The following is a list of Dr. Harman’s publications related to the topic of parental alienation. For information on research published by other scientists in this area, please visit the Parental Alienation Study Group.

Peer-reviewed Publications

Harman, J., Giancarlo, C., Lorandos, D., & Ludmer, B. (2023). Gender and child custody across 16 years of judicial decisions regarding abuse and parental alienation. Children & Youth Services Review.

  • This study tested  six pre-registered hypotheses to determine whether there is empirical support for the “research findings” reported by Meier et al. (2019) to support recent legislation in the U.S. and abroad. Five-hundred PA cases were sequentially selected from 4,889 Canadian trial court decisions. Independent coders who were blind to the hypotheses coded all cases for details about custody and allegations of abuse. We failed to find support for the “findings” that have been used to support legislative changes. Alienating mothers’ claims of abuse against known “abusive” alienated fathers were not being discredited more often than they were for alienating fathers, and mothers did not lose study of their children to abusive fathers who were alienated from their children. The negative impact of failing to base legislation on a comprehensive consideration of the full scope of scientific evidence available is discussed.

Grubb, C., Saunders, L., & Harman, J. J. (2023). The recognition of power dynamics in cases of family conflict and violence. Feedback: Journal of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland, Summer Volume, 24-38.

  • Using interdependence theory, this article tested whether individuals, even those without advanced education in family dynamics, are able to differentiate power imbalances in vignettes
    depicting different forms of family conflict and violence. Results from three different studies indicate that people are able to accurately appraise differing power dynamics in interpersonal conflicts that
    vary in predictable ways according to interdependence theory. We also found that few graduate students in clinical, counseling, or social work programs receive any training on parental alienation, an issue that needs to be remedied given the vast scientific information that now exists on the topic.

Sharples, A., Harman, J. J., & Lorandos, D. (2023). Findings of abuse in families affected by parental alienation. Journal of Family Violence.

  • This study examined appellate court cases from the U.S. where parental alienation was determined to have occurred by a court-appointed third-party (e.g., custody evaluator) or by the court itself after reviewing all of the evidence presented by parties in the case. We explored whether alienating parents were more likely to have a finding of some other form of abuse (e.g., physical abuse of a child, IPV) compared to alienated parents. Results provided support for our hypotheses that it is the alienating parent who is not only more likely to have another finding of abuse made against them by a third party (e.g., CPS, the court), but that they are also more likely to make false allegations of abuse against alienated parents, likely as a strategy to displace attention from their own abusive behaviors.

Rowlands, G. A., Warshak, R. A., & Harman, J. J. (2023). Abused and rejected: The link between domestic intimate partner violence and parental alienation. Partner Abuse, 14(1), 37-58.

  • This study assessed the presence of an IPV history (verbal and physical aspects) among parents who identify as targets of their children’s unreasonable rejection and how the form of IPV affected how PA is manifested in children. Self-identified alienated parents (n = 842) completed an online survey, and the majority identified as IPV victims and reported a higher level of verbal than physical abuse. More mothers than fathers identified themselves as IPV victims. IPV victims rated their child as more severely alienated than did non-IPV alienated parents. Mothers were more likely than fathers to report physical aggression by the other parent and more likely than fathers to assess their child’s alienated behaviors as more severe. Victims of physical violence reported their children were less likely to withhold positive affection from them.

Harman, J. J., Warshak, R. A., Lorandos, D., & Florian, M. J. (2022). Developmental psychology and the scientific status of parental alienation. Developmental Psychology, 58(10), 1887–1911.

  • This paper is the largest systematic review of scientific research on parental alienation published through 2020. Over 213 articles were identified that contained empirical data about parental alienation, published in 10 languages. Over 40% of what is known today about parental alienation has been published since 2016, and it is no longer tenable to claim that there is not enough scientific research on the topic to recognize it as a serious problem affecting millions of families.

Harman, J. J., Matthewson, M. L., & Baker, A. J. L. (2022). Losses experienced by children alienated from a parent. Current Opinion in Psychology, 43, 7-12.

  • This review paper discusses the empirical research supporting the processes involved with the alienation of a child from a safe and “good enough” parent. Parental alienating behaviors lead to a corruption of the child’s reality, undermining their positive and living memories of a parent, leading to a cascade of losses that the child is required to suffer, alone.

Harman, J. J., Saunders, L., & Affifi, T. (2021). Evaluation of the Turning Points for Families (TPFF) program for severely alienated children. Journal of Family Therapy.

  • This independent program evaluation of the Turning Points for Families program examined whether the program helped to support the repair of severely alienated children’s relationships with the alienated parent following the implementation of a transfer of custody and period of no-contact with the alienating parent. Improvements in the parent–child relationships were found and the program helped to improve family members’ communal coping.

Harman, J. J., Maniotes, C. R., & Grubb, C. (2021). Power dynamics in families affected by parental alienation. Personal Relationships. https// 10.1111/pere.12392

  • This study examined power dynamics in families, as described by parents who had been alienated from a child by the other parent. The situations described by the parents were characterized by large power imbalances, such that the alienating parent had most, if not all the power in the family dynamic, through custody, decision-making, and the child’s allegiance. Consequently, families affected by parental alienation reflect the same power dynamics found in families where coercively controlling abuse is occurring rather than situational couple violence.

Harman, J. J., & Lorandos, D. (2021). Allegations of family violence in court: How parental alienation affects judicial outcomes. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law. 27, 184-208.

  • This study tested the findings reported by Meier et al. (2019) using a transparent and methodologically rigorous research design. The study was designed to remedy/address the 30+ methodological and statistical flaws of the Meier et al. study. Across 967 U.S. appellate court cases where parental alienation had been found or alleged, less than half of the cases involved any allegations of abuse. In addition, parents found (not alleged) to have alienated a child from their other parent for illegitimate or exaggerated reasons were more likely to lose custody and parenting time than parents who were only alleged (accused) of having alienated their children, regardless of gender. This article is openly accessible.

Harman, J. J., Lorandos, D., Biringen, Z., & Grubb, C. (2020). Gender differences in the use of parental alienating behaviors. Journal of Family Violence, 35, 459-469.

  • This paper reports on findings from two studies testing the hypothesis that there would be gender differences in the use of parental alienating behaviors, just as aggression researchers have documented for other forms of violence. Results from interviews with alienated parents and appellate court cases where parental alienation had occurred indicated support for the hypothesis: Mothers used twice as many indirect aggression strategies (e.g., derogation to others, false allegations of abuse, loyalty inducing behaviors) than direct strategies (e.g., provoking the other parent at parenting time exchanges), while fathers used similar levels of both strategies.

Harman, J. J., Leder-Elder, S., & Biringen, Z. (2019). Prevalence of adults who are the targets of parental alienating behaviors and their impact: Results from three national polls. Child & Youth Services Review, 106, 1-13.

  • This paper presents the results of three national polls (2 from the U.S., 1 from Canada) to assess the prevalence of parental alienating behaviors and consequences. Survey panels were created by Qualtrics to reflect the demographics of the adult population so that the findings could be generalized to the national population. Results indicated that over 6.7% of the general population of adults are the nonreciprocating target of parental alienating behaviors (~22 million in the U.S.), and that over 1.3% of these parents were moderately to severely alienated from a child, which is 3 times as many children as have autism in the U.S. Alienated parents were more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and were more likely to have considered suicide in the last year due to custody problems than other divorced parents who were not alienated from their child.

Harman, J. J., Bernet, W., & Harman, J. (2019). Parental alienation: The blossoming of a field of study. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 1-6.

  • This review paper highlights what is known about parental alienation from the published research to date and demonstrates that the research is generative and has developed past a descriptive, early stage of development to one of more complex theoretical development and relationship testing.

Harman, J. J., Kruk, E., & Hines, D. (2018). Parental alienating behaviors: An unacknowledged form of family violence. Psychological Bulletin, 144, 1275-1299.

  • This review of the published research on parental alienation and the alienating behaviors that cause it indicates that this is a form of family violence that includes both child abuse and domestic violence.

Smith, A. D., Biringen, Z., & Harman, J. J. (2018). Parenting time and child coping: The context of parental alienation. Family Science Review, 23, 118-140.

  • This study of alienated parents found that the more alienating parents violated parenting time orders and restricted their child’s time with the alienated parent, the worse the outcomes for the children.

Harman, J. J., Biringen, Z., Ratajack, E. M., Outland, P. L., & Kraus, A. (2016). Parents behaving badly: Gender biases in the perception of parental alienation. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 866-874.

  • This experimental study examined parent’s perceptions of parental alienating behaviors, such that they rated how acceptable they perceived the behaviors as being. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions where they were prompted with three different instructions: whether the alienating behaviors were perpetrated by a mother, a father, or a generic parent. While participants rated parental alienating behaviors as being unacceptable overall, they were rated as more acceptable for mothers to do than fathers or generic parents. This gender difference in rating possibly reflects gender biases that mothers must have a “reason” to harm their children in this way to protect them (i.e. “dads are abusive”), while fathers and generic parents are not given this “pass.”

Harman, J. J., Leder-Elder, S. & Biringen, Z. (2016). Prevalence of parental alienation drawn from a representative poll. Children & Youth Services Review, 66, 62-66. 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.04.021

  • This study was a brief telephone (cell phone, landlines) poll of a representative sample of North Carolina, US adults to obtain an initial estimate of the numbers of parents who felt they were being alienated from their child(ren) by their child’s other parent. It was estimated that approximately 22 million adults believe they are being alienated from their children based on the results of this poll.

Biringen, Z., Closson, L., Derr-Moore, A., Hall, A., Pybus, K., Saunders, H., Warren, V., Lucas-Thompson, R., Harman, J. J., & Neu, M. (2015). Mindfulness, emotional availability, and emotional attachment: Three pillars of daily practice. Zero to Three Journal, 36, 20-26.

  • This paper considered the applicability of the emotional availability framework to understanding parental alienation cases. Given that alienated children reject a parent for reasons that are not legitimate, the emotional availability of a parent cannot, on its own, repair the attachment with a child, as the process involves availability on both sides of the relational dynamic.

Books, Book chapters, and Encyclopedia Entries

Harman, J. J., & Prosser, J. L. (in press). Parental alienation. Routledge Encyclopedia of Psychology in the Real World.

  • This encyclopedia entry details what parental alienation is and what it is not.

Harman, J. J., & Kruk, E. (2022). The same coin: Intimate partner violence, child abuse, and parental alienation. In B. Russell & J. Hamel (Eds), Gender and Domestic Violence: Contemporary Legal Practice and Intervention Reforms (pp. 276-304). Oxford University Press.

  • This chapter reviews the research on coercively controlling abuse related to the use of children as weapons against the target of abuse, and demonstrates that parental alienating behaviors are just another label/term for the same phenomenon. The chapter also discusses how a gender paradigm about domestic violence that promotes the idea that women cannot be perpetrators of abuse (e.g., they only use aggression in self-defense) has created conflict and a false controversy about the concept of parental alienation.

Harman, J. J., & Matthewson, M. (2020). Parental alienating behaviors. In D. Lorandos and W. Bernet (Eds.), Parental Alienation- Science and Law, pp. 82-141. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher.

  • This chapter reviews the research documenting parental alienating behaviors perpetrated by a parent to harm the child’s relationship with their other parent. The behaviors are mapped onto a modified “power and control wheel” that is used in the education and treatment for coercively controlling abuse. The authors also described sources of data that can be used to document and demonstrate the parental alienating behaviors for forensic purposes.

Harman, J. J., & Biringen, Z. (2016). Parents acting badly: How institutions and societies promote the alienation of children from their loving families. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado Parental Alienation Project, LLC.

  • This book reviews research on parental alienation, and describes how institutions (e.g., family court, child protection services) and cultural norms and shifts have contributed to the problem.