The purpose of this study was to determine if psychological indices are present in parents who have been targeted for alienation by their former spouses. The reform of U.S. divorce laws and changes in the standard for determining custody of minor children are contributing factors to Parental Alienation (PA). Gardner (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002) first identified and reported Parental Alienation after seeing the same patterns of behavior among children refusing to visit their non-custodial fathers. Baker (2006) continued the research by interviewing adult children who were alienated when they were young. Childress (2011a, 2011b, 2011c, 2012, 2014, 2015), is currently working on a new paradigm using attachment theory. Studies looking at the effects of PA on targeted parents (TPs) are non-existent. This research sought to answer the research question: What are the diagnostic indices that make up PA in targeted parents? Using Gardner’s constructs as the conceptual framework for the interview questions, 10 self-identified alienated parents were interviewed about feelings associated with the behaviors of their ex-spouses and children. The data for this future psychometric were evaluated using both Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) and quantitative data analysis. Using QCA as the mode for data analysis, the raw data were coded using Gardner’s criteria. The list of feelings was put into a Scale of Feelings, where each item was rated on a 5-point Likert Scale (at the height of alienation) by a second group of alienated parents acting as content judges. Evaluations continued with the second group of alienated parents until they felt an inclusive list of feelings was generated. Reliability was tested using 14-items that group 2 rated using Spearman Rho. The resulting 30-item scale went back to the original group of 7 parents to rate. The research produced possible indices that potentially are useful as a diagnostic tool. A future study is planned to evaluate the indices with a larger more representative sample of participants. Creating an assessment is critical for parents, legal and psychological professionals working to eradicate this parental alienation problem.
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