Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Peter Jaffe


Parental alienation was examined using 101 retrospective high-conflict Canadian custody court cases between 2010 and 2012. Previous literature in the debate about whether this phenomenon should be considered a formal diagnosis or syndrome, defining behaviours of parental alienation, the impact on children, the relationship between domestic violence and alienation and use of therapeutic interventions were the major research questions. Findings demonstrate only 2% of judges used the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Parents were likely to make a negative comment about the alienated parent in 90% of cases, while a child was likely to speak negatively of the alienated parent in 52% of cases. There was also a significant relationship between a judge making a finding of parental alienation and mandating counselling for the alienating parent. Implications of the study were discussed in terms of helping inform mental health professionals and court officials to assist in keeping the best interests of the child a priority in making informative decisions.