Richard A. Warshak
Published online: 11 Oct 2018

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A sample of 83 severely alienated children and adolescents were enrolled with the parents whom they had rejected in a 4-day Family Bridges educational workshop. The program was conducted after court orders had placed the children in the custody of their rejected parent. The parents who participated with the children in the workshop, and the professional workshop leaders, reported large improvements in the children’s alienated behavior, changes that reflected statistically significant and large effects. The children’s contact refusal with the rejected parent dropped from a pre-workshop rate of 85% to a post-workshop rate of 6%. Depending on the outcome measure, between 75% and 96% of the children overcame their alienation. The parents and children credited the workshop with improving their relationships and teaching them better relationship skills. Despite the children’s negative initial expectations, most children felt positively about their workshop experience, regarded the workshop more like education than counseling, and reported that the professionals who led the program treated them with kindness and respect. All the parent participants and two-thirds of the children rated the workshop as excellent or good, but 8% of children retained their initial negative attitudes about the workshop and rated the workshop as poor. In sum, a significant number of intractable and severely alienated children and adolescents who participated in the Family Bridges workshop repaired their damaged relationship with a parent whom they had previously rejected for an average of 3–4 years.

Author information
Richard A. Warshak
Dr. Richard A. Warshak is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and consults internationally in child custody proceedings. This study was conducted in the author’s independent practice and not under the auspices of the university. Dr. Warshak studies the psychology of alienated children; children’s involvement in custody disputes; and outcomes of divorce, child custody decisions, stepfamilies, relocations, and parenting plans for young children. His studies appear in 13 books, more than 75 articles, and more than 100 presentations. Dr. Warshak's paper on parenting plans, published in a journal of the American Psychological Association, was endorsed by 110 researchers and practitioners.
Disclosure statement

Dr. Warshak previously conducted Family Bridges workshops. But for more than six years ago from the date of this paper, he has not conducted any Family Bridges workshops, nor has he had any business or legal affiliation with professionals who conduct Family Bridges workshops, nor has he had any financial interest in any Family Bridges workshops.


Patricia Busk, PhD assisted with statistical analyses and presentation of results.