Understanding, Assessment & Intervention

Brian O'Sullivan


This is a recording of a recent one day training event exploring the theoretical construct of parental alienation, understanding, recognition and interventions titled "Parental Alienation: Understanding, Assessment & Intervention for children


This is an essential training for those who are working with families post relationship breakdown, where access and visitation is presenting problems. 


The early identification of alienating dynamics may help arrest its development and limit the psychological and emotional damage that parental alienation causes to children. If the problem is identified early it is possible to create interventions that privileges the right of children to have a relationship with both parents and identify specific supports to help the family overcome these challenges in a positive way.


  • Practitioners will be well placed to integrate the parental alienation construct into their professional practice in a timely manner.

  • To provide a grounding in the theoretical models, global research, assessment protocols and evidence based interventions relevant to parental alienation.

  • To enable identification of risk factors and alienating behaviours in children, carers and families.

  • To be able to understand the many counter intuitives that leads many professionals to misinterpret parental alienation for justifiable estrangement.

  • To understand the many emotional constructs that alienating parents use to coerce the child(ren) to erase a target parent from their child's life.


All social, legal, psychological and mental health practitioners working with children and families, practitioners working as expert witnesses in private family law proceedings, undergraduate and post graduate students.


Practitioners are increasingly being faced with a phenomenon where children strongly align themselves with one parent while rejecting the relationship with a previously loved parent without justification in the context of a high conflict relationship breakdowns often referred to as parental alienation (PA).


The American Psychological Association is currently reviewing their position in relation to the phenomenon. The British Psychological Society and CAFCASS have placed this phenomenon on their agenda publicly. Additionally, the phenomenon is in the current draft of the ICD 11. It seems timely that this training raises awareness, education, aetiology, construct, interventions and impact on children and families in Ireland be provided at this time to health professionals in Ireland.


  • Critical awareness and knowledge regarding a clinical presentation of Alienated Children.

  • Identifying dynamics of parental alienation in children and families.

  • Early intervention skills and techniques when working with families and children experiencing PA.

  • The voice of the child - differentiating between the expressed wishes and feelings of children versus ascertainable wishes and feelings.

  • Increased knowledge and awareness of PA.

  • Increased capacity recognise and to respond appropriately to children experiencing alienation minimising their emotional and psychological harm across their lifespan.


  • Articulate and synthesise theoretical perspectives regarding parental alienation (PA).

  • Critically compare and contrast differences and similarities in various constructs of PA.

  • Demonstrate a critical, evidence based and theoretically informed understanding of the theoretical contributions as they pertain to PA.

  • Acquire a mastery of skills needed to differentiate PA from true estrangement.

  • Deconstruct the numerous counter-intuitive's for practitioners working with PA.


  • Introduction, History, definitions and critique of PA.

  • Signs that a family is vulnerable to PA, Clinical presentation of alienated children (case examples) and the voice of the Child.

  • Signs that a family is vulnerable to PA, Clinical presentation of alienated children (case examples) and the voice of the Child.

  • Clinical presentations of Alienating Parents, Counter intuitive's for professionals & Interventions available.


 Lecture, group discussions, case studies and role play.

What materials will participants receive?

Copies of facilitator's published papers with further resources & literature.

Qualifications and prior experience necessary:

Working with families & Children.

Evaluation: Self evaluation at conclusion of workshop.




  • O’ Sullivan. B (2012) Does Helping Hurt, Journal of Canadian Paramedicine, 35:1, pp.25- 27
  • O’ Sullivan. B (2013) the Alienated Child, Irish Journal of Family Law, 16:1, pp. 20-23
  • O’ Sullivan. B (2014) Paramedic Attitudes to Deliberate Self Harming Behaviors in Ireland, Journal of Paramedic Practice, 6:3 pp. 116 – 118
  • O’ Sullivan. B (2015) Parental Alienation should be a criminal offence, Irish Times
  • Monday September 1, 2015 https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/parental-alienation-should-be-criminal-offence-says-group-1.2335436
  • O’ Sullivan. B (2016) Parental Alienation – Guest writer The Westmeath Examiner
  • O’ Sullivan. B (2017) Parent Alienation, Irish Psychologists are beginning to recognize a new and damaging phenomenon https://villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2017/02/parentalienation
  • O'Sullivan. B (2018) Parental Alienation – A Systemic Perspective, Context, Journal of Systemic and Family Practice (UK)


  • Presentation of paper “The Alienated Child” at International Parental Alienation Awareness Day, conference, Dublin, 2015.
  • British Psychological Society’s, Annual Conference, Nottingham, April, 2016.
  • Redressing the impact of parental alienation: working with the family
  • Irish Association of Social Workers, Special Interest Group, Lucena Clinic, Rathgar, Dublin. Presentation of research findings of study titled “Being Alien – The Lived Experiences of Alienated Parents in Ireland” September 26, 2016
  • Irish College of Humanities & Science, Limerick post graduate presentation of research findings titled “Parental Alienation Understanding, Indications and Awareness, November 24, 2016
  • Parental Alienation – Denied Contact in High Conflict Separation and Divorce, CPD seminar to faculty and lecturers PCI College, Dublin, March 9, 2017
  • Research findings Being Alienated – The Lived Experiences of Alienated Parent Ireland – seminar to Post Graduate Research Seminar, DCU School of Nursing & Human Sciences, December 2017
  • In the best interests of the children: Exploring parental alienation & estrangement, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queens University, Belfast, April 25, 2018
  • Parental Alienation – A Systemic Perspective, Second Systemic Postgraduate research conference – curiosity and critical practice, Tavistock Clinic, London May 4, 2018.

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Parental Alienation Europe is a resource designed to create awareness around Parental Alienation, provide education services to the public and practitioners and to train practitioners so that they can intervene to protect children and parents who are victims of Parental Alienation.

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