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Trauma-Informed Parenting & Custody Examinations

CE Credit: 3

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Length: 3 hours

This program was originally webcast live on March 15, 2013, and is now available on-demand.

Psychologists working in family court matters often have to assess and manage disputes where issues of psychological trauma are central to the cases. Issues of possible child sexual and/or physical abuse and/or domestic violence arise repeatedly. Issues such as alleged “parental alienation” or “high conflict parenting” are placed before courts with little attention to the evidence-based trauma literature. In this workshop, we will first discuss the evidentiary base for some common trauma myths… Are children easily coached to claim sexual abuse when there has not been any? Are children easily subject to misinformation and leading questions by child abuse interviewers? Are children able to remember abusive events, and at what ages? Is child sexual abuse actually traumatic and harmful? An enormous body of experimental and clinical literature has developed on these questions, which the workshop will review. We will present how this evidence base is reflected in the formal guidelines for child custody evaluations, for evaluations in child protection matters, and in the guidelines developed for evaluation of cases involving psychological trauma. We will specifically attend to allegations of parental alienation or high conflict parenting, and discuss the effects of such charges on children and families.

Learning Objective 1
Discuss child-abuse research and incorporate into their work.

Learning Objective 2
Describe and incorporate up-to-date findings on child suggestibility in interview situations into their work and reports.

Learning Objective 3
Gain awareness of proper protocols for interviewing children about possible child abuse.

Presenters:  Philip J. Kinsler, Ph.D. & Joy Silberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Kinsler Dr. Philip J. Kinsler is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School, and Instructor in Psychiatry at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. He is President-Elect of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Dr. Kinsler has been a trauma therapist and evaluator for over 30 years, and in his forensic practice, testifies widely on issues surrounding child interviewing, suggestibility, and effective interviewing protocols. Dr. Kinsler has a focus on ethical practice within child abuse assessments and interviews, and lectures and presents often on these topics. He is a former member and Chair of the New Hampshire Board of Examiners of Psychology and Mental Health Practice, and served as hearing officer on Board complaints. He has been involved in drafting the practice standards for complex chronic posttraumatic stress disorder jointly in preparation between the ISSTD and Division 56, Trauma, of the American Psychological Association. He has twice been named Teacher of the Year in the Psychiatry Department of Dartmouth Medical School.

Dr. Joyanna Silberg is a consulting psychologist at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson, Maryland, where she coordinates trauma disorder services for children and adolescents. She is past president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, and recipient of the William Friederich Award for her work on sexual abuse. Dr. Silberg is author of The Child Survivor: Healing Developmental Trauma and Dissociation (2013) Routledge Press. As recipient of a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, Dr Silberg is conducting research on the protection of children in family court and has presented nationally and internationally on treatment and evaluation of abused children and issues of child protection.


Supplementary Materials

  • Emotion Modulation in PTSD
  • References
  • Trauma Informed Custody Evaluations PowerPoint Presentation
  • Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings