FAMILY BRIDGES: USING INSIGHTS FROM SOCIAL SCIENCE TO RECONNECT PARENTS AND ALIENATED CHILDREN*

Authors


warshak@att.net

Abstract

This article describes an innovative educational and experiential program, Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child RelationshipsTM, that draws on social science research to help severely and unreasonably alienated children and adolescents adjust to court orders that place them with a parent they claim to hate or fear. The article examines the benefits and drawbacks of available options for helping alienated children and controversies and ethical issues regarding coercion of children by parents and courts. The program's goals, principles, structure, procedures, syllabus, limitations, and preliminary outcomes are presented. At the workshop's conclusion, 22 of 23 children, all of whom had failed experiences with counseling prior to enrollment, restored a positive relationship with the rejected parent. At follow-up, 18 of the 22 children maintained their gains; those who relapsed had premature contact with the alienating parent.

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