have always been excellent in insight and applied knowledge, and have deferred as warranted to the greater knowledge of the clinical psychologist on matters of clinical psychology.  Keith Nuechterlein is a PhD psychologist.  Jim Swanson is a PhD psychologist.  In the domain of psychology, the clinical psychologist is the top professional.  In the realm of medicine, the physician is the top professional.  In law, the attorney is, in construction it’s the architect and engineer.

In trauma, the clinical psychologist is typically in charge of the trauma recovery team. Sometimes a pediatric trauma-recovery nurse will take charge of the trauma recovery team.  In some cases of organized post-trauma community response mental health teams, an experienced Master’s level trauma therapist can take clinical care leadership of the mental health community response team.  Rarely, almost never, is it an MD psychiatrist in charge.  They are physicians, medical doctors.  They are an integral part of the team, not central and direct.  That’s the clinical psychologist in every psychological pathology.

Clinical psychologists are the… psychologists.  For issues related to psychology and psychotherapy… that’s us.  Not Master’s, not psychiatrists.

“Experts”

As a clinical psychologist, I am not an “expert” – I am just a clinical psychologist.  I know everything about the pathology with which I work… everything… that is considered the boundary that defines professional competence – the boundary for competence is knowing everything there is to know about the pathology.

Right now, for me as a clinical psychologist working with this court-involved pathology, I’m working with family systems therapy, attachment pathology, complex trauma in mid-generational transmission, personality disorder pathology, and brain regulatory networks of meaning construction, self-identity formation, affect regulation, attachment bonding, and intersubjectivity.

Which means… if I’m working with all of that, then I know everything there is to know about all those areas. I’m a clinical psychologist. Everything there is to know = competence.

That’s not unusual for clinical psychologists. That’s expected. It defines the “boundary” of competence.  What’s the “boundary” – i.e., when do we cross over and achieve professional competence in a pathology? A: When we know everything about the pathology, then we read journals to stay current.

Do you want your child’s oncologist to know everything about cancer? Do you want your heart surgeon to know everything about heart surgery? Everything? Of course.  That’s not considered being an “expert” – that’s called professional competence in heart surgery and oncology. 

If you don’t know everything about cancer, you’re not an oncologist. If you don’t know everything about heart surgery, you’re not an open-heart surgeon.

So that is the… interesting… thing over here in forensic psychology, where you can’t hardly turn around without bumping into an “expert.” Someone who asserts they know MORE than a clinical psychologist, MORE than everything there is to know about a pathology and all of professional clinical psychology, more than a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works with the pathology. That’s quite the claim.

I don’t believe you.

Applying Knowledge

In 2013 I had the structure of the pathology understood. I made this knowledge available immediately to the public, educating the public on the established knowledge of professional psychology, and its application. That basic principle of clinical psychology, among many, has guided me throughout. The moment I have knowledge it becomes immediately available.

This is a trauma pathology in open ongoing abuse, emotional brutality, and developmental damage. It is an ongoing IPV spousal-abuse trauma pathology of brutal emotional abuse of the ex-spouse, and for the child it is a deeply damaging pathology of complex trauma and Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5).

In 2014, I provided two online seminars for the Master’s Lecture Series of California Southern University: Parental Alienation: An Attachment-Based Model (7/18/14) and Treatment of Attachment-Based Parental Alienation (11/21/14).  The information from both remains entirely accurate today, in 2019.

Foundations coverThe following year, in 2015, I published Foundations.  The world shifted at that point, the moment knowledge becomes available and is applied the solution becomes inevitable, it is just a matter of how long it will take.

Back in my college days, I put myself through part of my Master’s program by working as a construction worker for a while, hanging drywall on a subcontracting crew. Construction always begins by laying the foundation, those are the first people on the job site… level the ground, lay the foundations.

That’s the start for building any and all structures, including the structure for a solution to court-involved family conflict. We start by laying the foundation first, before we start any of the other work.  A structure is only as strong as its Foundations.

Based on the solidly grounded foundations of established professional knowledge (Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck), I then constructed the diagnostic assessment instruments for the pathology.

Remember, the PsyD after my name means I know everything there is to know about assessment, everything about diagnosis, everything about attachment, everything about personality disorders, everything about family systems therapy, everything about oppositional-defiant behavior, everything about trauma and complex trauma, everything about all forms of psychotherapy, and everything about the neuro-development of the brain in childhood. That’s called being a clinical psychologist, that’s call boundaries of competence… knowing everything.

Based on these foundations of professional psychology, I constructed the assessment instruments, the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting and the Parenting Practices Outcome Scale, along with the symptom documentation instrument (monitoring three brain-relationship systems; attachment, emotional regulation, and arousal-mood), the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale (PC-RRS). 

That’s what clinical psychologists are trained by education and clinical experience to do… construct assessment instruments and assessment protocols.  We know everything there is to know about constructing assessment instruments and assessment protocols.

I also provided a beautiful Strategic family systems therapy intervention, the Contingent Contingent Visitation booklet pictureVisitation Schedule, although the world will not be prepared to comprehend and apply it for awhile. There’s a lot of catch-up that needs to occur first. I anticipate the Contingent Visitation Schedule may become an important treatment-related factor in about five or ten years, when other things have evolved and are in place, along ABAB booklet coverwith the Single-Case ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol.

I published booklets of educational material (trying to keep them to about 50 pages), providing the knowledge of professional psychology Narcissistic Parent booket coverwhich parents could pass along to their involved professionals, The Narcissistic Parent for legal Professional Consultation coverprofessionals, and Professional Consultation for mental health professionals.

Do you see the multiple lines of solution forming? Establish the foundations of professional knowledge. On these foundations of established professional knowledge, begin to construct the assessment and diagnostic protocol.

This led to the publication of the assessment protocol in 2016, the Assessment of assessment booklet pictureAttachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce. I am a clinical psychologist. Constructing assessment protocols for pathology is what we do. I know everything there is to know about the construction of an assessment protocol. That’s what it means to be a clinical psychologist.

If I was an architect, I’d know about designing buildings, if I was a lawyer, I’d know about the law.  I’m neither of those things, I’m a clinical psychologist, we know everything there is to know about developing assessment instruments and assessment protocols for psychopathology.

I have done this before for a court-involved pathology (juvenile firesetting) for FEMA and the DOJ. There is work product from that assessment protocol posted to my website for review (Screening Instrument, semi-structured Clinical Interview, and Data Summary form).

Construction of assessment protocols for pathology is what clinical psychologists are specifically trained to do.

The High Road Workshop

In 2013/2014, Ms. Pruter recognized my application of knowledge from professional psychology, even through she is not a psychologist, and she understood the approach toward solution.  She and I had brief encounters across several “parental alienation” events, culminating in an office meeting and my review of her High Road workshop protocol.

I know everything about attachment, trauma, complex trauma, family systems therapy, all forms of psychotherapy, and everything about the neuro-development of the brain in child development. I had never seen the type of intervention change agents used in the High Road workshop. It is gentle and entirely effective.

It’s not what we do in any of our forms of psychotherapy. 

Ms. Pruter also described how the High Road workshop protocol is an off-shoot of another curriculum model she’s developed called Higher Purpose Mastery, applicable to a range of trauma-related pathologies.

It works phenomenally well, remarkably well. I understand how it works, I have personally observed all four days of the workshop.  I have received a client from the High Road workshop into my clinical practice, the client entered my therapy entirely normal-range and with an entirely normal-range and bonded relationship to the formerly targeted-rejected parent.  Two days of the High Road workshop achieved a full and complete recovery from years of documented complex trauma and child abuse.

The moment I became aware of the High Road protocol in 2014, my first referral and top recommendation is to Ms. Pruter and the High Road workshop. I included reference to and a description of the High Road workshop in my book, Foundations, and provided declarations to the court in support of the workshop protocol.

In 2017, I accompanied Ms. Pruter to the AFCC national convention in Boston where we presented on a return to established knowledge (AB-PA) and the High Road workshop, and we explained how the High Road protocol achieves its remarkable success. The Powerpoint slides from our 2017 AFCC presentation are available on my website.

Childress & Pruter: 2017 AFCC Presentation 

In 2018, I developed an AB-PA pilot program for the family courts in support for an independent group in Houston. I also traveled to Washington, DC with parent advocates, Wendy Perry and Rod McCall, to hand-deliver the Petition to the APA to the APA. This petition signed by over 20.000 parents and still available on Change.org, identifies the specific ethical code violations within forensic psychology, and seeks three specific remedies.

In 2019, I began active collaboration with Ms. Pruter as a consulting clinical psychologist writing reports for the Custody Resolution Method (CRM), a data tagging and data compilation method applied to documented data surrounding family conflict (archival data; emails, texts, reports, court records, etc.).

In association with my work for CRM, in 2019 I also created a Psychology Tagging protocol, the Checklist of Applied Knowledge, for tagging and providing professional critique and analysis of mental health reports.

In August of 2019, Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter presented a paper to the American Psychological Association,

APA: Empathy, the Family, and the Core of Social Justice
(Childress & Pruter, 2019)

Powerpoint of APA Paper Presentation

This paper expands and anchors the discussion into core human rights issues and the trans-generational transmission of trauma, and documents the recovery from complex trauma achieved by the High Road workshop, an evidenced-based approach for recovering children from complex trauma and child abuse. The data is lock.

The only methodological issue with a single-case research design is replication. Ms. Pruter welcomes outreach, discussion, and proposals from university based researchers for professional collaboration surrounding the High Road workshop and surrounding extensions of the workshop and skill-based approach to recovery from other trauma-related pathologies.  Ms. Pruter is a businesswoman and a child of complex trauma, and recovery.  You are the researchers.  Develop collaboration.

Ms. Pruter also routinely collects the Parent-Child Relationship Rating Scale (PC-RRS) for all High Road workshops. Additional collection of PC-RRS data from the follow-up maintenance care therapist will turn each High Road workshop into another replication of a single case ABA design, and success for each family enrolled in the workshop is documented for each child and parent-child relationship.  The professional term for that is “evidence-based practice” – success in each case is documented by evidence, by data.

In the High Road single-case ABA data presented to the APA Division 24, the child’s ending scores on the PC-RRS are highly positive ratings of 5-6 at the two-day point of the High Road workshop.  This is evidence that the child is immensely relaxed and happy, high affection, high cooperation, high sociability.  He was very happy.  Recovery from complex trauma and child abuse feels good.

Upcoming 2019

The next phase begins in the fall, when Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter offer a comprehensive training seminar series for mental health professionals in AB-PA and solutions for complex family conflict surrounding divorce.

I am a clinical psychologist competent across multiple domains of pathology. Ms. Pruter is a top-tier trauma recovery specialist, she is my first referral and my first recommendation as a clinical psychologist.

If the High Road workshop is not available in a specific case, then the next option becomes traditional solution-focused family systems therapy to restore the parent-child attachment bond and stabilize family functioning into a healthy post-divorce separated family structure.

Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress will also be providing a separate seminar for legal professionals in the fall, describing an alternative treatment-oriented argument package for the court, centering around a trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of the family conflict with the referral question of:

Referral Question: Which parent is the source of pathogenic parenting creating the child’s attachment pathology, and what are the treatment implications?

If a trauma-informed assessment of pathogenic parenting returns a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.5 Child Psychological Abuse, then the targeted parent and legal counsel return to the court seeking a protective separation order based on a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse made by a licensed mental health professional.

If there is disagreement surrounding the diagnosis, then get a second opinion. That’s how diagnostic issues are addressed in clinical psychology and in medical care. A physician’s diagnosis of cancer is not litigated by trial. If the diagnosis is in question, get a second opinion.

In the fall of 2019, top-level professional seminars with Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter for both mental health professionals and legal professionals will be held.

Writing – Writing – Writing

In September, I will be traveling to Barcelona and the Spanish Pyrenees on a personal scouting trip for my next phase, settling into semi-retirement writing books and journal articles. First up is the book Diagnosis

The paper for the APA represents the opening journal article writing phase for me, it is time for me to start writing professional journal articles and the additional books in the series – Foundations – Diagnosis – Treatment, and then more beyond that.

One of the benefits of being an old clinical psychologist is that we know a lot of stuff about psychology. The more pathology we have worked with, the more we know. I’ve worked with a lot of pathology, I know a lot.

The downside of being an old clinical psychologist… is that we’re old. My career is winding down, I’ll be headed off to book writing and working to solve the terrorist mind of pathological anger and pathological hatred.

All the tools needed for solving complex family conflict surrounding divorce are available. I am your advocate within professional psychology, I am your weapon.  You are the warriors, you are the healthier parent, you are the parent chosen by the child to lead the family out of conflict and into healthy family stability. 

This has always been solvable immediately… from the start, with the application of the established knowledge of professional psychology; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick (attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, neuro-development of the brain during childhood).

Family systems therapy provides a full solution, the addition of attachment knowledge and complex trauma provides even further clarity in diagnosis and treatment, the addition of personality disorder pathology domains of knowledge provide crystal clarity on the diagnosis and treatment, and the addition of neuro-developmental knowledge provides a full and complete diagnostic explanation and clear treatment directions.

This next phase will likely extend for several years, and it will end with Dr. Childress or clinical psychology providing training seminars for Child Protective Services.  That will mark the final step in achieving a solution to complex court-involved family conflict surrounding divorce.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

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bad outweigh the good in your marriage

Does The Bad Outweigh The Good in Your Marriage?

bad outweigh the good in your marriage

Does the Bad Outweigh the Good in Your Marriage?

 

Does every situation, no matter how seemingly trivial, evolve into a fight?

Do you or your spouse continually refer to hurtful events in the past?

Is all the respect gone from your relationship? Do you feel it is impossible to bring that respect back?

Have your goals and directions changed but your spouse stayed the same?

Is your spouse no longer encouraging your independence and individual growth?

Have you and your spouse both changed so much that you no longer share moral, ethical, or lifestyle values?

Have you and your spouse lost the art of compromise? When you disagree, are you unable to create a path together that is acceptable to both?

Do you and your spouse have a basic sexual incompatibility?

Do you find yourself no longer attracted to your spouse?

Despite help from a professional therapist, marriage educator or coach have you stopped making love, continued to argue and seen no change in the dynamics between the two of you?

The above questions focus on the negative aspects of the marriage. You can’t say for sure that you are ready for divorce without first taking into consideration any positive aspects.

Conflict and frustration due to marital problems can skew our view of the benefits of marriage, especially when compared to some of the negative aspects of divorce.

Have you considered the following and come to terms with the changes divorce will mean in each situation?

Post Divorce Parenting and Isolation:

If you have a child have you taken into consideration the possibility of becoming the primary caregiver on a day to day basis? For the custodial parent, divorce means parenting on your on for the majority of the time. It is an intense responsibility; truly single parenting is the hardest job one can do so think carefully before voluntarily taking on that responsibility.

On the other hand, if you are to become the non-custodial parent have you considered the pain to both you and your child of no longer being part of their daily life? For non-custodial parents, divorce means a part-time, every other weekend relationship with children. This should be your most important consideration before taking any steps toward divorce.

Divorce doesn’t only end the marriage; it changes relationships that were established due to the marriage. Will you miss your in-laws, neighbors, if you have to move, and any friends who could be considered his /her friends?

The Downside of Being Newly Single

Have you given any thought to the solitude and loneliness that come along with being newly single? It takes time to rebuild a life, in the beginning, there will be more solitude and time to yourself. If you are someone who doesn’t like time alone make sure you have a good support system of friends and family in place before moving on to divorce.

If you can honestly say that you’ve taken all the above into consideration and are sure you are ready for the next step then, you are at a point of acceptance which is a significant sign that it is time to divorce.

The post Does The Bad Outweigh The Good in Your Marriage? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Going to court to resolve a family law case is not a fun experience for anyone involved. You probably didn’t need me to tell you that, but it is the absolute truth. There is nothing glamorous about it. You will not have the moment in time where you get to call out your ex-spouse for the bad behavior he engaged into the delight of your family watching in the audience and the shock of the judge. If you are after truth, justice, and the American Way, then a family court is not the place to go.

What you are more likely to experience is a judge who is engaged but not sympathetic and an opposing party who is slinging mud at you based on issues that may or may not have ever occurred. Do not expect your ex-spouse to be contrite in response to any of the accusations that you hurl at him. I’ve seen enough men and women who have done bad things go on the offensive against a “victim” ex-spouse enough times to know that family court doesn’t deliver results in the way that you may anticipate.

With all of that said, it would make some sense to attempt to appeal to your spouse’s reasonable side and attempt to settle any family case outside of the courtroom. Mediation is a great resource for parties and attorneys alike when it comes to attempting to reach a middle ground on the important issues of your case. The nice part is that the judge in your case will likely require that you mediate your case at least once before you get anywhere near a courtroom. Odds are good that your case will settle and a potential courtroom drama can be averted.

What happens from the beginning part of your case until you get into mediation can have a lasting impact on the chances of your case settling. When it comes to co-parenting with a person who you may not see eye to eye with, getting along may not be an option. In these high conflict family court cases can you do anything to avoid disagreement and disaster?

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to answer that question. We actually took up the issue at the conclusion of yesterday’s blog post and we will continue to run with it in today’s blog. This is an important subject that you need to know about sooner rather than later. Learn what will work when it comes to co-parenting and avoid problems before they occur.

Be accountable to your co-parent

Whether you were married to your child’s other parent or not, you now have a sizeable amount of history with that person. You should feel some degree of responsibility to be held to your word. Basically, you should do the things that you say that you’re going to do. Just as importantly, you should avoid doing the things that you have said that you will not do. That shows that you take seriously the responsibility you have in raising a child with this person.

Even if you couldn’t care less how your child’s other parent views you, remember that everything you do in this case should be done to benefit the life of your child. Do not put your child in a bad position because you cannot be trusted or because you think it’s unimportant to be held to account for your actions. Taking the easy way out may seem better at the time (especially if doing so could harm your ex-spouse) but remember that in a co-parenting relationship you will often find yourself facing similar circumstances down the road.

Although you cannot control what your child’s other parent will do in response to your actions in the future, you have complete control over how you act at the moment. If you say that you are going to do something- do it. It’s as simple as that. Even if it means going out of your way or doing something that doesn’t seem like much fun if you said something your actions need to back those words up.

Keep a journal of interactions with your ex-spouse

If you are not a big fan of organization you may want to pay particular attention to this section of our blog post. Keeping notes of what you say and what your ex-spouse says in relation to your child is an important trait to pick up. For one, it will help you to remember better what was said so that you do not operate under mistaken assumptions and memories of things that did not occur. We’ve all been there- absolutely sure something happened, but as it turns out nothing close to that having occurred.

Before you consider filing a family lawsuit- whether that is a modification or enforcement lawsuit- I would recommend that you review those notes to determine how your memories line up with the reality of the situation. You may find that your emotions are not justified by past events as they actually occurred. It is a good practice to be able to check yourself by keeping notes of your meetings, interactions, phone calls, etc. Better to know exactly what took place than to run off to an attorney for no good reason.

Mediate, and mediate again (if necessary)

As I noted at the outset of today’s blog post, your case will very likely be decided in mediation rather than in a courtroom. Family court judges in most courts will mandate that you mediate your case at least once before stepping foot into their courtroom. When you and your ex-spouse find yourself facing a situation that is too big for you to resolve on your own, it is a good idea to push your attorneys to schedule a mediation early in your case.

Many times I will encourage clients to mediate their case even if an agreement is in place before the case is filed. Let me explain. Suppose that you and your spouse are getting a divorce. You know that you are getting a divorce- there is no chance to reconcile with your husband and divorce is the only alternative that you can seek at this point. You feel good that you all sat at the kitchen table and hammered out an agreement that will allow you to avoid having to go to court.

The next thing one of you does is walk into our office and tell one of our attorneys that you have an agreement for your divorce. All you are looking to do is have a lawyer draft order based on the agreement and you will be on your way. This sounds reasonable and in many ways is exactly what you should have done before coming to see a lawyer. However, I will add one thing to this discussion that should encourage you to seek advice from an attorney and mediator.

Here is that information- even if you have an agreement with your spouse in place for a divorce settlement, there is nothing guaranteeing that your spouse will stick to their word and honor that agreement. A lot can happen in between the time you all agreed to something at the kitchen table and the time where a judge can sign an order. An order has to be drafted, both sides must review the draft and signatures from you and your spouse must be collected. We’re talking at least a couple of weeks.

In the event that you or your spouse change your mind on the terms of your agreement, there is nothing to protect you. You could come up with an agreement only to see your spouse change their mind at the last minute. As long as he hasn’t signed the divorce decree he can turn his back on the process. This is completely legal and happens all the time. Before you start to worry, here is where mediation can solve this problem.

By going to mediation and resolving your issues there, you assure yourself of two things. For one, any agreements that you reach are going to be memorialized by a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). You, your spouse and your attorneys will sign the MSA along with the mediator. This is significant because once it is signed there is no going back. I will tell clients that you cannot call me the next morning in a panic and tell me that the MSA needs to be tossed out because you realized you made a mistake of some sort. The final decree of divorce will be drafted off of that MSA.

Next, not only will you have an agreement in place that is unbreakable, but you also will ensure that you have accounted for all of the areas that are necessary for a divorce. Divorces can be complicated and touch on a range of issues. By coming up with your own settlement you are possibly missing out on a number of subjects that you had failed to account for. By having multiple attorneys and an experienced mediator look at the MSA you are almost guaranteed of having an agreement that takes into account all the areas you needed to account for.

What happens if you cannot agree on compromises after an order is established?

Once all the parties and the judge have signed off on an order it is set in stone. In the future, if there are any disagreements between you and your ex-spouse you can go back and refer to the order to see what your responsibilities are. That is reassuring to have a guidepost like that, but it can also be frustrating due to the fact that your family may “outgrow” the order.

In the future, you and your ex-spouse are free to resolve issues on your own without even filing a lawsuit. This is what judges assume will happen- the two of you will work together and resolve problems on your own without too much difficulty. You will save money and time by not filing a lawsuit and in the end, you will reach conclusions that are better tailored for your family than anything a family court judge could have come up with.

In the event that you have a problem that cannot be solved by negotiation and compromise, remember that the order is what controls the situation. Think of the order as your fall back provisions. Whatever you cannot agree upon means that your order takes center stage. As long as have a mutually agreed upon solution to a problem, you can go off of that solution. However, once one of you no longer agrees to abide by the compromise you must go off of what the order has to say.

This is important for you to know since you cannot be assured that you will always be able to come up with solutions to your problems on the fly. So, what you should take away from this discussion is that your orders had better be workable for your family- both now and in the future.

Questions about visitation problems? Come back to our blog tomorrow to find out more

As children age, and as your own circumstances evolve it may become apparent to you and your child’s other parent that your visitation orders need to be re-worked. What can you do in situations like this? If you find yourself in this sort of position, I would recommend that you return to our blog tomorrow. We will spend some time discussing this subject and how you can work around problems like this.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about today’s blog post or anything another subject in family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys can schedule you for a free of charge consultation six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions of our experienced attorneys and to receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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How To Talk To A Narcissist Without Going Insane

How To Talk To A Narcissist Without Going Insane

 

How do you talk to a narcissist without going insane? The easy answer would be NOT to talk to them.

But sometimes we can’t go No or Modified Contact. Maybe you work with this narcissist. Or perhaps they are a family member, who you need to see at functions. Or possibly you are still hooked in, trying to work through things and you are not quite ready to call it a day.

I understand … this happens.

So, with all of that in mind, I want to help you get very clear in this article – WHY talking to a narcissist can make you feel like you are going insane, and how to navigate things so that you don’t. 

Why Narcissists Get Under Your Skin So Much

This is why talking to a narcissist without going insane is so difficult – they simply don’t have the same agenda with conversations that normal people do. In fact, normal, non-narcissistic people simply don’t have agendas with conversations. They just have conversations.

The narcissist’s agenda is disordered. It is to get control over you; to avoid accountability; to manipulate, mine, dump pain and anger, affect, trigger and get an ego feed by significantly affecting another emotionally (obtaining narcissistic supply).

Therefore, a conversation with a narcissist is not just a conversation.

It is an exchange with an unwholesome, false self-agenda attached to it. When the narcissist is in the love-bombing stage, unfortunately our false self, our ego, is attached and running with it.

Meaning our unhealed, unresolved parts, which don’t subconsciously believe that we are worthy or lovable, or worth validating or being cared for, gobble up the manipulative compliments and promises like any starving man or women would.

Yet, something inside knows this is unwholesome. Something feels a little off, but of course we ignore it. We want to believe that this person is our Source of love, security or survival, and absolutely, in our defence, we may have no idea that people like this exist and therefore what we were really walking in to.

Over time, not only do we see this ‘oh so delightful’ person lose so much of their ‘previous genuineness’. We also come face to face with the verbal onslaughts, twists and turns and, quite frankly, overt lunacy that goes with a narcissist’s conversations.

I call it the narcissistic three-ring circus, and at least one of those rings is a total freak show.

Let’s have a look at the conversation methods that I wrote about in my article ‘Are you with a narcissist’.

  • Avoidance: Refusing to recognise or acknowledge the incident as real or important to you.
  • Excuses: Making up stories or reasons for the behaviour that are not genuine or valid excuses.
  • Accusations: Blaming someone else for the wrongdoing.
  • False Apology: Saying a ‘sorry’ that is not a genuine apology and expecting you to accept it.
  • Ignorance: Claiming you never said that; that was never discussed; or the narcissist never said that.
  • Confusion: Creating antics over trivial points in the conversation to shift and confuse the focus.
  • Projection: Stating ‘what you did wrong’ regarding the particular topic, by using ammunition from the past that has nothing to do with the present incident.
  • Using Allies: Quoting people, real or imagined, to back their ‘story’ of excuses or to discredit you.
  • Shutting down: Unwillingness to have a conversation or abandoning the scene to avoid scrutiny.
  • Shifting Focus: Responding with displeasure to your body language or the tone of your voice to steer the conversation away from the wrongdoing.
  • Persecution: Stating how bad your accusations are, and what a terrible person you are to accuse them.
  • Denial: Stating that it was incidents in your past, and it is your fears and insecurities which cause you to make these accusations.
  • Discrediting: Stating that you are such a negative person and always look for the ‘conspiracy theory’ in your conversations.
  • Threatening: Citing abandonment or punishment if you continue with the accusation.
  • Entitlement: Demanding that you recognise the positive things they have done for you and that it’s unfair for you to focus on the negatives.
  • Lying: Stating they did grant explanation and reassurance, or did the credible thing when these actions were not forthcoming.
  • Condemnation: Continuing the story of ‘I did do the right thing’ and then being incensed at you for calling them a liar.
  • Justification: Stating ‘I did it’ because of your behaviour and because you make me do these things.
  • Triggering: Using a maiming comment, related or unrelated, to incite you to anger and shift blame.
  • Competition: Stating all the things that they are not happy about with you, as a ‘tit-for-tat’ retaliation, rather than addressing the issue at hand.

These are all elaborate defence mechanisms that are so COMMON amongst narcissists. As you read through this list, you may recognise many or all of these tactics. They are out-of-bounds behaviours that mean you are dealing with someone who is personality disordered and drastically unhealthy to be having conversations with.

The truth of the matter is this – if you are trying to have a sane, reasonable conversation with a sick person, you are going to get sick.

It DOES drive you mad.

 

Changing Expectations and Rules of Engagement

Here’s the thing, once you know you are dealing with a narcissist you have to completely drop any expectations you would have in normal human interactions.

This person is not going to get it.

You are not going to get understanding, harmony or resolution.

This person does not want to play ‘healthy team’ with you.

This person does not have win-win in mind. Rather, they are out to get what they want at your expense.

If you cater to this person and give them what they want, this is not going to earn you clemency, decency or favours. In fact, it will only make matters worse, because if you give an inch they will take a mile.

Nothing you say, argue or fight for will make one scrap of difference – so it really is key for you to stop doing this.

 

The Switch – Make It About Your Truth, Not Changing Them

There is a very simple rule in dealing with anyone who is abusive or insane – stop worrying about what they are saying and doing, and get very clear about who YOU are Being and what you are Doing.

This CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Let me explain…

I’ll give you this example regarding what one of my clients was dealing with. Frances was quite frankly a psychotic narcissist, who was constantly trying to stalk and agitate Graham at every opportunity.

She contacted his family and friends, smeared him, and did everything in her power to affect him.

He used to buy into it. He used to meet her and try to reason with her, which was really just about her guilting, blaming, dumping anger, and horrifically abusing him – to the point where he admitted that one night he was so distraught he nearly drove off the road and into a tree.

By doing the inner work with the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program (NARP), Graham released the traumas that were keeping him hooked into her, traumas that were mostly about HAVING to be the good and right guy for her.

Then he was able to see her disorder; to know that nothing he did could ever appease her, fix her or save her. He went No Contact and ended up putting an intervention order on her. He took her belongings to her mother’s house and severed all ties.

Graham’s truth had become: ‘I deserve and will only engage in healthy, adult relationships of respect.’

Another one of my clients, Barbara, whilst co-parenting with Tony, had long ago realised he was a narcissist. So rather than be dragged down with his horrible treatment of her and the children, she did the inner work on all of her triggers, which used to get shaken up by him.

As a result, Barbara managed to get Our Family Wizard, as the only way that they would communicate, approved through court, and was effectively parallel parenting with Tony. How she achieved this, was that when he tried his knee jerk reactions, with ridiculous narcissistic attempts to disrupt the parenting plan, Barbara’s responses were firmly in her power. They were all about her and not about him.

She would say, ‘I am not prepared to do that. This is what I am prepared to do.’ And then would say no more, regardless of how he reacted. Without any feed or attention from her, he stopped the ridiculous antics.

When we become FULLY our truth, without being derailed by narcissists, we are usually shocked at how easy it is to get their CRAP to stop. But it wasn’t EASY for us to get there!

For all of us, we have had so much fear regarding ‘being ourselves.’

I know for myself, my previous terror used to be: ‘What will these people do to me and my life if I don’t appease them?’

In this global, on-line business, there have been times when narcissistic people threaten and attack. Not often, but occasionally it does happen. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t come from narcissists but from victims of narcissistic abuse, who want me or my team to fix everything for them and then attack us abusively when we can’t!

When this happens, as much as I feel for them, and I’m very disappointed we couldn’t co-create their healing with them, I am clear – I’ll be me, have boundaries and will not tolerate abuse.

If there is any fear about their reactions with my boundaries, I meet that fear in my body, shift it out with Quanta Freedom Healing, and completely honour my truth and rights for an abuse-free life.

I also protect the space of this community with this solid self-truth and determination.

No more is it about – trying to fix, smooth over, appease, cajole or play it safe with these people. And it is certainly not about trying to get them to get it and change.

Those days are gone.

I hope you understand; it needs to be the same for you. Narcissists push us into our truth and power and boundary function, so that we can end these ridiculously insane, brain and soul-twisting conversations, where narcissists can truly make mincemeat out of our minds and insides.

It’s then that we can lose our fear and walk straight, solid and sane lines, regardless of what other people are or aren’t doing.

Then you will realise how powerfully you can create your life, once you are anchored into the internal integrity that all of Life, Source and Creation GETS and backs – when you GET it and back it.

I promise you that narcissists are powerless in the face of that.

If this article resonates with you powerfully, I’d love you to come with me and get out of fear and into your truth – where you are no longer affected, triggered and participating.

You can do that by joining me here and getting started on my 16-day free course, which will help you get empowered and free from all the internal reasons why you have felt trapped in the insanity.

And I look forward to answering your comments and your questions below.

 

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Scandinavian Ethics Code for Psychologists

Scandinavian Ethics Code for Psychologists

 

I was emailed a google-translate of the Etiske Principper for Nordiske Psykologer Denmark.Sweden.Norway and I was asked for comment regarding possible ethical violations for Scandinavian psychologists similar to the professional concerns surrounding American psychologists, and others internationally.

I cannot make official comment on the Scandinavian ethics code until I locate an official English translation, then I can provide formal comment and analysis because then I’ll be on solid ground regarding what’s being said by the constructs used, but I can provide some initial thoughts based on this translation.

Professional Competence is discussed in Section II.2

II.2 Competence

The psychologist strives to develop and maintain a high level of professional qualifications in his work.

First, I would note how they incorporated “high level” as the standard for practice.  I am unaware of the translated construct in the original language, but if an appropriate construct was used that would bear the weight of argument, I would emphasize that the ethics code for Scandinavian psychologists specifically designated a “high level” of professional practice.

That would mean application of knowledge – Bowlby, Munuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick – that is entirely consistent with “high level” – and failure to apply established knowledge would NOT meet this “high level” standard.

From the Translation: The psychologist seeks awareness of his professional and human strengths and weaknesses so that he can realistically assess with which competence he can take on tasks.

This sentence says… “It is your responsibility as a psychologist to know what the limits of your competence are.”  It’s not up to you, the consumer, to identify it… it’s up to them to know their limitations, and to practice only within those limitations, which is the next sentence.

From the Translation:  The psychologist takes on only the tasks, offers only the services and uses only those methods he is qualified by virtue of education, training and experience.

That’s the core sentence.  What Foundations does, and an attachment-based model of pathogenic parenting surrounding divorce does (AB-PA), is establish that a knowledge of five domains of professional psychology are needed for competence,

  • Attachment
  • Family systems therapy
  • Personality disorders
  • Complex trauma
  • Neuro-development of the brain in childhood

I use a main person in each field to represent each domain, Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), and Tronick (neuro-development of the brain).  This is established knowledge. 

Working with complex family conflict surrounding divorce requires professional competence in all five of these domains of knowledge.  That’s what the work of Dr. Childress asserts.  It is now up to them to either,

A.)  Know and apply the knowledge domains, i.e., be competent, or,

B.)  Defend why they don’t need to know that knowledge domain for the type of work they do.

Notice too, the method of qualification, “education, training, and experience” – that’s their vitae.  Show us, on your vitae, where is your “education, training, and experience” in those five domains of knowledge.

I suspect that no psychologist currently has professional-level “education, training, and experience” in all five of those domains of knowledge.  I do, because I’m competent in what I do.  If I need to know it, I know it.  But for other psychologists, that then becomes the leverage point for them to receive additional training for professional competence. 

Do I care what type of training?  No, I don’t. 

As long as every mental health professional on the planet who is working with court-involved pathology receives additional training in whatever they don’t know from those five domains.  If you know attachment and trauma, but don’t know family systems therapy… hurry-hurry, all five for competence… go get “education, training, and experience” in family systems therapy – hurry-hurry, required for competence.

I might be asked to help in the transition, but I don’t speak Swedish, or Spanish, or Japanese.  Each country will need to develop its own “high level” of professional knowledge applied.  I can help, it’s up to you to do it, because you want to do it. It is the right thing to do… apply knowledge to solve pathology.  It’s what we do as psychologists.

I’m a catalyst for change.  I established the solid foundations of knowledge that change can rest on, the scientifically grounded foundations of professional psychology, where debate is answered by the question and answer, “What does the research say?”  That’s the answer.

I recently provided an invited lecture at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.  I was part of a panel, with additional Dutch psychologists from attachment and trauma also presenting.  Yay.  Exactly as it should be.  There was no “parental alienation” on the panel – that is a construct beneath professional standards of practice – trauma… attachment… family systems therapy… personality disorders… the neuro-development of the brain in childhood – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick.

I am not the source of knowledge, but I can be a helpful orienting conduit TO the knowledge during a transitional up-grade in professional standards of practice.  I don’t speak Danish.  I don’t speak French.  I don’t speak Italian. Each nation will have to find psychologists within your country who step up to deliver the highest level of professional practice for the courts.

The courts deserve the HIGHEST standards of professional practice.  Lives hang in the balance of court decisions.  Professional standards of practice for court-involved psychology need to excel, they need to be at the absolute-top in the application of knowledge and scientific research to the information and to decision-making.  People’s lives hang in the balance of the court’s decision, there is no tolerance for professional ignorance and sloth.

There will be a transition period.  We need indigenous psychologists within each country to understand their professional responsibilities in this regard, and the professional responsibilities of their colleagues.  Continuing education on the matter of foundational knowledge is warranted as the application of scientifically established knowledge is increased.

Reading the Scandinavian ethics code, there are exceedingly positive indicators of sanity.  The next sections reveal these.

Ethical Awareness

From the Translation: A prerequisite for a high professional competence is that the psychologist is aware of the ethical principles and integrates ethical assessments into its professional practices.

This establishes, clearly establishes, that the line of discussion and critique we are taking into professional dialogue is a requirement of consideration for all psychologists in Scandinavia.  Ethical practice is central to the required “high level” of professional practice.

Competence and Skills Development

From the Translation: The psychologist works in accordance with scientific principles and substantiated experience and endeavors for continuous professional development. The psychologist acquires knowledge about scientific and professional development within its scope of work.

This is an interesting statement, “in accordance with scientific principles and substantiated experience”- that seems identical to Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code requiring the application of scientifically established knowledge.  An English translation, however, may not capture nuanced complexity to the original language terms used, so I will defer to a native interpretation for this requirement. But it seems to me, it’s saying that you must apply Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, and Tonick.

Limitations of Competence

From the Translation: The psychologist works within the limits on his own competence that stems from education, training, experience and personal strength and limitation, and seeks professional help and support in difficult situations.

You are not allowed to be incompetent.  You need to know what you’re doing if you are going to do it.  Note again, the qualifications, “education, training, experience.”  Note also, the direction made to psychologists to seek professional consultation support in difficult situations, again deferring to meaning in the original-language as to intent.

Method Limitations

From the Translation: The psychologist is aware of the limitations that lie in the methods and methods of the subject, and the limitations that must be placed on the conclusions that can be drawn.

Know your limitations.

As psychologists, we shouldn’t be in the business of judging human frailty and vulnerabilities to decide who “deserves” to be a parent.  We fix things.   We shouldn’t go beyond the scope of what we know and what we can do.  Parents – normal-range parents – should be afforded wide latitude to parent according to their cultural, personal and spiritual values.  If it’s not child abuse, then we should not be judging human frailty, that’s not the role of psychologists.

Be aware of our limitations, and the limitations of what the scientific evidence will support and will allow us to say.  What are the psychometric properties of your assessment protocol, what is your referral question?  Stay within the limitations of our professionally grounded knowledge.

Limitations of the Framework Conditions

From the Translation: The psychologist is aware of how social and working conditions can promote or inhibit the appropriate use of his competence and methods.

We are working with the court.  The court appreciates evidence.  In clinical psychology, our term is documentation.  In research methods, the term is data.  Professional psychology should ground its interactions with the court in clean documentation and clean data for decision-making. 

Not a problem.  Clearly documented assessment, clearly documented diagnosis, case conceptualization and written treatment plan, and outcome measures documenting treatment response and treatment outcome should be standard of practice.

The lives of multiple people, including children, hang in the balance of the court’s decisions surrounding the family.  It is essential that court-involved professional psychology provides the court with the highest standards in the application of professional knowledge and standards of practice.  It is vital for court-involved professional psychology to be aware of how its input to the court can have dramatic long-term impacts on multiple people, necessitating the highest standards of practice in the application of professional knowledge.

The Liability section contains the provisions regarding Avoiding Harm

II.3 Liability

From the Translation: The psychologist is aware of the professional and scientific responsibilities he has for its clients and that organization and the community in which he lives and works.

We have responsibilities.

From the Translation: The psychologist avoids causing harm and is responsible for his actions.

The psychologist avoids causing harm and is responsible for his actions. That seems simple, direct and clear.  There are no exclusions noted.  There was no, “avoids causing harm, except with parent litigants in divorce – them… it’s okay to harm them, but not other people.”  It doesn’t say that.  No exceptions were indicated.

The statement was clear and direct in its simplicity, and the psychologist is clearly held accountable, no “just following instructions” excuses… “responsible for his actions” – “the psychologist avoids causing harm.”

Did the actions of the psychologist, either directly or through failed application of knowledge (a violation of II.2 Competence)… harm you?

With the mere assertion of this, it then becomes incumbent upon the psychologist to DEMONSTRATE through vitae and in their documentation of their assessment, diagnosis, and treatment… that they applied knowledge; Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, and Tronick – attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, the neuro-development of the brain in childhood, consistent with their obligations under II.2 Competence.

From the Translation: Secures as far as possible that his benefits are not abused.

It’s not simply that the psychologist avoids harming people – anyone – even you – the psychologist must also “secure” (defer to the original term) that BENEFITS are indeed benefits, and are not misused and abused.

The Scandinavian professional ethics code expects a “high level” of professional responsibility.  Know what you’re doing, make sure it helps and doesn’t hurt, and that is YOUR responsibility to ensure, not someone else’s.

Responsibility

From the Translation: The psychologist takes responsibility for himself the quality and consequences of its work, but at the same time be aware of, that he is experienced by others as a representative of his stand.

Do quality work, and also understand that you represent the entire field of professional psychology.  Represent well, the professional standards of practice for psychologists.

Avoidance of Abuse / Injury

From the Translation: The psychologist strives to avoid that psychology professional knowledge or practice being abused and taking responsibility for, that an injury is inevitable, and which can be foreseen will be as small as possible.

This seems identical to Standard 3.04 of the APA ethics code.  Psychologists are not allowed to hurt people – anyone, there are no exceptions noted in the code – and when harm is “inevitable” (defer to the original term), then psychologists make it as “small as possible” (defer to the original term).

Conclusion

The Scandinavian ethics code for psychologists contains nearly identical standards in II.2 Competence as in the APA ethics code Section 2: Competence.  The Scandinavian ethics code for psychologists mandates knowing the established domains of psychology relevant to the domain for practice:

From the Translation:  The psychologist takes on only the tasks, offers only the services and uses only those methods he is qualified by virtue of education, training and experience (APA: Standard 2.01a)

And the ethics code for Scandinavian psychologists mandates the application of scientifically established knowledge:

From the Translation: The psychologist works in accordance with scientific principles and substantiated experience and endeavors for continuous professional development. The psychologist acquires knowledge about scientific and professional development within its scope of work. (APA: Standard 2.04)

These requirements would seemingly mandate knowing and applying the scientific principles” (defer to original term) for attachment, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma, and the neuro-development of the brain in childhood – Bowlby, Minuchin, Beck, van der Kolk, Tronick.

Where questions are answered with the question and answer of, “What does the research say, that’s the answer.”

The ethics code for Scandinavian psychologists also has nearly an identical Avoiding Harm standard as APA Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm.

From the Translation: The psychologist avoids causing harm and is responsible for his actions.

Psychologists are not allowed to be ignorant or incompetent (II.2 Competence), and psychologists are not allowed to hurt people – even you – (II.3 Liability).  You might want to check the exact cultural-legal use of the term, because the term “liability” has legal responsibility meaning in the United States.

Craig  Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 1885

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child discipline after divorce

Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms

child discipline after divorce

 

Child discipline in an intact family is a responsibility shared between Mom and Dad. Once there is a divorce the custodial parent will have to take on the majority of this responsibility. Non-custodial parents should remain as actively involved in child discipline as possible but it only makes sense that the parent spending more time with the child will end up doing most of the work where discipline is concerned.

It is a dirty job but someone has to do it! It is especially important that children who are struggling to cope with the changes in their family be given a structured environment to help them cope with the many changes that come along with divorce.

This is a guide for the custodial parent who may find themselves not only attempting to cope with the stress of being a single parent but also the impact of divorce on their child.

8 Tips for Child Discipline After Divorce

1. Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Workshop:

Busy children are less likely to get into or cause trouble. Keeping your child engaged in fun or productive activities will not only keep them out of trouble it will keep you focused on something other than your own problems.

My ex sees our children 4 days out of the month which leaves me to deal with any disciplinary problems that arose on all those other days. I found that life was easier for not only me but the children also if I stressed the importance of not only having fun but also being productive.

They both had after school activities to participate in that were outlets for creativity and an opportunity to relax and distress. They also had responsibilities they had to tend to once they were home for the evening. Their homework had to be done, dinner dishes had to be cleaned and they were required to do 45 minutes of reading. By bedtime, they were so tired from their “fun and productive day” they welcomed the idea of crawling between the sheets and settling down.

2. Focus on Positive Behaviors, Not Negative Behaviors:

You can sit my younger son in time out all day or, take away his favorite toy and he would turn around and misbehave…over and over again. The trick with him was to give him something he liked doing as a reward for not misbehaving.

Once I figured this out I spent a lot less time punishing him and more time praising him. For example, he loved feeding the fish and cleaning the fish tank. That was his job unless he misbehaved and to hold onto that “job” he works hard at behaving in a way that is pleasing to his Mom.

If you have a child who isn’t responding in a positive way to standard forms of discipline try rewarding him/her with a liked task in exchange for good behavior. As a parent, it is so much less stressful to be able to say, “job well done,” instead of, “to the corner young man.”

3. Set Clear and Age Appropriate Boundaries and Rules:

Don’t expect your children the respect boundaries or follow rules they are not old enough to understand or physically capable of following. I had a written contract with my elder son that outlined his responsibilities and the rewards for living up to those responsibilities.

My younger son had a chart with stars. He was awarded a star for good behavior and lost a star for bad behavior. And they both knew what I considered good and bad behavior. I was specific with them about the rules and the consequences of breaking the rules. And the consequences for my elder son were different than the ones for my younger son.

4. Be Consistent When Disciplining:

As a single parent, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and relax the rules a bit. Let’s face it, at times it is easier to just “do it yourself” than engage in the power struggle that can ensue when trying to get a child to act.

The idea behind setting rules and boundaries is to let them know who is in charge. The more you bend the rules, the less parental authority you have. Bend them enough and you will soon find yourself with no authority at all.

Being consistent requires a parent have self-discipline, it requires a lot of effort. In other words, being consistent will probably be the hardest part of disciplining your child. If you are able to remain consistent you will not only promote growth and maturity in your child but yourself also.

5. Be Quick and Concise When Disciplining Your Child:

My mother was notorious for threatening me if I misbehaved when away from home. She would shake her finger in my face and say, “when I get you home you will pay for that.” And there I would be, filled with anxiety for hours over what was going to happen once she “got me home.”

She didn’t want to make a scene in front of others but didn’t mind dumping hours of stress and fear onto me in order to save face. Punishment is far more effective and less damaging if it is doled out at the time of the bad behavior. Justice should be swift when dealing with children and it will be more effective if done immediately.

The trick is to have a separate set of consequences the child will suffer if bad behavior takes place away from home than those you have for home. It can be as simple as telling her child if he/she misbehaves at a Birthday party you will remove them from the party. Whatever the consequences, whether at home or away from home do it on the spot.

6. Keep Your Anger Under Control When Disciplining Your Child:

When we discipline we are attempting to send a message…certain behaviors are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. When you become angry and scream or yell the message gets lost. All your child hears or retains is the anger that is mudding up the message.

Keeping your anger under control also helps promote a respectful and loving relationship with your child. You will also be setting an example for your child on how to deal with a negative situation without going off the rails emotionally.

7. Allow Children to Help Set House Rules and Boundaries:

This is especially helpful when disciplining teenagers. An older child will feel more motivated to follow rules and respect boundaries they have helped set. Teens are on the brink of adulthood, they are living on the fence so to speak. It is a very frustrating time of wanting control but having none.

Giving your teen the opportunity to negotiate such things as curfew and what happens if they break curfew will give them a sense of control. I found, as my boys aged the more power they felt they had, the less likely they were to take advantage of that power.

8. Work Constructively With Your Co-Parent When Disciplining Your Child:

Your job as a single parent will be easier if you work with the non-custodial parent when setting up rules and boundaries for your child. These can be a challenging part of co-parenting but for the sake of your children, it is helpful for both parents to be on the same page when it comes to crimes and how those crimes are punished.

As parents, we want to teach our children certain morals and values. If divorced parents do not work together they fall short of teaching their children anything other than to engage in conflict and power struggles.

The rules at one house don’t have to be the same for the other house but parents should be in agreement about the need for setting and enforcing rules and boundaries. Doing so is best for all concerned.

The post Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce

Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce

What matters most for your children is the absence of conflict during co-parenting. Find your “sweet spot” on the co-parenting continuum.

The post Assessing Your Ability to Co-Parent after Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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