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:
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 was 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 on 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 Brain 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.
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.
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.
The 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 Visitation 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 with 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 which parents could pass along to their involved professionals, The Narcissistic Parent for legal professionals, 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 Attachment-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.
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,
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.
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