Therapeutic jurisprudence study re guidelines and standards, research on efficacy and outcomes of therapeutic jurisprudence in the family courts,

Children need. . . THIS? standards and practices in chld custody evaluations
APA Guidelines for Evaluating Parental Responsibility - parenting evaluations - child custody

parenting parenting plan or time parental rights and responsibilities for MAIN ARTICLE see here

  • Doubting Child Sex Abuse Allegations
  • Doubting Women's Domestic Violence Allegations
          ...but the MHP's Fears are Justified
  • False Memory Theory
  • Father's Rights (or anti-Mother) Custody Advocacy
  • Father's Rights Anti-Relocation Advocacy
  • Joint Custody in the Absence of Research
  • Parental Alienation Theory
  • Reluctance to Believe Mothers' Allegations, Believe Father's
  • "Sex Positivism"
  • Speculation about What Children Need
  • Speculation and Assumption When that Suits the Agenda
          ...but Requiring Hard Research When it Doesn't
                ...Such as in Battered Women's Surveys
                      ...or Sibling Attachments
                            ...or Post-Divorce Relocations
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • The Data Must Be Wrong
  • The Mother and Children Must Be Wrong
  • The Treating Therapist Must Be Wrong
  • Bias Outright
  • Compare the Reactions
  • Bias Under the Guise of Gender Neutrality
  • "I Was Only Joking"
  • The great boob debate
  • Lack of Decision-making Ability
  • Lack of Investigative Ability
  • Lack of Judgment
  • Lack of Expert Credentials in Relevant Area of Inquiry
  • Lack of Methodology
  • Just Not All That Swift
  • Group Think
  • Not the Parenting Mavins You Might Think
  • Not the Research Mavins You Might Think
  • Clinical Experience
  • Directionless Curiosity
  • It's Just Not Science
  • It's Not Science -- But That's Okay if I Like It
  • Protecting Vested Interests (Work in the Court System)
  • Psychometric Testing of Custody Litigants
  • Arrogance
  • Ignorance
  • Insistence on Keeping Underlying Data Secret
  • Just Don't Wanna Release That Report
  • Much Concern for the Copyright Claims of Test Publishers
          ...but not for the Copyright Claims of Article Publishers
  • Paternalistic Attitudes Toward Litigants
  • Role Confusion and Power-hungry Incompetence
  • Self-interest above Due Process
  • Self-interest as the Highest Priority
  • Self-Protection Above All
  • Subverting Attorney-Client Privilege
  • Experimenting
  • Meddling and Social Engineering
  • Money, Money, Money
  • Parental Alienation Therapy
  • Parenting Classes
  • Parenting Coordination
  • Parenting Conjoint Therapy
  • Reunification Therapy
  • Treating Children Because of Parental Defects
  • Treating Perpetrators
  • Treating Victims
  • Trainings and Reviewings
  • "Do a Bonding Assessment"
  • "Do a Psycho-Sexual Evaluation"

  • Erroneous Belief in Benefit Where None Exists.
    Isn't it Time We Ditched this Bad Idea?


    Doubting Child Sex Abuse Allegations

    Forensic child custody evaluator standards and guidelines: repeat the same formulaic language and diagnoses in multiple custody evaluation reports [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: " my neck of the woods this is a fad whose impact peaked about five years ago. At that time I would always have at least one case I was working on that had vague allegations about possible sexual abuse. At one point I was working on two cases simultaneously where there were almost identical vague allegations made by people represented by the same attorney. One local Family Court Judge addressed the local Family Law bar and said that he was considering filing ethics charges against attorneys who represented these types of allegations and the practice seems to have slowed considerably since then. Now the new favorite allegation seems to be domestic violence in the form of overcontrol and emotional abuse." (New York doctorate-level MHP, December 29, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "In reviewing my posts and talking with some peers it seems to me that a discussion of how parents inadvertently or intentional influence children to believe they have been abused sexually and/or physically, and if that abuse will subsequently translate into fear reactions at the mention of the parent, and/or in response to the parent's impending or direct physical presence may require my submission of a research paper on the matter to a journal rather than posts to the list and evolving discussion. My interest is in the following matters and I would appreciate any input regarding them, including references, except in the area of suggestibility which I think I know fairly well... " (California doctorate-level MHP, November 21, 2006).

    Doubting Women's Domestic Violence Allegations...

    Forensic child custody evaluators downplay domestic violence
and make decisions based on who they like best [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I imagine this is not a very politically correct statement, but IMHO, if a woman stays in an abusive relationship and/or does not report the batterer to the police, she ipso facto has issues and should be in tx." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 3, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "That's further than I'd go, but I do think that both parents' issues need to be assessed based on the potential impact on the children, and that this should be the basis of treatment referrals/orders rather than an assessment of blame for the problems in the parental relationship. I'd use the same argument in an alienation case, i.e. that both the aligned and rejected parents are often in need of treatment even if one bears more responsibility for keeping the conflict going." (Another California doctorate-level MHP, June 3, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I am always surprised to see how much alike the parents look - on the psych tests - even when their presentation is different." (Yet another doctorate-level MHP, June 3, 2001).  

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "80% of the men and 72% of the women REPORTED abuse. That's similar to data from the California courts. According to Kelly's data that she presented in Sonoma, most of the violence in separating couples is common couple violence, not true battering. Most of them will, as you state, end up with some form of custody, but they aren't necessarily batterers. Also, the fact that people allege abuse doesn't mean it happened." (California doctorate-level MHP, November 20, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm involved in a case where I think an evaluator missed a case of domestic violence because the victim came across more inappropriately in interviews than the perpetrator did, which I believe is common and which I believe the evaluator should have known. I'd love to have some authoritative scientific and professional references in the literature to back up my opinion that DV victims often appear histrionic or otherwise disturbed while DV perps often look just fine, that anyone evaluating alleged DV should know this, and that the evaluator should should have looked deeper into the case. Any suggestions would be appreciated." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, March 17, 2007).

    [No MHP on the listserve responded. Two lawyers offered suggestions and research citations, including to Lundy Bancroft and an Hawaii government impact study on domestic violence. By contrast, compare a situation in which there were numerous responses, several excerpted here.]

    and DV advocates

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I've probably told these stories before, but... sexual abuse case, many, many years ago, probably in the 1980s or maybe the very early 90s. She had interviewed the child and said the child said on tape that her father had abused her... When they were finally able to see the tape, what she had written in the report was not in the tape. The child didn't say what she wrote he had said. 2. In a divorce case, well after the stipulation was signed, the woman discovered that the man had more money than she thought he had so she wanted to reopen the case. She did this by claiming she had been an abused wife and had signed the stipulation under duress.... ___ used this MMPI to argue that she had indeed been a battered wife. There was no other evidence... Complaints were made by the clients to the APA ethics committee in both cases but the APA establishment thought what she did was just fine... And I'm sure you all know about the violence on Super Bowl Sunday..." (Minnesota masters-level MHP, January 26, 2006).

    ...but the MHP's Own Fears About Potential Violence and Perceived Threats Are Justified

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "When doing a CCE you come to realize that one of the parties, if they don't get what they want ie sole physical custody, etc, has the potential to harm you or/and the other party. Nothing has been said, but your experience alerts you to potential danger. Case may involve DV, ownership of firearms, police record or gang related activity etc. which gives more credibility to your fears. I would like to know how this has been handled by other evaluators. How does it affect your recommendations? Do you withdraw from the case? Do you refund money...?" (California doctorate-level MHP FEMALE, January 17, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I trust my gut instinct when it comes to my safety. If I feel the situation is unsafe... i make it safe. I terminate interviews, withdraw from cases and do what is necessary. I rarely discuss it with the person making me feel unsafe." (Florida doctorate-level MHP MALE, January 18, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I now have in my statement of understanding that if I feel violence risk is present the parties agree to courtroom security and will pay for it." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP MALE, January 18, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "How do we examine potential dangerous in a custody litigant when our clinical sense is... DANGER... how do we assess future dangerousness of a parent who we believe might become violent upon publication of the report? What steps do we take? How do we properly examine the situation? what variables are relevant to examine? How do we check out our counter-transference issues..." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP MALE, January 20, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "when does counter transference become life protection. don't mean to sound melodramatic. ppl in most fields trust their instincts when it comes to protecting themselves. Don't misunderstand. I am only talking about how to make sure one remains safe not how one reports in a cce or other forensic evaluation... when I feel unsafe I usually take precautions, whether this is in the custody evaluation setting, at the mall, ordering fast food or at a sporting event." (Florida doctorate-level MHP MALE, January 20, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I received my first bona fide death threat in a custody case last week... I recognized the voice immediately... At first, I was unsure of how fearful I should be but I admit having fantasies of explosions when I started my car at the end of that day." (California doctorate-level MHP MALE, January 21, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Have you notified the police?...Do you have an in-office alarm to the police? Do you have a door peephole so that you can tell if the person is outside before opening the door?..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP FEMALE, January 21, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT re being served with subpoena by a party's attorney's process server at the MHP's home]: "After a few death threats and stalking incidents openness to strangers at the doorstep disappears for me.  The notion of 'we know where you live' is a form of witness intimidation especially when there is a history of intimidation, frivolous lawsuits, and chance meetings in the community. I think all professionals should expect and receive respect for the sanctity of one's domicile..." (California doctorate-level MHP MALE, February 4, 2007).

    [Given some of the far-fetched and even paranoid fears of MHPs, one would think they would have just a touch more respect, concern, and appreciation for the fears of women who claim domestic violence and whom they expect to be "friendly" "co-parents" in joint custody arrangements.]

    False Memory Theory

    Psychologist Howard Weinberg accused of possession of child pornography[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Not only do the results fail to justify the conclusion, but the implication of the results - namely, that false abuse memories are easily created - is a misrepresentation of the data which is arguably unethical - which, I understand, is why Loftus left APA before the ethical charges brought against her reached a conclusion." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "This is quite typical of the Loftus et al. research pardigm. They use a subtle, but sophisticated attempt to create false memories in their subjects. They never are able to accomplish their goal in more than about 1/3 of their subjects, then they try to apply their results to everyone. The more obvious result is that despite sophisticated and subtle techniques, they are unable to implant false memories in the vast majority of their subjects. This is hardly good evidence upon which to base a model of memory that posits "Memory is very vulnerable and malleable" and "The frightening thing about this study is that it suggests how easily a false memory can be created." What a crock." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I went to Disney about a year ago and met many characters including Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Mickey, Minney and Pluto (no Goofy that day unfortunately). I am relatively certain of these facts, although I only have photographic evidence of my (platonic) hug from Tigger. It is possible that Loftus et al. could make suggestions such that I would beleive that I saw or met Bugs Bunny or Goofy. I doubt, however, that she could have implanted the memory that Bugs and Goofy had beaten and sodomized me while my wife was off with the kids watching the afternoon parade." (Virginia doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...if only a third of all people are subject to being bamboozled by Loftus' techniques, which third are they? Are they your witnesses, or the other side's witnesses?" (New York doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If the Loftus gang can get a false memory in as many as 1/3rd of their subjects, I say 'Wow!'" ... I recognize Elizabeth Loftus as one of the leading scientists in psychology." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "They are able to create false memories in their subjects with very subtle methods. These methods involve far less than happens in real cases in which therapists create false memories of childhood abuse. In real cases, people are hypnotized, put in recovered memory therapy groups, told they must not doubt their new memories, told to read "The Courage to Heal," etc., etc... " (Minnesota masters-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "To the polarized debaters of Loftus, et al. offering polemics and vitriol, I say whoa. I obviously hit a raw spot, and the defenses have gone way beyond my original criticism. I agree that she and those working in her paradigm are consistently able to create false memories in 20-30% of subjects. These are interesting findings, and of some value in forensics, interviewing etc. However, when repeated, sophisticated, widely variable attempts to produce an effect fail in the majority of your subjects, that calls for an explanation. The last time I checked, and it has been a few years, no one in the Loftus camp had attempted to explain, or even given much attention to the resilience of memory when their own data begs for such discourse. Also, her research has been used to impeach eyewitness testimony for years. This is unfortunate because really the opposite should be the case. Since she was unable to plant false memories in most of her eye-witness subjects, it seems that witnesses shouldn't have to defend themselves regarding the veracity of their memory, but rather, the side asserting that a memory is false should have the task of proving such an extraordinary claim." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001),
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I have been to several presentations by Dr. Loftus. She does not overgeneralize her data nor does she claim that her experimental paradigms are isomorphic with child sexual abuse situations. She does challenge us to consider how these laboratory findings might or might not inform our judgement with respect to allegations of sexual abuse." (Doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001.
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I never said it couldn't be done. I have also evaluated quite a large number of cases where children have made false accusations of abuse. I have on several occasions been the one person in the system to identify such false accusations." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Frankly, it strikes my very cynical side to ponder how, on the one hand, the discipline strives after carefully collected observation, blah blah blah. But, then, falls willing victim to, and publishes, argument based on fallacious reasoning." (Doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Whether one agrees with Beth Loftus' research or not, I think our responsibility is to look at how she has moved the field forward, either through her research or the debate it has generated. What more of a compliment to a researcher than that she has made us think." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001). (How about "made us think correctly").

    Taus v. Loftus

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm posting an LA Times article about Loftus, her actions in a former child custody case, and a CA Appellate decision. I'm trying to find out if the currently "unpublished" opinion should be disseminated, and I'm also trying to get a copy of the letter filed by a number of psychologists seeking a CA Supreme Court Review. Some of what she did makes me uncomfortable, but some of what Corwin did also concerns me. I've been asked to comment on whether more of us should become involved, and I'm seeking some feedback on that issue - and the case in general, if any of you know more about it." (California doctorate-level political activiooops, MHP, June 22, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "From a public policy perspective do researchers really want to add "One of the risks of this study is that another researcher will hire private investigators, dig through your parent's court records, and eventually track down and contact you and your family to try and refute what you tell us during the study" to our Human Subjects paperwork? Do *you* want to be the subject of research knowing that is a risk?" (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 23, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It seems to me that Nicole Taus has already been successful in doing a great deal of damage to Guyer and Loftus--and the magazine? and others? At no expense to herself. Who are her attorneys and who pays them? This is all on contingency?... It must have cost all the defendants a fortune even to this point where most of the claims have been denied. And it will cost still more thru the CA Supreme Court. And then still more if that court allows the action.. What does this mean? "offensive and objectionable"?" (Massachusetts doctorate-level MHP, June 24, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In all my reading, I've yet to find something that makes me comfortable blaming Nicole Taus for this mess... Would there not be psychological hypotheses regarding the impact of all of these events on Ms. Taus, and her emotional investment in maintaining certain beliefs, as well as what occurred on the part of all professionals here, that should be considered before focusing this discussion on the "damage" she has allegedly caused?" (California doctorate-level MHP, June 24, 2005).

    Father's Rights (or anti-Mother) Custody Advocacy

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE POST]: "Does anyone have any good references for a discussion and research about Facticious Disorder (MSBP)? I have a case coming up ASAP where there is a possibility that maternal grandmother has a hidden agenda to make the child dependent." (Virginia doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I am in the process of recommending that the PRP be changed in a long distance CCE (this is not a move away). The child is 3 1/2. The psychological attachment is with the former PRP. Without going into detail, it is in the best interest of this child to change residence. However, there is not a safety issue in her current living situation. Her rlshp with the other parent for the most part is good, her temperment is even and she is mature, intelligent and loquacious for her age. She appears to handle separation well and I am recommending she be in therapy to help her adjust to this transition. THE PROBLEM: I don't know if it is better to make this move gradually - adding weeks that she spends with the new RP OR just making the change of PRP and set up the visitation plan for other parent right from the start." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 11, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE POST with the subject line "FYI: In Defense of Working Fathers"]:"In Defense of Working Fathers July 11, 2005 The audio of this week's His Side..." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 11, 2005).

        [The post included a copy of entire father's rights political webpage, containing current editorial newsletter. During the nearly six years this author monitored the listserve in question, father's rights editorial positions periodically were posted by listserve members and administrators as "interesting" or "informative" and almost invariably without criticism. There was not a single instance of a laudatory posting of comparable editorial material in favor of mothers' positions.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I haven't seen any research on this... However, in 20+ years of experience working with divorced families, I have no doubt that fathers who were pretty hands-off during the marriage become much more active and involved during the divorce and that, fortunately, many of them sustain this involvement in the post-divorce period... cynical dads who are concerned with punishing their ex, using the children as a bargaining chip, or reducing their exposure to child support [are unlikely] to convincingly and consistently sustain such playacting for any period of time." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, April 2, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...the other type of conference I've been attending over the last several years has to do with the explosion of fascinating neuroscience research utilizing all the brain-scanning technologies" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 13, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Great idea!  ANYTHING but another DV workshop!!!  I would suggest sending your idea to the president of the AFCC-CA chapter or even National." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 13, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It is patently stunning to me that we are debating the importance or salience of father's involvement in their children's lives. The research over the past 40 years (and no, I'm not going to cite it here)... If we are going to debate the importance of father's involvement in their children's lives, shall we also debate: The efficacy of women in the workplace. The relative intelligence of African Americans. The benefits of institutionalization for the mentally retarded. The benefits of the man-boy love association." (Doctorate-level MHP, March 7, 2006).

      Father's Rights Anti-Relocation Advocacy

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I need recommendations on the following overnight visitation case. Context of Warschak article and new dialogue on issue. Parents never married. Had a 4 mo. relationship. Mo got pregnant and moved in with father to be. She got mad and left. Went to live w parents where still resides with child who now is one y.o. Father made clear his desire to be involved with child but insisted on DNA test after child born. She is still mad about that. Mo. refused to let fa in delivery room. did call him day of birth and he got see. Mo not allow further contact for about a month. She left state for two weeks after birth. Mo. was very stingy about allowing contact. Fa got attorney and only supervised for 1 hr in mo's home allowed. First once a week and then twice. With a court date contact remains all supervised in her home with two one hr visits T & TH and then a two hr on Sat. There are no risk factors to not allow father to be involved. He is committed, seems sincere, and very eager for longer parenting time including overnights. Mo doesn't really see, though she'll give lip service to, the value of the father to the child. Her possessiveness has prevailed and controlled the situation. Oh, mo also wants to relocate from CO to CA to become an "organic gardner." All of her extended family is in home community. She has no job. Thinks schools would be better (Waldorf school?) in Santa Barbara and just loves it there. An old b.f. is there. She lived there for a while. So the question is how to increase father's parenting time? Overnights right away. How to phase into and then want schedule would you propose. I observed the son with the father and they did well and cried when mother showed up. Mother is very controlling and maybe has genuine "Mother separation anxiety" - "I've never been away from Jack for more than an hour." Mother has started with baby food in addition to breast feeding. Now I know Joan Kelly says breast feeding is no impediment to allowing overnights with father ("that's what breast pumps are for"). The relocation issue is not much of an issue (what's that post-Burgess case on the mother wanting to move to FL to study para-psychology?). Thanks for suggestions." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, April 12, 2002).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "How did you get my case file??? LOL - This almost perfectly describes one of my current cases. Amazing how each case is seen over and over and over again. I will be following this with great interest!" (Louisiana masters-level MHP, April 12, 2002).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Recent research J Family Psych (2002), 16, 363-376 concluded that children of divorce do better when they have contact with grandparents. In this research the kids saw the gp's frequently. With a bit of stretching, you might conclude that an historically loving and involved extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as gp's) is clearly in the best interests of children, so therefore, removal of that extended base of security by relocation is not in the best interests." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Recent case: mo wants to relocate with three school age boys to KY saying she wants to go to nursing school and/or get a better paying job. Her uncle is in community but the boys can't remember who he is. Her parents are deceased. Her sister and friends live 150+ miles away from the new community. In the old communty are the paternal grandparents and an uncle who the children know very well and do lots with. So it seems like a nobrainer..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2003, who in other cases has opined against relocation by mothers wanting to move back to communities where they have extended family support).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Isn't it really a question of transfer of custody. Assume mom is moving no matter what. Isn't the question which parent better recognizes and meets the needs of the kids?" (New Jersey lawyer, January 27, 2003).

        [No one responded to the lawyer's question.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...liz, of course this issue would not usually be the most important one, but it can be. I have one right now where the assertion is the home community is simply too costly for the electrician's helper to support his kids and he can't afford child care. He wants to move home where it is less expensive and there is extended family who can help with child care. The data show he lives in one of most expensive places to live in the country. It is a persuasive argument." (The same Colorado doctorate-level MHP who opined supra, that disallowing the mother to move on similar facts was a "nobrainer", February 9, 2006). (This very same MHP also signed onto an amicus brief against a mother's move to her much less expensive hometown to attend lawschool and live with her new husband and be right near extended family.)

      Joint Custody in the Absence of Research or Data that it's in Children's Interests

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think father's argument deserves considerable credence. What the child has had for the past 2.5 years is now her stability--it is mother, not father, who is wanting to rock the boat. And just because the child will be attending school now? How is that relevant? The child can presumably get to school from either house, have friends over at either house, do her homework at either house..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).

        [Over the period in which this author monitored the 200-300 member listserve, the above stability argument was not raised by an MHP in any case that was going the other way, i.e. moving a young child who had been primarily in the mother's custody to joint custody or into father custody. The stability argument was brought up solely in the context of protecting and enhancing father's interests as well as in relocation cases as a purported "stability" of geographical location.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "What role, if any, do you think that a shared legal custody arrangement has in motivating the parent without primary physical custody to be more involved? I'd say it's a factor. (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, December 1, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "[I]n this case the father worked in another state while the parents were together. He would be gone about half the time. He continues to maintain a dual residence in the home community of the boys. There is conflict. First evaluator recommended sole custody because of conflict. And there is perpetual disagreements. Super involved dad when he is in town. Full service parent. Two boys stay with him 8-12 days per month. So, is shared decision making reasonable even when the parents aren't reasonable with each other. Is what parenting coordinators are for? I think so." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, December 1, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "Are there published studies showing this type of arrangement is in children's best interests? I see our custody mediators jumping in this type of arrangement all too often all too quickly in cases where stay at home custodial moms and out of home working dads (who are not all involved in their kids lives) are being thrust into this plan. If mom has not worked out of the home and dads are looking to then pay less child support and no spousal support, how can these women ever make it out there. I know the focus is not on the financial issues in these matters, but if moms are at their wits end trying to survive and then become marginal parents (often due to power/contol/DV issues), it surely affects BIC." (California lawyer, August 14, 2006).

        [No one on the listserve of primarily MHPs ever responded to the lawyer's query.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The recommendation involved a joint physical custody arrangement with an odd contingency... if the mother didn't agree with the recommendation, then the father would automatically get primary residential custody... this was after the evaluator had outlined numerous reasons why the mother had serious concerns about the father having primary custody... it appeared that the evaluator had set up the mother to agree to a plan that she had clearly not agreed to during the entire evaluation... " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: " I just had a conversation with a local attorney who mentioned that recommending equal parenting time is inappropriate and not supported by case law... I of course just recommended equal parenting time with a 3 year old although I designated a residentaia parent... does anyone have any thoughts as to why 50-50 parenting time would be inappriapriate..." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, March 29, 2007).

        [Does anyone have any thoughts as to why it is appropriate? or why the parties had to pay thousands of dollars to this custody evaluator who has no basis for his opinings?]

      Parental Alienation Theory

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "I have a question about the literature and relapse behaviors -- the potential for relapse of a mother who, in the past, engaged in alienating behaviors that resulted in her children being further alienated from their father than they already were... I am treating a mother who was sent to me by Dependency Court for alienating her children from their father... history of domestic violence and child abuse... case that has gone on for almost a decade. At this point in time the mother does not need treatment for trauma herself... I have been the mother's therapist at the request of the presiding judge for about 3 months. After significant work in treatment the mother has recognized how her overt and covert/conscious and not so conscious behavior has hurt the children... The mother (and the father) have had only monitored contact with the children since September. The children are living with their maternal grandparents... The judge is considering gradually lifting the monitoring for the mother... The judge has this question of me: If the monitoring is lifted what is the chance of a relapse in the mother's behaviors?" (California doctorate-level MHP, January 18, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Here are three articles by Richard Gardner that may be of assistance..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 18, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "A quick example of this last one. I had a case a few years ago in which two children, one in late elementary school, the other in high school--accused their father of physically and emotionally abusing them, said they hated him and never wanted to see him again. Mother was perfect in every way. Members of mother's extended family strongly vilified father as well. I saw the kids as alienated and not at all abused. I decided that the younger child should live with father (and father's now blended family) despite his absolute refusal and that mother's time should be severely curtailed with him temporarily. The older child was too physically out of control around father and intimidated stepmom too much for this solution to work and I regretfully left him with mother. Several outside experts hired by mother said some pretty slanderous things about me and ridiculed my methods and my opinions, but the judge ultimately followed my advice..." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 8, 2004).

          A label in search of a theory...

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...8. Data is beginning to accumulate to show that no one intervention is consistently helpful. Forget counseling when it comes to moderately and severely alienated families. In these cases, placing the child primarily with the aliented parent may help more often than not." (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I concur with all but #8. I believe the current thinking is that "parentectomies" are ill advised." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "what about mutually alienating parents" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "But what about cases in which BOTH occur? I'm thinking of a scenario where a kid has a rational reason to feel estranged, but then this is fanned into alienation by a 3rd party?" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think we should begin to educate courts that the estrangement or alienation of a child from a parent in a complex, multi-level process with many individual, parent-child, and family level contributors that cannot be reduced to simple explanatory frameworks, In my practice, a child's disaffection from a parent (expressed via visitation avoidance) is very often a complex mix of realistic estrangement (rational, sometimes trauma-base) and irrational (the result of internal cognitive distortions by the child or toxic contributions from an alienating parent)." (New York doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Myself and ___ have identified specific behaviors leading to a definition of parental alienation. We do make a distinction between estrangement and parental alienation. We anticipate future publications on the results of our studies." (Ohio doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The Drozd Olesen decision tree has much to recommend it. The only element that I sometimes have trouble with is the idea that in a case where there has been abuse and the abused parent is engaging in behavior that would have the effect of undermining the other parent-child relationship, that behavior is necessarily based on fear or protection. Depending on the type and severity of the abuse, how much mutuality there was, whether it was a battering relationship... a case of common couple violence or a high conflict case that escalated to violence, the abused parent may be engaging in undermining behavior that is based on other issues - such as anger, high conflict dynamics, or an attempt to use a single-incident as a tool in the custody conflict." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I have seen several other cases in which the alienating parent was the father, not the mother. It isn't always the mother. If fathers are doing the alienating as much as mothers, it shouldn't be seen as a concept manufactured by the father's rights movement. I agree that the behaviors should be described but the term "parental alienation syndrome" avoided." (Minnesota masters-level MHP, February 28, 2005).

      Reluctance to Believe Mothers' Allegations, but Tendency to Believe Father's

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "Can any one help with an intervention approach to the following. Mother makes allegation of sex abuse - father gets supervised visitation after an 8 month period of no contact, full eval done and allegation is found to be unsubstantiated. Mom reconciles with dad 'to protect child'. Child is about 3 at the time. Mother then believes that dad is again abusing child and she contacts CPS, separates from dad and again there is a period of about 8 months without contact... I have found absolutely no evidence of any kind of abuse (except mom's undying belief about abuse occurring... Other than, getting the child a new therapist, a new school, what kind of recommendations regarding custody time with dad or even possible custody change. I should mention that last time dad had no contact mom went into a "shelter" for DV for 60 days (I can't find any evidence of that either) and so I am concerned about her fleeing with kid (so is dad). Dad has been able to maintain a good relationship with child despite the limited contact and seems to have adequate parenting ability. Any suggestions appreciated... (California doctorate-level MHP, June 9, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I am going to make a few leaps to conclusions as preface for my recommendation. I take it from your description that mother's 'belief system' is well-entrenched and that any education about the likelihood of molest being slim to none will fall on deaf ears. That she will be satisfied with nothing less than father being ordered completely out of the child's life with the reasoning that any other arrangement is a risk to the child's safety. If mother is also indoctrinating the child to believe as she does and significantly distorts reality, then I am also concerned about the possible negative impact of mother's personality traits on the child's development. I have had two parental alienation cases in which the parent fled with the child(ren). Mom sounds like a good candidate for flight as well given her beliefs about dad and her willingness to draw upon resources that will assist her in keeping her whereabouts unknown. Can/will she relocate to 'protect' the child? there is nothing in your post that suggests some form of education/mediation would be effective for these people. assuming the above is an accurate description of mother, and father will provide an adequate upbringing for the child, I would consider a change in custody warranted. I would also recommend supervised visitation for the mother in order to minimize the flight risk. However, if the child is able to "compartmentalize" her time with both parents, functions well despite the dynamics, and appears to have a different/better sense of reality than does mother - especially with respect to father - I might consider intensive treatment for the daughter in order to bolster her ability to maintain a relationship with both parents and then pick a schedule that is in keeping with her ability to spend time with each of them. But I think this scenario is an unlikely one given the depth of mother's belief system and the risk of flight." (California doctorate-level MHP. June 9, 2001).

    [The "custody-switch to father" agenda also is overt in the above post. Note that the ostensible reason for it, "the possible negative impact of mother's personality traits on the child's development" (whatever these may be, diagnosed by the responder from a few-paragraph inquiry) cannot be substantiated by one single shred of scientific research. Little research has tied particular parental personality traits (what these may be in the case of the mother remain unknown here) to child outcomes. Thus, the potential result in this case, which going either way, would remove custody from one of the parents (albeit in the second, as advocated by the MHP, would remove custody from the primary attachment parent), is arguably the same, sole custody with one of the parents. In the absence of any research (or indeed any facts presented here) upon which any "expert" opinion can be based, this is a recommendation that is purely punitive and founded in the responder's own biases and values. Worse, it is a choice to place a child with a less-familiar parent who is a possible abuser rather than with the primary parent who has possible "personality traits" the evaluator does not like.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'll give you one I ran into in an actual CCE where mom accused father of sexually assaulting the child. Child exhibited a number of concerning behaviors, made partial outcries that someone had hurt her. Mom, concerned, sends child to therapy. Well meaning but stupid, stupid therapist works with the child, focusing on sexual abuse by the father. Mom, because of therapist, eventually comes to believe father sexually abused the child. Mom is *mistaken* in this case, but is not lying. Therapist is foolish, misinformed, borderline incompetent, but also not lying. Saddest thing was the child probably had been sexually abused, just not by the father. By the time I was able to point that out to anybody the child had been irrevocably contaminated and we were never able to get clarity..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, November 20, 2006).

    "Sex Positivism" and Pretextual Nonjudgmentalism

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT in response to Missouri appellate case holding that trial court could consider husband's exhibitionist masturbation in awarding custody of child to wife]: "Since this would be in the area of "value" would the evaluator defer on addressing this issue or is a conceptual sleight of hand appropriate, saying the father had impulse control and judgment problems." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 12, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I think there is a difference between someone flashing at the playground at Central Park and masturbating in a darkened porno theater." (New York doctorate-level MHP, January 12, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Step Dad admits to groping 14 year old female while asleep. Both were on couch watching TV. Claims history of sleep walking etc. Appreciate any information on this phenomenon. TIA" (California doctorate-level MHP, January 15, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If you do a literature search on sleep walking you will find a fair amount of support for a hypothesis about wierd somnabulistic behaviors, even murder. If there is a family history and substantial personal history for sleep walking the case is stronger." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 15, 2004)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Evidence that would tend to increase or decrease its credibility might be found in a sleep study..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, January 15, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Here is another reference I found: Sexsomnia:... Describes a distinct parasomnia involving sexual behaviour... Eleven patients (aged 16-43 yrs) with distinct behaviours of the sexual nature during sleep are described..." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, January 17, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "There was a similar case recently in my locale - an enebriated man climbed into his own bed late one evening and briefly touched the breast of a 13 year old teen friend of his daughter spending the night before he fell into a deep slumber... " (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, January 17, 2004).

    [NOTSOANYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The paraphilic "noncure" assertion seems bandied about like a mantra. However, as best as I can determine, it is simply a concept borrowed from AA propaganda... widely accepted uncritically... Does holding a desire, in whatever strength, which one never acts upon, or acts upon no longer, mean one still has the "problem?" If a "normal" (with no Hx of deviant behavior) shows arousal as measured by the PPG to images of nude children, is he pathological? ...seems to me a reasonable paraphilic construct might require a mens rea AND some deviant action." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP who usually works on the side of men accused of sex abuse in criminal actions and child custody disputes, March 20, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I think there is something seriously wrong with a man whose favorite sexual fantasies involve children. That something wrong can be described as a personality disorder (in the developmental sense rather than the DSM sense of overall adjustment), or a borderline personality organization (in Kernberg's sense), or just as seriously disturbed (as I described in my book on child abuse). That disturbance is bound to manifest in intimate and ambiguous situations, in my opinion." (Denver doctorate-level MHP professor, March 20, 2007).

        [Over a period of six years, while the subjects of child sex abuse allegations as well as pornography repeatedly were raised, the rare point of view -- that a parent's sexual disorder is bound to manifest in various ways, even if not in literal child sexual abuse as legally defined -- was never once expressed by an MHP on the anonymous listserve of child custody evaluators. The opinions were readily contra, however, if the disorder did not involve sex and was a mother's disorder. See, e.g., infra.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT re the arrest of a noted child custody psychologist for secretly videotaping a woman using the toilet in his office bathroom, and masturbating to it]: "I'm simply sad because the situation exists and life for him and his family will be very difficult for some time." (Vermont doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [ANONYOMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "[]'s workshops are the best I've ever attended. He has graciously shared his time and materials with me. I'm stunned," (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007.
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...we should not jump to conclusions in either direction. If the charges are not valid, an unspeakable wrong has been done to him." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Absolutely! These should be no rush to judgment. We know much good about [] and nothing whatsoever about this allegation..." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "Stu's alleged criminal conduct sounds incredibly flawed and not to be condoned in any way (example he is no longer listed on the ABFP diplomate website). Nonetheless, I remain quite concerned about him as a person and sent him my support in that regard in an email sent yesterday..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "I would also respectfully suggest that, especially in our public comments, we express equal concern for the alleged victims..." [FOLLOWUP]: " I'm just noting that one of the alleged victims was reportedly a psychologist in his office - which means that this person is also a colleague and may have access to professional listservs. I can only imagine how it would feel to be in her position, if the allegations are true, and then to sign on to professional lists to see concern expressed only for Stu. I'm just suggesting that if we are withholding judgment at this time, we express concern for both sides." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 15, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "It is appropriate to express concern and outrage for victims of crimes. It is also appropriate to express concern and outrage for perpetrators of crimes... In my work in the correctional system for the last three years, I have learned a lesson that few who work outside the walls realize: perpetrators are also victims of their own deeds. Crime is a tragedy no matter who is involved." (Washington doctorate-level MHP, July 15, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "How highly inappropriate to remove him from the ABPP website before he had been found guilty of anything. I don't know who made the decision to remove him, but I think ABPP people would be among the last persons to do such a thing given their journeymen positions in our profession." [FOLLOWUP] "I just went to the ABPP website and Stu Greenberg is still listed." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 15, 2007).

        The last post above was a child custody evaluator who specializes in sex abuse allegations. He and others exhibit the very common MHP confusion over appropriate standards of proof when questionable behavior also could be a crime is raised in another milieu, requiring for all purposes the criminal standard of proof and a conviction, versus evidence (such as a confession) that otherwise should be adequate in civil court to take protective or compensatory action. Below, "overly" restrictive? Bias, anyone? Also see Self-Protection Above All

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "Anyone have research on the effectiveness (if that is even possible) of overly restrictive conditions of parole or probation on Sex offenders? For example if a Judge tells a defendant that the Conditions of probation (Child Porn conviction) will be that they can go nowhere where children are present (Grocery stores, wal-mart, parks, etc). Is there any research on whether this is effective management or whether this has a negative impact on the probationer?" (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, July 23, 2008).

      Speculation about What Children Need

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Baures v. Lewis, 2001, I believe now controlling in that state, happened to concern an older autistic child. It is another Burgess projeny with similar misinterpretation of the relevant research, but the reasoning was interesting. For your case, a risk assessment should focus on age of the child, special needs of the child, and need for two involved parents..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2003).

      Speculation and Assumption When that Suits the Agenda...

          Father custody advocacy -- preparing to defend against abuse charges not yet brought:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Is anyone out there aware of research about a sexually abused parent insisting their child has been sexually abused even when there is no supporting evidence?... The older daughter just turned twelve and has blossomed early. Mom is allowing her to dress in VERY provocative clothing... lets her do whatever she wants: stay out with her friends, not do her homework, skip chores around the house, speak disrespectfully to adults... as long as this child participates in nightly Bible reading with her sibs and mom. Child is beginning to rebel when she's with dad, acting out anger with sibs... pushing, slapping and yelling at two younger children. When dad administers consequences, she pouts and refuses to leave her room... My concern is that it is only a matter of time before there will be more abuse allegations..." (Virginia doctorate-level MHP, January 30, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Yeah. But where did I read this. May Child Maltreatment or the Review journal abot trauma put out by Sage. As I recall, the study found that mothers who were sexually abused were more likely than mothers who were not sexually abused to interpret their children's ambiguous behavior as sexual in nature. Gee, this is off the top of my head. But, yes, there is something and it is somewhat recent..." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, January 31, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "But keep in mind that there is also some research supporting a correlation between sexual abuse of mothers and actual sexual abuse of their offspring. I don't think we have enough evidence to support treating 1st generation sexual abuse as an indicator of the falseness of sexual abuse claims in the second generation (not that you were saying this)." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, January 31, 2003).

          Father custody advocacy -- hypothesizing an alibi for his former lack of involvement:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I have seen "Parent B's" whose divorce ignited more parenting interest in them. Perhaps they inappropriately withdrew from both the other parent and the child to avoid conflict. Perhaps Parent A has always been the gatekeeper..." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2005).

          Father custody advocacy -- insisting that joint custody will work even if there's conflict:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The self-fulfilling prophecy part is my point vis-a-vis assumptions regarding conflict & shared parenting. A fixed opinion either way risks fulfilling its own prophecy." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, November 30, 2005).

          Father custody advocacy -- needing a reason the child is not doing well in father's custody:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I agree that there is no research but there is nothing conceptually to argue against a child being alienated by a NCP." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, August 9, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "What I like about Kelly & Johnston's framework is that it casts alienation as a behavioral state in the child (the state of rejecting a parent), not in a parent..." (New York doctorate-level MHP, August 10, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I'm not comfortable with this way of thinking about alienation.  It doesn't seem helpful to locate alienation "in" child or parent.  It seems to me that alienation is a three-way-behavioral-dynamic among both parent (authority) figures and child, including the influence by all the mediating variables mentioned by others.  It is then always the evaluator's job to help determine which parent-child dyad dynamic is healthiest for the child." (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, August 11, 2006).

          Father custody advocacy -- weighing imaginary factors when the facts could go either way:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "A divorced mom wants to relocate with 3yo and 4yo kids from St Louis to Columbus, OH (approx 450 miles). She would fly back with the kids 1Xmonth for them to have Fri-Mon with dad... Dad says travel such as this is harmful to the kids. Does anyone know of any literature that would address whether or not such travel could be harmful?" (doctorate-level MHP, January 5, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "To my knowledge, there's no data suggesting air travel is dangerous... " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 6, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Don't leave out the question of how the child feels about the travel. Sometimes kids travel just fine despite the fact that we adults view the travel as a pain." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, January 7, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Harmful how? Many people (kids and adults) find travel stressful, but I don't know of particular research on point. Obviously, that issue has to be weighed against contact with the other parent, benefits from the move, and all of the other factors that come up in relocation evals." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 7, 2006, apparently recognizing that the travel issue could be argued in two ways, depending upon the father's interests in different cases.)

          Father custody advocacy -- hypothesizing why he will be a "divorce-activated" Dad in the future:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The research on pre-separation and post-separation involvement is complex.  Pre-separation involvement may or may not be predictive of post-separation involvement.   It's mediated by quality of the relationship, dynamics at the time of separation, how the parenting tasks were divided during the marriage, whether Dad was never involved or withdrew as the marriage ended, whether Dad is "activated" more into the parental role by the events of the divorce vs. withdrawing, and a host of other situational factors." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 8, 2006).

    [The comment in the post was followed by a spew of canned citations to agenda'd psych literature, including by Braver and the ubiquitous Kelly and Lamb, which themselves contain little or no backup for the assertion but lots of political argument in favor of father involvement. No research at all indicates that any of the "factors" the MHP suggests here to be considered have been demonstrated actually to have any predictive value, let alone in which direction they have predictive value, or even to bear on the issue at all -- it's all complete speculation. "The research is complex" is code for "There is no research" or "The research and opinions are all over the place, so you can argue this whichever way you want... here is a list of articles whose commentators push the pro-father agenda you're looking for." Appending lists of canned citations to literature is a common tactic of MHPs, both in the prolific dump of pseudo-scientific pieces this community publishes, as well as in defense of forensic assertions. Below, five months later, a thread involving many of the same participants. The same California MHP stands on her insistence that any alleged "intervening event" could be argued to have so changed everything that the past is no longer of predictive value.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "Can any of you lead me to some empirical evidence in support of the generally held view that past behavior is the single best predictor of future behavior? The specific behavior in which I am interested in is parental neglect of children." (Florida doctoral-level MHP, January 12, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "There is something about your question in the nature of the snake swallowing its own tail. You are asking for a system (i.e., a network of empirical evidence based on inductive reasoning) to establish its own validity... if we don't postulate on faith that the past can be used as a good predictor of the future, then the whole concept of empirical evidence (in any field, including the science of behavior) fails utterly and nothing can count as such evidence." (Michigan doctoral-level MHP, January 12, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The way I understand the predictiveness of past behavior is that it is predictive of future behavior when there are no intervening events that are likely to change it. Thus, some are tied to repeating the past, while others learn from it." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 13, 2006).

          Father custody advocacy: he was provoked into this behavior, and anyway, it's not DV:

    Coercive Control, by Evan Stark[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "Mr. Smith is the sole wage-earner in the Smith family. Mrs. Smith is unemployed outside the home. Mr. Smith keeps his wife on an economic leash. When Mrs. Smith shops, whether it is for food for the family, clothes for the children, or clothes for herself, she must return from her shopping trip with receipts. She must also produce receipts for gas purchased by her. She is not authorized to write checks and has no credit cards. If Mrs. Smith acknowledges that mistreatment of her by her husband only takes the form of the economic control described above, is it appropriate to describe Mrs. Smith as a victim of domestic violence?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 20, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If someone WANTS to be a doormat, is it the job of the law to tell them they can't?" (California family lawyer, January 20, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I don't [think] our task is to define Domestic Violence. DV is a legal concept... I do think our job is to describe abusive and negative behavior and discuss its impact on children. Including the very important issue of 'exposure' I see the exposure issue overlooked a great deal in CCE that I review." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "At the risk of being politically incorrect, did Mr. Smith offer a reason for his behavior? Is it possible that the Smiths were people of modest means and that Mrs. Smith was unable to control her spending? ...there are two sides to every story..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "This is an example of an issue that would have to be carefully explored in terms of its relevance to parenting. If it is limited to this kind of issue, and to $$, one might need to be quite cautious about extrapolating to the idea that it would be directly relevant to parenting." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 20, 2006)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "With a background in substance abuse, my first thought was not about the poor abused woman, but perhaps whether the poor husband is out everyday in the freezing rain making a living as a road worker, only to come home to find his wife has spent every dime they have on 1) crack, or 2) QVC "dimonique" earrings." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Kathy Kuehnle would be gratified to see that almost all on this list who posted during the discussion were mindful of alternative hypotheses (including hypotheses that related to patterns of behavior not suggestive of bullying)." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2006).

          Father custody advocacy: the mother is mentally disordered... in some way... isn't she?

    Compare Custody Evaluations[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm in a case where someone thinks a 35-year-old parent may be developing Bipolar Disorder, but not yet showing all signs. I believe affective disorders including Bipolar often do develop in the 30s or even 40s, but I'd like to have a reference to check if I'm right and to use as a citation if I am. Any suggestions would be appreciated." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, February 8, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "What if another possibility was a Cluster B Personality Disorder with primarily Narcissistic and Borderline features, plus a dash of Histrionics for spice? Any suggestions for differential diagnosis?" (same Missouri doctorate-level MHP, February 8, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "This might sound like a smart-ass comment, but with a little extra time, this individual is likely to become a full-blown manic episode...that'll help..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 8, 2007).

          Father custody advocacy: presumption of gender neutral parent fungibility and no presumption that primary caregiving means anything:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think that there is probably one reasonable beginning hypothesis, 'There are no significant differences between the parents.'" (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).

          Father custody advocacy: put the kid into daycare:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Poor behavior is linked to time in day care" ...Data reported in today's (3/26) NYTimes Probability of disruptive classroom behavior by children is increased with time expended in day care. Balanced for sex of child, family income, and quality of day care center. Effects persist through 6th grade..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, March 26, 2007).
            [ANONYOMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Interestingly, the article in my paper also stated the effect was very weak (I assume effect size) and implied that the ultimate level of disruptiveness in the child care group, while statistically greater that the non-child care group, was still within normal limits." (New York doctorate-level MHP, March 26, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "But it's newsworthy--even with weak effect sizes--because there's nothing going on with the Anna Nicole case..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, March 26, 2007).

      ... but Always a Posture of Requiring Hard (and Flawless) Research When it Doesn't

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm not sure what inference can be drawn from this low base rate about the individual's likelihood for abusing children...The thinking is that 'anyone who gets off shoving a vibrating screwdriver up his ass must be pretty f***ed up.' Unfortunataly, all yuckiness aside, and given the wide variety of human sexual expression, I doubt that research is available to support the assertion that "Hardware-Enhanced Autoeroticism" is indicative of increased likelihood of molesting behaviors." (Doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "What in the world does adult sexual behavior, practiced in solitude, have to do with a custody determination, other than its impact on the mother who discovers the act and is jealous of any sexual activity by her partner that does not involve her? This is the same for the internet sex folk, the porn folk, etc." (California lawyer, June 14, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "A recent study by Coffman, Guerin & Gottfried - (2006) Psychological Assessment, 18, 'Reliability and Valdity of the Parent-Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI): Evidence From a Longitudinal Cross-Informant Investigation,' p. 209-214 advises against using the PCRI in custody evaluations. Coffman et al. found that for adolescent children (15-16), the PCRI was valid for assessing concurrent and predictive features of mother-child relationships, but it was not valid for assessing characteristics of father-child relationships. Any reactions from the list?" [Followup post]: "I should have added that on p. 213, Coffman et al 'characterize adolescent-mother relations as very different from adolescent-father relations, with teenagers spending more time and feeling more comfortable talking with mothers than fathers.' Are these characterizations necessarily accurate?  Are there variations between parent gender and child gender?  Is this an example of overgeneralizing?" (Michigan doctorate-level MHP who specializes in child sex abuse accusation cases, usually on the defense side, August 10, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "More importantly, I would be quite distrustful of any research that one might find. Fathers who are turned on by pornography depicting father-daughter sexual interactions are not likely to say so (even to a researcher). Thus, the only ones likely to be subjects in such research will be the ones who have been detected, charged, and convicted. A disproportionate number of those whose viewing of such pornography was detected will be molesters.." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, August 19. 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Does anyone recall the origin of the old (arbitrary and non-research based, I believe) notion of 'one overnight with dad for every yr of child's age'? It's come up recently in an eval and I'd like some historical info. Was it Garrity and Barris, Caught in the Middle? Maybe other sources? I just don't recall." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 17, 2007).

      ... such as about Descriptive Surveys of Battered Women's Experiences

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I thought people might find it interesting that the reference to Wellesley College in the article refers to what is being billed as "research." In fact the research consisted of interviews with self-proclaimed "victims" with no attempt to hear both sides of the story or to verify the allegations. (Massachusetts doctorate-level MHP, January 22, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "You might not know but I (and ___) were both interviewed for this "research." It was striking how true your comments. Theire questions were one sided. There was no way to answer the significant questions in a manner that reflected more balance and less bias...They were out only to achieve one result/one end. It was not scientific; it was not unbiased; and it deffinitely was not research. Their "article" is more a work of fiction than anything else. Its a disgrace to academics and researchers and should be an embarrassment to Wellesely College. (Another Massachusetts doctorate-level MHP, January 28, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT, FOUR YEARS LATER]: "Been contemplating the Newsweek-cited Silverman study: in the wake of some of the discussion at AFCC San Francisco last weekend, and my first thought was that with about $1,000, a couple of undergrad students to boss around, and my undergrad training from Ohio State in political analysis, even I could come up with, and run, a less obviously biased study protocol than that.  The design part would take me about ten minutes, which I already spent contemplating the issue while drinking coffee, and watching the rain bounce off the California Street cable car, at the break on Saturday." (California lawyer, February 16, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "What they didn't do is actually review the Court transcripts to see what happened...they simply took the word of the alleged victims and the selected documentation...I'm not suggesting the alleged abuse didn't happen... I'm suggesting that this is a slice of the whole picture..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, who vigorously, if speciously, defended Braver's relocation study of 2003, which "took the word of" a bunch of undergraduate psych students about their parents' post-divorce relocation circumstances, and whose findings then were misrepresented by APA in its press release and in the media.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: " are being too nice about this study. It stinks so badly that I don't think, in spite of its conclusions, that it would even be cited favorably on Liz Kates' website." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, February 16, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "One really has to search for the scholarly aspects of this article--buried among the political polemics, in the penultimate paragraph of the discussion section, the authors note the limitations of their sample and make recommendations that future research include reviews of the GAL reports, longitudinal studies, etc.  I have not seen the Newsweek article, nor was I at CA AFCC, but I'm guessing that these limitations were not highlighted.  Very unfortunate---makes anyone who were to question the methodology sound as though he/she is against safeguarding victimized women and children, doesn't care about human rights violations, is paid off by the father's rights groups,etc." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, February 16, 2007).
              [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Does anyone happen to have the cite for the Newsweek article?  You can all guess what I'm going to do with it, but if I mention it, I need the site..." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 16, 2007)...   

          [The comments got steadily worse, with the original commentator jumping in again to call the study "rat pee." In the nearly 6 years the compiler of these quotes monitored the anonymous listserve, opinion writings unsupported by any research findings, such as Joan Kelly's prolific and unscientific editorials about child custody plans, parental alienation think pieces from Gardner forward, shared parenting political rhetoric, and similar materials frequently were approvingly tossed off in passing in a way that implied them to be information grounded in scientific findings, or directly referred to as "research". See, e.g,. infra]

                [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE Pee esS.]: "Oops--upon re-reading my note, I realize that one might think that I was perhaps suggesting that the hapless Silverman et al had had their "scholarly" article misrepresented by yellow journalists.  Lest anyone think this, let me hereby loudly proclaim that I share the belief that the rodent urine paragraph does nothing to mitigate the authors' responsibility for their bovine feces study. :-) " (the above Indiana doctorate-level MHP, February 16, 2007).

      ... or Sibling Attachments

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "In CCEs it strikes me there a number of factors that are often relevant, it is assumed they are important for child outcomes, and there seems to be an expectation by court that they would be addressed - but there is not a research base to interpret. For example, it is assume it is important to keep siblings together in parenting time, but are there studies? Another variable would be "special developmental needs" of a child... In the case of relocation... the factor of extented family or family support... Without a research base, then it strikes me the evaluator is in the position of using common sense, belief, or value in asserting the importance of the factor." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2003, the same one who opined six days earlier, supra, Speculation About What Children Need, about a child's "need for two involved parents.")

      ... or Important Considerations in Post-Divorce Relocations


      Conflicts of Interest

    therapeutic jurisprudence - custody evaluators - guardians ad litem[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "At least around here, even when someone is court-appointed and evaluates the whole family and is paid by both parents, it's often the case that the decision for an evaluation and the choice of evaluator came more from one side than the other. Several times in those cases, attorneys have actually called me their expert and occasionally have expected special treatment for them and their client (and of course would complain mightily if the same favors were done for the other side). At least here, it's not the judge who decides to get an evaluation and who will do it. The true "source" is an attorney, not the court. So, even court appointment does not totally protect from bias, though it does help." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, April 30, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Retained expert bias doesn't for the most part come from hearing attorneys' opinions. It comes from the natural human motive of wanting to please the person you're working for. It is also reinforced by the desire to get more referrals... A more subtle kind of bias may also be generated by the evaluator's personal, emotional reactions to the person being evaluated (see Heltzel). But none of these influences is fatal to the evaluative enterprise. An absence of bias is not required-competence and honesty are..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, May 1, 2007).


      The Data Doesn't Support My Hypothesis so the Data Must Be Wrong

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I will ask if there was any coaching and hope I get an honest response. I certainly expected the 4 to peak. I just feel the MMPI doesn't support the history as told by the other parent or my observations. I've not had such an unelevated profile in a CCE." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 22, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Child-custody evaluations are grueling, expensive, intrusive, and would be considered a last resort by most sane human beings." (New York doctorate-level MHP-JD, September 1, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...The rather interesting thing from my perspective was the way in which it appeared that that the evaluator had interpreted everything else about the mother through the considerably distorted lens of his early, erroneous diagnosis of paranoid personality. Unfortunately, though he rather sheepishly admitted his error in his interpretation of the MMPI-2 in his letter to the court, he was unable to see the powerful confirmatory bias that continued to infect his perceptions and assessment of the parties. He had, it seemed, dismissed the mother's concerns about the father's anger and other issues as reflections of her own projection and hypervigilance.  He recommended switching custody to the dad..." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "This isn't just an 'ooops, I looked at the wrong page' error... this is blatant incompetence and total suspension of critical thinking..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The thing that makes this especially concerning is that this is an individual who has performed a huge number of evals, is well-known (at the state level) and respected, etc., etc. This is not a newby who has to look everything up as he goes. It seemed flat-out weird to me that he would repeatedly refer to the mother's high 5 and think 'paranoid, angry, suspicious.'" (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).

    custody evaluators domestic violence[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I start with the hypothesis that both are "non-normal" or that at least one of them is "non-normal," or they would not be waging war over their child.  I can't think of a case in which one of the other of these hypotheses has not proved true." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "ANY time we start with only one hypothesis, we are likley to produce (or interpret) data that confirms it in some way. People with severe pathology may be over-represented in the custody-disputing population, but some... people who generally function well but are under extraordinary stress. Its worrisome to think that any of us are starting out with the prime hypothesis that one or both parents must be crazy." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: " studies of the MMPI 2 or the MCMI III have supported the notion that custody litigants are 'non-normal.'" (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).

      The Mother and Children Must Be Wrong

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "We all have knowledge of cases where parents have over-reacted when they have not prevailed in a custody dispute.  Has anyone had any experience with cases where a child has taken the drastic step of threatening suicide when the court has not ordered a parenting plan that is consistent with that child's stated preference?  Any thoughts on this issue would be greatly appreciated." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 24, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I've had that experience.  In the cases that I've participated in, adult influence was very present - at a minimum, the "losing" parent was catastophizing the event to the child, and was refusing to do anything to support the child using better coping skills - which, ironically, offers further support to the custody decision if the other parent does a better job on that issue. Did the threat also occur during the CCE and, if so, how was it explored?  If the child has any concerns regarding realistic issues, such as ability to communicate with the parent, access to friends, etc., a plan should be in place to address those issues.  If all of the realistic plans have been addressed and the child is still making threats of suicide I would both get a psychiatric eval to see if meds are appropriate and have the kid hospitalized if s/he either cannot or will not sign and keep a thorough no-self-injury contract." (Another California doctorate-level MHP, January 24, 2007.)

    [There must be something wrong with the kid. Or else it must be influence of the "losing parent". It couldn't be that the MHP just screwed up, that the MHP's placement decision was in favor of an abusive parent, or that the MHP missed that the child was depressed, but was coping in the original arrangement and simply cannot adjust to the MHP's recommendations that pointlessly threw the child's life into change and upheaval (all this having been done, ostensibly, in furtherance of the child's "best interests.") Nope. A perfectly normal kid is so angry at being placed with a perfectly fit parent that the child now threatens to commit suicide. Blame the mother. How is taking action that triggers a child's getting to the point of threatening suicide ever in the child's best interests? Think there's research indicating that this does well for children? Note the responding MHP's inquiry as to whether there are problems focusing on less-than-pressing concerns, such as "ability to communicate with the parent" and "access to friends." Hospitalize the child and put him on "meds" (or just treat it like it's merely a temper tantrum, have the kid sign a "no-self-injury contract"). See, e.g.]

    The Treating Therapist Must Be Wrong

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I often find that therapists have become advocates for their patients and cannot be trusted to be objective or to give me all relevant information while leaving only what's irrelevant and not leaving out what's unfavorable to the patient... Therefore I almost always request the file (and sometimes billing records too). My authorization form and cover letter say repeatedly that "your entire file from cover to cover" is being requested, but it's clear most times that what I get has been cherry-picked anyway. It's been fun on occasion to ask a therapist why they say their patient has no problems which could copmromise parental competence when the file is full of documented serious functional impairments and contains a serious diagnosis... Fishing? Maybe so, but I've caught some really big ones this way." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, August 19, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "There's more than one way to "catch 'em." I'm always amazed at the issues I ask about that the parent's therapist had no idea existed, or have heard from such a distorted perspective that it's ridiculous... If that's the kind of therapist I'm talking to, that often becomes pretty obvious in the interview. Of course, if there is an issue as to the mental health of a parent (beyond the usual BS), I'll request more records rather than less." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 19, 2006).


    Bias Outright

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "So, we should just have one parent being 'authoritative' and the other, during his 12 days a month with the boys, having to ask "Mother, may I?" to someone who does not respect or trust him before deciding what activities, medical care, religious involvement, or almost any other aspect of routine parenting can take place -- and, all the while, he should try to model for his sons what it means to be an autonomous adult in authority?" (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, December 1, 2005).

    [Apparently mothers cannot model what it means to be an autonomous adult in authority. Also, note that the "may I" position is precisely the position into which the same evaluators advocate placing primary caregiving mothers via joint legal custody. Telling isn't it... See joint custody article.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I am involved in a case where one parent has documented that the other parent previously maintained a home that is, well, a total and complete mess. Things are everywhere. The kitchen and bathrooms are filthy. There are photos documenting this. The messy parent counters that the photos are four years old and that their home is now clean and tidy and has been for years. However, the accusing parent states this is not the case, that the conditions continue. It would seem that a home visit is appropriate. However, I am considering making it a surprise visit since, obviously, the allegedly messy parent can clean up the home if they know I am coming." (California doctoral-level MHP, October 12, 2005). [In the context of the listserve thread, the messy home of the past was "kept by" the mother while the parents still lived together.]

    Compare the Reactions to Braver's "Anti-relocation" Study with the Reactions to a Study Showing Harm to Children from DV Against Their Mother

    Compare these pleased and credulous, even excited, reactions to Sanford Braver's relocation study, which conveniently was released just in time to be used in the MHP amicus brief in the California Supreme Court LaMusga case, and was repeatedly misrepresented as finding harm to children when "parents" relocate, thereby providing an apparently longed-for expedient citation to "research" useful in making an argument against custodial mothers' relocations:
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "J Fam Psych, must read... The new issue of Journal of Family Psychology is now in print. It is a special issue on psychology & law. Anyone who does relocation CCEs needs to get the two articles on relocation. Kelly & Lamb summarize the divorce effects & child developmental research on young children and applies it to the relocation issue. Braver et al. present their data on college students' adjustment for those whose divorced parents relocated (either parent) one hour or more away vs. divorced parents who both stayed in the home community." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, June 23, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Has anyone been able to pull these up yet on the APA site?" (California doctorate-level MHP, June 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I printed out the Braver et al article today (for free!) they charge for separate articles (11.95..ouch!) probably time to get on board with the online subscriptions services (overdue, actually...)" (California doctorate-level MHP, June 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "FROM WEBMD HEALTH ~ Post-Divorce Move Can Be Bad For Kids Children of divorced parents who moved away from the non-custodial parent can be more unhappy and unhealthy than others..." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 28, 2003).

            With the negative and doubting reception for a new study finding harm to children from domestic violence perpetrated only against their mothers:
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...The study was conducted by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center in Seattle. They believe evidence of domestic violence is important in making custody decisions because children who have been exposed to their mothers' abuse by an intimate partner are also more likely to be victims of abuse themselves..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, August 11, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If there was no mention of DV in the divorce file, then how did they know the father had a known history of DV... The next step would be to see how these cases developed post-decree, such as continued litigation, incidents of DV and such... and how did the children do in both groups post-decree..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 1,, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I'd like to see the study. Anyone seen the actual study? If so, let me know and I will go thru it w/ a fine tooth comb :) Thanks." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 12, 2005).

    Bias Under the Guise of Gender Neutrality (False Balance)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Does anyone have references that I can review on extended visits for a bright, articulate 3 year old girl? Parents live across the country from one another and I have been asked to suggest a parenting plan that allows mother extended time for the next two years - until child starts school. No real problems with either parent but they are located across the country. Child has a 7 year old half sibling and stepfather with mother and lots of extended family with father. I was thinking of three 3-week visits a year with mother intersperced with mother spending 2 or 3 ten day periods of time down here with child and extended family. Father finds three weeks too long to be away from child and mother feels it is not enough time with child. I can't find any research directly related to this." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, October 6, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I don't think you will find research or conceptual writings on what you propose. See Kelly and Lamb (2000) and their subsequent writings. The plan cited above is developed for the parents and not developed for the child and her developmental level. I recall that Michael and Joan wrote an article about relocation within the past two years, you might want to check this article too." (North Carolina doctoral-level MHP, October 6, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Before I'd support the a plan that has a 3-year-old having three-week separations from parents, I'd want to know the basis for determining that this kid's capabilities, separation issues, ability to participate in telephone or web visits, etc., exceed the capabilities of most three-year-olds to the point that a separation of this duration isn't a problem. None of the research or research-based models on which we rely are "gospel." Depending on how well grounded a model is, either in specific or related research, we need to apply appropriate weight to that research and compare how well the characteristics of a particular family fit that model." (California doctorate-level MHP, October 11, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Why would you think an 18 year old boy in college is any different from a 17 year old girl re: the ability to establish a consistent parenting schedule? Why assume the schedule as to be long-term? Couldn't all the issues you raise re: Dad also apply to Mom? It would be very hard for many mothers (not all, unfortunately) to separate from a 2 month old, but the issue here should not be the mother's stress." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, December 3, 2004, complaining when the author of this webpage suggested that there was a difference vis a vis an infant between a young unwed mother, and the cabal of extended family relatives on an 18-year-old unwed father's side who dragged the teenage mother into court two-months post-partum to demand extensive timeshare and grandparent visitation rights)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Gender politics. Children lose no matter from what side of the political fence the diatribes originate. What bothers me most is when professionals let gender politics drive their analyses of issues under the guise of what scientific research says about the issue. Case in point is the Wallerstein brief in Burgess (CA, relocation). Domestic violence and relocation appear to be the two places on custody issues where sides can become polarized with rigid mind sets." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 21, 2003, who is politically active in reforming relocation and custody law in his state -- in favor of measures that promote father's rights -- as well as a signer on a brief in the subsequent LaMusga case in opposition to Wallerstein's brief. His comments were in response to a number of negative preceding comments on the listserve about a mothers' custody advocacy group which in turn followed a "heads-up" type posting of an article about the mothers' group by a Virginia doctorate-level MHP who herself is married to a noted father's rights activist!)

    [Also compare the discussion of alleged prescription drug abuse by a mother with the discussion of a 4-time convicted DUI father, infra.]

    "I Was Only Joking"

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE JOKE]: "TOP 10 SIGNS THAT YOUR SON HAS GROWN TOO OLD FOR BREAST FEEDING 10. He can open your blouse by himself. 9. While suckling at one breast, he caresses the other. 8. He has developed a bad habit of flicking his tongue. 7. He keeps slipping dollar bills in your belt. 6. He uses your milk as creamer for his coffee. 5. Your birth control pills interfere with his acne medicine. 4. After each feeding, he has a smoke. 3. He frequently invites his friends over for dinner. 2. You feel an uncontrollable urge to listen to Dueling Banjos. 1. Beard abrasions on areola." (California lawyer, June 2, 2001).

    Charles Smith, family values guy[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE JOKE]: "WORDS WOMEN USE... FINE This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up. Never use "fine" to describe how a woman looks - this will cause you to have one of those arguments...  [etc.] Send this to the men you know to warn them about future  arguments they can avoid if they remember the terminology!" (The listserve moderator, a California doctorate-level MHP, January 8, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE JOKE]: "I just got what I think is a very funny graphic file that is probably too large to send to the list.  So I am offering it back channel to whomever requests it.  Warning: this is sexist humor." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE JOKE]: "Words women use FINE This is the word women use to end an argument, when they are right and you need to shut up..." (Yes, a redux, above, by the very same California doctorate-level MHP, February 11, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE ENTHUSIAST]: "Please note that in in the phrase: "OKAY, FINE!" the "Okay" functions not as a repetition of agreement or assent, but as an intensifier, signifying that you REALLY need to shut up..." (California lawyer, February 11, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE JOKE]: "Blonde's Year in Review January Took new scarf back to store because it was too tight... " (California doctorate-level MHP who is neither cute nor blonde, March 21, 2007). (Appended after it was another blonde woman joke and a redneck animal-sex joke.)

    [Over a period of six years, jokes (meaning ready-to-go internet matter, not original witticisms) occasionally were posted to the anonymous listserve. There were a small percent that were political jokes, a somewhat greater percentage that were sexual-topic jokes, and in a few instances jokes on other topics. The majority of jokes, however, were along the lines of those above, with blonde jokes disproportionately represented.]

    "The great boob debate"

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE PISSINGANDMOANING OVER BREASTFEEDING STUDY UNDER THE SUBJECT LINE "The great boob debate]: " know as well as I do that the phrasing will show up in court, so I wanted the documents on all sides. thank you for your help in getting them! I had trouble with my husband's medline... (California doctorate-level MHP, January 30, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE PISSINGANDMOANING OVER BREASTFEEDING STUDY UNDER THE SUBJECT LINE "The great boob debate]: "For all who asked, here is the press release. Note the part about breastfeeding as long as desired by mother and child, and sleep proximity. There is also an AAP publication..." (same California doctorate-level MHP, January 30, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE PISSINGANDMOANING OVER BREASTFEEDING STUDY UNDER THE SUBJECT LINE "The great boob debate]: "...if "professionals" are relying on a press release, rather than the academic article that the press release is based on, might we not be missing some importance nuances..." (hopeful Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 30, 2008).

    [The subject line on these posts says it all. Breastfeeding, of course, is considered by a number of evaluators to be tantamount to connived alienation and "gatekeeping" to thwart their father-primacy infant overnight agendas. What apparently flipped them out regarding a recent press release of research was that it indicated that children of divorce fared better if they had been breastfed. ("Researchers in Sweden and the United Kingdom examined data on almost 9,000 children born in Britain in 1970. Relevant information was collected at birth and again at ages 5 and 10 from parents, teachers, health care workers and midwives. Teachers were asked to rate the kids' anxiety levels on a zero-to-50 scale at age 10. And parents were asked about major life events -- including divorce or separation -- that occurred when their children were between 5 and 10 years old. Not surprisingly, children whose parents had divorced or separated were more likely to have high anxiety. But what the researchers found striking was the difference in stress levels between breast-fed and bottle-fed kids. Breast-fed children were significantly less anxious than kids who hadn't nursed at their mother's breast...") In other threads in the past, a consensus of MHPs just felt that the woman either could pump, a la a cow, or stood on the unsupported "scientific" position that developing the infant's relationship with the father was more beneficial than the health of the mother and baby.]


    Lack of Decision-making Ability

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I reviewed a case where the evaluator had all sorts of methodological problems, testing errors, interpretation problems and strong indications of confirmatory biases... the parents were already doing a fair amount of exchanges with the kid... the evaluator criticized the mother for this situation (part of the confirmatory bias, in my opinion) and focused on how difficult it was for this kid to change so frequently... the evaluator then recommended a custodial arrangement that actually increased the number of exchanges... "  (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "IMHO science and the methods of science are inappropriate for custody determinations NOT because they will never achieve the predictive accuracy of physics, but because science is an inappropriate method of determining/predicting/controlling human values and behavior." (New York doctorate-level MHP, April 1, 2002).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It's been my experience that most "experts" don't have a freak'n clue about BR scores... the study by Bow et al. (2005) made that pretty clear... I've heard "experts" testify that a 65BR was high on the MCMI-III because the mean is 50 and SD is 10... just like the MMPI-2..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP who reviews MHPs, February 12, 2007).

    Lack of Investigative Ability

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Your comments resemble those of O'Donohue & Bradley (1999)... Their strong criticism of CCEs in general is based on the assertion of inadequate theory and methods. They point out a weakness is the limited time frame and the evaluator cannot follow a family over time and observe events. I believe unless we are going to set up video cams in the two residences we need to do our best to "clean up the data" which is inherently full of bias and distortion... O'Donohue and Bradley proposed a moratorium on all CCEs..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 12, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "hi all... a recent case of mine had me question the value of collateral and collaterally derived information... I've become leary of police reports, depositions, and interviews with collaterals, regardless of how neutral they may present themselves... whatever happened to the days in which a psychological evaluation included a clinical/psychosocial interview, some well-chosen, well-standardized tests, and the clinician's integrative/clincial skills... it seems that the more information invited, the more the evalaution loses its credibility... I can begin to see why it is so comforting to some to lose themselves in the microanalytic world of MMPI T-scores... and yes, I realize that our jobs as evaluators is not to find the truth, but to present scientifically grounded data, but I've begun to question what that really means... may the gods forgive me" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 25, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It is very difficult to catch someone who is buying pills illicitly, whether on the computer, on the street or through cash transactions with certain MDs and pharmacies. There comes a point at which we as CCEs have to give up the notion that we are investigators. Take what you do have and write your reports based on the information you developed, the parenting behaviors you have forensically defensible support for and use your training and experience to come to some opinions. That is the best that any expert can do, certainty does not exist in our field." (New York doctorate-level MHP, February 22, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "As I asked before, is there not a record on the computer used to get the medicaiton?  What could we conclude if there were cookies to several overseas pharmicutical supply websites?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 22, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "You can't get access to the pharmacy's records without a subpoena...and you'd have to do individual subpoenas for each individual location...and then hope you hit paydirt...this is a data mining exercise..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 22, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Data on a PC are not ordinarily privileged (unless they happen to be communications with therapists, lawyers, etc.). Without a privilege, they are subject to ordinary discovery if examining the data is likely to lead to relevant evidence. There is a general Constitutional right to privacy under prior interpretations of the 14th Amendment, but the threshold for overcoming it in legal discovery is ordinarily set very low..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, February 22, 2007).

    [Wait-a-sec here... where did MHPs get trained as government-hired investigators of litigants' computer contents, or elevated into arbiters of litigants' constitutional rights... Do they even know what they are looking at or where to look on someone's computer? Are they deemed to be computer experts too? Do the results they obtain constitute "facts or data of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the subject to support the opinion expressed"? Also see Role Confusion, Lack of Appreciation for Due Process, and Arrogance.]

    Lack of Judgment

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Parents don't get anywhere near my office until the order is signed. Once it is signed, any observation -- whether in the parking lot, the waiting room, wherever -- is grist for the mill. If I got an order to evaluate a family and remembered seeing one of the parents do something inappropriate in the parking lot, I might consider declining the case due to having pre-evaluation information that could influence my judgment. The key issue is whether the evaluator had been appointed yet -- not where the observation took place. (California doctorate-level MHP, July 4, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I guess all would agree that an observation of a party anywhere would be a problem if it occured before a court order for an evaluation had been completed. A second issue that could come up is inadvertent observations in the community, post-order. My only point here is that it is wise to have a statement in the order stating that the evaluator can evaluate any and all observattions during the evaluation period. That way nobody could say you were biased by idly sitting in your car at the supermarket watching Dad with the kids and did not to the same for Mom." (another California doctorate-level MHP, July 4, 2005)

    [Would it taint a physician's investigation of the cause of a claimant's disability to have been an eye-witness observer to the car accident subject of the lawsuit? Is a custody evaluation some kind of game in which ground rules dictate that only out-of-court observations made while the investigator is "on the clock" fairly can be used? Apparently so...]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "...the parties are in separate residences. Obviously the bulk of the young (under 6) child(ren)'s toys (video games, trains, dolls, books) are on the shelves/in the room of the child(ren) in the marital residence. The currently displaced parent (quite capable of purchasing a second set of... name the object) insists that the currently residential parent send over half of whatever ("After all they are Janie's/Johnny's toys not ours... (and) "How could you be so selfish and deny...")" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, March 1, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In doing family therapy, I sometimes use the approach that children in our state do not "own" personal property.  Parents may "give" something to a child, but ownership is retained by the parent.  This eliminates back talk such as "You can't take that away from me" or "Why do I have to share it, it is mine!"  Perhaps a logical extension of this would be for parents to consider items such as toys and clothes to belong to each parent and not the child to be taken freely between homes..." (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, March 1, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Regarding making the children's clothes the property of the parent. Up to what age? Put yourself in the shoes of the 10 year old..." (California lawyer, March 1, 2007). 
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If there are disciplinary/behavioral/academic problems, well, the the Play Station, the X-box, etc. become ways, hopefully, to teach children the concept of needs vs. wants, and that the luxuries of life may be withdrawn (and must be earned back) when age-appropriate behavioral expectations are not met, including HW, chores, respect, compliance, etc... however...  There are items that I believe the children have the right to view as their own... I typically recommend to divorced parents that they purchase duplicates of whatever they can to limit the chaos caused by 'forgotten' items (and to reside as close as possible to each other for the occasions of forgotten items that cannot be duplicated)..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 1, 2007).

    Lack of Expert Credentials in a Relevant Area of Inquiry (but sometimes opining anyway)

    Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Substance Abuse; Effects on Parenting

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Toxicology results can only reliably tell us about the presence or absence of a particular substance at detection levels. Drawing levels on substances that metabolize in a day or two, like opiates, is not particularly meaningful. However, taking these substances has effects other than reducing the experience of pain. It also effects the dopamine system which is heavily implicated in prefrontal lobe or executive functions such as judgement which encompasses parenting." (New York doctorate-level MHP who is not a physician, pharmacologist, or toxicologist, February 20, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "So, given that exec functions are possibly negatively impacted, how would you suggest that a CCE investigate/test/assess pre-post to determine the parenting implications? I have had several cases like this and have spoken to the MD's/DO's who have verified what you and others have said previously... so even if used appropriately there can still be a significant impact... so what do we do?" (Texas doctorate-level MHP, February 20, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: " do I demonstrate to the court that one parent is abusing theri pain medication, when her aggressive attorney is staunchly claiming she is not?  she has a back problem and is on disability for it.   I have observed her to be chemically altered... however without scientific proof (drug test) her attorney has aggressively argued that she is NOT impaired..She is sleep-deprived because of her 'abusive' husband....Her doctor who prescribed one medication is on record saying the woman has been  "completely honest"..." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, February 20, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "  The issue isn't whether she's taking the meds... she admits to that.   The issue is whether her parenting is impaired by the medication.  I'd be interested in what the altnerative explanation is for the multiple doctors and pharmacies, other than the obvious one, but the more important issue is whether her parenting is impaired.  If you, teachers, and others have observed her to be "chemically altered," what does that mean and how does it manifest in terms of parenting?" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 20, 2007).

    [What psychology is involved here? Isn't this ordinary eye witness evidence? How much observation would the MHP eye witness actually have of "parenting while under the influence"? Or does the MHP just "assume" impairment? Or incorporate as a basis for "expert" opining the hearsay claims of... the opposing party? or teachers who have even less eye witness observation of "parenting" let alone a basis to assume chemical influence? The reality is that the MHP in fact has no facts, but has decided that " exec functions are possibly negatively impacted" by prescription drug-taking that she cannot prove is even taking place let alone impairing parenting, and so is grasping about for evidence with which to, essentially, assist the father's case with evidence and argument, and then opine in the manner of any ordinary trier of fact having weighed that evidence and argument. Compare these MHP ponderings with the MHP requirement of proof of parenting impairment when it's male sexual behavior, supra. But lest you think it's an arguably justified bias that sex perversion doesn't affect parenting abilities, behaviors, and attitudes at other times, whereas chemical abuse can be presumed to do so, check out the discussion, below, about a proved 4-time criminally-convicted alcohol abusing father:]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Does anyone have anything concrete on parenting/alcohol problems? Like the porn as a deal breaker thread, I have a parent that although he/she has four DUI's (over the course of twenty years) says that they are not alcoholic, and I am looking for research on something tangible here. No elevations on a valid MMPI-2. Nothing, Nada, Kaput..." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 30, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...we haven't necessary established that this parent can be described as a "substance abuser" under DSM criteria." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 20, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "First things first. First evaluate or have the person evaluated in regard to have a substance abuse or dependence problem. Then related the behavioral correlated to the persons capacity to parent effectively. This number of DUIs in and of themselves might be considered enough of an impairment.. the reason for DUI is less important then the DUI.. The issue of not drinking in front of the children.. There are many behavioral correlated of etoh and other drug abuse that impact kids.. They are exposed to hang overs for example." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 31, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I disagree that the reasons for the DUI are less important than the DUI. Both are important. Are we talking 4 DUI's in 20 years, with 3 having occurred in the last 6 months, or are they spaced differently? What are the intervening variables, and what makes this parenta slow learner?" (California doctorate-level MHP, August 31, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...we need more information...there's a big difference between someone who has an occasional drinking behavior and gets pulled over because of underestimating impairment and someone who's drinking behavior is problematic in other areas as well..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 31, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "One can't help but wonder about the learning curve on this guy. Didn't he notice what a pain in the neck it is going to all those AA meetings just to get his drivers license back? Twenty years! That means he had to start real early and go into his 40's with this behavior. Interesting to know if each DUI was linked to traumas or if his "life long" best buddies have red faces and rather large stomachs. On the other hand, I had a case where a recovering drug dealer/addict (after five years of treatment) turned out to be one of the best parents I've met." (California doctorate-level MHP, August 31, 2005).

    [A fluke? More below...]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "As an evaluator, I'm not particularly worried about a single DUI... particularly if it was a while, get 17 and then I'm thinking that's a problem... Let's think about who gets a DUI...first, you need someone who comes into contact with law enforcement, like being pulled over or when they're in an accident... most folks with chronic alcohol problems don't have difficulties driving while drunk... I've spent enough time in the ER during my training and earlier years in practice to know that it's not unusual to find folks with BAL's of 0.35 and up...and they're pretty damn functional... it's folks who don't have enough practice at being drunk and driving that get nailed...or...people like the ones on this list who go to a party, have three or four drinks and then drive..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, April 3, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...the mother is denying her use of alcohol, (as well as her overuse of prescribed meds) so if I ask her psychiatrist if he has any information about her drinking, he would ask her, she would deny it and he has blindly accepted what she reports..." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, September 11, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Clearly, the Mom's Bipolar II and Alcohol issue impacted her parenting...but that's only my opinion..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 9, 2007).

    Lack of psychometric test administration skill:

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I have been in a number of matters where allied mhp's, licensed and experienced in their respective fields, had administered MMPI's and badly misinterpreted the results contributing to a flawed and problematic opinion.  They routinely used the MMPI and other technical psychological tests and had significant forensic practices..." (Tennessee doctorate-level MHP, March 26, 2007).

    Lack of Methodology

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I only see the kid with each parent. I think setting up a session with the kid over whom they are fighting has the potential for doing great harm to said kid." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 6, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Great harm compared to what? If the parents on their very best behavior cannot be in the same room as the child without dire consequences, how are they going to do pickups and dropoffs, joint attendance at school recitals and open houses, meeting at the kids' Little League games, etc.?" (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, July 6, 2005)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It raises an interesting issue for folks who send home questionnaires... you send home __'s 40 pager, and the parent is supposed to fill it out... supposed the case of a pro se litigant -- and when that parent's a lawyer -- the parent and attorney are completing the questionnaire... same with the testing taken at the office...  So far, I've never seen any caveats in a report by those who send home such questionnaires... caveats about not knowing who filled out the information, and the possible threats to reliability/validity of the data...interesting... but I do hear folks say "it's just another piece of data"... I love that... somehow, that makes it ok to do and not comment about the limitations of the data..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP who specializes in psychometric testing, August 11, 2006).

    [NONSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: " point would have been better said had I clarified that personality test "data" are to be used "by psychologists" for hypothesis generation as opposed to hypothesis testing." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, February 20, 2007).
            [NONSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I don't agree with this. I think tests are used to generate data, not hypotheses. Psychologists are used to generate hypotheses." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, February 20, 2007).

    Just Not All That Swift

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "What can anyone tell me about any research in this area for non-white populations (in this case, native Canadian male)? What, if anything, can we say about elevated or non-elevated (normal) scores? In the case at hand, I have a very high L (92) , with R (67), Mp (76), K (70) and S (74), along with clinical scales all hovering around 50." (Canadian doctorate-level MHP, April 3, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REPLY]: "With an L of 92, I would retest her. Following suggestion in the manual and texts (e.g., Greene), tell the client to be more open and honest. L is associated with IM, something that is likely under her control." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, April 4, 2007).

    [On the anonymous listserve, misreading and faulty fact recall was so frequent as to be especially notable, even without considering that the participants for the most part were highly articulate, doctorate-level individuals (and authors) professing to have expertise in investigating, weighing, and assessing evidence, and giving practice advice to their peers who were handling serious matters. The repeated mistakes and inability to grasp and remember the facts in a post being directly replied to, as in the example above, which even quoted the query post, were alarming. It occured even more often as to facts contained in more remote queries which commenced discussion threads, and still more often in the failure to make correct inferences flowing from given facts. Custody litigants sometimes ramble. Their cases can be complex, and the facts -- collected by MHPs in many stops and starts over many months, unlike evidence presented at most trials -- can be unclear under the best of circumstances. Add into the mixture various evaluator biases, and it's a recipe designed to regularly serve up disastrously wrong opinions.]


    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Folks, Here is a 2 part question: 1. Is there any good empirical literature on the co-occurance of domestic violence against a spouse and child physical abuse? 2. If you were assessing a family where the father had a history of DV there was a divorce and he wanted unsupervised visitation, how would you go about assessing risk?" (New Hampshire doctorate-level MHP ABPP (Forensic), July 22, 2009).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE LONE RESPONSE, NEXT DAY]: " [], here is a start. my assessment frame would be a standard risk assessment for child abuse." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, July 23, 2009).

    Group Think

    The Castillo children are dead, because of the insane insistence catering to father's rights, and the obscene refusal to consider the expertise of the primary parent.[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "I would very much appreciate it if any of you would forward on to me any strong references (including studies) about custody plans per age and stage of development of the child." (Louisiana masters-level MHP, June 15, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Funny you should bring this up! Joan Kelly is putting a one-day presentation on 6/27 titled "Devloping Effctive Parenting Plans Using Child Devlopment & Divorc Research" here in the S.F. Bay Area..." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 15, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Joan Kelly, PhD will be doing a half-day training in Santa Fe, NM titled, "Using Child Development Research to Develop Age-Appropriate Custody and Visiting Arrangements," Friday, February 28..." (New Mexico doctorate-level MHP, January 20, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE MODERATOR]: "___'s reading of my post was correct. I have no intention of booting him (or anyone else) who's qualified off the list. I know other people -- ___, ___, the infamous Liz -- have agendas for being provocateurs; I just didn't understand why ___, being 'one of us', would want to be on the list in the same role. But if he does, so be it. I imagine we each have our idosyncratic preferences..." (List moderator, doctorate-level MHP, June 9, 2001, who five years later, long after two of the three persons mentioned were gone, suspended Liz from list participation unless and until she assented to the notion that everyone on the listserve was there for the purpose of doing well by children and stopped making "personal attacks", i.e. pointing out when various posters' words or stated acts appeared to be lacking in veracity, logic, competence, neutrality, fairness and/or appropriate motives.)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "In the past, I've asked the list for references to cite in appellate briefs (most of which get posted by West on the internet when the decision is issued). I have summarized the facts of the case that relate to the issue at hand, and then asked for research to cite to the Court of Appeal." (California lawyer, August 11, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...when I evaluate a family with children younger than 10 or so, I retain (and pass on the cost of) a child psychologist. While I know a great deal about child development, the affect of divorce on children, etc., I am not a child psychologist, and the evaluation is too important to take a chance that I might miss something significant." (Wisconsin doctorate-level MHP, February 11, 2007). [He said WHAAAAT?]

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "...question. I completed a presurgical psychological evaluation prior to gastric bypass surgery the other day. The client presented as a woman but is actually a man that is looking into sex reassignment surgery a year or so down the road...When plotting the MMPI do I use male or female graph? Same question regarding male/female norms on the other tests..." (Doctorate-level MHP, February 14, 2007).

    Not the Parenting Mavins You Might Think

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "My apologies if this has been recently covered, but I am looking for some cites on how a parent's depression (long-term major) effects the children. I searched the archives and came up empty - except for a post from ___ saying that there is research on depression and parenting." (Louisiana masters-level MHP, June 13, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I think this is addressed in my book." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).

    [Who actually wrote his book?]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "I received an inquiry from an attorney requesting information pertaining to what defines "stability" for a five-year-old... Any thoughts, references to share?" (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, June 13, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Kelly, J.B. and Lamb, M.E. (2000). Using child development research to make appropriate custody and access decisions for young children. Family and Conciliation Courts Review..." (California doctorate-level MHP. June 13, 2001).

    Over a period of nearly six years, the above responder and others cited generally and repeatedly, often by just referencing the name, to mostly the same small club of prolific authors of custody sophistry, including Kelly, Lamb, Braver, Warshak et al., and even themselves, rarely discriminating between "think pieces" and other editorial matter not grounded in research, and research findings, on a wide variety of issues. During one period of 24 months, there were 115 posts containing or quoting references to both Kelly and Lamb. The problems with this incestuous group of cross-pollinating and cross-referencing literature are discussed in articles that can be found at the top of, and most recently in Prof. Carol Bruch's article on the subject). On repeated occasions when the editor of this webpage pointed out both general and specific examples of this problem, the responder stupidly demanded to know whether this author had published any of her critiques in "peer-reviewed journals" like "we do" rather than on in advocacy "polemics" and webpages. Does an individual who points out that a belief in the gods of Mount Olympus has no basis in reality really have to publish that observation in a peer-reviewed theological journal to give it credibility? Did the little boy who noted that "the Emperor has no clothes" really have to demonstrate that by spinning and sewing a new set for his highness and comparing it to the nonexistent attire stitch by stitch? See Lack of Judgment, supra, and Arrogance, infra.)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "A basic tenet in law is that the burden falls upon the proponent of a technique to document its reliability; the burden is not upon the skeptic to document lack of reliability or validity." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, February 21, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I have some parents who are blaming each other for their children's bad behavior. The kids are boys 7.8 and 10.6 years. The kids are cute enough, not funny looking, normally intelligent, and do not show any symptoms of major mental illness. Teacher ratings describe them as too aggressive and under socialized. They have been living mostly with mom... Mom's home is disorganized... Dad's home is tiny, cluttered, unclean, smells bad... On the usual tests where the kids could show some impulsiveness that would hurt their success, they showed only a little impulsiveness (E.g., answering before the question was finished). They show no in-office symptoms of hyperactivity or other impulsive disorders. When I gave the softest reprimand I could for them violating a social-personal boundary, the child was upset and was still a little ashamed a week later (Thus suggesting that they are responsive to direction and criticism). This one was still violating personal boundaries a week later too. I think they might be simply under socialized. They may never have had an adult consistently teach them civil behavior. How do I measure their degree of socialization and compare it to "normal" developmental curves..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Does anyone know about the number of sessions for effectively treating children? I seem to remember 8 to 10 sessions for maximizing results; then their progress diminishes as well." (Virginia doctorate-level MHP, June 14, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "No amount of money can predict the inherently unpredictable. We've only just begun. What little knowledge we have is primitive. I sometimes imagine the body of knowledge psychologists now hold is comparable to the body of knowledge held by physicians in, say,the sixteenth century. (New York doctorate-level MHP, April 1, 2002).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...psychologists, until recently, have too often been self-satisfied and sometimes self-aggrandizing. They have been too reluctant to admit that the knowledge base and research methods upon which they have traditionally based their opinions were inadequate, and sometimes pseudoscientific, superstitious or quasi-religious." (California doctorate-level MHP, April 1, 2002.)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I know we have been over this, but in the context of a CCE how does one describe the scientific basis of the importance of siblings..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I could use some input here... mom... and her significant other are planning a quick wedding because she is pregnant... She and now husband-to-be (a professor at a Catholic university) are coming in to meet with me to talk about ways to approach this with the two kids..." (Doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Can anyone provide me with a recent article that addresses the effects of co-habitation (as opposed to marriage) on children? Or impact of step-siblings on children?" (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "I will be starting an internat'l move away CCE. Parent has moved to country that is in the Hague Con. Are there any issues that need to be addressed that would be differnt than a local move away? Provisions that need to be considered in the recommendations? I've already thought about time distance and cost of visitation." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "cultural issues and values... attitudes toward woman; religious freedom; access to educational opportunities..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 27, 2005).

    Not the Research Mavins You Might Think

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST re two readily-available law review articles]: "Can anyone come up with either of these article for me, or tell me where I might be able to download them?" (California doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Can you find this article?" (Georgia doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007).

    [The article in question, The Family Journal -- a Sage publication -- Vol. 8, No. 3, 309-316 (2000), "An Interview with Robert Marvin: Linking Systems and Attachment Theory" was located on the internet the same day in exactly 14 seconds by this author at .]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Under what circumstances, if any, is it possible for minors to seek psychological treatment in confidence, without the knowledge or consent of their parents? And what about access to medical/records without parental consent?" (New York doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REPLY]: "Um, that would be your state's laws/regulations governing treatment and record keeping.... Not to sound rude or unkind, but isn't this something that we all (should) get taught in grad school - I mean it's basic consent to treat kind of stuff..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 28, 2007).


    Clinical Experience -- learning from Hollywood fiction

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I really think a great study in all this is the movie "Goodwill Hunting." There you see the mixture of everything you're talking about here, J--, with a client who didn't initially show an initiative or a desire to change and in fact was openly resisting it. The therapist in the movie, at different times and as called for by what was going on with the client, showed exactly the combination of warmth, genuineness, compassion, empathy, and confrontation (and yes, even at times hostile confrontation) you're talking about here. There wasn't an overreliance on any one of these therepeutic strategies, but rather a flexible use of them based on what what was going on in the relationship and what, at any particular moment, would be therapeutic. (Doctorate-level MHP, October 28, 2009).

    Directionless Curiosity aka Fishing

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm wondering why [some of you think] it's not helpful to observe parents teach children to fish... I've found it very interesting to see what parents come up with when given the albeit overly general directions to "bring something to teach your child.' Whether or not the "something" is age appropriate, something the kid is interested in (or not), how patient the parent is when the kid really screws something (like dad's brand new camera) up, or even how it made me tear up a little when a dad taught his two adolescent sons how to tie a necktie... I think it's been very insightful... not the holy grail, but what is???" (California doctorate-level MHP, July 6, 2005)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "My favorite was when the dad and 6 y.o. son played checkers -- at dad's insistence -- and dad cheated obviously -- put pieces down on different squares than they had been) to beat the little bugger handily. Even when Jr. was trying not to cry, dad was gloating, snickering and telling kid what a loser he was. What inferences might we safely draw?" (Lousiana masters-level MHP, July 6, 2005)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I've seen some bizarre things in observation sessions too... and occasionally I've seen some outstanding parenting, even where the parent was taking what he or she might have perceived to be a risk (setting limits, etc.). I'd never go without them because occasionally the observations are quite significant and backed up by other data -- or lead to hypotheses which can then be explored with other data." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 6, 2005)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I like the idea of having the parent choose the teaching task & agree with ___ that this could be a fruitful area of exploration. One thing I've done is to buy one of those kids' workbooks they sell in all kinds of stores that provide worksheets on (e.g.) math & English concepts... I chose one that's one grade beyond where the child is presently, in order to 1) make sure it's not something they've already studied and 2) that the parent have to actually try and teach something and 3) observe how both deal with the likely frustration that comes with learning something new. I have to be sure I'm not selecting something that's developmentally inappropriate (like abstract thinking to a 10 year old) but otherwise, I don't place any limits on what I use. This can sometimes be a revealing process! (California doctorate-level MHP, July 6, 2005)

    [The above could also have been listed under a "bias" category. It's skewed toward the more highly educated (and English-speaking) parent, and is not necessarily reflective of what -- or how -- parents teach children. The listserve participants unanimously rejected this author's suggestion that the MHPs just take the parent and children to a restaurant near their office, ostensibly as a break from the evaluation, and observe them doing something from real-life, with far less contrived behavior, more likelihood of spontaneous conversation, opportunity to observe the children's behavior, and potential for insight into each parent's manners-teaching and nutritional choices. The author's impression from the numerous negative comments received was that this was a scenario that either wasn't within most of the MHPs' own social or parenting skills, or else would too clearly show the primary caregivers as being the far more competent parent.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think that, just as with any other test procedure, the MCMI-III can be used as a cross-validation technique to assess pathology or the lack thereof.  On the outside chance that a parent would produce a valid profile (which I have actually seen happen on rare occasions), the MCMI-III could provide interesting personological information.  Just because a parent is not in treatment does not mean s/he shouldn't be." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 11, 2007).
            [PEARSON TEST PUBLISHER'S WEBSITE]: "When is it appropriate to use the MCMI-III test? The MCMI-III test should be used for diagnostic screening or clinical assessment of adults who evidence problematic emotional and interpersonal symptoms or who are undergoing professional psychotherapy or a psychodiagnostic evaluation. It should not be used with nonclinical cases." (February 11, 2007, "Questions and Answers").

    It's Just Not Science

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The precursors of social scientists began to imitate the methods of physics and the sciences around the late 1700s (see A. Compte, for instance). The hope of social scientists then (at first they were called "Moral Philosophers," and were not called "scientists" until the 1800s, when the word "scientist" was coined) and now was that by imitating the "hard" science, eventually social science will achieve the success of, say, phyics or biology. I believe that goal is an unachievable illusion. I believe the subject matter of study of the "hard" sciences and the social sciences are so fundamentally different that the same methods cannot achieve the same level of success in both." (New York doctorate-level MHP, April 1, 2002).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "One issue was overnights for a 21 month old boy. Mother was strongly opposed. Father alleged a long pattern of mother making contact difficult and transitions were being sabotagued by her. Mother said the boy did not want to go with father. The judge I believe was impressed by my description of the transition at my office. Mother had dropped child for the father-son observation session. When she came to pick him up she entered the office reception area without saying a word, angry look on face, and literally snatched the child from father's arms and left. Case is over. Father gets overnights and a graduated increase to overnights and weekends to the goal of equal parenting time when Kindergarten starts." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, January 23, 2003).

    [The parties here apparently paid for, and the case was decided on, what was plain old lay witness fact testimony. And it is not surprising that the court found it impressive. This sort of "investigative methodology" and "cleaning up of the data" (see Lack of Investigative Ability, supra) is the subject of custody evaluation how-to literature written by the same MHP. Of course, because it was a verbally articulate "expert" testifying, high credibility was given to the subjective perceptions that Mother had an "angry look" on her face and that what had transpired was that she "snatched the child from the father's arms".]

    It's Not Science -- But That's Okay if I Like It

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "What I like about Kelly & Johnston's framework is that it casts alienation as a behavioral state in the child (the state of rejecting a parent), not in a parent, that is the multidimensional outcome of a variety of influences..." (New York doctorate-level MHP, August 9, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Conceptually, isn't Alienation intended to describe a process which occurs in a postdivorce/separation environment and can involve either/both parents and can be further be fueled by the child (e.g., child driven alienation such as discussed in Warshak's-Divorce Poison book.)?   I do agree that Johnston and Kelly's article is 'the' article to utilize when testifying and/or attempting to describe the issue in one's report. Sadly "Alienation" now seems to the allegation to throw out by a parent when petitioning for custody as if somehow by mentioning it, it empowers the holder of this statement." (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, August 9, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I have written quite a bit about restraint and intrusiveness. Nonetheless, there is a body of experience and expertise of what works.,," (California lawyer, June 9, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If, by 'body of knowledge' you mean social science literature/research about families, I would also disagree with you. We have cultural values, we have personal preferences and we have some 'science' based on accidental, questionably-representative samples. We also have academies that, at this moment in history, are powerfully biased in a certain direction. Also, every day during the last five minutes of the evening news we have yet another social science study that claims that whatever you used to think is not true, it's really this other way." (New York doctorate-level MHP, June 9, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT[: "First you expand the garbage so that it takes up more room. More is better. Then you package it with attractive words, preferably BIG attractive words, because then it is hard to know that there is garbage inside and the insulation retards rotting. Then, you give it to the recipients with a gigantic flourish, sometimes spraying O de toilet on the package to add a pleasant odor. Then you say, 'Oh, Your Excellencies and Your Eminences, this was one of the most difficult and complex evaluations I have performed in my 105 years of doing such evaluations. But, I have found the primal causes for the conflicts and my opinions may provide lasting peace for the positive growth and development of the little ones.' You then hand over the report. When questioned about the MMPI-2 results you invoke the five Gods of MMPI-2 CEU profiles and say, 'It is clear your Highnesses that these profiles are typical of those obtained from persons who are evaluated in the course of a highly conflicted custody battle.  Such people are known to respond to the situation by becoming highly overwrought. I have removed the overwroughtness from my interpretation of their MMPI-2s, which is shown in their elevated L, K and S scales, and I have given you the essence of who they are under more usually circumstances. That is to say, were they not involved in this dispute with one another over custody of their children they would be the calm, empathic, attuned parents and citizens of the world that they usually are.' " (California doctorate-level MHP, April 10, 2007).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: " Hi Gang, I need a citation for the fact that insight can follow behavior change. I know that cognitive therapy and other forms of behavioral intervention are built on that, but if you were going to cite the idea, where would you credit it? Thanks much" (California doctorate-level MHP, December 20, 2008).

    Protecting Vested Interests (Work in the Court System)

    Parenting Practices Do Not Diminish Merely Because of Divorce[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT from listserve administrator]: "I have a 3 page pdf titled "Custody Disputed" by Randy Otto & 2 other people I've never heard of (Robert E. Emery & William O'Donohue) that is a scathing indictment on the lack of scientific rigor in CCEs. If you want it, send me a back channel email." (California doctorate-level MHP, October 1, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I read this article the other day and found it simplistic and naive. There is a bolded out print header saying that parents should cooperate and make their own decisions about their children. Give me a break. The cry for better science could be said about almost any court related expert topic." (California doctorate-level MHP, October 1, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "What parts specifically did you find "naive"? I think the "simplistic," sweeping statements are likely a function of the article's appearing in the "lay press;" even so, it sounds as though he is referring to specific bodies or research and specific issues regarding custody evals. (eg., use of custody-specific "tests" al a Ackerman & Bricklin) that have been a frequent focus of this list. I must say that I agree that--absent abuse or allegations thereof, and absent concerns of problems with the children or parent(s) that require special expertise to evaluate, the involvement of families in the adversarial system serves only to increase the level of conflict between the parents and increase the stress on the kids. Cooperative/collaborative law approaches to family law have been used successfully in a number of jurisdictions--mental health professionals are often involved early on, but the prototypical CCE is considered to be a last resort---for good reason, IMHO." (Doctorate-level MHP, October 3, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT] : "Knowing how the average depressed parent may or may not be able to meet the needs of the average 7 year old, as compared to a non-depressed average counterpart parent, has negative value (due to it impairing my objectivity and confirmatory bias effects) in determining the best outcome for 7 year old Johnny and his parents."   ... relying upon such data to the slightest degree will unleash this monster to run amuck in the courtroom." (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, February 15, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...if you take your argument to it's logical conclusion, ...Joe Common-Sense would be better off evaluating Johnny and his parents, because all of the knowledge that we mental health types have gained about depression, child developmental, family systems, etc., etc., etc., has left us hopelessly biased and unable to sort through the myriad of relevant variables to be considered in evaluating an individual family.  One could make a case for this position (and people have!), but I don't think that it is the position for which you are arguing." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, February 16, 2007).

    [Not one response to the listserve pointed out that research comparing the children in the care depressed primary caregivers versus nondepressed primary caregivers says absolutely nothing at all about how children in the care of depressed primary caregivers fare versus those who are removed from their care and placed with secondary parents of various attachment, thereby being forced to suffer even more extreme (and concrete) absence, inattention, neglect, etc. in their primary attachment relationship -- or that there is no research addressing this issue. There is, however, research addressing how children fare, comparatively, in motherless homes. See]

    Psychometric Testing of Custody Litigants

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The MMPI is not a particularly reliable instrument, in the opinion of many, it is conceptually outdated, and, at best, can only be used to generate hypotheses that need independent corroboration. You have none. The SZ scale elevation is not clinically significant, IMHO." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, June 8, 2001).

    Incompetent Instruments...

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "My first order of referral, circa 1993, included a request that I use objective psychological testing and listed the MMPI, the PORT, and the BPS. I know how to follow an order and duly purchased the Bricklin kits. (I was already familiar with the MMPI-2.) A couple years later I bought Bricklin's The Custody Evaluation Handbook, Research-Based Solutions and Applications, hot off the press. The references to Neuro-Linguistic programming aside, and that's a large aside, help me understand the research that belies these measures. The book doesn't come close. I have been tremendously disappointed by the lack of research, heck the lack of face validity of these "measures." Correct me if I am wrong but Bricklin's MO is to reference "research" that upon closer inspection turn out to be small pilot studies, at best, and would not pass muster in a 1st year graduate research course." (Tennessee doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...the Bricklin instruments DO have a lot of face validity, i.e. the questions seem transparently related to parenting. It's reliability and the others kinds of validity (congruent, convergent & external) that they lack. Their face validity is exactly what makes non-professionals (i.e. parents & the legal community) think they're so valuable." (California doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "There are numerous problems with the Abel not the least of which is that the decision paradigms are trade secrets, they have never been published and have never been scrutinized by peer review. Someone administers the instrument, sends the raw data to Abel and they run their stats and interpret the results. The practitioner essentially never knows how a particular result was achieved." (New York doctorate-level MHP, June 7, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT/INQUIRY]: "A recent study by Coffman, Guerin & Gottfried - (2006) Psychological Assessment, 18, "Reliability and Valdity of the Parent-Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI): Evidence From a Longitudinal Cross-Informant Investigation," p.209-214 advises against using the PCRI in custody evaluations. Coffman et al. found that for adolescent children (15-16), the PCRI was valid for assessing concurrent and predictive features of mother-child relationships, but it was not valid for assessing characteristics of father-child relationships. Any reactions from the list?" (Michigan doctorate-level MHP who specializes in child sex abuse accusation cases, usually on the defense side, August 10, 2006). 
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Am I alone in being troubled by the 5 incredibly transparent social desirability items on the PCRI?" (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, August 10, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Why stop there... What about the transparent items on most of the tests we give... the MMPI-2, MCMI-III, PAI...and don't forget the STAXI, PSI and CAPI... all these tests have items that are sooo transparent that it's a wonder they have any utility in custody cases..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 10, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I am of the opinion that they don't have enough utility in custody cases to justify their use!!!" (Another Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 10. 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In my view, the tests do not have much, if any, utility for predicting parental competence variables.  This would be one reason for defining CCEs as forensically informed clinical work rather than the other way around." (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, August 11, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I stopped using the SASSI-3 after a father who had failed three outpatient tx. programs and came to take his pencil-paper testing with alcohol on his breath scored as not having an alcohol problem on this instrument." (Doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2007),

    Incompetent Users...

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "[B]ottom line, there are custody evaluators using tests who aren't competent to do so... More importantly, we have no clue how these people would respond to the test questions if they weren't in danger of "losing" a custody battle... or in the case of a dependency case, how they'd do if they weren't in danger of losing parental rights completely... The context or demand characteristics of the context are incredibly powerful... so much so that even victims of DV who are experiencing a multitude of symptoms are able to produce a profile that's similar to other non-DV victims... I take a hard-line stance on testing issue because I've seen too of what I would consider incompetence...pure and simple... and what's worse, the Court, the attorneys and the parents don't know it unless it's brought to their attention through rebuttal testimony... yes, I'm aware that testing is but one element of a custody evaluation... but... when the evaluator uses the tests inappropriately or doesn't know how to interpret the tests without a computer generated interpretation, the hypotheses and resultant recommendations are flawed... " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, April 7, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE to an inquiry re testing]: "I ...can't think of any tests in psychology that are so actuarial and so tightly linked to a specific behavioral criterion that they are, in effect, self-interpreting. Actually, most psychological tests involve the application of constructs rather than behavioral criteria, and the meaning of the constructs in particular contexts is always open to considerable interpretation." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, December 30, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I recently testified in a case in which the testifying expert agreed that the technique he used was not reliable and was not statistically valid but that he found great value in the information generated by the technique.  He testified that just because something is not reliable does not mean that it cannot be valid." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, February 1, 2007).

    [NOTASANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "In Illinois and other states, there are evaluators who use 3 and sometimes 5 actuarial instruments. That way at least one of them will put the respondent over the 50% mark. You can call this the shotgun approach or maybe the poison, shoot and firebomb, just in case." (Iowa doctorate-level MHP, February 2, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "With nothing in front of him/her but the manual, a good cross-examining attorney can have a field day with an evaluator who has used the MCMI-III. Re-read the beginning sections of the manual to get a feel for what you could be in for. An attorney with the manual and the SEPT can have even more fun. There are several things to consider in selecting assessment tools. One of the things to consider is "tactical" -- even if I find it useful, what will my life be like on the stand if I'm asked to defend my use of it? I don't think that the Millon passes the "tactical" test. I recommend the PAI (along with the MMPI-2)" (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, February 11, 2007).

    ...or Both

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Maybe I'm missing something... but... when you have data like you've described, then why even give the SASSI-3 or any other alcohol/substance abuse scale... the tests are supposed to be used to generate hypotheses and then extra-test behavior is used to either support or dismiss the hypotheses... you've got the behavior suggesting a problem and they you're seeking to support that with the testing?... you seemed to be working backwards..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, March 1, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...'the SASSI-3 is designed to be used as an assessment and treatment tool, not as part of a screening process to reject job applicants or to abridge people's right and entitlements' ( from the SASSI-3 manual). I don't think it is too much of a leap to suggest that the tool was not designed for CCE." (Another Florida doctorate-level MHP, March 1, 2007).

    [Good computer printouts to generate hypotheses about the personalities of people we don't know also can be got from astrology websites.]


    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I would challenge you that a refusal to take a drug test... can simply be discounted ("not held against them")... you have suspicions of substance use/abuse. I can hardly see how a refusal could alleviate those suspicions. No matter how positive we can try to be about evaluee self determination the nagging question... if they're clean like they claim to be why won't they just demonstrate it?... It's one thing to take a stance on an issue in general regarding personal privacy. It's another when there is a microscope focused on you as a parent and you fail to do everything in your power to demonstrate your fitness as a parent." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, March 26, 2007).


    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "When you consider all of this, you realize that those of us who have some education and some respect for science and rationality live in a very small and isolated world. The idea that most other people are like us in this respect is really a ridiculous fantasy... Accordingly, we have trouble empathizing with people who have grossly misguided fixed ideas. Some of them are paranoid. But many more are just stupid -- and often very emotional on certain topics." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 24, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I would like to know how others have dealt with subpoenas in their stips. Anyone willing to share? At this point I may state in my stip that subpoenas be served by mail with a call to let me know it was sent, as I have 2 offices. L.A. folks any problem with requiring a subpoena be served by mail only?" (California doctorate-level MHP who had been the court-appointed "neutral evaluator", now angry and embarrassed that one of the parties' lawyers had the unmitigated gall to serve her with a subpoena in the ordinary way, August 10, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "To me, the collective wisdom of this list can trump or at least compliment advice from an attorney con$ultant. Attorneys give us their opinion that could be right or wrong.   Whatever anyone post is just their opinion we can ignore or find compelling." (Another California doctorate-level MHP, August 10, 2006, after the thread went off onto a tangent as to whether the inquiring MHP had been providing too-detailed case information or requesting legal advice).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I am actually teaching the class at the National Council of Juveile and Family Court Judges' Fall College.  Their Child Development guide is from 1993, only available in photocopy form, and currently out of stock.  I have been told the level of sophistication is relatively low." (Nevada doctorate-level MHP, August 15, 2006 seeking syllabus suggestions).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The article addresses, I believe, the sometimes sharp divide between judicial decision-making and expert-witness decision-making. Judges, after all, are ultimately political figures, they seek to represent the collective social values of the community. We on the other hand represent the intellectuals in the process." (New York doctorate-level MHP, August 6, 2007).


    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The education of judges, attorneys and ourselves is a never ending process. I was recently in Virginia to testify as an expert witness relative to gay/lesbian parenting and child custody/visitation issues... Within seconds, it became clear that the judge did not want to hear from an "outsider" (I am from Atlanta) and said that he would be more interested in hearing from me if I had seen the child in question. I had evaluated NONE of the parties involved but was to testify about the field. The judge and the "other" attorney seemed to become hung up on what I knew about standard of care in western Virginia and Virginia." (Georgia doctorate-level MHP. June 3, 2001).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I have a case in which Mom has said that Dad committed some pretty sadistic sexual stuff against her. Presumably the kids (young teens) do not know about this... She is concerned about this information getting into the report, as Dad shares everything with the kids & they will learn about it...I believe the information is relevant to the custody issue. I thought about contacting the judge & asking if I could distribute the report only to the judge, & I also thought about referring to the information in the report in vague terms & giving the judge a description of the details, not to be given to the parents or their attorneys. I consulted with someone who thought the secrecy (hiding the issue) is also an issue, & the information should be included in the report & the report distributed as usual..." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, May 1, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION]: "Would you send the report to the judge first, without copies to the attorneys, & let him decide if copies should be sent to attorneys? Or send to attorneys (and judge) with a cover letter advising them to await judge's order before sharing with parent?" (Another doctorate-level MHP, May 2, 2004). [Also see, infra, Subverting Attorney-Client Privilege.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "APA ethics instruct us to follow State laws. This law was passed prior to HIPAA being enacted. It is more protective than HIPAA and therefore has precedence over HIPAA." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...this is NOT an evaluation, but a court ordered Reunification Counseling between the father and 2 daughters. I also left out that the Mother is "Pro Per". The prevailing thinking I have heard expressed at the mental health committee meetings in Phoenix is that the client is the court and the parents nor their counsel are entitled to a therapist's notes, only the report they generate. One of the top evaluators in AZ has stated he summarizes each meeting and has successfully defended his objections to such subpoena's on four occassions by claiming they are "work product"." (Arizona doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "See also Committee on Legal Issues (APA) Strategies for private practitioners coping with subpoenas or compelled testimony for client records or test data. Professional Psychology Research & Practice. 1996. 27 (3) 245-251." (California doctorate-level MHP, May 30, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "These issues tend to get polarized, so in the interests of keeping both the child's need for protection and the parent's need to be informed front and center, I think it is important to say that the court's intent should... be protecting the child... the bottom line, the gold standard.. I think our society resolved this dispute about, if my memory serves, 30 years ago with the passage of the legislation that established the state's right to protect children (what's the precise name of that act?) I think the issues we are dealing with in family law should be related to that social policy, and not to anything more amorphous, however well-intentioned." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).

    Insistence on Keeping Underlying Data Secret

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY, similar to literally hundreds posted to the list over a 5-year period, in which the author tracked this issue in both MHP discussion groups as well as real-life cases, in which yet another MHP doesn't want to release that ostensibly special evidence that only an MHP should be permitted to possess]: "I have a question regarding release of records obtained during a child custody evaluation. I am reviewing the records of another psychologist who conducted a child custody evaluation. In the course of the evaluation, records from the treating physician for one parent and the child were obtained directly from the psychologist. I received a copy of the psychologist file... In reviewing the case with the attorney who retained me it became clear that he did not have copies of the physician records. He is asking that I release these records. I am unclear if I can release records to the attorney." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 25, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE LAWYER RESPONSE, similar to literally hundreds of responses from exasperated lawyers over the same 5-year period to MHPs who just refuse to "get it"]: "___, you must release them to counsel. You cannot receive or consider anything that can't be released to the parties and counsel -- due process trumps all again here. Once privilege was waived to provide the records for Evaluator I, that waiver continues for the life of the case as to the court proceedings. Not only can you release them to the parties' counsel, you MUST do so." (California lawyer, January 26, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE DEMURRER]: "___, I didn't receive them direclty. I got them from the psychologist that did the original evaluation. she won't release them to counsel. I am just trying to figure out if there is a problem with my giving them to the attorney that retained me." (Same California doctorate-level MHP, January 26, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE NONLAWYER]: "Are you a HIPAA Covered Entity yourself? If so, you may need to get an authorization. ___ is of course right that everyone has a right to see everything an expert has used to formulate opinions, but that does not mean you can violate HIPAA to do it. You may need to get an authorization first..." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, January 26, 2007, playing lawyer).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE NONLAWYER]: "See how you feel about this approach... Letter to evaluator. This brief note is to inform you of my intention to provide AWRM with Fill-in-the-blank. These items were subpoenaed by her and, to the best of my knowledge, neither you nor Mr. Parent has filed a Motion to Quash..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, January 26, 2007, also playing lawyer).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE NONLAWYER]: "I think the answer is to have the attorney send you a subpoena duces tecum for those documents. As I recall, under HIPAA as filtered through California state law, even a HIPAA Covered Entity must comply with a subpoena for Protected Health Information *unless* opposing counsel (who is notified of the subpoena) formally objects..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, January 26, 2007).

    [The above discussion continued for days, ignoring the California attorney's clear -- and correct -- advice to a California MHP, mostly with posts hypothesizing one absurd objection after another to why it wouldn't be a good idea for a consulting expert to "release" the data she is reviewing to the lawyer who hired her. A number of the hopeful suggested consulting a "professional practice attorney" or, in derogation of attorney work product, consulting with the court, or sending out notices to the other side. Many became involved in dissecting and interpreting the federal HIPAA statute, during which another California MHP chimed in to warn everyone about the differences in state laws.]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Does any know the definitive word about whether psychologists in CA are allowed to release psych test data to attorneys (that is, to follow the 2002 APA ethics code).  As I understand the CA rules, the APA ethics code is part of the rules psychologists live by yet there is some confusion." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, February 28, 2007).

    Just Don't Wanna Release That Report

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: " is entered, the case is done, the court issues and enters a final order. About six months later an attorney calls claiming to represent one of the parties and demands a copy of the report. First, we ask for verification of who the attorney is and who is being represented. Assuming the attorney actually is an attorney (this is from another state) and actually represents the party. should the report be released?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 8, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I would write to the court (with a CC to attorneys) and explain the series of events, including the request. I would take my lead from the judge. Reason: I work at the pleasure of the court. During the time in which I was engaged in the evaluation, the judge and attorney A and B were involved in the case. The order under which I was directed to conduct the evaluation also directed me to release the report to attorney A and B. When Attorney C comes on to the scene after I have completed by work for the court under that specific order, I am done. I open my file or I release records or a report when the judge directs me to..." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, January 8, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Is it not a matter of to whom you turn it all over. This should be anticipated in the appointment order. Experts hired by one side get the whole chart. Treating therapists should usually get the evaluation only. Unrepresented litigants get to review the whole chart only with a licensed mental health person." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 8, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I am in the process of reviewing a report prepared by a custody evaluator. Printed on each page entirely in caps, in large print, and bolded is the unambiguous message: 'Not to be released without written permission of all parties..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, January 17, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE SUGGESTION]: "The caution is likely well intended and may be useful in preventing inappropriate data release to those outside the court system or to treaters hired by one party.  A polite and friendly edifying letter to the authoring psychologist might be both kind and appreciated." (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Maybe I'm just in an unforgiving mood, but the need to send a 'friendly letter' that essentially tells the evaluator 'stop lying to people, it's going to get you in trouble' seems to be confirmation of the ignorance... seems to indicate the evaluator is ignorant of basic process-of-law issues in their area. It makes me wonder what other areas of forensic practice the evaluator is ignorant of...] (Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 27, 2007).

    [Some MHPs, of course, are far brighter than others, but unfortunately that still just does not fix the problem of the vast majority who aren't -- or the underlying flaws in the ideas that have injected MHPs into the court system. And as we can see, given how many have managed to obtain a doctorate from some school or other, it's not a matter of lack of education, so it would be silly to propose more education, or procedural guidelines, or ethical guidelines as a fix (as some have). Even if the problem weren't in the concept (which it is), once one has attained certain academic levels, it's just not about more education. And finally, an utterly beautiful example of hypocrisy... Doctor, doctor, heal thyself...]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The CA Family Code requires evaluators to review the CPS file, but does not allow us to make a copy of the file.  (We are allowed to make notes from it, I guess.)  In addition to the obvious costs associated with having evaluators drive out to CPS offices and CPS staff giving access to the file, there is a serious scientific validity problem.  If I review the CPS records at Time A, something that is not salient to me then may be salient to me at Time B, when I have more information.  If I'm not allowed to have the records to review at various times, or prior to drawing conclusions about the case, there is a real risk of loss of information.  The unfairness of holding me responsible for information that I only get the opportunity to see once, and cannot copy, is obvious..." (California doctorate-level MJP, February 21, 2007).

    Much Concern for the Copyright Claims of Test Publishers...

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY, topic of repeated discussion over the years]: "How do you retain "raw data" as privileged (and only released to experts who will maintain test security and presumably not misuse or misinterpret data)..." (Tennessee doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).

    [Often incorrectly citing to, interpreting, or even reading various statutes and regulations, the recalcitrants argued, inter alia, that they had "ethical obligations" (apparently higher in their own minds than due process) to maintain test publishers' nonexistent "trade secrets" (in commercial product widely published, sold, and disseminated, including to competitors), that the test materials were copyrighted and thus could not be produced in discovery, that litigants and/or their attorneys were obligated first to hire a consulting MHP to "receive" and explain and retain possession of the sacred texts in order for them to be produced, that the materials could only be produced "in camera" or else only to the lawyers but not those agents' employers (their clients), or else required a detailed specific additional court order (a mere attorney subpoena not being good enough), and similar nonsense. Some actually crowed that they had convinced judges to issue protective orders (especially against pro se litigants), on theories which included, among others, paranoid speculations that litigants would rush out to publish psych test questions all over the place, coach their friends, and other fantasies of "misuse". Not infrequently, they considered the litigants' lawyers to be incompetent, unprepared, or naive. (Some undoubtedly are, or else are more concerned about their referral relationships than their clients.) In any event, few MHPs reported that their abominable behaviors and frivolous positions were sanctioned, or that protective orders they won at the expense of the parties were appealed. Ostensibly this stood as proof that everyone recognized the righteousness of the MHP's position. (The more likely reason, unrecognized by the clueless, is that the litigants and lawyers compromised, prioritized, and triaged with limited time and resources. Litigants already overwhelmed in an expensive, stressful, and potentially life-altering ordeal rarely can afford to hold up their and their children's very lives and the resolution of their divorce and custody cases in order to divert time, money, and effort to making law for the benefit of the next guy.)]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The attorney is perfectly capable of buying the manuals if he/she needs them. I wouldn't turn over a manual any more than I would give out any other books off of my shelf. At most, supply the references and where the manuals may be purchased." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, February 18, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "wow, and I thought I was the only one who told those folks to go buy the damn things themselves or get the psychologist on their staff or in their pocket to get it. Bottom line: they want, they get it; or, they get a Judge to order me to give it up, in which case I get the test purveyor involved and direct all further communication between test purveyor's legal counsel and the Judge. Whew, what a crock" (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, February 18, 2005).

    ... but not for the Copyright Claims of Article Publishers

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST, similar to hundreds made on the anonymous listserve over nearly six years, perhaps thousands if "backchannel" requests and multiple requests per article were to be counted]: "I am interested in obtaining a copy of the recently cited study concerning grandparents involvement in: J Family Psych (2002)... I do not subscribe to this journal. Can anyone email or fax me a copy?" (California doctorate-level MHP, January 31, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE ME-TOO]: "Any possibility I could acquire the same, but through e-mail. I just received notification yesterday about a grandparent case here in VA ...judge wants some input. Thanks..." (Virginia doctorate-level MHP, January 31, 2003).

    ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Would anyone on the list who has access to the American Journal of Psychiatry please contact me backchannel." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, February 15, 2007).

    Paternalistic Attitudes Toward Litigants (and More Time/Money Wasting)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It is because of just this problem with pro se parents (who, I believe, are entitled to the report because they are their own attorneys), I refuse all pro se cases. If a parent goes pro se mid-eval, I make a case-by-case decision since by then I have some sense of the kind of person I'm dealing with.." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, June 6, 2001, who refuses to release her custody evaluation report under any circumstances in which the principal in the attorney-client agency relationship might get a copy).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I guess the parent, represented or not, has three levels of rights. They can have it explained to them, read it and return it, or get a personal copy. In my case they will have it read to them only if the court allows. Even giving it to one of these parents could create a problem as force would probably be needed to get it back." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 7, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "In the cases I've had where parents had counsel and I thought there was a risk to the child (or myself) from allowing the parent to read the report, I asked the judge to have counsels read it in chambers and summarize to parents." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, June 7, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...there is a difference between not giving a client information for a psychological service and not giving the person a report that has been orally explained to them. Respectfully, ___" (California doctorate-level MHP, June 7, 2001).

    [The subject of not allowing litigants their simple due process rights to confront the evidence against them was a repeated theme on the listserve over the years, whether by not letting the parties have a reasonable opportunity to ponder and digest the evaluator's report, by not disclosing some aspect of the underlying data upon which the evaluator based his opinion, by standing on imaginary rules such as that the data may only be turned over to another MHP specifically hired for the purpose, by claiming that subpoenas weren't sufficient and "court orders" were required, by trying to discover some reason HIPAA or ethics or the psych board would not permit it, by asserting that this was not the evaluator's obligation per his "stip", by resisting deposition and the request to testify under certain circumstances (especially if not paid yet more), by hypothesizing that there might be a danger to collateral witneses or third parties or children if information were to be released, by handwringing over the awful prospects of the report being "misused" if it got out, by speculating that there would be some ethical breach toward test publishers, and much other hopeful bogus crap. Based on the majority of the evaluator reports this author has seen in her practice, it's not surprising that many MHPs would not want their canned formulaic unscientific nonexpert drivel to be published where it could be shredded for the nonsense it is. Especially those who write similar biased findings in similar ways over and over again. In fairness, the author occasionally has seen custody evaluation reviewers' reports that were impressive (then again, these reports are done for very different purposes, and they only highlight even more how pointless and wasteful this entire process is.]

    {ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "When I have a legitimate concern about possible or probable harm in releasing the report, I indicate this concern in the report and put the burden on the attorneys to use good judgment. If one or both parties are pro per, I release the report only to the court (possibly sending only the recommendations to the attorney/pro per), along with a letter explaining the problem and asking the court's guidance as to whom to release what. Of course, I copy the pro per and attorney so that they are appraised of the situation and either may bring a motion before the court to resolve the problem." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 11, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The San Diego Rules of Court specifically state that parents are not to be given a copy of the eval report. When I first meet with clients, I tell them the rules of court, I tell them the reason for the rule, give them examples and tell them they can read the entire report in their attorneys office. When a parent is pro per, I send them a copy of the summary and recommendations and tell them they can come into my office to read the full report. If a client insisted on having a copy (if they are pro per) I would give it to them. So far, no one has asked. They seem to accept the reasonableness..." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 11, 2001, stating a rule of court that if true, is astonishing, even obscene, in its derogation of due process rights, leading one to wonder who would have suggested this and why, and who in his right mind in charge of the court procedures would have gone along with it).

    [NONASANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "In one case, I wrote to the judge, expressing concern that the information could prove harmful if released to 'the wrong people.' The judge allowed me to send the information to him, & it was retained by the court, sealed. The attorneys looked at it there." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 2, 2007).

    Role Confusion and Power-hungry Incompetence

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I am working with a divorced couple... two teenage girls... reside with one parent... The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent. They are struggling with expenses that seem beyond normal daily expenses, such as prom dresses, volleyball camp, special trips out of town, etc.The parent who pays child support is of the opinion that all those expenses should come out of child support, but the other parent thinks that those expenses are beyond child support and that they should be shared equally." (Doctorate-level MHP, June 2, 2001).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "As an evaluator I would strongly recommend that the court's order about these expenses be explicit, thorough and clear without taking any other stance on what that order should be. (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, a physician, June 2, 2001, who apparently advises judges in his jurisdiction on how to make decisions and draft court orders.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "If this was a chronic situation and the more well-to-do parent really wanted the kids to have things that the other parent could not afford, I might refer the parties back to counsel with the suggestion that they pursue some kind of creative option - i.e. the creation of a special account for these issues, which could be accessed only with the consent of both parents or the order of the special master... Obviously, many high conflict families can't handle this, in which case I agree with everyone who says that insulating the kid from the conflict trumps letting her have the prom dress..." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 2, 2001).

    [The last opiner apparently fantasizes that she has the right to decide that someone else's teenage daughter may not attend her one-and-only senior prom, as well as to deny other free law-abiding citizens their right to go to court to settle a dispute and litigate fairly cut-and-dried child support issues... wonder how that "insulates the kid from conflict"... wonder how many prom dresses could be purchased for the cost of a custody evaluation...]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Custody Evaluation = voluntary or involuntary exposure to a one time intervention, with no confidentiality expectation, that may recommend one or more of the first three interventions in the context of best interests of the child." (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, January 18, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "A colleague has asked my opinion on this issue, and I don't think I've ever thought about it before: he is the therapist for a highly contentious post-divorce couple. They have returned to court 32 times on one issue or another. My friend is growing frustrated because he has no authority to make change happen, he can only work with the couple to help them grow themselves. In talking about the case, I said I thought he should switch to being their Special Master." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 23, 2005).

    [Why would it not be a simpler and more adequate -- certainly cheaper and less intrusive -- solution to just let one of the parents make the decisions. Bet the child's primary caregiver is feeling pretty frustrated too. The above items also could have been placed under a number of the above categories, such as Lack of Science and Lack of Decision-Making Ability. Also compare the quote under Outright Bias, supra, with this last item]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "If a custody evaluator hasn't kept up on potentially-relevant diagnoses and isn't used to thinking in diagnostic terms, he or she should probably not make a diagnosis without consultation. The appropriate recommendation would be that there be a formal evaluation of the individual by a psychologist or psychiatrist who regularly does such evaluations to ascertain whether a parent has a disorder to a degree that may have a significant negative affect on the child(ren)." (Wisconsin doctorate-level MHP, February 11, 2007).

    Messing with stepparents and second marriages

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...I think that we can at least say something about the red flag that this kind of event raises: the step-parent's failure to participate means you cannot report fully..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I respectfully disagree. If the stepfather will not participate, all you know is that he won't participate. You don't know why..." (California doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Stepfather may just be following lawyer's advice, which may be good, bad or indifferent. Drawing any inference whatsoever is prohibited bias" (California attorney, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "A stepparent can be compelled to testify as a fact witness..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "What I did was to state in the report that the step-parent would not participate..." (California doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I simply wrote the Judge, xc'd both attorneys and within two weeks the Judge reissued the order and voila... stepparent showed up and was a cooperative participant." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I usually request participation of the 'significant other'..." (Canadian doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Have you tried bringing this to the attention of the attorneys? You are now making it sound like stepfather's motivation, although admittedly somewhat unrealistic, might be a more normative motive of protecting himself and his and his kid from someone he sees as hostile. Perhaps someone just needs to explain to him that this isn't a choice..." (California doctorate-level MHP, November 9, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...if we work in a court system that routinely expects the evaluator to provide a custody recommendation, can we ethically (from a practice standpoint) do so if we have no first hand information about a parenting figure..." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, November 11, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "It's important that we try not be more cavalier than the courts about 'automatic' waivers of rights, particularly rights that have some constitutional weight behind them, such as privacy rights. Stepparents do not lose their individuality or their legal autonomy..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, November 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "So you're implying that the Texas statute is what, unconstitutional, because it makes the child who is the subject of the suit the center of determining who is relevant to the child's best interests?" (Texas doctorate-level MHP, November 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE VEERING]: "You mentioned the step-sib? As in... little Susie (who is the focus of this eval) lives with her mother and step-siblings from her step-father's first marriage..." (California doctorate-level MHP, November 14, 2007).

    Self-interest (and Self-Importance) above Due Process

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "I received a subpoena Duces Tecum today for my notes, records, etc in a case where I am the court ordered therapeutic interventionist assigned with doing reconciliation counseling. If I work for the court/TOF in this case, how do I argue EFFECTIVELY that my notes are "work product" to prevent them from being obtained?" (Arizona masters-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The SDT is only a command to produce at a hearing, not give them up. It is there that you make your argument to the Judge suggesting that the notes may be damaging to the process...request that the court examine them in camera (Sp?). ...focus on arguing the negative impact... damage to the process is the most important issue." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Can't a parent's normal legal right to a minor child's records be pre-empted by a court's judgment that this would not be in the best interests of the child?" (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Yes, if the parties stipulate to this or under some other circumstances... at the time the order for therapy was signed... After the fact, the psychologist lacks standing with the court to bring motions on the child's behalf unless she was appointed some kind of guardian ad litem or special master under the terms of the appointment order..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In Florida, we can legally refuse to release notes, arguing that they are "raw data" just like test responses. It is the option of the psychologist, and is made on the basis of the notes being detrimental to the parties if released. " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004, giving incorrect legal advice to his colleagues.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In one case, I wrote to the judge, expressing concern that the information could prove harmful if released to "the wrong people." The judge allowed me to send the information to him, & it was retained by the court, sealed. The attorneys looked at it there." (Doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "With disturbing frequency, I have encountered posts that make some reference to situations in which pertinent documents (the contents of which might very well determine the outcome of a case) are shown to attorneys in chambers and the attorneys are discouraged from discussing the contents of these documents with their clients. Can anyone imagine something like this occurring in a context other than the family law context (or under the terms of the Patriot Act, perhaps)... Am I being misled by selective perception or selective recall, or am I correct in my impression that issues such as this pop up here frequently? Litigators are not generally known for their passivity. If my impression is correct, that the due process rights of litigants in family-related actions are often ignored, why has there been no revolt?" (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "IMO it is quite patronizing as well as grossly unfair not to let clients see everything that pertains to them and their case. I would be enraged if I were a litigant and this happened to me." (Minnnesota masters-level MHP, May 29, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "A friend of mine, who had done a number of CCE in Illinois, moved to another state 6 months ago. She said she gave 6 months notice to all participants about the move. I believe she completed all CCE's before leaving. She now reports that she has been ordered back to Illinois to give a deposition and the judge has refused her request to have the parties pay for her air fare and lodging. Does the judge have the power to order her to comply now that she lives in a different jurisdiction?" (Illinois doctorate-level MHP, January 19, 2006).

    [The above item was also a candidate for the Arrogance category. There are so many defects in thinking, it's difficult to come up with a categorization scheme -- perhaps this author ought to consult with the drafters of the DSM... Perhaps the MHP should just be thankful that she didn't have to hire a lawyer, file a petition, pay for a psych evaluation, prove her good reasons to move contrary to the interests of other persons, and beg the judge for permission while one of her cases was still pending in the court...]

    {ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Can anything be done about being served with a custody related subpoena at your personal unlisted residence... If so served, what might you do?" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 3, 2007).

    Self-interest as the Highest Priority

    Whores of the Court - download free at Margaret Hagen's websiteNote to all parents, public, lawyers and judges: Prof. Hagen currently is offering a FREE DOWNLOAD pdf file from her website. GET IT, READ IT. If you're short on time, read the beginning and Chapter 8. -- liz

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Someone has asked me if there has been some kind of policy change in New York (either by case precedent or policy of a professional organization) that would have the effect of precluding a psychologist from making a custody recommendation, even from the position of court-appointed evaluator. Do any of you know anything about this? ...It was also suggested that some kind of policy put out by APA on this issue, suggesting that psychologists have no more expertise than lay people to make such recommendation..." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 25, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I just ...attended a NY judicial institute at which high on the food chain judges talked about the past present and future directions in family law and procedures, no one mentioned this as a possibility on the horizon. One thing that was talked about was a move in the direction of Parent Coordinators or Special Masters... and there was talk that a special master could not have input as to custody recs after serving in that capacity." (New York Doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Parent coordination is mediation/arbitration. Usually reports are made to the Court and coordinators testify and have access to all attorneys, therapists, parties, etc... Check out the AFCC Parenting Coordinator Task Force Report in the Members Only section of the AFCC website. The Task Force is working on standards as we speak..." (Louisiana masters-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "If parent coordinators have no arbitration or decision making powers - what is their role? Most places that use them seem to hope that this model will keep people out of Court and slow the re-litigation rate." (Louisiana masters-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I understand that is the hope, and I believe the inital intent. Florida Psych Association is supporting legislation proposed by FL AFCC to introduce PC into legistlation. Right now it is circuit by circuit in Florida. I don't know about other states. In my circuit there was an oriingal conceptualization that PC was1/2 therapy and 1/2 mediation. In order to be appointed , one had to be both a certified mediator and licensed mental health professional... " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Yes, that is their hope. Special masters in CA have decisionmaking power. The problem here is that the parties have to stipulate to having a special master...sometimes the court creates incentives for that to happen..." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "The first orders I saw in the 4th circuit were lenghty and very specific, since then attorneys have been drafting to suit the needs of the situation and IMHO have confused the issue. My iniital understanding was that the PC had a great deal of power vested." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "'Parenting Coordination: Implementation Issues, April 30, 2003," (AFCC Task Force on Parenting Coordination). Family Court Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, October 2003, 533-564..." (Pennsylvania doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In our corner of the world, we have decision making power, you do not have to be a mediator, but you must go through 24 hours of training and participate in peer supervision... some of the cases are VERY INTERESTING... We also looking toward putting PC up for legislation. There is so much work to be done to do it, but we have a number of lawyers and several judges invested in the process." (Washington doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I am very interested in this issue, both clinical forensically and legislatively. Could you say more re: decision making. Has the court vest its power; what clout is behind the decisions; how has legal community reacted?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I've talked about this on the list before. It's an ambiguous mess from an ethical viewpoint..." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I'm involved with setting it up. Can you back channel me with the info you got at the Judicial Institute. E.g., who presented? What info?..." (New York doctorate-level MHP, December 26, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "My close work with PC's here suggests that the good ones have a very clear idea that they are in a quasi-judicial role - in fact, at one of our trainings the speaker told us to look at the judicial canons of ethics - and that first and foremost among their responsibilities is to be able to reach decisions relatively quickly..." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The same/similar role has different names in various places - many states are moving toward standardizing the title Parent Coordinator (as used by Garrity, Baris, Coates et al in their several books). Phil Stahl - who used to do the work and no longer does - loved to tell people how this role was called Wise Person in New Mexico!" (Louisiana masters-level MHP, December 27, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "WPWP wise person with power" (Florida doctorate-level MHO, December 28, 2003).

    [During 2001-2006, literally thousands of posts to the anonymous listserve dealt with promoting the parenting coordination idea, as well as promoting AFCC generally, and establishing AFCC (essentially a trade organization) as the arbiter of self-regulation guidelines for parenting coordination and custody evaluation. Much potentially lucrative work is at stake. Inasmuch as the process involves possibly unconstitutional delegation of judicial powers where not agreed to by the parties and a considerable number of other problems, as well as getting the judicial and legislative branches of government on-board, establishment of the concept has been slow-going. However, many judges and lawyers, swayed by the propaganda and lobbying in its favor, have bought into the dangerous concept. In addition to the promotion, a considerable amount of practice discussion also involved not only risk management by avoiding misfeasance and malfeasance, but also the affirmative lobbying for immunity protections for GALs, CCEs, and PCs, infra, as "quasi-judicial" officials (unlike lawyers, who have no immunity, and unlike judges who are overseen by appellate courts.) A lot of crabbing also ensued comparing the hourly rates of lawyers (who do not have immunity, who cannot summarily refuse to work if they aren't paid, and who have considerable overhead) to MHPs' own fees.]

    Self-Protection Above All

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Could any of you in states who have such statutes... protecting CCE's from Board complaints... email me copies of your statutes? And I suppose any other info that would be helpful in supporting such legislation. I am starting to talk to some folks in CA about introducing such legislation... so would be extremely helpful to see what other states have done. Also, do any of these statutes provide protection for psychologists who do court-ordered therapy in family law cases, or just CCE's?" (California doctorate-level MHP, January 16, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm gradually realizing that a recommendation admired in one jurisdiction might be disdained in another. I'm taking more care to learn about local custom before making recommendations." (California doctorate-level MHP, May 25, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The ongoing references to board complaints and exposure in CCE during the conference was unsettling." (Tennessee doctorate-level MHP, May 26, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "So what would you advise in this situation: Judge changes custody and orders that the parent who lost custody have no contact with the children. Judge appoints a therapist for now custodial parent and children. In the order, gives the therapist the right to decide which members of the family to see, including the parent who lost custody if deemed therapeutically advisable. The order also gives the therapist the right to decide whether or not confidentiality should be violated in the best interests of the children. Parent who lost custody is appealing. The record indicates that the parent who lost custody has a history of making unsubstantiated and legally dismissed allegations of various sorts to various relevant authorities... The therapist does not think it is advisable to involve that parent in the treatment at this point. The rationale is that the children are just beginning the process of adjusting to the change and the therapist's role is to foster that adjustment. Would best risk management practice... be for the therapist to initiate contact or not with the parent who lost custody? Does initiating contact trigger a duty of care? Does not initiating contact violate any parental rights or other obligation to the parent? Other issues?" (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "When a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed, does this do the job? i.e., does the GAL "hold" the children's rights even when their parents are both alive and involved and no parental rights have been terminated? I don't understand why you are conceptualizing the children's rights as due process rights." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, May 29, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Hi all, Do any of you know what the latest pronouncements are from APAIT regarding insurance coverage for parent coordination?" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 2, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "I have a friend who's had 3 board complaints in CCEs and is looking at a likely fourth. All 3 have been dismissed with no sanction by the board. Large legal bills to defend the complaints have all been covered by the same insurer, about $35K total. My friend fears that there may be a point where malpractice insurers refuse to renew coverage simply because of a certain number of claims.." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, February 2, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Moreover, if someone actually rules that PC is not the practice of psychology, is the psychology malpractice carrier still obliged to defend us?" (California doctorate-level MHP, February 5, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I would hope that the question would become moot.  The Oklahoma statute grants the PC quasi-judicial immunity, which should eliminate a malpractice lawsuit... recourse for consumer protection would be to file a grievance with the court... The court can decide to remove this individual [as PC]... I believe that is sufficient protection for the consumer." (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, February 5, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "We have a local evaluator who makes the litigants sign a statement on the last evaluation day that says the evaluation was competent, fair and they have no concerns...of course, if there's a review, he parades the signed statement "proving" there's no problems..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, February 6, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Right.  And that's the reason that I have such trouble with ___ (or anyone) taking the position that PC is not the practice of psychology... Should ___ prevail in his position and obtain a ruling that PC practice is not the practice of psychology, he may well undermine insurance coverage for all psychologist PC's in his own state as well as others." (California doctorate-level MHP, April 17, 2007).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "PSYCHOLOGIST SELF-PROTECTION OVER THE EDGE: THE ABSURDITY OF 911 VOICEMAIL WARNINGS Alan Karbelnig, Ph.D. National Psychologist, May/June 2007 Hopefully signaling the peak of an epidemic of excessive self-protection, many psychologists now sport recorded voicemail messages that advise callers to hang up and dial 911 in case of medical emergency. Such warnings presumably inform unwitting callers that psychologists cannot provide emergency medical services. These 911 outgoing messages must be proliferating out of fear that psychologists could be sued by someone who expected to find cardiac defibrillation, gastric lavage, suturing, or other emergency medical procedures at the end of psychologists' phone lines. Failing to do so, these psychologists fear, callers could become injured in some fashion and then sue them for negligence. Yet no such legal, ethical, or commonsensical protective standard for psychologists exists...".

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT, referring to a news story about arrest of a noted child custody psychologist for allegedly outrageously violating a woman's privacy by secretly videotaping her using the toilet in his office bathroom -- bothered NOT by the incident or the egregious apparent violation against this woman, but that the psych board program manager gave a media interview]: "What disturbs me is this part: '...Tammy Kelley, disciplinary program manager with the Department of Health's psychology board.' Nothing done legislatively will ever solve the 'loose lips' problem, but when the Program Manager discloses information concerning complaints that have been dismissed..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I'm sure this is a state by state issue as to what the board is able to disclose, but it's far from the worst horror story I've heard..." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "This is indeed disturbing. I'm sure Stu has bigger things on his mind right now, but I wonder if this disclosure was legal." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 14, 2007).

    Also see "Sex Positivism". Note that some of the dismissed psych board complaints alleged bias against a mother custody litigant. Three of the six cases were placed under seal. And the problem is that... the public, or these complainants now can compare notes? as did these women, re a Texas evaluator? One of the problems when litigants make allegations of bias in an isolated case is they are not able to prove it by showing a pattern of bias. Bias can be very difficult to prove. By analogy, it was for this reason that the EEOC started doing statistical analysis in cases of employment discrimination. And it also is for this reason, inter alia, that this webpage exists and the instant research has been undertaken.

    Subverting Attorney-Client Privilege

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: " makes sense to me that the pre-testing (if it is actually destined to be such) would not be priveleged...I don't see how this 'pre-testing' could be protected because, as an agent of the court, the psychologist performing the subsequent cce would request, and be within his or her right to receive anything in the attyorney's file relevant to the client's psychological status." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 19, 2003).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The client may have different stressors by the time the CCE rolls around than when they took your MMPI-2 in this pre-eval context. However, when clients have been coached on these measures, it really does limit the CCE evaluator's ability to derive anything from the profile. To avoid these concerns, I must suggest to go back to the standby -- nothing better than a thorough history taking and well documented observations." (California doctorate-level MHP, January 20, 2003).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I am conducting a CCE and am faced with some unusual circumstances. One of the litigant's attorneys has done some questionable things which I have brought to the attention of the court (and all involved).  My concern is whether parent represented by the attorney understands how potentially damaging this attoreny's actions are going to be for their case..." (New York doctorate-level MHP, October 8, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I may also include in my order a requirement that, even if the attorney were to learn of my home address, that it not be released to litigants." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 5, 2007).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "According to Shuman (D.W., 2001,Psychiatric and Psychological Evidence, 2nd edition) and probably other sources, the attorney-client privilege "typically recognizes an exception or exclusion relating to the the performance of future crimes". Is it reasonable to conclude from the above when a defense counsel retained forensic psychologist acquires reasonable suspicion of child abuse by the defendant, the future-crimes exception to attorney-client privilege dictates in favor of the psychologist reporting suspected child abuse over the psychologist's duty to honor attorney-client work-product privilege?" (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, April 15, 2007).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: " a call from an attorney to eval her client. She said there may be more abuse that her client had not been caught for. I told her I had duty to report and she claimed I could not becuase of attorney/client priveledge. I told her this issue had not been clearly resolved in the forensic arena and only recently had been to an ABFP workshop (that was back in 2003 I think) where it was discussed with the presenter and even he said it's not clear-cut. She got really pissed at me and kind of disparaging... one has to decide which stance to take. I, personally, would adhere to the law of being a mandated reporter and adhere to my penchant for being a child-advocate..." (South Dakota doctorate-level MHP, October 15, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE]: "I agree one has to decide, but I would bet dollars to donuts (which is getting close to even money) that in some jurisdictions you'd better decide to tell people you're going to report. I'd bet that many licensing boards don't think you stop practicing psychology just because you are working for an attorney." (Doctorate-level MHP, October 15, 2007).

    "Mandatedly reporting" childhood abuse of a 22-year-old criminal defendant.

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "During the clinical interview the defendant (age 22) discloses to the expert that he was sexually molested by a relative when he was age 4. Defendant discloses the city the relative lives in. The expert calls the police department of the city where the relative lives immediately after leaving the defendant and reports the abuse. Is this reporting ethically mandated? Since this psychologist was retained by the defense, did the psychologist violate attorney/client privilege? Would it have been simply courteous to give the attorney a "headsup" before calling the police? Was the call to the police necessary considering the statute of limitations has expired?" (Massachusetts doctorate-level MHP, a criminal forensic, March 8, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "This is such an interesting question. I have heard several responses to this question and they all revolve around the idea that depending on what attorney and his/her specialty, recommendations may be different. One perspective I have heard is that a constitutional attorney would argue that the evaluator's responsibility is to the attorney and that no reporting should occur without the retaining attorney's blessing.Another perspective, often provided by a malpractice insurance attorney is to report since the statute directs such reporting. Me? I would anticipate such a concern and include in my retainer..." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, a custody evaluator, March 8, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: " I agree with ___ about clarifying this situation beforehand (for me, that means clarification in favor of reporting, and warning the client). In the two states I know about, such a report is not mandatory, since the putative victim is not a child. (The purpose of the mandated reporting statute in those jurisdictions is to protect children.) Whether such a report falls under a general duty to report a felony would depend on the statute. If it is not mandatory, the report is likely a breach of confidentiality, again depending on the jurisdiction." (Colorado doctorate-level MHP, March 8, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "In California, the reporting law refers to children, not people who used to be children. If an 18 year old tells you they were abused when they were a child, there is no mandate to report. If you feel like you should (like to protect others or for some other reason), you need to deal with the privilege and confidentiality issues, which in this case would involve the fact that you are acting as an agent of a defense attorney." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2007).

    Don't even understand what work product or attorney-client privilege is.

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "As I just posted, psychologist privilege is not necessarily limited to psychologist-patient relationships. We have other types of clients too, not just patients we treat. At least here in MO all psychologist-client communication is privileged, not just therapist-patient. I think that includes attorneys who retain us as consultants and thereby become our clients, but not our patients..." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, December 13, 2006).     

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Do judges commonly abrogate privileges that they find to be merely inconvenient? Or do they weigh the privilege against the best interests of the child, if the law allows them to do that?" (California doctorate-level MHP, December 15, 2006).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "A forensic psychologist is retained by the defense in a criminal case to conduct an evaluation. After completing an evaluation she discusses the results with the attorney who retained her. The attorney decides that the results may be damaging to her client, and therefore instructs the psychologist not to write a report and to send the attorney a bill for her services. The psychologist subsequently talks to the prosecutor about the case and is placed on the prosecution's witness list as an expert. This doesn't pass the smell test. Is there something wrong here?" (Wisconsin doctorate-level MHP, April 13, 2007).


    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "THAT's what they are calling this now? This was AB612, the bill that was going to ban psych testing. Yes, it would have banned use of PAS - also alienation, most suggestibility research, and a gozillian other things...." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "[D]o you know how to access the watered down version? It might be good to put on this list serve given that it has the potential for affecting many of us in CA and might be a warning as to what those in other states might anticipate given that the CA group that drafted this bill is active in other states too." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The watered down version bears no resemblance to the old one. The new one is called AB2587. To see it, go to the site below..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "oh we go again. Amanda Levy (of CPA) always used to say, "there's no such thing as a dead bill." Well, maybe it'll stall again, or maybe the language is sufficiently weak/vague as to be ineffectual..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Amanda Levy is amazing - the group that watered down the bill included CPA, CA AFCC, the State Bar Children's Issues Committees, the Judges' Associations, and a number of CA Members of this list who wrote letters." [FOLLOWUP]: "...some of the family law sections of the local bar associations, the State Bar Family Law Executive Committees, a number of individual psychologists, family law attorneys, and appellate attorneys..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...I know at least one appellate attorney who thinks it could start trouble anyway, but but the others we had review it think that it makes no difference." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The bill is still listed as AB612. You can access the current language and history on this web site..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: " The current bill before the CA legislature is AB2587..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 9, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "___: I read the bill that you forwarded (below). What is/are the concerns with this bill? How does it differ from the current law?" (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "___- The proposed rule goes Daubert one better. The 'relevant professional community' that would need to accept the expert's methodology as up to its standards is not just that of the expert's professional group, but would include members of several other professions and... also the legal community." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The issues are what are the criteria levels of sufficiency for a method to be found to be "generally accepted." I believe that the law does not define some things because there is a wish in some quarters for 'judgment' to be applied." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Yes, and the original bill prohibited any psychological testing as part of a custody evaluation without a separate hearing (trial?) conducted before the eval. started to justify the need for testing Psych. testing was somehow linked to the PAS diagnosis which was objected to by the mothers rights group..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Once you define the relevant community you then have to poll it to find out if it accepts the relevant methodology. Is acceptance anything over 50 percent or is there some other number that would define something like a significant portion of the relevant community accepts XXXX?" (California doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "___, You're thinking like a researcher, not like a lawyer. The 'general acceptance' test has never been fixed by polls or by fixed numbers. There is no 50% threshold, nor does the method need to be free from controversy. It's more of a matter of whether the method is sufficiently recognized..." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, March 10, 2008).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...this is the language that was the ultimate product of the negotiation. Do any of you have sufficient concerns that you would urge CPA and FLEXCOM to oppose the bill? If so, please send back channel messages to me and ___." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 11, 2008).


    Inappropriate Experimenting

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "If you are recommending reunification therapy involving an extremely and well-documented alienator, how often would you recommend -0- contact with the alientating parent for the first weeks or months of therapy. Any research or articles on this specific issue." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 15, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Do any of you have articles/references on models for reunification after an allegation of DV? I'm looking for stuff related to reunifying children and parents after both sustained allegations, as well as after allegations that are not sustained. Anything out there on outcome research, criteria used to make decisions about reunification, etc., would be most appreciated." (California doctorate-level MHP, April, 21, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION] : "What published articles or guidelines are there that would provide guidance in evaluating a proposed plan for a 7 year old child to travel across country with relatives she has not had any contact with in over 2 years to spend time with a parent she has also not had any contact with in over 2 years? What references would assist in designing a more developmentally sensitive plan?" (Nevada doctorate-level MHP, June 8, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think the whole Q of whether or not an interview affects test results is a fascinating one and deserves experimental evidence one way or the other.  We can gather this easily if Group A (evaluators who test first, then interview) were to send in their MMPI data to be compared by ANOVA with Group B (those evaluators who interview first and then test).  The only confounding variable I can see is the nature of the interview.  By "interview" I mean an in-depth interview of a parent, not a simple orientation about what to expect, fees, routines, etc.  What do you all think?  Those of you willing to participate should send me a back channel email... and tell me whether your practice falls into Group A or B, and if Group B, what you consider an interview. I'd also like to know how many data sets you could contribute if in fact this project actually happens." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 31, 2007).

    Meddling and Social Engineering

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The particular aspect of it that galled me the most was the presumption that the custody evaluator (who then passes the ball to the Court, who in turn stands for the State) knows what is best. Knowing what is best seems to give the custody evaluator (thru the Court and the powers of the State) the right/obligation to micromanage the lives of the family members. The custody evaluator (the Court, the State) seem to make an industry of pushing around the family like chess pieces." (New York doctorate-level MHP, June 9, 2001). 

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "I am doing a CCE. A parent who hasn't seen his son for two months is angry that the child has cursed at him during one telephone call. In the other phone call during this two months the son told the parent that he does not want visitation. A visit is arranged. The father tells me that at the pick up for this visit he will demand an apology from the son for cursing at him on the phone. If the son does not apologize he will refuse to take the son on the visit... Question: The father's plan seems very bad. Since I am doing a CCE do I tell the father? Under what circumstances, when you are conducting a CCE, do you tell a parent that a course of action they are planning is not good?" (New York doctorate-level MHP, February 25, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I don't think its in your role to "help." Explore the reasons why the father thinks he should do this and just listen in an evaluative capacity." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, February 25, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LSITSERVE RESPONSE]: "Custody evaluators need not define their roles so rigidly as to hamstring themselves from helping the situation when it won't really interfere with their primary function. Family courts are not merely fact-finding machines. Even the court process itself lends itself to opportunities for therapeutic jurisprudence. Even attorney and judges in family court routinely step beyond their role of assisting in the argument and decision of the case to lend parties much needed advice... " (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, February 25, 2005).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I've had 2 cases where I offered advice, specifically thinking I wanted to assess the parent's amenability to influence b/c I thought it might be relevant to the ability to benefit from therapy/parent education. In one case, the parent rejected it, revealing a deeper level of narcissism and moral rigidity than I'd suspected. I think that was valuable evaluative knowledge. However, in another, the parent took it, and I thought that indicated that the parent could benefit from therapy/parent education - until I came to understand that this was merely compliance and impression management..." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, February 25, 2005).

    Money, Money, Money, mmmm-Money

    Networks of cross-referral relationships[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "To me a subpoena is a pay day notice." (California doctorate-level MHP, February 4, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE CALL FOR REFERRALS]: "I am needing three referrals.  The first is a good therapist  (or several) in the Seattle area to work with the parents of a difficult 3 year old.  Second, for a family in the Medford or Cherry Hills, NJ area, I need a therapist who is familiar with alienation and reunification.  Finally, in that same geographic area, I need information on professional supervisors for supervised visitation.  Please respond back channel if anyone has information for me." (Georgia doctorate-level MHP, March 7, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "My stips say that each attorney gets everything that is given to me... Once the case is underway everything comes and goes through the attorneys. Thus, is an attorney sends me something they have sent it to the other attorney 10 working days before they sent it to me and the other attorney has either approved it going to me, opposed it going to me and I don't receive it until they settle their dispute, or the other attorney makes no response, in which case it comes to me. When the clients come into my office they sign releases that have already been reviewed by their attorneys and I review information with them partially from questionnaires that their attorneys also reviewed, including their client's answers...Again, part of my stips, I ask each attorney to log the documents that they send to me and inform them that I will use the document names they provide to list their documents. At the end of my evaluations, before I begin my report, I send each attorney a bibliography of everything I have done in the case, the people I have seen, the telephone conferences, etc. and a list of all documents separated into who provided me with what materials..." (California doctorate-level MHP, March 17, 2007).

    [Ay... I'm exhausted just reading this. So, undoubtedly, are many parties' available litigation funds. Money x three... or four if a GAL attorney is added in. Yes, this is what I went to lawschool for. To make money doing clerical work and billing time logging documents for an MHP to "review"... Not.]

    Parental Alienation "Therapy"

    PAS debunked in Australia; psych Wrigley disciplined for incompetent behavior[ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "Some time ago, around July 2004, there was a discussion on this list about the Rachel Foundation. I would like to review some of the comments/opinions presented in this list but cannot find the thread in the archives. If anyone who has these emails would share them with me I would appreciate it. Or, if any of the posters from back then would be willing to contact me back channel, that would be helpful also." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, March 5, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "See this:" (California doctorate-level MHP and list moderator, February 15, 2007).

    Lots of work for three therapists... (this is extortion, brainwashing, and child abuse, by the way)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "Is there anyone out there that has reference to or a model for "reunification treatment plans"? - maybe from a public or adoption agency?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, April 22, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE ME TOO]: "Please share what you learn. I have heard this term for years and have not seen any lit. on it." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, April 22, 2007).
            [ANONYOMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "You might see what The Rachel Foundation For Family Reintegration has to offer. They work with Hague Convention cases and alienation cases, both of which involve reunification planning. I have no personal experience with them, so I can't say if they are competent, legitimate, etc. or not." (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, April 22, 2007, recommending what might be incompetent and illegitimate.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "We do a lot of this... generally starts with a court order... result of a thorough psychological assessment... a team approach... three psychologists - one for each parent and one for the child(ren)... the "truth" is irrelevant... We need to work from the child's truth as a beginning... In the first sessions between parent and child both the child's therapist and the estranged parent's therapist are present... the first session allows the child to directly or indirectly (through the therapist) to express their concern, then a break is taken where the parent is coached in how to respond... Sessions involve two therapists until the child's therapist is confident... for the first session(s) the child meets the parent only in the office and is allowed to leave first... child is picked up from school by the "estranged" parent, brought to the session, then picked up after the session by the residential parent... the time the child spends with the parent increases to overnights and weekends. By always terminating the visit with a counselling session, any negative events can be documented and the "residential" parent, if engaged in alienation does not have a chance to re-write history before the child is seen by a third party...." (Canadian doctorate-level MHP, April 22, 2007).

    Parenting Classes

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Our local child welfare agency is interested in revamping its typical 'parenting classes" does anyone know of a good study guide or workbook or activities book or curriculum for a group, that might be readily available?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, August 27, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I think it is truly unfortunate that more quality resources do not exist for more families - in health care, parenting classes, child care, therapy, all kinds of things... " (California doctorate-level MHP, March 5, 2006).

    Parenting Coordination

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The NJ Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has been promulgating a rule (Proposed Parenting Coordinator Rule 5:8-7) requiring the appointment of parenting coordinators in certain types of cases." (New Jersey doctorate-level MHP, December 8, 2004).

    [Over a 24-month period, there were 1282 posts of a total of 14,274 that included the term "parenting coordination", "parenting coordinator", or "PC", nearly a fifth of which also included the term "AFCC" (or referred to related organizations), and many of which discussed legislation, lobbying, development of guidelines, and similar political activity... and it continues, below, attempting to figure out how to claim that research shows what a good idea it is...]

    New Jersey complaint of attorney general against play-therapist parenting time manager[ABA FAMLAWESQ LISTSERVE]: "Is anyone aware of any study(ies) done in any jurisdiction by any entity that addresses the effectiveness or success of parenting coordination? We proponents of parenting coordination in New Hampshire continue to run into skepticism and foot-dragging by the legislature. At a legislative committee hearing held today on our parenting coordinator bill (attended by three AFCC-trained and practicing PC's, two of whom, including me, gave testimony), we were told that the committee would need copies of studies regarding the effectiveness of parenting coordination, or at the very least strong, credible anecdotal material." (New Hampshire family lawyer, forwarded to the anonymous listserve by a California lawyer, March 8, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "___, Ph.D.,  although not on the list, teaches workshops on PC and would probably be a good resource for your question."  (California doctorate-level MHP, March 8, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "...I actually copied him on the message to the listserv. Great minds think alike : ) " (the same California lawyer, March 8, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "We have some local data since the passage of the NC Statute on parenting coordination.  I will see what shape it is in at this time.  Please contact me back channel if you want me to pursue this." (Washington doctorate-level MHP, March 8, 2007, who -- liz's guess -- has either anecdotal bullshit or else lobbying talking points, because if she actually had research she would have posted it to the anonymous listserve).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The first PC statute was birthed in the Tulsa County (Oklahoma) domestic court. Data was gathered and summarized after one year of implementation. Interestingly, the criteria for determining "success" was whether the PC program reduced the number of motions to modify filed as compared to the previous year. The data was never published but presented at local gatherings (and may be available). The PC model was highly successful in accomplishing this task. Anecdotally, PC's reported dramatic improvements in post divorced couples ability to reduce conflict and cooperate. A major revision in the statute and new group of judges (not originally invested in the model) resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases assigned to PCs, and only the most highly conflictual (i.e., least appropriate) were being referred.  Consequently, the PC program 'ain't what it used to be.'" (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, March 8, 2007). (In other words, it doesn't work so hot.)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The "practice of psychology" and "Parenting Coordinator" are defined by separate statutes in Oklahoma.  While some board members may believe that they are the same, the statutory definitions are... different... role of the PC is to "hear and decide issues..." and may be a mental health professional, attorney, anyone mutually agreed upon...  There is nothing in the statutory definition of PC that falls within the statutory definition of the practice of psychology... I am appalled with the mind set of previous posts taking the position that the practice of PC should be considered the practice of psychology so that our malpractice insurance will cover it!" (Oklahoma doctorate-level MHP, April 17, 2007).

    Parenting Conjoint Therapy

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUERY]: "If it is in fact ordered, is there something that should also be included in the recommendation that helps the court to monitor the follow through? With parenting classes there is often a certificate to demonstrate completion. If therapy were ordered per the recommendation would the evaluator recommend the therapist send a report to the court that would state dates of attendance, cooperation, prognosis without giving any details? Is there a way it should be worded that would make it enforceable?" (California doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).

    Reunification Therapy, and Just Plain Old Relationship Therapy

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE OBSERVATION]: "...the problem is that if there is insufficient contact between the child and the parent with whom he or she has a difficult relationship, treatment is doomed before it begins. The missing data here is what interventions have been attempted to date, what the parents have tried, and what the results have been. Availability of resources is a real issue, and it should be considered in framing interventions. The other side of the coin should also be considered - i.e., whether a change in the custody plan will make it more or less likely that any intervention can be effective." (California doctorate-level MHP, May 27, 2004).

    Treating Children Who Resist Visitation Because of Parental Defects

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "Does anyone have any references for treatment for children when they are they are resisting visitation because a parent has been emotionally abusive?  The children are 16 and 13.  When does it become abusive to continue to force children into contact or therapy at that age?  ...This is 6 years post-divorce." (Vermont doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007).

    [What happened to the best interests of the child? This evaluator just wants to insure she doesn't recommend something her peers might consider to be "abusive".]

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE PONTIFICATING or blathering re two teenagers who have been refusing to visit with emotionally abusive noncustodial parent]: "Jan Johnston presented at an AFCC-CAL a couple of years ago, with some of her outcome studies re alienation... supervised visitation and the kinds of protection... limit-setting of the parent by the therapist... We've also done some work on that issue... the developmental literature on coping skills, i.e. that kids and adolescents need to learn to resolve emotional issues by active engagement with others, rather than avoidance.  Dunn (2000, I think)... active participants in decisions about their lives... distinguished from being given the power over decisions.  Kelly's article on Risk and Resilience... If the therapist knows how to do conjoint, and is sufficiently protective that the parent doesn't get to "emotionally abuse" the kids in the therapy setting... skills they will need to deal with difficult people throughout their lives... one study that suggested that kids need to learn how to resolve problems assertively within their intimate relationships; learning to assert themselves at school is not a substitute. (I think that's Feilds and Prinz.)  Is Dad in treatment?  Is parent education ongoing?  Is the adolescents' resistance a matter of wanting to escape a currently abusive or pathologic situation, or has Dad changed, but the kids remain mired...   How are they making decisions on other issues?  Is their behavior developmentally on target ... emotional independence and decisionmaking, or are they aligned with the other parent... little literature on this area... an article with the specific title, "children who refuse visitation," but at this moment I can't place the reference - I think it was in FCR.  Our treatment models are based on the literature... behaviorally and cognitively based - those are the models that have shown better effects with the craziest parents.  A vital issue, IMHO, is that the conjoint therapist set sufficient limits with the parent from the beginning, and with the children if they engage in developmentally inappropriate behavior... I'm emailing you some references back channel.  I'd also check with Jay Lebow at Northwestern." (California doctorate-level MHP who gets a lot of referral "reunification therapy" work from the court system, January 14, 2007).

    [Don't 13- and especially 16-year-old children have better things to do -- such as pursue their studies, extracurricular activities, social life -- than to have to put up with this pointless time-wasting, enervating nonsense, this ridiculous unending goal-less relationship engineering and intrusive meddling, merely because 6 years before their parents got divorced? What inner demons, childhood issues, or personal foibles drive some (fortunately not all) of these arrogant, nosy, gossipping, self-important, plodding, interloping, and/or power-mongering, snake-oil purveyors and psychic vampires? Or is it just greed, and inability to earn a living in some productive way.]

    Treating Perpetrators

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE REQUEST]: "I'm looking for outcome research on 52 week DV treatment programs (also referred to as batterers treatment programs), which are frequently referred to in California. Any references would be appreciated." (California doctorate-level MHP, October 5, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "...I have on occasion given an attorney one of the few articles on treatment so that they will formulate a therapy order..." (California doctorate-level MHP, December 18, 2005).

    [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Interesting to see that the same old flawed studies are still being trotted out in support of a "therapy" which continues to lack any scientific support... I would like to address parole boards sometimes and ask them "Do you think that attendance on a suitably designed course could turn you into pedophiles? Well, it won't work the other way round, either!" (Doctorate-level MHP, March 20, 2007).
            [NOTSOANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: " Losel conducted a meta-analysis of 69 studies containing 80 individual comparisons between treated and untreated offenders. The majority of effect sizes confirmed the benefits of treatment. The mean rate of sexual recidivism is 11.1% in treated and 17.5% in comparison groups. Given the low base rate of sexual recidivism is taken into account this is equivalent to a reduction of nearly 37%... Losel, F & Schmucker, M. (2005). The effectiveness of treatment of sexual offenders: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1, 117-146." [FOLLOWUP]: "The goal of treatment of pedophiles is not for them not to be pedophiles, it is to be able to manage their behavior and not act out on their deviant interests." (Iowa doctorate-level MHP, March 20, 2007). (At best a 66% chance that the pedophile can't -- or won't -- control his behavior... is success?)

    Treating Victims and...

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "This is where I think the DV debate sometimes becomes destructive. I didn't read ___'s message as saying that DV, if it exists, is the victim's fault. She just said that it would be important to assess the woman's issues as well as the man's. This reminds me of the debate which sometimes occurs re whether evaluators should recommend that both parents be ordered into treatment if one has been a "victim" of DV...The argument I heard at AFCC was that requesting that both parents be ordered into treatment suggests that both have equal responsibility for the violence when in fact one party (i.e. the male) may be more responsible. Some suggest that the woman should only be strongly urged to seek treatment voluntarily. My concern about this position is that if the woman decides that there's "nothing wrong with her" and declines to seek treatment, her issues may remain unaddressed and she may reinforce a victimization perspective in the kids." (California doctorate-level MHP, June 3, 2001). [Speculation?]

    ...When There Still Isn't Enough Work, Doing Trainings for Everyone (especially those that push make-work ideas) and Reviewing Other MHPs

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I do CCEs and I function as a court-appointed "Case Manager" in Kansas. Kansas calls parent coordinators "Case Managers" to avoid confusion - lol. I have also twice attended AFCC sponsored training on parent coordination. The Colorado group (Christie Coates, Robert LaCrosse, And Betsy Duvall) did a 2 day training in St. Louis in November, 2003, and Joan Kelly did a 2 day training in Chicago in June 2004. Both of these training programs emphasize the "Divorce Impasse" Model that Janet Johnston put together. This is a model that I find helps in CCEs and parent coordination/case management. The second AFCC task force has just completed its task of developing model standards for parent coordinators (See AFCC website or request backchannel)..." (Kansas doctorate-level MHP, May 16, 2005).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE QUESTION]: "Is anyone aware of the following folks or organization? Have they appeared elsewhere? I am contemplating attending of only to find out how the construct is currently being packaged and sold. Cost of the workshop is $85 pre-registration, $100 at the door. Space is limited and pre-registration is recommended. The workshop will consist of a structured lecture type presentation in the morning, followed by an interactive discussion and question and answer period in the afternoon. We will cover topics on parental alienation, suggestability, false memory, and the reunification process. Attendees are encouraged to submit their questions beforehand... " (Florida doctorate-level MHP, April 14, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Gag. Look at the "articles" page. This kind of thing makes it that much harder to get a real problem taken seriously..." (California doctorate-level MHP, April 14, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE IDEA]: "I would like to propose that those of us who participate in the family law area organize a concerted effort to foster among judges... there are too many child development issues and too many parent conflict issues involved in family law cases that are often poorly dealt with by the court because, in large part, because the judges do not have the requisiste training. Access schedules for infants that are based on every other weekend is one example. We need to create an awareness that the country as a whole needs to expect that family law judges understand the psychological dynamics presented to them in family law cases because without such understanding, we run the risk of hurting children." (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, September 26, 2007, who in the opinion of the author of this webpage holds preferences for joint custody that are not all grounded in research.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "The Family division of the Bar might also have some investment in Judges training and education. I like this idea. Would be nice for such training be a required CLE as is often required occasionally for some MHP." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, September 26, 2006).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I think we're [that includes me] being pretty damn arrogant to suggest that another profession should have better training when the training of many custodial evaluators is sooo poor, it's embarrassing...when evaluators tell the Court, "there's no requirement that I do collaterals or review records", I want to puke -- like the Billy goat from a few posts ago... So...when we get our house in order, then we can start telling other professions how they should be trained..." (Florida doctorate-level MHP, September 26, 2006).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "As I do more and more review work, I'm thinking I need a Consent/Statement of Understanding/Stipulation/etc specific to that purpose. Does anyone have one they would be willing to share?" (Missouri doctorate-level MHP, March 19, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Ooooh, I'd like one too." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, March 19, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "Me, too...and I'll bet we're not the only three!  Perhaps those willing to share should..." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, March 19, 2007).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE FOLLOWUP]: "I think it would be wise to start out with a statement that describes the role of a reviewer and differentiates it clearly from other roles -- especially from that of a second opinion evaluator! I have seen a couple of cases in which  someone was hired as an "expert" in what appeared to be the role of a reviewer, who then administers a couple of tests or otherwise attempts to perform some "corrective surgery" on what the reviewer believed to be the weak points of the original evaluation..." (Indiana doctorate-level MHP, March 20, 2007).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I am a psychologist... with a practice focused on high conflict divorce and child protection issues. I have done child custody and child protection evaluations for about twenty years... I work as a Parenting Coordinator... I teach Law Students in the..., helping insure that the they learn what is and is not a good court-ordered evaluation. I like thinking about attachment issues in the children of divorce and personality disorders in their parents." (Michigan doctorate-level MHP, March 25, 2007).


    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "Judges sometimes want to "get the ball rolling" with a few therapeutic contacts. They may figure that (1) the therapist will ask for more if necessary; (2) the therapist will magically make everyone "play nice; " (3) the visit supervisor will "take over" after the therapeutic contacts; or (4) there really isn't a problem anyway so once visits get going, it won't be an issue; or (5) this is the best they can do to get these people to shut up and let the court move on to the next case, and hopefully the therapist will come up with something that allows the judge (or hopefully, some other judge) to make a longer-term decision next time. They don't understand that treatment can be impacted from early on based on how long the therapist expects to have with the child. You don't open a kid up in sessions 1-3 if you think that there are only going to be 4 sessions, or you risk harm to the child." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 16, 2005).

    "Do a Bonding Assessment"

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I do not know of a research based protocol for a 'bonding assessment.' It seems the folks that do them around here do an observation of touching, smiling, eye contact, warm interactions etc which are good and important and look at basic needs and are they met. I was wondering if there are protocols that are considered 'standard of care' and or are reseach based." (Kansas doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007.)
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "The only formalized protocol I can think of is the 'Strange Situation' (Ainsworth, 1978). That is, if you are defining 'bonding' as equivalent to 'attachment' -- we didn't get a definition of what your court/attorneys/whatever were using for the phrase 'bonding assessment' which I've seen have various meanings. A couple of problems that I can think of: first getting certified in the Strange Situation protocol is apparently not an easy process; second, you didn't mention how old the kids involved are, but beyond the first few years of age you have a number of confounding variables to deal with... My question would be what functional behaviors is the court asking you to assess? What are the underlying questions that the court is looking for answers to? Most poignant anecdotal example I've ever run into was an multigenerational incest case... kids just assumed their (highly damaging) lifestyle was 'normal.' The kids actually appeared more attached/bonded to the father, as he was relatively attentive to their needs (as long as he was out of jail and they were willing to perform sex acts with him), especially in comparison to mother, who was generally neglectful... If we hadn't intercepted some of dad's letters to the kids from jail you might have actually thought he was a better placement option than mom." (Texas doctorate-level MHP, January 14, 2007).

    [Note that the deciding factor in the above example had nothing to do with psych expertise. One also reasonably might ask why the court in the responder's case was having such difficulty making a custody placement decision that an MHP had to be appointed if notwithstanding the allegations against the mother (presumably not bad enough to warrant foster care placement), the father was a repeat convict who frequently was not even around.]

    "Do a Psycho-Sexual Evaluation"

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE INQUIRY]: "A judge recently ordered a litigant for a psychosexual evaluation... are there codified standards of practice dictating the contents of a 'psychosexual eval'?" (Florida doctorate-level MHP, January 15, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I would consult the APSAC guidelines on psychosocial evaluation of kids alleged to have been abused and other related APSAC guidelines... " (North Carolina doctorate-level MHP, January 15, 2004).
            [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE RESPONSE]: "I'd actually like to have a definition of what is a "psychosexual evaluation" (Another Florida doctorate-level MHP, tongue-in-cheek, January 15, 2004).

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE COMMENT]: "I would never presume to render an opinion about whether or not sexual abuse occurred. I always present the factors in support and the factors that seem to suggest otherwise, and let the judge make the decision. I do have a great deal of experience in evaluating sex offenders, so would probably use my own expertise in that area. I've worked with and evaluated sex offenders since 1977 & am involved in ongoing research with sex offenders and the Rorschach." (California doctorate-level MHP, July 11, 2004).

    Erroneous Belief in Benefit Where None Exists.
    Isn't it Time We Ditched this Bad Idea? (article)
    Also see therapeutic jurisprudence index.
    Recommended off-site read:

    Psychology is not science -- or good law (No.)

    [ANONYMOUS LISTSERVE ADVISORY]: "Thanks for the very focused and helpful response to the issues we are struggling with. I have been sharing the responses with my client as I receive them. Does anyone else have anything to add or does anyone else strike the balance differently?" (California lawyer, June 9, 2001).

    NOTICE: This work is part of an ongoing research project investigating the workings of our justice system. Empirical data is still being compiled and analyzed. Claims that quotes have been taken out of context, altered or fabricated, or are not representative, or any other actionable defamation or other act interfering with or impugning this research before findings are published in a refereed scientific journal will be defended by, inter alia, the placing of the original data into the public domain.

    Who cites to us? Here are a few examples:: (law journal) (historical organization) (historical society)
    Common Core and Better Law in European Family Law (law treatise) (college women's studies) (law journal)
    How To Parent With Your Ex: Working Together... (book on divorce) (scientific organization website) (public school curriculum)
    The Battle And Backlash Rage On (book on feminism)
    The ABA Family Law Quarterly (law journal)



    Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are copyright 1996-2013 the liz library. All rights reserved.
    This site is hosted and maintained by Send queries to: