© 2019 ACA Alienated Children's Advocates


Black & White image by Andreas Albert @CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dr. Sinead Conneely, BA (Soc Sc.), LL.M, LL.B, PhD. BL


Sinead is a graduate of University College Galway (BA 1993; LL.B 1995), University of Cambridge (LLM 1997), Trinity College Dublin (PhD 2001) and the King’s Inns (BL 2001).


Sinead has spent the last 17 years working as a lecturer in academic institutions, mostly Waterford Institute of Technology, teaching a wide variety of legal courses including modules involving employment law and mediation. Sinead has extensive course leadership experience involving dispute resolution (and dispute avoidance!). She completed her Masters at the University of Cambridge, examining commercial insurance law, corporate finance law and insolvency law. Her Ph.D was undertaken at Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis outlines the origins and development of family mediation internationally and then comparatively analyses the adoption and process of family mediation in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Her thesis is considered to be an authorative work on the subject. Sinead completed Friary Law’s Civil & Commercial Mediation course in 2012. 


Sinead is a law lecturer at W.I.T. and is currently working on the development of mediation modules on law and social studies courses. She is project coordinator for the W.I.T. Family Mediation project, where her role is that of administrator and volunteer mediator, and is conducting empirical research attending family law cases in the District Court since March 2017.

Dr Róisín O’ Shea, Dip., BA (Hns) Law, PhD, Mediator 

Roisin is an award winning former Irish Research Council scholar and mediator, who was awarded a Ph.D. in 2014 for her doctoral research on Judicial Separation and Divorce in the Circuit Court, Ireland. She is an expert in Family Law and Employment Law, and has significant experience as a mediator completing hundreds of cases since 2009 including family, work place and commercial mediations.


She is a partner in Arc Mediation, and is a board member of The Mediators Institute of Ireland since 2015. She was invited in 2018, to join the AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) international committee headed up by Prof Janet Walker Newcastle University.


Dr O’ Shea is the Principal investigator for Waterford Institute of Technology’s The Family Mediation Project which is trialing a family mediation process she developed, informed by global innovations. In March 2017 Dr O’ Shea and Dr Conneely commenced empirical research attending family law sittings with Ministerial consent in the District Courts in Ireland, and were invited by the Department of Justice as “relevant stakeholders” to make submissions on the Mediation Bill 2017. 

Drs O’ Shea and Conneely presented research findings at the International Conference on Shared Parenting, Boston. USA 29th- 30th May 2017; Dr O’ Shea co-presented with Prof Yoav Mazeh Israel, on an international comparison of enforcement of parenting orders, at the AFCC Annual Conference Boston USA May 31st- June 3rd 2017 and presented on the Family Mediation Project at the Nuffield Foundation’s ‘Better decisions in private family law…’ seminar London Feb 14th 2018.


Roisin presents at conferences and seminars nationally and internationally and is frequently invited as an expert guest on Irish radio and has been interviewed and invited to write several opinion editorials for Irish newspapers, discussing legal issues, particulalry in relation to family law and mediation.

roshea@arcmedlaw.com                   www.arcmedlaw.com              +353 51 348336  

Brendan Guildea, B.L.

Brendan was called to the Irish bar in 2011 and has developed a specialised practice in high-conflict child access cases, acting for both custodial and non-custodial parents. He has co-authored an article on perjury (which is available at www.academia.edu) and is currently before the High Court on two in camera rule cases, which go to the heart of the most fractious issues arising in contentious family law litigation, which involve elements of criminal investigation and prosecution.

Four Courts, Law Library

The in camera rule. 

Brendan has acted in one test case JR before the Supreme and High Court on the rule, particularly its effect on the investigative duties of An Garda Siochana. He has also moved and defended applications for the IC rule to be lifted for the purpose of criminal proceedings, and had to advise several clients on the appropriate (usually inappropriate) use of social media when engaging in general activism on the subject of alienation.

This will be a run-through of the legislation and most recent case law in Ireland and the UK.

The three layers of brokenness in family law and child care proceedings

Brendan will propose an analytical framework for high-conflict access cases which separates the issues into three categories/layers: (1) inter parties issues (e.g. A thinks B is an alcoholic and a pedophile), (2) procedural issues (e.g. delay/rules of evidence/appeals etc) and (3) professional issues (e.g. breakdown in trust between a party and their legal team, financial issues, allegations of professional misconduct against a care worker/author of a report)

After a short introduction to this framework, attendees will be given a detailed problem question to work through in groups.


Paula Bradshaw
Parental Alienation: A Public Health Problem
Paula Bradshaw is the Alliance Party's Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing South Belfast. She is the Party's Health Spokesperson, and also leads on social justice issues such as abortion law reform, domestic and sexual violence, marriage equality, redress for victims of historical institutional abuse (including Mother and Baby Homes) and family law.



Paula was first elected to Belfast City Council in 2014 to represent the Balmoral District Electoral Area, becoming entering full-time elected politics in 2016. Prior to this, she managed an urban regeneration charity for thirteen years in a deprived, predominantly-Loyalist, inner-city community.


Paula holds degrees in Law & Government and Business & Finance (European Studies). She has two children, plays hockey for a team in Carrickfergus, and is devoted to her cat Bella.


In relation to Parental Alienation, Paula is seeking out ways of having it recognized in law – with the main focus being on bringing forward her own Private Members Bill, when the Northern Ireland Assembly is reinstated; but in the meantime, she is supporting a large number of alienated parents, and lobbying varying branches of government to have it considered in the realms of emerging public policy, with particular reference to the psychological impact on the lifelong well-being of the child.

Brian O'Sullivan


Brian is a Consultant Systemic (Family) Psychotherapist with a private practice in Stillorgan Co. Dublin. He has spent a number of years lecturing on accredited undergraduate and post graduate degree programs in psychological theory and therapy.


He has developed two M.Sc. programs one, in Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy and the second in Family Therapy both validated by Middlesex University in London. 


His primary undergraduate award is in Emergency Medical Science from the faculty of medicine at University College Dublin in 1999. He then earned a B.A. Degree in Psychotherapy and Psychometric Testing before earning his M.Sc. in Systemic (Family) Psychotherapy from the Family Therapy Training Programme, Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Mater University Hospital and University College Dublin. He has been published in peer reviewed journals nationally and internationally. 


His area of interest, research and practice relates to the phenomenon where children refuse or resist contact with a previously loved parent in the context of a separation or divorce. His expertise is in relational family dynamics (rather than biological or chemical pathologies) and how these can lead to psychological, emotional and behavioural disturbances in children across their lifespan.


He has completed the only Irish study regarding this phenomenon with ethical consent from the Human Research Ethics Committee at University College Dublin. He has been invited to discuss and summarise his research findings regarding parental alienation to the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham (2016) along with Dr. Sue Whitcombe of Teeside University, U.K. and Dr. Maria Verrachio, Forensic Psychologist at Chieti University, Italy who made presentations regarding their own research in this area. Brian has since been invited to the Tavistock Clinic, London (2018) and Queens University Belfast, (2018) among others.


Brian acts as an expert witness in private family law proceedings where alienation is considered to be a factor in Ireland and the U.K. 


He can be contacted at brian@changes.ie


Mairead Steward

Independent Parental Alienation Awareness Advocate

Mairead is completing an MSc in the Development and Co-production of Social Care Research at the University of Ulster, Jordonstown. Her subject area is parental alienation. She is currently undertaking quantitative research with social work students at Ulster University and Queen's University, completing in September 2019. Mairead is involved in parental alienation training with community and voluntary groups and with social work students at Queen's University, Belfast and Ulster University, Jordonstown. The Parental Alienation Awareness Conference, In The Best Interests of the Child: Exploring Parental Alienation and Estrangement on 25 April 2018 at Queen's University was organised by Mairead. She is presenting at the 6th Annual Social Work and Social Care Research in Practice in Northern Ireland, "Building research to evaluate complex interventions in social work and social care" - a consideration of methodological issues. The Family Separation Clinic in London awarded Mairead with a certificate in Leadership Training in Parental Alienation in September 2017. Mairead has recently qualified as a family mediator. She works with families who experience parental alienation or have been accused of parental alienation in her role as an Independent Parent Advocate for Parent Action.

Shawn A. Wygant, M.A., T.L.L.P.

Forensic Psychology Associate

Understanding the Sequelae of Psychological Maltreatment in Alienated Children and Resolving Issues of Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment


Mr. Wygant is a highly skilled and dedicated forensic psychological evaluator, clinical therapist,

and expert witness. He specializes in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of parent-child relational problems and complex forms of child psychological maltreatment such as parental alienation and

Munchausen by proxy. For the past 6 years, he has worked with Demosthenes Lorandos, Ph.D., J.D.,

on parental alienation cases throughout the United States as a psychological researcher,

evaluator, and expert witness helping courts make the best possible decision concerning the

best interest of the child.

swygant@psychlaw.net www.PsychLaw.net +1-989-335-5134

William Bernet, M.D.

William Bernet, a graduate of Holy Cross College, summa cum laude, and Harvard Medical School, is a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is board certified in general psychiatry, child psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. As an expert in forensic psychiatry, Dr. Bernet has testified about 300 times in 24 states. Dr. Bernet has written professional articles and book chapters on a variety of subjects, including: group and individual therapy with children and adolescents; humor in psychotherapy; forensic child psychiatry; child maltreatment; true and false allegations of abuse; satanic ritual abuse; reincarnation; child custody and visitation; parental alienation; testimony regarding behavioral genomics; and risk management. In 2007, Dr. Bernet and Judge Don R. Ash published Children of Divorce: A Practical Guide for Parents, Therapists, Attorneys, and Judges. Dr. Bernet edited Parental Alienation, DSM-5, and ICD-11, which was published in 2010. Dr. Bernet and his colleagues edited Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals, which was published in 2013. He was the founder and first president of the Parental Alienation Study Group.

Dr. Yvonne Parnell

Dr. Yvonne Parnell is a Registered Clinical and Neuropsychologist and a trained adult Psychoanalyst in Toronto Canada.  She is a trained facilitator of Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent Child Relationships.  She has pioneered Aftercare protocols for working with alienating parents.

Dr. Parnell will provide a brief overview of Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child Relationships.  Her presentation will address the principles, goals, prerequisites, structure and outcome data of the workshop.  Dr. Parnell will also provide a brief overview of the Aftercare protocol used in working with the alienating parents.  

Elizabeth Archer

Liz is a reunification expert specialising in psychotherapy and coaching by working with families where children present with resisting/refusing/rejecting dynamic in post-separation and high conflict divorce cases. She has over 20 years’ experience working with families in different contexts and her Police background brings forensic skills to her work.

Liz is developing the role of Parenting Coordination as an intervention to case manage, educate and improve the co-parenting relationship and improve the family dynamics for the benefit of the children. Liz is currently undertaking the MSc in Attachment Studies at Roehampton University to add a specialist parent, child and family attachment assessments.

Liz’s current family work has included:

  • Therapeutic parenting assessments to identify the parental attitudes and behaviours affecting child contact

  • Two transfers of residence, one providing a comprehensive 90-day protective separation programme for family psychoeducation and family restructuring

  • Phased reintroduction of contact programmes

  • Supervised contact and contact assessment

  • Parent Coordination for court-ordered case management of the co-parenting relationship

  • Parenting psychoeducation

  • Residential therapeutic holiday


Melanie Gill, M.Sc. P.G. Dip, B.Sc. Psych

The family justice system deals on an everyday basis with the tragic failures of families and parenting, within relationships often involving anger, violence, drugs and alcohol, emotional abuse, mental illness and severe animosity between separated parents. Within Private Law specifically, the nature of parental conflict reflects one of the most emotionally damaging environments a child can suffer, and in some cases highly specific patterns of parental psychopathology such as narcissism, Munchausen by Proxy (contemporary type), and entrenched negative personality traits. Accusations of child sexual/ physical abuse and domestic violence may also be present.

Unfortunately, the high level of harm continues to be poorly understood and the belief that children who present as happy are happy condemns some of them to significant risk of mental disorder as they mature. In addition, the assessment of alienating behaviours or the reasons behind children’s negative views of a parent, needs to be measured accurately based on the existing validated research in this area. Pure cases of alienation are rare, hybrid cases far more common. A full analysis of where, how, and why (if at all), pressure to adopt a negative view of a parent comes from needs to be assessed. For example, alienating behaviour can happen inadvertently, and children can be actively subject to alienating behaviours by a parent, but nevertheless not be alienated.


In the last decade scientific knowledge of child development has grown and is still growing, but the administration of family law has come under increasing pressure. The challenges related to parental separation and divorce, are constantly on a collision course. The need to be aware of the research, especially from attachment science, is urgent, in order to divert those collisions and make recommendations that actually have a chance of working.


We now have an enormous body of research which supports the in-depth, psychological understanding of how and why individuals act the way they do and no excuse for not using it. Using the latest science in specified protocols yields novel solutions, achieves agreement among disputing parties, and reduces total financial costs. Most importantly it can lead to better outcomes for children.

Melanie Gill has had extensive training in evidenced based attachment assessments for all age groups in combination with specialist training in the accurate analysis of parental conflict, alienation, and its impact on specific children. The forensic analysis used in such assessment ensures that the full 'back' story of why and how conflict has arisen, and continues in these cases, leading to the right recommendations and interventions for the unique aspects of each family.

Caroline Langley

A world expert in family law, the founder of Family Law International and a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Caroline Langley is qualified and practices in four jurisdictions: Ireland, England & Wales, Hong Kong and the USA. She has handled numerous complex international family cases in the United States, Asia, Europe, Argentina, Greece, and South Africa. With nearly three decades of experience, she is a preeminent specialist in international family law with a focus on parental alienation, the Hague Convention and HNW finances. She has worked with the US Department of States, the US Citizens Service, foreign governments and INTERPOL. She has lectured both for professional legal entities and at graduate and post-graduate levels. Caroline Langley successfully negotiates solutions for high-net-worth individuals and has appeared on CNN and FOX News. Caroline has held executive positions within the American Bar Association International Section and is a Mediator, a National Institute of Trial Advocates Certified Trainer and a member of the US Department of State International Child Abduction Attorney Network. Her reported cases and speaking engagements are detailed on her website.

caroline.langley@clerksroom.com / www.langleylaw.ie / Tel: 085 863 1090