Amy J.L. Baker Ph.D.

Caught Between Parents

Targeted Parents and Adult Alienated Children

A traumatized population with unmet needs

Posted Jul 12, 2016

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to help targeted parents and their adult alienated children. These families are outside the reach of the courts. Because the alienated children are no longer legal minors, there are no legal mechanisms for targeted parents to request in order to impose a reunification program on their children.

These parents have few resources available to them. Many come to me for coaching advice and I have been able to help many (but not all) reconnect with their adult alienated child(ren) through a process I utilize in my coaching. Over time I have become aware that the reconnection between the targeted parent and an adult alienated child is really just the beginning of the healing process. Again, there are few resources available for these dyads. I don’t offer telephone coaching for parents and children together (I don’t think that would work) and few therapists (that I know of) have specialization in this area.

For these reasons, I, along with two colleagues, have created a new manualized program for targeted parents and their adult alienated children. The program is called Restoring Family Connections. It is voluntary, not court ordered. It is outpatient, not intensive/residential. It is designed for a typical front line mental health provider to implement, as long as s/he receives 2 hours of coaching from me and endorses all of the concepts presented in the theoretical foundation portion of the manual.

Starting September of this year, I will be making the manual available for clinicians who want to develop expertise in this area or to targeted parents who want to provide their local clinician with the tools to assist in the restoration of their relationship with their adult alienated child. More information will be available about the program in September.

Reconnecting is just the beginning of the work for the targeted parent and adult alienated child. There are many landmines and danger zones and without the proper guidance and support the process could stall or even fail. What they need is a structured mechanism to repair the breach in their relationship; process the loss, grief, and anger; and find a new way to relate to each other moving forward. Without such help, they may never fully heal nor escape the long-term negative effects of parental alienation.