Dr. Childress is a court-involved clinical psychologist.
Dr. Childress provides consultation and expert testimony from clinical psychology surrounding the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of court-involved child custody conflict. The focus of clinical psychology is treatment. The solution from clinical psychology is through treatment not custody.
- In the absence of child abuse, parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.
- In the absence of child abuse, each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.
The question for clinical psychology in high-intensity custody conflict involving a child rejecting a parent, is whether there is child abuse? The clinical diagnostic concern is for a possible DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, i.e., a shared (induced) persecutory delusion created in the child by the allied parent. An additional diagnostic concern is for possible spousal emotional and psychological abuse of the targeted parent using the child as the weapon (DSM-5 V995.82 Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological).
- A proper risk assessment for possible Child Psychological Abuse (DSM-5 V995.51) needs to be conducted.
- A proper risk assessment for possible Spouse or Partner Abuse, Psychological (DSM-5 V995.82) needs to be conducted.
- A proper assessment for a possible shared persecutory delusion needs to be conducted.
In his book, Foundations, Dr. Childress describes the family pathology in the courts that is typically described as “parental alienation”, and Dr. Childress has authored multiple booklets about the pathology and its solution, including:
- The Narcissistic Parent: A Guidebook for Legal Professionals Working with Families in High-Conflict Divorce
Dr. Childress, a clinical psychologist (diagnosis and treatment), has also been cited in the forensic psychology journal, Family Court Review,
From Walters & Friedlander: “In some RRD families [resist-refuse dynamic], a parent’s underlying encapsulated delusion about the other parent is at the root of the intractability (cf. Johnston & Campbell, 1988, p. 53ff; Childress, 2013). An encapsulated delusion is a fixed, circumscribed belief that persists over time and is not altered by evidence of the inaccuracy of the belief.” (Walters & Friedlander, 2016, p. 426)
From Walters & Friedlander: “When alienation is the predominant factor in the RRD [resist-refuse dynamic}, the theme of the favored parent’s fixed delusion often is that the rejected parent is sexually, physically, and/or emotionally abusing the child. The child may come to share the parent’s encapsulated delusion and to regard the beliefs as his/her own (cf. Childress, 2013).” (Walters & Friedlander, 2016, p. 426)
Walters, M. G., & Friedlander, S. (2016). When a child rejects a parent: Working with the intractable resist/refuse dynamic. Family Court Review, 54(3), 424–445. https://doi.org/10.1111/fcre.12238
Dr. Childress is available for general public consultation the first week of every month with scheduling through his online Scheduling Calendar on this website.
Dr. Childress Vitae
This is the most recent professional vitae for Dr. Childress.
Domains of Specialized Expertise
Dr. Childress has six domains of relevant specialized expertise supported by his vitae. This handout describes those domains of specialized professional expertise in:
- Delusional thought disorder pathology
- Child abuse and complex trauma
- Attachment pathology
- Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another
- Family Systems Therapy
- Court-involved child custody conflict
Tele-Health Consultation on Assessment
Dr. Childress can provide tele-health second opinion consultation on active assessments in a variety of formats that are described in this handout.
Pathology Description Handout
This is a consultation handout for parents describing the pathology, this handout includes domains of specialized expertise in 1) delusions and thought disorders, 2) child abuse and trauma, 3) the attachment system and attachment pathology.
Risk Assessment Handout
This is a handout describing risk assessment obligations for all dangerous pathologies; suicide, homicide, abuse (child, spousal, elder).
Diagnostic Questions from Assessment
These are the diagnostic questions that need to be answered from all assessments of attachment pathology surrounding court-involved custody conflict.
Areas of Qualification
There is no such thing as “parental alienation” – that is a made-up pathology in forensic psychology (custody not treatment). The use of the construct of “parental alienation” in a professional capacity is substantially beneath professional standards of practice in clinical psychology. Dr. Childress is not an expert in “parental alienation” or unicorns. Dr. Childress is a clinical psychologist.
The domains of professional background and expertise for Dr. Childress are:
Psy.D. degree (advanced clinical psychology degree)
Clinical psychology (assessment, diagnosis, treatment of pathology)
- Court-involved family conflict
- Complex trauma & child abuse
- Attachment pathology in childhood
- ADHD & Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Autism-spectrum pathology
- Early Childhood Mental Health specialization; ages 0-to-5
- Child and family therapy (career practice)
- Attachment pathology (Clinical Director; children 0-to-5 in foster care)
- Complex trauma and child abuse (Clinical Director; children 0-to-5 in foster care)
- Delusional pathology (UCLA clinical research; schizophrenia)
- Family systems therapy (Pepperdine University; Structural, Strategic, Bowenian)
- Assessment protocol development for court-involved pathology (FEMA/DOJ; juvenile fire setting)
- Munchausen by proxy – Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Children’s Hospital; pediatric psychologist)
- Previous presentations to the national conventions of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (AFCC) regarding high-intensity court-involved family conflict.
Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare
This is an annotated handout of selected quotes from the report, Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare. Note the quotations on second-opinion consultation.
Healthcare-Legal Solution Diagram
This is a diagram of a Healthcare-Legal solution to court-involved family conflict
Checklist of Applied Knowledge
This is a checklist of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (Standard 2.04 APA ethics code) used by Dr. Childress in his analysis and review of the mental health reports and the work product of other mental health professionals:
Reason for Supervision Checklist
This is a checklist to identify the reason the parent is on supervised visitation.
Ethical Violations in Forensic Psychology (Childress, 2019)
This is an essay from the blog of Dr. Childress that describes the multiple ethical code violations and failures in the duty to protect obligations in the practice of child custody evaluations in forensic psychology.
- Ethical Violations in Forensic Psychology (Childress, 2019)
Formal Standard 1.04 Letter of Concern to Jean Mercer, Ph.D.
Dr Mercer is sometimes offered to the courts as a professional witness. She is not competent in the areas on which she opines. She is not a clinical psychologist, she never has been. She is not trained in the assessment, diagnosis, or treatment of any pathology, nor has she diagnosed or treated anything in her life.
She is a general Experimental psychologist (a professor of Experimental psychology at a small college). She retired 20 years ago from teaching general-ed psychology courses at a small college. She is an old retired school teacher who, since retirement, now fancies herself a child protection advocate and “expert” in matters far-far beyond her professional competence. Through her false beliefs, she is inserting herself into court cases as an “expert witness” offering opinions that are far beyond her boundaries of professional competence – and that are wrong.
As a psychologist, Dr. Childress has required ethical obligations under Standard 1.04 of the APA ethics code, Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations:
1.04 Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations
When psychologists believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual, if an informal resolution appears appropriate and the intervention does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved.
This letter was provided to Dr. Dr. Mercer pursuant to my mandatory ethical requirements under Standard 1.04 Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations of the APA ethics code: