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Dynamics, not diagnoses: Understanding and responding to the needs of the polarized child

alt Course: Dynamics, not diagnoses: Understanding and responding to the needs of the polarized child

alt Instructor: Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D.

alt Approved for 2.0 Hours of CE Credit

alt Fulfills Requirements for Psycholgists, MFTs, LCSWs, and Licensed Professional Counselors.

alt This course is designed for Full and Part-Time Private Practitioners, and Full and Part-Time Agency Employees

alt High Resolution Online Streaming Video

benjamin garber

When co-parents conflict, some children become allied with one parent and resist or refuse contact with the other. This two-hour presentation brings to life a cutting edge understanding of the systemic dynamics that can impact a polarized child. Our historical reliance on an either/or abuse/alienation model is long ago outdated. The well-known hybrid model that emphasizing the co-occurrence of alienation, enmeshment and estrangement, is a step in the right direction, although similarly outdated.

In their place, Dr. Garber introduces an ecological model that describes fourteen or more mutually compatible family system dynamics that must all be carefully understood in order to have the greatest chance of supporting the child’s right to enjoy a healthy relationship with both of his or her parents. This presentation builds on Dr. Garber’s 2020 Family Court Review article, “Sherlock Holmes and the case of resist/refuse dynamics: Confirmatory bias and abductive inference in family law” and lays the foundation for his forthcoming book, “Mending Fences: A collaborative, cognitive-behavioral “reunification” protocol serving the best interests of the post-divorce, polarized child” (Unhooked Media, 2020). Read more about this presentation and about Dr. Garber at


Course Goal and Objectives

  • Define the distinctions between dynamics and diagnoses
  • Recognize common dynamics of high conflict families such as triangulation, enmeshment, parentification, estrangement, alienation, and polarization.
  • Evaluate fifteen or more mutually exclusive dynamics that can cause a child to align with one parent and resist or reject the other.


Registration Information

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Online Video Version


CE Approval Information

This course fulfills 2.0 hours Continuing Education credit for licensed mental health professionals in most states.

  • The Steve Frankel Group, LLC (SFG) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. SFG maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • The course content is also approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs because SFG is an approved provider by the APA.
  • The course outline in the agenda for individually and referenced course sessions has been approved as corresponding to subject areas variously in California Rules of Court, rule 5.225(d)(1)-(3)(13)(17)(21). The views expressed in this training are those of the trainers and do not necessarily represent the official positions or policies of the Judicial Council of California.
  • For non-California residents, most states accept SFG’s accreditation for Master Level clinicians. If you’re not certain about reciprocity, please check with your state's Licensing Board.


Your access to the course material extends for 1-year from the date of purchase. This includes after passing the post-test, so you may continue to review its contents.