Family law professionals face numerous challenges and risks when working with families with intractable conflict. The personal and professional stresses, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue stemming from working with high-conflict personalities or families with resist-refuse (alienation) dynamics are rarely openly discussed.  Child custody evaluators and court-involved therapists face a high risk of licensing board complaints and negative internet reviews, attorneys often face threats of bar complaints and dismissal, while bench officers can also experience judicial fatigue in high-conflict cases.  Primitive expression of rage by unhappy clients can sometimes lead to threats of personal harm toward professionals. This multi-disciplinary panel will address specific challenges we face, including:  risk management strategies, providing realistic expectations and maintaining boundaries, and dealing with parents with personality disorders who readily project blame outwards.  Tools for giving constructive feedback to highly stressed and angry family law litigants, managing countertransference reactions, and dealing with some of the unique risks posed by cases with resist-refuse dynamics will also be addressed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to list specific characteristics of high conflict personalities and describe how personality disorder dynamics might be enacted with family law professionals.
  • Participants will be able to discuss and delineate approaches to coping with licensing board or bar complaints, negative internet reviews, and threats to personal harm.
  • Participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the specific risk management and stress reduction strategies for dealing with the occupational hazards that often arise from work with high-conflict families.