Children in the Mirror: Working with Alienation

Karen Woodall

I work a lot with aliented children, those who are still alienated and those who are in recovery from it. In doing so I find myself always aware that these children are distinct from other children in that their psychological self has been divided in two. For these children the world looks and feels like the battle ground of some comic based armageddon, where the goodies are out to defeat the baddies. In the world of the alienated child, without the protective input of a parent who is healthy and who has perspective, the child develops in the mirror held up by the alienating or influencing parent,  which reflects back to them, a world which is divided, brittle, blaming and self righteous.

When faced with this kind of fused dyadic relationship, the work to be done is as much with the parent who is influencing as it is with the…

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