In the event of couple separation or divorce, it often happens that children refuse to remain in relation with a parent. This phenomenon has been defined as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS; Gardner,1992, 1998) and is still debated in the academic community in terms of scientific and clinical validity (Drozd & Olesen, 2004; Emery, Otto, & O’Donohue, 2005; Gould, 2006; Johnston & Kelly, 2001, 2004; Warshak, 2001). Family therapy theories have contributed to the understanding of the issue through systemic and relational point of view, which is also the theoretical background of this paper. In particular, the aim is to highlight family dynamics and relationships in the envent of PAS, applying the Symbolic and Relational model (Cigoli & Scabini, 2006). 22 Child Custody Evaluations performed on families characterized by PAS have been analysed. Results highlight the presence of parental relational fragilities linked to parents’ history of origin and to their couple relation. These results allow to take into consideration the relations between generations and aspects of couple history as a key to explain and solve the interruption of parent-children bond in the management of clinical intervention in PAS.
Keywords: Separation, divorce, couple conflict, PAS diagnosis, PAS treatment.