The second European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners (EAPAP) conference, co-hosted with the Family Separation Clinic, was held in London on 30 and 31 August 2018. The landmark conference brought together world leading experts in the field of parental alienation to consider the legal and mental health interlock necessary to promote successful resolution in these complex cases.
Described by Sir Paul Coleridge, former High Court Judge in the UK and Chair of Marriage Foundation, as a conference with gold standard presentations, the two-day event featured many of the world leading authorities on parental alienation. The event was attended by more than 200 delegates over the two days and, whilst the conference was focussed on the situation in Europe, delegates also travelled from as far afield as Hong Kong, New Zealand and the USA to attend. Attendees included magistrates, judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, psychologists, mediators and family support workers. The conference was also attended by a group of parent representatives who formed a parent panel to give their views throughout the interactive event.
The purpose of the conference was to draw together the practitioners who work in the internationally recognised models which are shown to be successful in treatment of parental alienation. The Conference heard from eighteen experts in the field with the first day focussing on the legal and the second day focussing on the mental health aspects of the issue. Karen Woodall from the Family Separation Clinic in London introduced the standards of practice which will govern the work of the new European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners. These were endorsed by the Conference and by Sir Paul Coleridge in his closing speech.
These included a commitment to families to provide services that are clear and explicit in how the needs of children and rejected parents are recognised and met, that are demonstrated to deliver the key standards of the organisation, that deliver specialised treatment routes that are provided as a plan of work prior to intervention, that implement an intervention to prevent child abuse where necessary, and that prioritise of the restoration of the relationship between child and parent. One key theme that emerged from the conference was that standard therapeutic approaches to cases of parental alienation are not only ineffective but are known to be contraindicated. As Dr. Steven Miller, a expert in clinical reasoning pointed out, 'techniques that might be effective in other settings are not effective for PA, and often make things worse,' adding that, the word contraindicated does not mean “not indicated,” it means forbidden.'
Speaking about the launch of internationally recognised standards of practice, Karen Woodall acknowledged the work of Wilfred von Boch-Galhau, Ursula Kodjoe, Walter Andritzky & Peter Koeppel, pioneers in parental alienation awareness raising who organised the first international conference on PA in Germany in 2002. Recognising that the standards of practice advocated by EAPAP have been in existence for almost two decades, Karen spoke of the need to build upon the work which has already been done to establish the reality of parental alienation as child abuse.
In addition to key European practitioners such as Gordana Buljan Flander, Judge Lana Peto Kujundžić and Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, from Croatia, Simona Maria Vlădică from Romania, Sietska Djistra from the Netherlands, and Francesca Wiley, Andrea Watts, Victoria Green, Hamish Cameron and Nick Woodall from the United Kingdom, the conference heard from North American speakers including Amy J. L. Baker, Brian Ludmer, Bill Bernet, Steven G Miller, Jennifer Jill Harman, Eric J. Green, Linda Gottlieb and Leilani Sinclair.