Helping Courts Understand the Phenomenon of Alienation – 2020 North Carolina Conference

Family Access – Fighting for Children’s Rights

Family Access – Fighting for Children’s Rights and Steel Partners Foundation will be hosting a 2 day international conference in Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, October 10, 2020 and Sunday, October 11, 2020. This conference will give a total focus on the courts.

The initial presentation will assume that he audience is familiar and knowledgeable with the basic concepts of Alienation. We will provide its basic tenants and discuss them in contradistinction to those found within Estrangement.

Parental Alienation as Child Abuse

Parental Alienation is a serious form of child abuse, but this is frequently misunderstood and minimized within the Family Court system. The first challenge then is to make this argument to the Court. We have found that the following information can be helpful in doing so.

Adverse Childhood Experiences studies (ACEs) will be described and presented to demonstrate the direct impact of childhood adverse experiences on physical, psychological, and social health. These studies show that adverse childhood experiences have lifelong consequences for the individual and are dose-related. That is, the greater number of adverse experiences the child has, the greater the affect they have on their life. It is notable that in the case of Alienation, 9 of the 10 specific adverse experiences identified in the ACEs’ studies can be applicable, which confirms the lifelong seriousness of this phenomenon.

Next, we will discuss the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s (APSAC) definition of child maltreatment or child abuse and how it fits within the experience of Parental Alienation for children. Parental Alienation sometimes is not considered child abuse because there are not visible signs of abuse. In other words, it does not “appear” to be child abuse to the untrained eye, at least on the surface. We have found that describing Parental Alienation within the definition of child maltreatment as presented by APSAC, can enlighten the Court to acknowledge and recognize it as a serious form of child abuse.

Further along these lines we will present an overview of the biology associated with marital conflict and the consequences to children. This will cover the Autonomic nervous System, the Parasympathetic systems and subcortical structures that play a vital role in reactions to stress and trauma. The short- and long-term effects of continual exposure to stress and trauma will be covered. All of this will be placed within and applied to Parental Alienation as a nexus to explain the mechanisms that cause the physical, psychological and social damage that occurs. In other words, Parental Alienation can be seen not simply as a transient social problem for children but now should be viewed as a serious medical, psychological and social phenomenon that affects children for the rest of their lives.

Strategies: Attorneys, Mental Health providers, Parents and Grandparents

Presenting Parental Alienation cases to the Court is difficult. The primary reason is that it is counter-intuitive. The appearance of what is going on is very different from what is really going on. Alienated children and their alienating parent “appear” to be very close, when they are actually in an unhealthy and enmeshed relationship where children are penalized for independent thought. The falsely accused targeted or unfavored parent may appear unstable, when in actuality, they have been traumatized by loss and false allegations. Things are not as they appear, but in many ways are the opposite to how they appear.

Attorneys who represent what they later realize are Alienating Parents have ethical challenges that can nonetheless be overcome. Strategies for the attorney of the alienating parent are discussed with sensitivity to the attorney’s unique ethical obligations to represent their client’s interest.

Attorneys for Targeted Parents must present these cases differently than would be the case if Alienation was not present. These are discussed in detail, all centering on the critical theme of exposing the alienating Parent. The cloud of suspicion naturally hovers over the Targeted Parent who has been falsely accused, and this cloud must be transferred to the Alienating Parent. Specific methods for accomplishing this are presented.

Mental Health providers, both therapists and evaluators, are at risk of uncritically accepting the false narrative offered by the alienating parent and the alienated child. The Mental Health provider must therefore be armed with the tools that allow them to identify the presence of Parental Alienation. This is critical in specific ways for the therapist, which are described. The evaluator likewise must have the onboard skillset to see past the appearances and have the tools to do so, which are discussed in detail.

Parents who have become alienated live in a very provocative environment. They have been accused falsely of various things, they are vilified sometimes by schools, churches and other organizations who have drank the Kool aid of the alienating parent. While there is little that the targeted parent can do to make the alienating parent stop, there are many ways that they can make things worse. We therefore provide a roadmap to guide this parent in how to best respond to the various provocations of the child and of the other parent.

Grandparents are often the most innocent victim of Parental Alienation. As with the parent of the alienated child, there is little that they can do to stop the alienation. However, having the tools on board to respond in ways that do not generate further alienated behavior are important to be aware of. We will cover these in detail as well.

We will begin registration on January 2, 2020. There will be a pre early bird special, an early bird special and then the regular price. They will be as follows:

  • January 2, 2020 – March 31, 2020 Pre Early Bird Special (non professionals) $225 (professionals) $325
  • April 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020 Early Bird Special (non professionals) $250 (professionals) $350
  • July 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020 Regular Price (non professionals) $275 (professionals) $375

This pricing includes a complimentary hot breakfast every morning, 2 lunches and 1 buffet.

Mental health and legal professionals will receive 16 credits if attending all sessions for both days.


Brian Ludmer, B.Comm, LLB
Brian Ludmer (© D.R.)

Brian Ludmer (© D.R.)

Brian Ludmer is a Canadian attorney whose practice focuses on cases involving high conflict custody battles, denial of parenting time and parental alienation, as well as high net worth financial disputes. He is also a business and securities law attorney with over 32 years of experience.Brian is the Legal Column Editor and Writer for the bi-monthly newsletter of the Parental Alienation Study Group, an organization of professionals and others interested in the area with members world-wide.

Brian is a frequent speaker for Family Access and is widely quoted in multiple media sources on family law issues. Brian has spoken at the first International Conference of the Parental Alienation Study Group in Washington in October 2017, for the Canadian PA Forum – a three-day conference – in 2009 and for PAAO, the Children’s Rights Council, the Canadian Equal Parenting Coalition and other organizations across Canada and the United States. Brian was also a featured speaker at the first Annual Conference of the European Association of PA Practitioners in London UK in August 2018. Brian also was a speaker at the 2019 Parental/Grandparent Alienation and Equal Shared Parenting Symposium in Frankfort, Kentucky in 2019. Brian has also been speaking to the Ontario Canada hospital network on PA Diagnosis and Therapy.

Brian works as special counsel with US and Canadian attorneys and mental health professionals to assist targeted parents and grandparents. He has assisted in cases across Canada, the US and overseas.

Brian’s book: The High Conflict Custody Battle, which he co-wrote with Dr. Amy Baker and Dr. Michael Bone in 2015, is a resource that has been of assistance to countless families.

Brian’s cases often involve custody disputes over parenting time. Brian’s cases have set important jurisprudence on the field of family law disputes, equal parenting and parental alienation.

Brian has been an advocate for a rebuttable presumption of equal shared parenting as a solution to most high conflict parenting disputes. Brian is a co-founder of Lawyers for Shared Parenting, and an active member of several family rights organizations. He is the legal advisor to the Canadian Centre for Equality. In that capacity Brian drafted a detailed submission on a rebuttable presumption of equal shared parenting to the Justice Committee of the Canadian House of Commons and was an invited witness into its November 2018 hearings on Bill C-78, a current proposal to amend Canada’s Divorce laws. Brian anticipates making a similar presentation to the Canadian Senate when it considers the Bill in the Spring of 2019.

Previously, Brian was the principal drafter of Bill C-560, a 2014 private members’ Bill introduced in the Canadian Federal Parliament to reform family law, which made it to second reading at the time.

Steven Miller, M.D.
Steven Miller (© D.R.)

Steven Miller (© D.R.)

Dr. Miller has degrees in both Psychology and Medicine from Brown University and did residency training at Brown University and Harvard Medical School. For more than 30 years he was on the teaching faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine; in addition, he has many years of experience practicing Behavioral Medicine – a specialty that focuses on the interface between medicine and psychology. That background is particularly relevant to child maltreatment, child protection, child alignment, parental alienation, pathological enmeshment, and related issues since those clinical conditions are very much related to behavior, including dysfunctional, pathological, and abusive behavior. Likewise, he has several decades of experience practicing Forensic Medicine. A popular speaker, he has directed several hundred continuing education courses for physicians and other clinicians and presented over one thousand lectures on clinical reasoning, clinical problem-solving, and clinical decision-making. An internationally-known expert on alienation and estrangement – and how to distinguish one from the other – he is also an experienced expert witness, litigation consultant, and trial strategist.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. J Michael Bone
J Michael Bone (© D.R.)

J Michael Bone (© D.R.)

J Michael Bone received his Master’s and Doctoral Degrees at the New School for Social Research, in New York City. He did his clinical training at St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital, and eventually had consulting and training responsibilities in their Department of Psychiatry. Upon return to his home in Orlando, Florida, he began a general clinical psychotherapy practice. By the mid 1990’s he began to work in the area of high conflict divorce, which eventually and inevitably led him to the problem of Parental Alienation. In the late 1990’s he published several articles on the problem and was invited to become a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the Parental Alienation Research Foundation in Washington DC. It was there that he met Richard Gardner, MD, as well as many of the first pioneers in this field. From that period onward, his focus has been increasingly on the problem of grappling with Parental Alienation. In 2006 he closed his clinical practice, stopped seeing patients, and began to work exclusively on the problem of Parental Alienation in a purely consultative capacity. In that role he has become involved in cases all over the United States and Canada. He has spoken at multiple professional conferences devoted to Parental Alienation in the United States, Canada and western Europe, and has been interviewed on many radio and talk programs, including Anderson Cooper. The most recent focus on his work has been on the challenge of how to best present Parental Alienation to the Family Court system, in ways that produce healing remedies, which will be a primary focus of this conference.

Robert A. Evans, PhD
Robert A. Evans (© D.R.)

Robert A. Evans (© D.R.)

Dr. Evans is a licensed school psychologist and has been practicing Forensic Psychology for over 25 years throughout the U.S. His forensic services include expert testimony in family law cases with a focus on Parental Alienation (PA), including allegations of parental rejection, child abuse, sex abuse, and estrangement. He is trained as a Family Divorce Mediator, Parenting Coordinator, Guardian ad Litem, Collaborative Law Practice, and Child Custody Evaluator. In 2011, he authored the book, The Essentials of Parent Alienation Syndrome, and a number of articles for bar association journals and publications. He has testified as an expert on PA in numerous courts across the U.S. as to what PA is, how to identify it, and how to rehabilitate it. He has conducted in excess of a hundred child custody evaluations in his career thus far. Dr. Evans is an approved sponsor of continuing education for psychologists by the American Psychological Association. He is the co-founder of the National Association of Parental Alienation Specialists. In addition he has been approved by many legal bar associations to conduct continuing legal education on a variety of topics, including Litigating Family Law Cases with Parental Alienation, Critiquing and Reviewing Child Custody Evaluations and An Overview of Established Rehabilitation Programs.

Sessions Speakers

Karen Woodall, GradDip
Karen Woodall (© D.R.)

Karen Woodall (© D.R.)

Karen Woodall is the lead therapist at the Family Separation Clinic and is a specialist in working with divorce and separation and its impact on children. She is a psychotherapist with over twenty years experience in working with parents and children affected by family separation. Karen is an internationally recognized expert on children’s post separation rejecting behaviors and the phenomenon of the alienated child. She is also an author and blogger and writes for the Huffington Post on issues that affect the family. She is currently studying for a PhD. Karen was previously the Director at the Centre for Separated Families, a national charity that works with the whole family in order to bring about better outcomes for children. She is the co-author of Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal (Charles C Thomas 2017) and The Guide for Separated Parents (Piatkus 2007) and with her colleague, Nick Woodall.

Nick Woodall, M.A.
Nick Woodall (© D.R.)

Nick Woodall (© D.R.)

Nick is the managing partner at the Family Separation Clinic. He holds a Masters degree in psychodynamic psychotherapy from the University of London and is also a therapeutic mediator, accredited by the School of Psychotherapy & Counseling Psychology, Regent’s University. He has worked with families experiencing divorce or separation since 1999 and co-founded the Family Separation Clinic in 2010, having previously worked at the Centre for Separated Families. He specializes in working directly with separating families in order to enable the whole family to manage change in ways that provide the best outcomes for children and has specialized in parental alienation for a number of years. Nick has worked on family separation policy and service design for the UK Government and is the co-author of Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal (Charles C Thomas 2017) and The Guide for Separated Parents (Piatkus 2007) with his colleague, Karen.

William Bernet, M.D.
William Bernet (© D.R.)

William Bernet (© D.R.)

William Bernet, M.D., a graduate of Holy Cross College, summa cum laude, and Harvard Medical School, is a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is board certified in general psychiatry, child psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. As an expert in forensic psychiatry, Dr. Bernet has testified about 300 times in 24 states. Dr. Bernet has written professional articles and book chapters on a variety of subjects, including: group and individual therapy with children and adolescents; humor in psychotherapy; forensic child psychiatry; child maltreatment; true and false allegations of abuse; satanic ritual abuse; reincarnation; child custody and visitation; parental alienation; testimony regarding behavioral genomics; and risk management. In 2007, Dr. Bernet and Judge Don R. Ash published Children of Divorce: A Practical Guide for Parents, Therapists, Attorneys, and Judges. Dr. Bernet edited Parental Alienation, DSM-5, and ICD-11, which was published in 2010. Dr. Bernet and his colleagues edited Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals, which was published in 2013. He was the founder and first president of the Parental Alienation Study Group.

Linda Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW-R
Linda Gottlieb (© D.R.)

Linda Gottlieb (© D.R.)

Linda is a New York State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is also a published author on family therapy and parental alienation. Linda has been frequently cited and referenced by other authors and experts in the field.Linda was trained by the world-renowned, highly respected child psychiatrist, Salvador Minuchin. After she completed her training at the Minuchin Center for the Family, Linda served on the Center’s faculty from 2003-2007 where she trained child psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals who wished to learn the techniques of Dr. Minuchin’s structural family therapy.

Linda’s professional services to 5000 children and their families in multiple settings and in multiple roles span 50 years. She began her work with 3000 adjudicated abused and/or neglected children in New York’s foster care system. Subsequent to this experience, Linda transitioned in 1994 into the mental health system at South Shore Child Guidance Center in Freeport, Long Island where she designed, implemented, and supervised a home-based crisis intervention program to prevent the psychiatric hospitalization of a child. Linda additionally accepted referrals and appointments from local family courts to provide family counseling and parent coordination services to parents who were engaged in adversarial custody conflicts.

In 2003, Linda focused her practice almost exclusively on helping parents settle their custody conflicts in the best interests of their children. After writing her 2012 book on parental alienation, Linda further concentrated her clinical practice on the sub-specialty of parental alienation — a highly dysfunctional family dynamic that is accepted by overwhelming consensus within the scientific community to be a profound form of psychological child abuse.

Based upon what Linda had learned from the clinical literature, from colleagues who are leading experts in the field of alienation, and from her extensive evidence-based practice with approximately 650 alienated children and with approximately 1000 children whose parents were undergoing separation/divorce but who did not experience alienation, Linda developed a specialized reunification intervention to treat unjustifiably severed/severely damaged parent-child relationships. The intervention had proven to be highly successful — even in cases in which the severed parent-child relationships exceeded 4 years.

In 2015, Linda further refined her specialized reunification intervention, and it became the treatment protocol she now employs at Turning Points for Families, her 4-day intensive intervention to jump-start unjustified severed/severely damaged parent-child relationships.

Linda further provides supervision in alienation and estrangement to custody evaluators, clinicians, forensic evaluators, and to other professionals who intervene in custody cases in which alienation is alleged. Linda also maintains a small practice testifying as an expert witness in family dynamics, alienation, estrangement, family therapy, and child abuse.


Colleen M. Murray, Ph.D., LPC
Colleen M. Murray (© D.R.)

Colleen M. Murray (© D.R.)

Colleen M. Murray, Ph.D., is a Licensed Practicing Counselor in Saint Robert, MO. Dr. Murray has an interest in better defining intimate partner violence to include parental alienation. She has spent many years working in the area of intimate partner violence and studying the effects and interventions for children subjected to intimate partner violence. Dr. Murray is in private practice with a focus on high conflict divorce and parental alienation. Dr. Murray assists families with co-parenting, reunification of alienated parent, and parent management techniques. Dr. Murray regularly testifies as an expert witness in high conflict divorce case. Dr. Murray speaks at continuing education conferences for family law attorneys and judges concerning how parental alienation effects children. Dr. Murray is also an adjunct professor at Drury University.Colleen M. Murray is the owner of Victor’s Crown Christian Counseling Center, where she specializes in working with families struggling with high conflict divorce and parental alienation. Colleen is also an adjunct faculty member of Drury University. Colleen attended Campbell University and received her bachelor’s in Psychology. After graduation Colleen went on to serve in the United States Army where she received the Medal of Merit for her work in Homeland Security. After leaving the Army, Colleen went on to received her Master’s and Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University graduating summa cum laude and cum laude. Colleen conducted research in childhood trauma due to domestic violence. Colleen has three children; Ashley, Stuart and Joseph and lives in Saint Robert Missouri with her husband Daniel.


Lynn Steinberg, Ph.D, LMFT
Lynn Steinberg (© D.R.)

Lynn Steinberg (© D.R.)

Trained in the Family Systems model, Dr. Steinberg works with families, couples, groups and individuals. She has specialized in working with children and adults abused as children for more than 40 years.She worked in the courts as an expert on sexual abuse with children, adults and in the work place.

Her interest and background grew naturally to embrace the psychological abuse of Parent Alienation, which she has specialized in for the last 10 years. This includes false accusations of sexual abuse.

She offers a Four Day Intensive Family Reunification program for Alienated Parents and their alienated children. It takes place in Los Angeles.

She is an expert witness in Parent Alienation in the Children’s Court and Family Court. She can also testify to the treatment of members of the Alienated Family and assist with Court Appearances.

Dr. Steinberg is also a trained Mediator and has mediated for the Superior Court.

Joy Lipa, Founder, Joy’s Way
Joy Lipa (© D.R.)

Joy Lipa (© D.R.)

Before starting Joy’s Way in January of 2015, Joy spent over 20 years in business nationally and internationally as a management consultant, coach, and workshop co-facilitator. The knowledge and skills she developed in helping organizations improve and change, set the foundation for her to help families – especially those in change and transition. As a former director of the Board of MN Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, Joy’s focus is on resilience and recovery. Joy now assists families in transition. She works with families in all facets of transition: child protection reunification, family court reunification, domestic violence, addiction recovery. She has trained law enforcement and judicial officers in Minnesota. The Parents in Recovery from Boston and Parent Monitoring programs are two new services Joy has brought to Minnesota. Recently, Joy’s work is published in the book The Girls Are Gone, a high profile MN case. She is also noted with special thanks in the newly released documentary Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary.

Conference Location

DoubleTree by Hilton
Hotel Raleigh – Durham Airport at Research Triangle Park
4810 Page Creek Lane
Durham, N. C. 27703
919 941-6000

Our group rate is $109.00 plus taxes per room per night. Up to 4 people may stay in one room for this price. The group rates quoted will receive 4 breakfast coupon (s) per room per night. These coupons may be used for a full hot breakfast buffet in Vintage Carolina and it opens at 6:15 for us on both Saturday and Sunday.

There is free transportation to and from the airport. Their complimentary shuttle service runs from 4 AM-1 AM every 30 minutes.

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