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(p. 107) The Perfect Storm: High-Conflict Family Dynamics, Complex Therapist Reactions, and Suggestions for Clinical Management 

(p. 107) The Perfect Storm: High-Conflict Family Dynamics, Complex Therapist Reactions, and Suggestions for Clinical Management
Chapter:
(p. 107) The Perfect Storm: High-Conflict Family Dynamics, Complex Therapist Reactions, and Suggestions for Clinical Management
Author(s):

Abigail M. Judge

and Peggie Ward

DOI:
10.1093/med:psych/9780190235208.003.0005
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date: 05 April 2020

This chapter discusses a constellation of features associated with families where children are resisting or refusing contact with a parent—personality disorder, high conflict, and court involvement—that the authors refer to as the “perfect storm.” High rates of personality disorder and associated characteristics have been described among child custody–litigating families in the psychological assessment and clinical literatures. Such personality features cause notoriously strong reactions in therapists and professional teams, especially under the added strain of separation or divorce and ongoing litigation. Left unexamined, the effects of these dynamics can undermine treatment and result in ethical missteps in clinical practice. This chapter describes each component of the perfect storm and proposes strategies for clinical management based on current writing about court-involved therapy. Case material is used to highlight key points.

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