William G. Austin, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Evergreen, Colorado
Raleigh, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Email: wgaustinphd2@yahoo.com

Gatekeeping Approach to Co-Parenting Education

for High Conflict Divorce

 Dealing with Allegations of Restrictive Gatekeeping or Alienation

Forensic Psychological and Co-Parenting Educational Services Offered by

 William G. Austin, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Austin Child Custody Services
(970) 846-1157 voice mail
(303) 217-8990 fax


Services Available in Colorado and North Carolina Locations
Lakewood and Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Cary and Wilmington, North Carolina

Co-Parenting Education and Coaching for Cases Involving High Conflict
and Allegations of Restrictive Gatekeeping and/or Alienation

Dr. Austin now is providing the forensic service of co-parenting education and coaching for parents when there has emerged a pattern of high conflict co-parenting and poor communication that places the children at risk of harm due to a lack of cooperative co-parenting and possible exposure to the conflict. This co-parenting education service takes a gatekeeping approach that is similar to the other forensic services described on this website.

This service is available to parents who may want to reverse a stressful situation of emerging conflict following separation and learn to effectively and cooperatively co-parent for the best interests of their children. It is available to parents after a parenting plan has been agreed to or ordered by the court to assist in the implementation of the plan and to try to contain conflict. The service may be ordered by the court when the judge recognizes there is an unhealthy and enduring pattern of parent conflict. The service can be combined with the Parenting Coordinator/Decision-Maker service.

This service is designed to be an initial three (3) hour service with the initial screening assessment of the problems and issues; co-parenting education using the gatekeeping model; and coaching on problem solving to try to the problems that are presented. More sessions/hours of service can be requested by the parents and/or ordered by the court.

The research has clearly established that children of divorce show the best overall and long-term adjustment and well-being when they are not exposed to significant conflict and enjoy quality relationships with both parents. The research shows that facilitative gatekeeping will lead to more involvement by the other parent and better child adjustment. If parents can learn to contain their conflict and to compartmentalize any hostile feelings and attitudes from their co-parenting behaviors, then children will benefit. Cooperative co-parenting is part of good and effective parenting skills. Learning to cooperatively co-parent will directly benefit both the children and parents.

The parents learn about the gatekeeping model and approach to understanding co-parenting. This model is described on the gatekeeping webpage and publications that are available. [put in the links] They learn to identify specific gate-closing behaviors (restrictive gatekeeping) and gate-opening behaviors (facilitative gatekeeping).

Parental conflict following divorce can be viewed as “gatekeeping disputes” because the issues often involve disagreements about access and involvement with the child or decisions that affect the child. The co-parenting education is designed to move the parents from a pattern of conflicted co-parenting towards cooperative co-parents, or from a lose-lose-lose predicament for the parents and child towards a win-win-win situation. The service involves education and coaching on how the parents can learn to better “manage the parental gate” on access to the child, “gate training” on co-parenting behaviors.

High conflict post-separation and post-divorce situations often involve allegations of “alienation.” The gatekeeping model encompasses what is known as “parental alienation.” Examples of extreme alienating behaviors by a parent fall at the extreme RG end of the gatekeeping continuum. All behaviors which are defined as showing parent alienation are by definition examples of unjustified RG. However, the reverse is usually not true. Many RG behaviors are linked to a specific disagreement and conflict about an issue and do not represent what is generally thought of as alienation. The term alienation unfortunately is routinely used very loosely. Most allegations of alienation actually are examples of restrictive gatekeeping that can be framed as such, for example, like the need to be flexible on the parenting schedule; to share sports equipment, etc. RG disputes can be addressed by “gate training,” co-parenting education, and practical problem solving.

What is appropriately labeled as alienating behaviors by a parent are those that are predictably potentially very damaging to the other parent’s relationship with the child and that might negatively color the child’s perceptions of that parent. ABPs often are mean-spirited or vindictive and may reflect a pattern of behaviors that signify that the alienating parent sees little value in the other parent’s contributions to the child. ABPs may reflect distorted thinking by the parent and/or be part of a personality dysfunction or disorder. Alienation may include a deliberate attempt to “poison” the other parent-child relationship.

Alienation cases often present with parent-child alignments and boundary problems. There may be enmeshment and over-involvement with the child. A child may be treated more like a partner than a child, or parentification. An alienation analysis needs to look at the role of both parents and child. The actions of the child and reactions of the rejected or targeted parent need to be considered.

Often there are ABPs present but the child is not alienated. The Alienated Child is one who is resisting or refusing to have contact with a parent without justification. When the resistance is grounded in inappropriate behaviors by the rejected parent, then it is a case of Estrangement, not alienation. Parents and children may become estranged for a wide  variety of reasons.

Service Intended for:  Parents in High Conflict after Separation (self, attorney, or court referral prior to a permanent orders hearing)

Parents in High Conflict after the conclusion of litigation or after settlement on a Parenting Plan

Prior to a court hearing in a case with a motion to modify parenting plan

When there are allegations or evidence of restrictive gatekeeping by one or both parents

When there are allegations of alienating behaviors by a parent or a child being alienated (resisting or refusing to have contact with a parent)

The Service:

Co-Parenting Education for Parents in High Conflict with Allegations of Restrictive Gatekeeping and/or Alienation

Time & Fees:              

3 hours per parent
Parents can request additional time for coaching
Court may order additional time to improve co-parenting skills

$200 per hour if parents are seen alone ($600 per parent; $800 if report required)
$300 per hour if parents are seen jointly ($450 per parent; $600 if report required)
Both parents must agree on joint sessions
If history of domestic violence, joint sessions probably not an option

Prepayment is required to commence services. Payments are nonrefundable.
Parents can request lower fees due to financial limitations


If the service is court-ordered, a brief report to summarize the service and parents’ response will be provided to court, attorneys, and parents. There will be an additional charge of one hour for the report.                                                                             

Getting Started:

Go to Forms and Fees webpage and download Parent Information Form. Complete Form and e-mail or fax it to Dr. Austin.

Pay the Required Fees by clicking on either PayPal or Chase Bank and make payment by completing the required information.

Initiate the process of making an appointment either by calling Dr. Austin or e-mailing.

From gatekeeping webpage: download Gatekeeping Bench Book and FG & RG Examples



(303) 670.6767 voice
(970) 846.1157 (cell)
(303) 217.8990 fax
  Services Available in Colorado and North Carolina Locations
Evergreen, Colorado
Cary and Wilmington, North Carolina