Legal Professionals

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Childhood Psychological Abuse as Harmful as Sexual or Physical Abuse

"Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training.”

~ Joseph Spinazzola, PhD

Link to APA Article

Can a child be influenced by suggestive questioning from parents, interviewers or other individuals?


Yes. Anyone, especially a child, is  susceptible to influence through coercive, suggestive, or even benign questioning. An understanding of whether the questioning, interviews,  interrogation or counseling of the child was unduly suggestive requires a highly nuanced inquiry into the atmosphere and demeanour surrounding verbal interactions between the child and adults.

It must be determined whether the interviewing, questioning and counselling techniques used with the child were so suggestive that they had the capacity to substantially alter the child's recollections of events and thus compromise the reliability of the child's personal knowledge.

Child Interview Guide (PDF)

Academic Articles

Parental Alienation Articles

Visit our research page, which lists the most recent and past academic articles on parental alienation by experts from around the world.

Be sure to check back now and then as we do regularly update our website.

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Link to Academic articles

Truth and Consequence

Mousetrap Study

At Cornell University, renowned  psychologist Stephen Ceci studies the accuracy of children's courtroom  testimony, particularly in cases alleging physical abuse, sexual abuse,  and neglect. "Truth and Consequence" is a short independent  documentary that focuses on Professor Ceci's research and three court  cases in which he testified as an expert witness.

Children's suggestibility research: Things to know before interviewing a child

By Ameila Courtney Hrits, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, Rebecca K. Helm, Kayla A. Burd, Karen Ojeda and Stephen J. Ceci.

Abstract:  Children's testimony is often the only evidence of alleged abuse. Thus,   the importance of conducting forensic interviews that are free from  bias  and misleading information is immense, as these could lead to  false  reports. In the current paper, we review unexpected findings in   children's suggestibility that illustrate the difficulty in  distinguishing between false and accurate reports. We explore  situations  in which a younger person's memory account may be more  accurate than  that of an adult, when a single suggestive interview may  be as detrimental as multiple interviews, and when children can make  inaccurate reports spontaneously. We conclude with recommendations for  interviewers to decrease false reporting by both children and adults.

Link to Article

Classical Conditioning

The Little Albert Experiment  was a controlled experiment showing empirical evidence of classical  conditioning in humans. The study also provides an example of stimulus generalisation.

If a child can be taught to fear Santa Claus, then a child can be taught to fear a parent.


Watch Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos as an Expert Witness on "Suggestibility"
NBC TV - Accused Falsely

False Memories

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies  memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either  remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider. TED Talk 


Recommended Books

Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals 

By Demosthenes Lorandos, William Bernet and S. Richard Sauber

The essential “how to” manual in this important and ever increasing  area of behavioral science and law. Busy mental health professionals  need a reference guide to aid them in developing data sources to support  their positions in reports and testimony. For legal professionals who  must ground their arguments in well thought out motions and repeated  citations to case precedent, ready access to state or province specific  legal citations spanning thirty-five years of parental alienation cases  is provided here for the first time in one place. Having this material  within arm’s reach will avoid lengthy and time-consuming online  research.

Cross Examining Experts in the Behavioral Sciences 
By Terence Campbell, Demosthenes Lorandos

Cross Examining Experts in the Behavioural Sciences provides step-by-step  guidance on how to refute behavioural scientists’ conjecture and  speculation to ensure favourable rulings on Daubert, Kuhmo Tire and Frye  standards. This set integrates hundreds of questioning strategies and  actual questions to help you save time preparing your cases. It helps  you keep pace with the fastest growing area of expert witness work with:  Demonstrations on how to examine and challenge the expertise of mental  health experts and the use of psychological tests Examinations of both  the scientific research and the legal aspects behind a mental health  expert’s testimony.


Parental Alienation database

Australian Institute of Family Studies

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

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Australian legal definitions: When is a child in need of protection?

Child in Need of Protection

A critical issue faced by researchers working in the area of child maltreatment concerns the definition of child maltreatment. 

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What is child abuse and neglect?

Child Abuse and Neglect

Child maltreatment refers to any non-accidental behaviour by parents,  caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms  of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or  emotional harm to a child or young person.

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Rights of the Child

Convention on the Rights of the Child

An important international convention, agreed to by the nations of the world. Of itself, it has little legal weight, but its contents have been incorporated, to varying degrees, into the laws of individual countries.

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