- The importance of living a healthy, holistic lifestyle;
- The importance of continuing to invest in maintaining a strong, loving, supporting family;
- The importance of understanding my own values, living a genuine, authentic life while at the same time pursuing achievable dreams.
I do the work I do because:
Parental alienation is a burgeoning psycho-legal issue and, dependent upon each family’s circumstances, alienated children can meet at least one of five diagnoses classified in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). They are 1) Child Psychological Abuse; 2) Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress; 3) Parent-Child Relational Problem; 4) Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another and 5) Shared Psychotic Disorder. Alienated children are not cognitively aware that their favoured parents have programmed them to resist or completely refuse to have contact with the other loving parent. These children need a voice that speaks to the fact that they share delusional beliefs with the preferred parent and need to be rescued from the devastating short-term and long-term effects of alienation.
If I could invite two or three people to dinner to discuss his/her life journey and career, I’d invite:
- Dr. Maya Angelou
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
- President Bill Clinton
The next big challenge for me around my work is:
There are so many big challenges. I’d have to say being able to find enough time in my very busy schedule to write manuscripts for submission to editors of peer-reviewed scholarly journals regarding research studies I’ve recently conducted.
If my clients hold on to only one piece of advice from me, I hope it’s:
If you and your children are victims of unjustifiable alienation, then you have every right to be in their lives just as your children have every right to be in your life. Please never, never give up on your children. Alienated children have deep-seated guilty feelings and genuinely want to be rescued by their lost parent and/or a professional like myself.
If I couldn’t do the work I’m doing now, I’d be:
I honestly cannot think of anything else I’d rather be doing than the work I’m doing now.
I can never get enough of:
I can never get enough of my wonderful, loving, supportive husband and adult-children who have encouraged and motivated me to do the very difficult work I’m involved with.
A person in my field I admire greatly is:
A person in my field I greatly admire is Dr. Amy J. L. Baker in New York. She has written a tremendous amount of peer-reviewed research articles and inspiring books on important parental alienation issues.
A famous person I admire is:
I truly admire all the hard work and dedication of U.S. President Obama. His second term at the White House surely hasn’t been easy. He continues to fight for proper healthcare legislation, education, debt, defence, employment, environmental and foreign policy initiatives and reforms. He’s truly made some gains since becoming president; yet, he remains so greatly challenged by Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives.
My favourite question to ask people is:
What do you enjoy doing for leisure and recreation?
If an hour suddenly opened up in my schedule I would:
Definitely go for a walk along my favourite boardwalk at a local beach.
The biggest compliment someone could pay me is:
I really appreciate the fact that you primarily work for the cause and not for financial gain.
My biggest accomplishment so far is:
Fulfilling my vision and launching the Family Reflections Reunification Program for severely alienated children and their family members because the model is the first of its kind worldwide and preliminary work reveals a 95% success rate.
My top three bucket list items are:
- Travel to Australia and see at least three sides of the continent;
- Go on a Mediterranean cruise;
- Write at least three more books on alienation.
I would love my name to be synonymous with:
When my name is mentioned, I want people to think that I am wholeheartedly committed to helping as many children who are caught in the middle of unnecessary family alienation. I hope people will recognize that my ultimate life goal is to successfully reunify as many severely alienated children and their lost parents, as possible.
My favourite work of fiction is:
My favourite work of fiction is the 1994 movie called Forrest Gump primarily because I have never met anyone quite like Mr. Gump in any other movie, book or even in true life. My favourite saying in the movie is “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
My favourite nonfiction book is:
My favourite nonfiction book is “The Glass Castle” by Jennifer Walls. To me, this book truly depicts the reality of how quickly dysfunctional family relationships progress, and in some cases, almost to the point of no return.
I wanted to make a powerful contribution to the literature related to the serious problem of unjustifiable alienation. I’ve witnessed too many rejected parents experience the worst torture imaginable. The whole concept of unjustifiable alienation baffles me. How can two persons fall in love, share similar dreams and life passions? They marry each other and create a beautiful, loving family. For whatever reasons, their marriage falls apart. Then one parent progressively becomes so cruel against the other parent by consciously or unconsciously, subtly or maliciously, directly or indirectly influencing the children to hate him or her? It’s beyond reason and rationale.
What was your experience of the writing process?
At first, it was a steep learning curve! I’m so comfortable writing academically because of the number of years I was forced to in both undergrad and graduate school. Writing my first book called Toxic Divorce: A Workbook for Alienated Parents challenged me to have to write in a different light. Overall, my experience of writing this book has been very rewarding.
Do you have any advice for anyone struggling with the writing process?
Take your time and have patience. It’s not possible to always be clear-headed when you want to be. Just remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
What has been the feedback from clients and your community since publishing?
It’s been absolutely amazing and a truly humbling experience. I receive numerous emails weekly from individuals who have read it and claim it’s a great guidebook for alienated parents and for professionals involved in family therapy or family law. Many of these individuals had no clue there was a label for what they were experiencing or for what their clients were experiencing. My community has been extremely supportive. Toxic Divorce is recognized as a huge survival guide for many parents who feel so overwhelmed with powerlessness, grief and loss, often having no idea where to turn. It’s also very exciting because the book received an International Book Award in 2012.
How has your book affected or changed your business?
My book has profoundly affected and changed my business in such positive directions. The book has helped me become an internationally-acclaimed expert in parental alienation, parent-child estrangement, child psychological abuse and related trauma. I receive numerous invitations to be a keynote speaker at symposiums and conferences worldwide. I also receive and generally accept numerous invitations to appear on TV and radio shows worldwide. Writing this book also inspired me to fulfil my vision of opening up a highly successful specialized reunification program for severely alienated children and their family members, the first model of its kind globally.
How has publishing your book given you a bigger voice as an expert in your field?
My book is often used for court purposes and sometimes even used as an exhibit or reference in actual court cases regarding various topics associated with unjustifiable alienation. Recently, while providing expert testimony in court, a judge told the court audience that I had an excellent reputation amongst the judicial community. That was very, very encouraging and satisfying to listen to!
How/where did you publish?
Why did you choose this route?
Originally, I researched the pros and cons of self-publishing versus the “middle-man” (publishing company) approach. To me, there are far more pros than cons to self-publishing. Here are just a few examples: I strongly believe a publishing company limits many golden opportunities for writers. Self-publishing gave me the opportunity to get my book out much faster than going through a potential publisher. I didn’t have to be concerned about a potential publisher’s expectations. For example, self-publishing allowed me the freedom to set my own agenda, artistic direction and timeframe to complete the project. Unlike going through a publishing company, I had complete control and autonomy as to who I chose to edit my book, design my book, and so on. Most importantly, I own the rights. There were no external pressures of a publishing company breathing down my neck. Self-publishing also allowed the freedom to build my own brand. I genuinely don’t think that would have been entirely possible had a publishing company been involved. Self-publishing also allowed me to keep most of the profit rather than another publisher gaining most of the profit. Lastly, I love the idea of being able to print-on-demand and sell my book through global distribution. It’s so easy!
Were there any obstacles along the way?
The only real obstacle was experiencing writer’s block from time to time. Other than that, there were no hard-nosed obstacles that couldn’t be handled along the way.
Do you have any suggestions or words of advice for others considering self-publishing (also known as independent publishing) for the first time?
Definitely do your homework and research the pros and cons of self-publishing for the first time. It isn’t for everyone. You need to ask yourself some tough questions about what’s in your best interest. What are your values? What are your intentions? Is having control of your book and a relatively quick turnaround your goal? Or, would you rather take a chance, play a waiting game, and see if a publisher is willing to do most of the hard work for you?
What is the best advice you can offer authors-in-waiting?
Follow some of Sir Winston Churchill’s great words of wisdom. That is, “Never, never, never give up!” Follow your dreams and aspirations of writing your own original work of art. I can’t imagine that you will ever be sorry.