Choosing a Therapist for Parental Alienation

There is currently no credentialing body to provide specific criteria to help parents identify experts trained in the sub-specialty of parental alienation because it is still an emerging field. There are, however, a core group of researchers and clinicians who have developed a core knowledge base for the diagnosis, intervention and treatment of parental alienation. Unfortunately, this information is not yet routinely available in the training of front-line clinicians.

The National Association of Parental Alienation Specialists is led by both mental health experts and legal experts who specialize in parental alienation. You can find a list of specialists and their location on their website,

There is an international organization of parental alienation experts called the Parental Alienation Study Group. Their website is Members and those who have authored books on parental alienation can be found on this website. Find a therapist trained and experienced in working with family relationships, not just an individual person or child, because parental alienation is a pathology of family relationships.

Family Systems therapists or Marriage and Family therapists have a master’s or doctorate degree, plus a minimum of two years supervised clinical experience.

1. In order to effectively assess and treat parental alienation, a therapist must have a deep, extensive knowledge of the clinical literature regarding pathological alignment, alienation and estrangement, and pathological enmeshment, as well substantial knowledge and understanding of borderline, narcissistic, and sociopathic personality disorders. Many, but not necessarily all, alienating parents have one or more personality disorders (typically of the borderline, narcissistic and/or sociopathic type). The more extreme or severe the alienating behavior, the more likely it is that the alienating parent has an underlying personality disorder

2. In addition to education, an effective therapist for parental alienation needs years of experience working directly with parental alienation families

3. Some of the experts in parental alienation have authored or co-authored published works regarding parental alienation in peer-reviewed publications (Self publication does not meet this criterion.) Some of these experts have their own websites and are available for phone consultation.

It is wise to interview therapists to determine whether they meet the criteria listed above. An initial phone interview can narrow your list, followed by a face-to-face meeting with the final three to make your final determination.