Parental alienation syndrome is a term that some Minnesota parents who have gone through a divorce may unfortunately be familiar with. Coined by a psychiatrist in the 1980s, it is used to describe a situation that involves one parent turning children against the other parent after the couple has split up. Some judges have begun ordering children to attend therapy intended to counteract the effects of parental alienation, but this type of therapy is controversial at best.
Reunification therapy designed to treat this problem focuses on trying to deprogram children who were alienated from one parent during a divorce. Some therapists are concerned that the therapy may isolate children from the parent the child favors while attempting to coerce the child into accepting the alienated parent.
Part of the problem is that it is difficult for practitioners to determine whether parental alienation has occurred or whether the child feels justifiable hatred toward a parent who has been abusive. Some experts believe that children who reject one parent may be reacting naturally and that the rejection may be a healthy coping mechanism.
Parental alienation is a term that may come up during a divorce or child custody case when there is joint custody or when one parent has primary custody and the other has visitation rights. Many experts believe that parental alienation is a form of child abuse, so the parent who has been alienated may be able to ask for a modification in custody arrangements or ask a court to order counseling for the children. A family law attorney might be of assistance to a divorced parent who is in this type of a position.