Happy Parenting Malta for Happier Children Press Release
On Saturday 17th April 2021, Happy Parenting Malta for Happier Children (HPMHC) VO 18/19 organised the first-ever international seminar on parental alienation in Malta, sponsored by the Ministry for Gozo. Due to Covid19 restrictions, this seminar had to be transmitted online from the Gozo Innovation Hub and attracted several participants locally and far overseas, including the USA. This happened just a week before the Parental Alienation Awareness Day which is remembered annually around the globe on the 25th of April.
The keynote speakers were Irish Family Therapist Brian O’Sullivan from Parental Alienation Europe, Barrister Brendan Gildea from Irish Bar, and Dr Charlie Azzopardi from the Institute of Family Therapy, IFT-Malta.
O’Sullivan spoke about the impact of parental alienation on children who have been alienated by one of their parents without a just cause and how parental alienation should be tackled from a psychological and psychotherapeutic point of view.
Barrister Gildea spoke about parental alienation cases in the family courts of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. In a panel discussion following this keynote speech, reference was also made to the judgment on parental alienation recently decided by the Strasbourg court against Malta.
Dr Azzopardi addressed the local context and how important it is to detect parental alienation from the very early signs in a couple and/or family system. He accentuated the need for prevention through professional training which he said is to be officialised soon by IFT-Malta.
Other international speakers were Philip Marcus, retired Judge of the Jerusalem Court, who spoke about parental alienation as child psychological maltreatment and forensic psychologist Shawn A. Wygant from Michigan USA, who spoke about third party alienation.
Dr William Bernet, a world-leading expert on parental alienation who followed the seminar from Nashville, TN USA, congratulated HPMHC commended the organisation of the seminar, coming from a very small island, especially “the mixture of longer presentations with brief comments by government officials; the colourful and energetic graphics; the fast-moving pace; the music; the representatives from different countries; etc. In particular, the presenters explained specific tasks for the near-time future: prevention and early intervention; educational programs in graduate schools; and legal initiatives”.
The seminar was addressed by a line-up of Maltese stakeholders including Her Excellency President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on behalf of MaltaCAN, Government Ministers, an Opposition MP, Gozo’s Bishop, volunteers and members from HPMHC who also shared their own experience.
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