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Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Birds of a Feather: Are Childress and Becker-Weidman Flocking Together?

An interesting remark concerning me has been passed along from someone else’s blog— The author of this statement signs himself “Art”. Here is what he says:

Mercer is a founding member of the fringe advocacy group, Advocates for Children in Therapy. See:
It is not worthwhile addressing her “concerns,” as all she wishes to do is have a forum to express her fringe ideas and is never open to a real dialogue, evidence, or support of views other than her own biases.

Now, could it be that this “Art” is Arthur Becker-Weidman, whom I had occasion to mention on this blog a few days ago ( Yes, as we used to say in my childhood, it might could be. Of course there are lots of people named Arthur, or even watercolorists who take “Art” as their nom d’Internet. But this one makes an unusual reference to a “wikia” outfit which has allowed Becker-Weidman, often writing as AWeidman, to say whatever he likes about topics like Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, which he claims (contrary to all existing evidence) to be an evidence-based treatment. Psychology.wikia is not a part of Wikipedia and does not require the “neutral point of view” (NPOV) that is one of Wikipedia’s characteristics, nor in my experience does it permit editing by all readers.  Interested readers of this blog may like to compare the psychology.wikia articles on Advocates for Children in Therapy and on Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy with the articles on those topics on Wikipedia.

For the sake of argument, then, let’s assume that the writer “Art” is indeed Arthur Becker-Weidman (curious, though, because he was once quite sniffy when I addressed him as “Art”). What’s he up to? Is he getting into Parental Alienation, like Craig Childress (see, the advocate of a not-very-plausible connection between parental narcissism and a child’s refusal to visit an estranged parent? Or is he just cross because I called attention to the fact that he is giving a conference continuing education presentation on a topic that all evidence suggests he misunderstands badly?

I don’t know what the story is, nor do I know whether Childress and Becker-Weidman have ever met. It may just be that Becker-Weidman looked around for someone else who objected to criticism from me, and then got on board with what that person was writing on his blog—the basic idea being to answer criticism with a personal counterattack rather than with a factual response. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to think about what these two have in common.

Here are some characteristics shared by these fellows.

1.     1.  Advocacy for treatments that are either little-known or seriously questioned by most professional psychologists.  Childress’ “attachment-based” parental alienation treatment program is not listed either by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP; or by the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC:, at least under any name I can think of for it. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, which Becker-Weidman has written about, is not listed by NREPP and received from CEBC a rating of 3 (promising, but not presenting strong scientific evidence).

2.     2.  Publications with problems. Some lack peer review or editorial management and are essentially self-published. Childress’ publisher shares an address with his office. Becker-Weidman’s first publication was with Nova Scientific, an outfit that sends out emails asking people if they would like to edit a book and apparently gets graduate students to do this (I intermittently get mailings from them, usually dealing with topics I know nothing about.) He later went on to the interestingly named “specialty” publisher Wood ‘n’ Barnes. I have to give him credit for finally working his way up to Jason Aronson, though this may be more to do with difficulties of that publishing house than improved material. Becker-Weidman’s history of seriously criticized and indeed retracted journal publications is something I’ve discussed elsewhere. Childress does not appear to have published in professional journals.

3.    3.   Ambiguous backgrounds. Childress’ CV, which he used to have on line but seems to have taken down, shows a lengthy gap in employment and educational enrollment before he emerged as an advocate of Parental Alienation concerns. Becker-Weidman presents or allows himself to be presented as a psychologist, although he is licensed as a clinical social worker. He has a doctorate in human development, a perfectly respectable achievement, but not one that leads to licensure in clinical psychology.  

The two do seem to be birds of a feather, don’t they? I will be watching with interest to see whether Becker-Weidman introduces PA to DDP, or whether Childress gets on the DDP bandwagon.

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