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Complaints against Mental Health Professionals
Working with parents whose
marriages are on the cusp of failure or already separated parents fighting it
out over the care of their children is a challenging proposition for the mental
Whether acting in the role of
couple therapist, mediator, assessor, arbitrator or parenting coordinator, there
is a sub-group of persons for whom none of these services provide relief.
Common to these circumstances is
the propensity of at least one of the parents to project all manner of blame
upon the other parent. Sometimes both parents engage in the blame game with
neither taking any responsibility nor appreciating their own contribution to
We refer to persons who are apt to
project blame while minimizing or outright denying their own contribution to
distress and whose behavior creates conflict and distress with others as high
Other strategies high conflict
persons deploy to blame others and avoid responsibility include deflection,
denial, deception, distortion and denigration. While presenting themselves as
victims of others, these high conflict persons are remarkably adept at spinning
convoluted stories that demonize the target of their discontent as the sole
cause of problems.
Once the service provider comes to
understand the nature of this high conflict person, the service provider must
either find a way to help the high conflict person recognize the errors in their
own judgment and behavior and/or report upon it and/or facilitate
recommendations and/or make decisions with a view to mitigating the destruction
imposed by their often intense, provocative and abusive behavior.
However, the very nature of the
high conflict person can and often precludes them from understanding or
appreciating the intervention made necessary by their own behavior. As such and
feeling thwarted by the service provider, the service provider becomes they next
target of blame. All the strategies deployed against their former partner or
co-parent are next used against the service provider.
The Internet has provided a unique
opportunity for high conflict persons to ply their trade. With the service
provider as their new target of blame, these high conflict persons post their
diatribes to the Internet hoping to discredit or vindictively run the service
provider out of business. Indeed and unique to this generation, thanks to the
Internet, high conflict persons can find each other and literally band together
to create a chorus of like-minded complaints.
There is little the service
provider can do to protect him or herself directly from the vindictive and
spurious complaints of persons who hide in anonymity. This is a new and
remarkable form of abuse perpetrated at the service provider whose only recourse
is to ignore and move forward or, and unfortunately, limit their involvement in
this much needed area of work. Without these service providers, these high
conflict persons might otherwise continue to wreak ruin upon the other parent,
their families and children.
Having searched the Internet and
found countless complaints regarding well-regarded colleagues, it is clear this
is not a unique phenomenon now amongst those mental health professionals who
work with high conflict persons.
Indeed those of whom who have
anonymous complaints registered about them on the Internet, yet continue to
practice are likely those who have shown the resolve, not to be intimidated in
the face of abuse.
If you are in a difficult
situation with a high conflict person and you find a service provider whose has
been complained of, yet continues to practice, then this might be the best
person to understand your predicament and offer service.
It is remarkable how high conflict persons often behave in ways contrary to their own interests and goals. I am learning that even though seeking to undermine the livelihood of these service providers, in many cases their referrals increase, thanks to the badmouthing of the high conflict personís diatribes on the Internet. Seems people do see their messages as more a reflection upon themselves than the service provider.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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