Parental Alienation– An Update 2015


Parental alienation continues to be a disputed concept among researchers, clinicians and legal experts.  I have updated my list of research articles on this topic (2010-2015).

For a thoughtful history of the study and controversies regarding parental alienation see:

Rand, D. C. (2011). Parental alienation critics and the politics of science. American Journal of Family Therapy, 39(1), 48-71. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2010.533085

Searching for Online Divorce Groups for Teens & Young Adults


In the next few months divorcescience.org will be trying to identify and examine online support groups for teens and young adults.  Our plan is to try to understand the more about how these work, their reach and their effectiveness.

Here is the first one on the list:  http://iamachildofdivorce.com/

Please send us links or comments about other groups like this.

Families On The Brink– Dr. Bill Doherty


For more about Doherty’s work with “families on the brink” see his Huffington Post interview.  Here are some other useful links to his work:

Paper describing the Program. 

Website — Minnesota Families on the Brink

Live on Huffington Post– Feb 7th, 9 pm EST


Just a quick note to let readers know that I will be appearing on Huffington Post Live with the Sesame Street staff and Abby Cadabby to talk about the new divorce materials created by Sesame Street.

Interesting Websites and Blogs


Not sure what to make of these sources, but there may be some useful material at these sites:

eHarmony Labs

The Thoughtful Parent

Child Therapy Chicago

The Intelligent Divorce

Coparenting After Divorce at Psychology Today

RAND studies on Marriage and Divorce

European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce 

Conceptualizing and Measuring “Healthy Marriage”
For Empirical Research and Evaluation Studies   Child Trends

New Resource for Parents and Children from Sesame Street


Abby+draws+her+two+homes-Termine

Sesame Workshop has just released a new set of resources, called Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce to help parents to their young children (ages 2-8) about divorce issues.  There are both interesting online and hands-on materials.

This is part of a series of programs created by Sesame Workshop to focus on fostering resilience in young children.  This work was commissioned and supported by the US Defense Department to support military families.

The Divorce materials include:

  • A new Sesame Street DVD, featuring the Muppets and real families, that highlights strategies around expressing emotions and how to talk to children about divorce;
  • A Parent/Caregiver Guide providing helpful resources, language and advice for discussing divorce with children and helping them navigate changes;
  • A Children’s Storybook, Two-Hug Day, about a young boy named Niko who is transitioning between his parents’ two homes, and
  • An online toolkit at sesamestreet.org/divorce providing access to all project resources, as well as additional online-only materials:
    • An Extended Family & Friends tip sheet
    • Webinars and online discussion sessions giving service providers and families a thorough understanding of how to engage with their families and communities
    • A Facebook page called Sesame Street in Communities connecting our online community to Sesame’s resiliency messages and materials.
    • A mobile app: Sesame Street: Divorce, featuring resources and tools for parents and caregivers; available on the App Store (SM) and Google Play ™.

Thinking about Divorce– A Guide for Couples


Faculty at Utah State University have developed a thoughtful guide for exploring the idea of getting a divorce.  This is a very thoughtful guide that presents a realistic and practical perspective on marriage and divorce.  The guide addresses the complicated and devastating effects of abuse, addiction and infidelity.   The authors review the effects of divorce on children.

Included in the guide are helpful activities that encourage couples to think through the decisions about their marriage and directions to go for help.

Does Religion help or hurt divorce adjustment?


There has been much study of the factors that contribute to divorce adjustment, but in general most scientists have overlooked the religious aspects of divorce.  This is surprising considering that most Americans report believing in God and many regularly attend religious services.  Kumrei and colleagues recently correct for this oversight and report on a study that explores the spiritual stress and coping experiences of divorcing individuals.

The scientists tested a theoretical model of how religious ideas and spiritual strategies may influence divorce outcomes.  Based on previous theories of stress and coping, the researchers began with the idea that divorcing individuals’ views of divorce may be viewed from a religious perspective.  In particular, divorce may be interpreted as a sacred loss and desecration.  Kurmrei and colleagues suggest that when people view divorce initially in negative terms, this belief is likely to lead to more divorce adjustment problems.  Additionally, the scientists suggest there are both positive and negative forms of religious coping with divorce.  The positive forms such as relying on prayer, private religious rituals or worship to overcome feelings of anger, hurt and fear will lead to better adjustment.  On the other hand, negative forms of religious coping such as viewing divorce as a punishment from God, experiencing tension with one’s religious community or spiritual guilt would contribute to more difficulties in adjusting to divorce.

As might be expected those individuals who viewed divorce as a sacred loss were more depressed and were more likely to use poor conflict resolution strategies.  The more negative religious coping a person used the more likely they were to be depressed one year following divorce and the more positive religious coping they used predicted more growth a year later.  These findings remained important even when other forms of non-religious positive coping such as problem-solving, use of humor, planning, and acceptance were taken into account.

For more see Huffington Post summary…..

Doherty — therapy with Mixed Agenda Couples


Over the last several years, Dr. William Doherty has been exploring ways of working with distressed couples that may be seeking counseling and/or trying to avoid divorce…. or at least one member of the couple would like to avoid divorce.  Here is a recent paper in which he summarizes some of his suggestions for therapists on how to work with these couples.  He writes,

An estimated 30 percent couples coming to therapy are mixed agenda couples where one is leaning out of the relationship and the other wants to save it. Much research has shown that at the time of divorce filing, most couples are split on wanting the divorce.  New research shows that many people in the legal divorce process are ambivalent about whether it’s the best course to take. Because we lack models and protocols for these
couples, therapists mainly muddle their way through, often losing them.

You can find more of his work at Minnesota Couples on the Brink and Dr. Bill Doherty.