Sherpa Coaching 

05.24.22 Blog Post

International Academy of Practice with Alienated Children Conference-2022

This year’s IAP AC conference spent considerable energy examining the impact of psychological splitting on children. Specifically, the conference looked closely at the element of trauma. When a child is alienated from a parent and psychological splitting occurs, this should be seen as a red flag. The IAPAC has conceptualized this as a nonaccidental injury to the mind of a child.

This type of nonaccidental injury in cases of parental alienation is clear evidence of a lack of concern on the part of the alienating parent. Long-term psychological harm is being done to the child while the parent minimizes or ignores that psychological impact. In short, this is abuse. It does long-term psychological damage to the child, impacting the development of attachment to both parents. These attachment wounds left unaddressed often lead to considerable challenges in adulthood. A lot of research has been done to look at attachment theory and the effects of early life attachment injuries.

Psychological splitting is a primitive defense mechanism. The child, having been alienated from one parent subconsciously impedes their own ability to hold two realities in mind: one of the father, and one of the mother. There are a number of challenges that result from such splitting. It can lead to aggressive behavior, substance abuse, enmeshment, and triangulation. The experience of being enmeshed with a parent is a clear precipitator of the perpetration of transgenerational trauma.

Children who are abused this way have had their natural developmental process stifled. The simple element of divorce can cause emotional trauma but exacerbating that trauma through alienation dramatically increases the child’s reliance on the amygdala. When a child is traumatized in such a way and becomes over-reliant on the fight/flight/freeze part of the brain (the amygdala), over time they will develop hypervigilance and this process can lead to the development of posttraumatic stress.

The way a child responds to perceived threats is directly impacted by how naturally they are allowed to develop. Human beings are hardwired to be ever vigilant of perceived threats. When an individual, subconsciously focuses emotional energy on perceived threats over time, that hypervigilance can result in a consistent state of trauma. This will dramatically affect the individual's development and ability to function in the adult world.

The intention of this brief blog post is to articulate real-world challenges and damage done by a parent that perpetrates the alienation of another parent from the children. Our goal is to raise awareness and shed light on why this is so damaging to the child’s long-term life potential.