Parental Alienation
While references to Parental Alienation are noted in the psychological literature well before 1985, Gardner (1985) is noted to create the term Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).  Gardner wrote “that the child appears to be obsessed with "hatred" of a parent.” He caveated the word “hatred” as the child would still continue to demonstrate loving feelings toward the alienated parent when he or she was no longer in the presence of the “loved” parent. Interestingly, Gardner described a rehearsed quality in reference to the child’s statements of “hatred” which were similarly observed by the “loved” parent.  Gardner observed that alienation memories appeared to persist even over minor altercations.

While Gardner’s work served as a springboard for thoughtful debate and research, a clear mechanism to identify Parental Alienation Syndrome needed development. Baker and Darnall (2006) researched 66 families and noted alienation strategies such as insulting or belittling the alienated parent in front of the child, sharing information with the child, frightening the child by telling them that the other parent will cause some kind of harm and offering activities in conflict with visitation schedule.

A Parental Alienation Gradient was developed by Lopez, Iglesisas, Garcia, 2014, in order to assist practitioners to facilitate identification of various Parental Alienation Strategies as well.  What is particularly interesting about this study is that they used 72 divorced couples and were able to identify which alienation strategies are most frequently used by each parent, to include gender. This work highlights 27 different alienation strategies that may be used by both parents regardless of gender.  This may include failure to give information about the child, rewarding disrespectful behaviors in the child toward the other parent, and insulting the other parent toward the child.

While there is additional research and other commentary related to Parental Alienation Syndrome, these and other works provide clinicians a framework for affected families to use during interview.

Baker, A. J. L., & Darnall, D. (2006). Behaviours and strategies employed in parental alienation: A survey of parental experiences. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 45, 97-124.

Gardner, R. A. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation.  The Academy Forum, The American Academy of psychoanalysis, 29, 3-7.

Lopez, T. J., Iglesias, V. E. N., Garcia, P. F., (2014) Parental Alienation Gradient: Strategies for a Syndrome. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 42, 217- 231.


​Working memory and attention problems are commonly associated with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Psychologists can administer testing to identify deficits in these areas. Cogmed Working Memory Training addresses working memory and attention problems. Cogmed Working Memory Training is suitable for anybody, from the ages of four and up that want to improve their working memory. Cogmed is about improving working memory, leading to better attention and impulse control. 

The effect has been shown in people of all levels of starting working memory, but is more marked in people with initially poor working memory. It is important to note that “poor” working memory is a highly individual metric: what is “normal” working memory for an individual will depend on factors such as age and general intelligence, but also the demands put on the person in his/her daily life.

Dr. Carney an approved Cogmed provider.

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Jack Carney, Ph.D.