Cara E Koch

Parenting & Relationships, Self-Help

Author Profile

Cara E Koch

Cara is the author of the book, From Heartbreak to Healing: Resolving Parental Alienation After 43 years as an alienated parent with a professional background in child development and family relationships where she managed child development programs serving working parents and their children, plus a doctorate in children’s [innate]spirituality, she finds answers to her questions: “Why me? How did this happen? and What is the purpose?” Through a process of deep introspection, she overcame decades of depression, despite remaining unreconciled with her son. She has now discovered resources, formerly unavailable, that could have led to a different outcome.

Books

From Heartbreak to Healing

Self-Help

Fixed - 10/23/2020

Book Bubbles from From Heartbreak to Healing

Personal Support for Parents

If you suspect that your child is rejecting you due to the influence of his or her other parent, it is critical that you get professional help to determine if this is true. If you follow the steps outlined in the excerpt and use the interview guides for interviewing therapists and attorneys on pages 227-229 of the book, you can develop the support you need to assure the well-being of your child and yourself.

Why Professionals Don't Know About PA

It was 22 years after the term, "parental alienation" was coined in 1985 before I ever heard the term. This was the first I knew that others had experienced the nightmare I was living. Today most parents and mental health professionals are still unfamiliar with the term. Family Court judges depend on the recommendation of mental health professionals when they make custody decisions--but if the mental health professionals are uninformed, about the complexity of this tragic family dynamic, is it any wonder that so many parents believe that courts often get it wrong? To find out one reason why professionals are not better informed, read this excerpt from my book.

Parental Alienation is Counter-Intuitive

Experts say that parental alienation is difficult to recognize because it is counter-intuitive. This excerpt explains what they mean.

Getting the Help You Need

When your child's resistance or hostility toward you is the result of psychological manipulation by their other parent, it is critical that you work with clinicians and legal experts who are trained and experienced in working with this complex family dynamic. Use the interview checklists for hiring a therapist and an attorney found on pages 227-229 of this book. Also, make sure they know to use the reference book, PARENTAL ALIENATION: SCIENCE & LAW by Larandos and Bernet to guide their preparation for court.

How Much Harm Does It Cause?

Childhood trauma is not something you just get over as you grow up. The repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or issues such as substance abuse, has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. The best way to counteract this is through prevention. This means we as a society must find ways to better support families before, during and after separation. How about teaching child development and family relationships in high school, before people become parents, as a beginning?

Parental Alienation is an ACE

Used to predict future health of children, Adverse Childhood Experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing the world today. A child's resistances or hostility toward a parent that is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent is a form of ACE. The 10 ACE's fall within three categories: ABUSE: Emotional, Physical and Sexual Abuse. HOUSEHOLD CHALLENGES: Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Parental Separation/Divorce and Incarcerated Parent. NEGLECT: Emotional Neglect, Physical Neglect. ACE's can have life-long effects! 67% of the total population has at least one ACE. People with 6 or more ACE's can die 20 years earlier than those who have none.

Why Reject a Loving Parent?

Creating a safe transition bridge requires understanding the importance of parental bonds for a child's well-being. Adversarial family separation/ divorce is one of the greatest, least-recognized health risks to our children because it creates psychological trauma that can last a lifetime. This public health issue could be better addressed by investing in earlier, safer, more cost-effective measures than the family law system offers. Measures such as well-targeted education of children, parents and society at large; could provide prevention and intervention. They could include creative apps and online tools to help kids and parents navigate family separation and foster healthy relationships during and after separation. Quality conciliation and, where necessary, an arbitration process instead of hostile court proceedings would become the norm. Measures that give families a chance to reinvent themselves rather than guaranteeing their destruction would be a creative alternative to our current system that pits parents against one another.

Response to a Brainwashed Child

If you are a parent whose formerly loving child has suddenly become resistant or hostile toward you, you may be shocked and hurt, not knowing how to respond. The first thing you must do is determine the cause. Find out IF your child is being brainwashed. The Five Factor Method described in my book is the recommended way to do this. Once you are clear about the cause, it is important that you learn all you can about the psychological split your child is experiencing that causes you to be seen as all bad and the other parent all good. This will help you have compassion for your child, who is no longer able to think for him/herself. You then realize the unacceptable behavior is not an issue of discipline; you realize you need to find a way to connect with your child to counter the manipulation. This begins with a compassionate response such as, "That must feel awful to you, believing that you cannot trust me, your own mother! No wonder you are so angry! If I had believed that about my mother, I would have been just as angry." With this response, your child experiences you as compassionate, and that you are trustworthy of understanding his/her feelings.

Unchecked PA can Last Forever

Some parents who have been unjustly rejected by their child due to mind manipulation by the other parent believe that when their child grows up they will automatically realize the truth; therefore they will reconnect of their own accord. Sadly, there is no guarantee of this happening, especially if the level of PA is moderate to severe. In order to reverse it, rejected parents need to first understand in depth the dynamics of alienation--what it is, how it happens and why. Once you know in your heart that it is not your child's true "self" that is speaking the hostility and hate, you will be able to fortify yourself to withstand it and respond constructively. You will realize that their "bad" behavior is driven by their need to survive psychologically. You will then see that a constructive response is not a simple matter of disciplining bad behavior.

Reconnecting with my Son

This letter was the first communication with my 8 year old son after my former husband took him away four years previously. I had tried many times to reach out to his father during that time, but the phone call in response to this letter was the first time I was ever able to talk with my son. Little did I know what was in store. My story of what happened following the phone call demonstrates what can happen to a child when his or her bond with a loving parent is distorted and buried through mind manipulation, be it unconscious and not intentional or clearly intended. This book also reveals my own grief and struggle as a parent who has lost a dearly beloved child. I walk you through my existential crisis and what I learned so I could begin to come to terms with what happened. It is the process of a lifetime, and I am still learning.

From Heartbreak to Healing

Parenting & Relationships

From Heartbreak to Healing is a comprehensive introduction to a common but often unrecognizes family dynamic called parental alienation, which is a serious form of both child and spouse abuse that occurs when one parent turns their child against the other parent for no justified reason—often during divorce or separation. It is a serious form of both child and spouse abuse that occurs throughout the world.

This go-to book for parents who do not know what to do when their child rejects them, is based on the author’s personal experience as an alienated parent years before the experience had a name. It reveals her story and how she healed her own grief, summarizes her research of the literature on this new field of parental alienation, and shares the results of the author’s nation-wide survey to interview other rejected parents firsthand about their experience of alienation. 
Topics include:

  • What parental alienation is and how it works
  • Who teaches their child to reject the other parent and why
  • Stories of other alienated parents
  • How to find and screen parental alienation-qualified professionals
  • What works to resolve alienated relationships
  • Next steps YOU can take to help erase and prevent parental alienation

As a recommended resource on the International Parental Alienation Sudy Group website, this book is an excellent resource for social, legal, and mental health professions who want to understand and provide best practices to families suffering from parental alienation. 

Book Bubbles from From Heartbreak to Healing

Use of Dependency and Fear

Making my son believe he would be an orphan if it were not for his father, was how my former husband made my son feel forever indebted to him. This, coupled with the narrative that I had abandoned them both created the deep sense of dependency and fear of abandonment that made my son reject me so completely. How could my son believe otherwise when all contact was barred for four years, which was half of my son's lifetime. The double bind I felt about telling him the truth he was too young to comprehend is a core issue for all alienated parents. It created a paralysis for me that lasted for years. There was no way I could see to move forward.

Gaslighting as a Tool of Parental Alienation

Gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation, occurs when the alienator covertly sows seeds of doubt in the targeted parent, making that parent question their own memory, perception, or judgement. It creates cognitive dissonance between what the parent experiences as real and what the alienator is portraying as real. The term "gaslighting" comes from the 1944 movie, Gaslight, in which the male lead made the gas lights that were used to light the house flicker, then insisted they were not flickering as a way of making his wife question her own senses.

Grandiosity is a Sign of Narcissism

Most parents who use parental alienation turn their children against their other parent have some type of diagnosable Personality Disorder, even though it may not be readily apparent. One type is Narcissism. Listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders below are all 9 characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: 1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance; 2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; 3. Believes he or she is "special" and unique; 4. Requires excessive admiration; 5. Has a sense of entitlement 6.Interpersonally exploitive; 7. Lack of empathy; 8. Envious of others and believes others area envious of him or her. 9. Arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitudes,

Who Would Do This to Their Family?

This incident occurred when we were using my retirement money to cover expenses while I was on maternity leave and my husband was still attending school. Parental alienation is often carried out by people with personality disorders, even though often the disorder may not be readily apparent to others. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a sense of entitlement and a grandiose sense of self-importance. People with this disorder are interpersonally exploitive, as this incident demonstrates. This incident triggered my realization that my family was in deep trouble, though I had little or no knowledge about Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the time.

Why Read This Book?

For decades I believed that I was the only parent who was experiencing devastating rejection by my own child. Now I know that this is a world-wide epidemic that can be overcome. Parental alienation is a complex family dynamic that occurs when one parent turns their child against the child’s other parent for no valid reason. It is different from estrangement, which can occur when a child reacts against a parent for a legitimate reason. The first part of the book tells my own story of being alienated from my son when he was four years old. It reveals my healing process, including many aha! moments that should be of value to other parents. Also included is a report from my nation-wide survey of alienated parents that reveals the wide range of severity and reactions to parental alienation. The remainder of the book answers the questions: Who would do this to their own child; Why? How? and How can I turn this around?, including an overview of current knowledge about programs that can resolve the alienation. This book provides a rich exploration of the topic for parents, therapists, attorneys, and professionals involved with social services family court.

After Four Long Years

This phone call was the beginning of a tumultuous time of trying to reconnect with my son, who at that time I had not seen for half of his 8-year-old life. What follows in the remainder of Part I illustrates the horrific, long-lasting power of mental manipulation used by a parent determined to delete their child's relationship with their other parent. The good news is that, although it may appear that the parent/child bond is permanently broken, experienced practitioners are able to resurrect these bonds that are actually buried but not completely broken.

From Heartbreak to Healing

Self-Help

Fixed -

From Heartbreak to Healing is a comprehensive introduction to a common but often unrecognizes family dynamic called parental alienation, which is a serious form of both child and spouse abuse that occurs when one parent turns their child against the other parent for no justified reason—often during divorce or separation. It is a serious form of both child and spouse abuse that occurs throughout the world.

This go-to book for parents who do not know what to do when their child rejects them, is based on the author’s personal experience as an alienated parent years before the experience had a name. It reveals her story and how she healed her own grief, summarizes her research of the literature on this new field of parental alienation, and shares the results of the author’s nation-wide survey to interview other rejected parents firsthand about their experience of alienation. 
Topics include:

  • What parental alienation is and how it works
  • Who teaches their child to reject the other parent and why
  • Stories of other alienated parents
  • How to find and screen parental alienation-qualified professionals
  • What works to resolve alienated relationships
  • Next steps YOU can take to help erase and prevent parental alienation

As a recommended resource on the International Parental Alienation Sudy Group website, this book is an excellent resource for social, legal, and mental health professions who want to understand and provide best practices to families suffering from parental alienation. 

Book Bubbles from From Heartbreak to Healing

Severity of Alienation Determines Treatment

One of the most significant indicators of a fit parent is their ability to support their child's relationship with the other parent. On the other hand, an alienator parent convinces a child that: 1. the alienator is the only one who loves them and they need him or her to feel good about themselves; 2. Others are dangerous and unavailable; 3. Pursuing a relationship with those others jeopardizes their relationship with the alienator. The fear this mind manipulation causes results in the child choosing the alienator over the other parent. The effectiveness of the alienating behavior can be mild, moderate or severe. It is important to have an assessment by professionals with PA expertise to determine appropriate treatment.

Child Symptoms of Parental Alienation

There are eight symptoms researchers have consistently found in children who have been emotionally manipulated to reject a parent for no good cause. The presence of at least two or more of these symptoms is a red flag: 1.Campaign of Denigration: The child continually complains about the target parent, with frivolous complaints that often echo complaints of the alienator. 2. Weak, Frivolous, absurd rationalizations to justify hostility: for example, "I don't like you because you make me do the dishes." 3. Lack of Ambivalence: Sees one parent as perfect; the other as all bad. 4. Independent Thinker: Defensively denies being influenced by anyone else regarding their rejection of their parent. 5. Absence of Guilt regarding their rude, insensitive treatment of the target parent: Acts as if whatever he can get from the target parent is owed him. 6. Reflexive Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict: No matter how irrational, always sides with the alienating parent. 7. Presence of Borrowed Scenarios: accusations against target parent include phrases, language and ideas of the alienating parent. 8. Rejection of the Extended Family: Rejection extends to the extended family/friends of the target parent and can even include pets. It is important to have a full family assessment by mental health professionals TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED to diagnose parental alienation.

Target Parents Must Take Care of Themselvess

It is most important for parents to be strong in spite of the emotional toll parental alienation takes. Listed are some simple but important ways to reinforce your inner strength so you can withstand the devastation of having your child turned against you. You must be able to sustain your strength over the time it takes to turn it around. Finding a mental health practitioner who has specific training and experience in working with parental alienation is critical. There is a checklist for interviewing therapists in the book.

Alienation: What Does It Look Like?

I was amazed to learn that the core element of alienation is convincing a child that their other parent is "unsafe, unloving, or unavailable." Clinicians who are experts in PA have identified 17 specific ways an alienators can do this, as listed in the Excerpt. The number of the ways used in a particular family can vary. My national survey found that over 2/3 of the 167 parents I contacted believed they had been replaced or erased in the hearts of their children; 83% felt their authority had been undermined, and 3/4 watched helplessly as their formerly loving child suddenly became belligerent and hateful for no apparent reason.

How Do I Know it is Parental Alienation?

It is the sad truth that most family courts are not aware of the basic assessment process called "THE FIVE-FACTOR MODEL for determining whether PA is present in a family. Once PA is identified, it is of the utmost importance to determine the level of severity of the alienation: MILD means the child resists visitation but enjoys contact with the alienated parent once together. MODERATE means the child strongly resists contact and is persistently oppositional during visits. SEVERE means the child persistently and adamantly refuses contact, and may hide or run away to avoid visitation.

How Many Parents Alienate their Child?

Parental Alienation is when one parent turns their child against the other parent. It is an act of violence against both the child and the other parent. These facts in the excerpt seemed unbelievable to me when I first heard them. But then I learned about the 2019 survey conducted by Colorado's own Dr. Jennifer Harman that revealed the facts. There is a concerted effort being led by the Parental Alienation Study Group ( https://pasg.info) to raise world-wide awareness of this age-old problem that has relatively recently been termed Parental Alienation. This form of intimate partner violence in the presence of children is psychological child abuse* * American Professional Society of Abuse of Children says: -CHILD MALTREATMENT includes child physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and child neglect, .-INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE includes physical, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse of an intimate partner. -Childhood experience of and exposure to interpersonal violence constitute child welfare, public health, and legal problems, with lifelong physical health, mental health, and behavioral consequences (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,

Getting the Help You Need

The good news is that there is a core group of clinicians and researchers who have developed ways to diagnose and treat parental alienation. An organization called the Parental Alienation Study Group includes mental health and legal experts in PA, PLUS many target parents who have experienced PA. Some of the members are experts whose first acquaintance with PA was their personal experience with it in their own family. This group is where I found the personal support I needed to share my own story. PASG is working world-wide to raise awareness about PA so treatment may one day be both available and affordable for the families who are desperate to resolve the alienation. If you are a parent trying to understand why your child rejects you, the first step is for you to learn the why and how of PA. Next, share what you learn with friends and family in your community, then join others who are working to find solutions. This focuses your energy as you tackle a problem that "takes a village." There are no quick and easy answers, so you might as well find others who understand to help you take positive action. This is how you can heal yourself while you work to regain what you have lost.

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