Parental alienation behaviors are defined as parental acts and attitudes that create pressure in the child to reject his or her other parent. Two strands of research are reviewed that support consideration of parental alienation (PA) as a form of psychological maltreatment (PM). The first is a set of studies on the negative effects of children’s involvement in their parents’ marital and divorce conflict and the second is a set of studies specifically examining associations between reports of parental use of 19 specific PA behaviors and parental engagement in PM. These first generation studies lay the groundwork for future research examining mediators of these relationships as well as highlight the importance of training for mental health professionals in recognizing and addressing children’s exposure to parental alienation.
Keywords: Parental alienation, psychological maltreatment, parental conflict, divorce.