Meeting guidelines, formats, group conscienceness and hierarchy for parental alienation support groups.
Parental alienation, parental alienation syndrome and parental estrangement among other terminology all amount to the the same thing. Parents, grandparents and other family and friends that are struggling to gain or have access to their loved ones. For some the terminology feels very useful and important to acknowledge. For others the most important thing is to find a support group and other resources to help deal and heal from this devastating disease.
PA-A is a support group for people struggling with any form of parental alienation or estrangement. We have a structure to all our meetings & we are a recovery focused group. This structure is there to create stability, safety and consistency. The recovery focus is an access point to start a journey of healing and learning. 12 step groups focus on recovering a relationship with ourselves in order to engage everyone and everything from a place of integration, presence and self agency.
HOW AND WHO RUNS MEETINGS OF PARENTAL ALIENATION?
Meetings are run by a secretary and in some cases a co-secretary. There is also a leader at each meeting that will share their experience, strength and hope. The secretary is responsible for running the meeting and adhering to the current formats. Different secretaries will have varied understandings of meeting formats. Because of this there will be some different nuances from meeting to meeting.
We are a peer to peer run group. Everyone is a volunteer! At this time we have no part or full time employees. As our community grows we might add employees to help manage the logistics of the group.
Are there any rules or suggestions when I share at a meeting?
Different meetings will have different topics as suggestions to share on. You can also share on anything that is alive for you.
1-We ask you share in a general way about your story. We do this to protect the group as sometimes there is unintended secondary trauma projected into the group at large. This is not personal. Please checkin with the secretary after the meeting if you have any questions.
2-Please do not read from any other literature besides Al-Anon approved literature at meetings. You are welcome to share in general way about anything that influences your life. (example, a book your reading, a spiritual sign or message or someone that you find useful in the larger PA community.)
3-We share in a general way about outside literature or PA resources. This includes religious text. If you have a resource or something relevant to share please come early or stay after the meeting and share during the fellowship. As a suggestion during the fellowship, “take what you like and leave the rest”.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN WE SAY “WE SHARE IN A GENERAL WAY AT MEETINGS”?
- In an open meeting of PA-A we share in a general way about our experiences. We do not get really deep into the trauma as this is not a therapy session. No one is trained to handle severe issues.
- There is an impact to every person in the meeting when we share directly about our trauma. This can trigger other folks and cause unintended emotional damage. This is why we share in a general way at the meeting level.
- We share our deeper thoughts one on one with a sponsor as we go through the 12 steps of PA-A or with a program friend. It is suggested to get on the opt in phone list immediately so you can connect with folks in-between meetings. (ask your secretary to add you, you will need to provide your name, email and telephone number)
WHAT HAPPENS IF A PERSON IS ASKED TO REDIRECT THEIR SHARE TO FOCUS ON RECOVERY?
- The leader, secretary or secretary of another meeting can ask a PA-A member to redirect their share to talk about their recovery. This is generally done when a member is highly focusing on their trauma.
- The person can choose to end their share. Redirect their thoughts to their recovery or ask to continue their share later in the meeting.
- This can definitely be jarring to the person sharing. This is not a personal attack but can definitely feel that way at times. We have all felt this way at different times of our recovery.
- If a person ignores the request there are several things that can happen.
- The person might correct themselves and direct their share in another direction that feels appropriate and not so specific.
- They could be muted by the leader or secretary and asked again to redirect their share.
- They could be moved to the waiting room to have a conversation with the secretary.
- After a previous warning the secretary could remove them from the meeting.
WHY ARE WE ENCOURAGED TO FOCUS ON RECOVERY AND LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF TRAUMATIC EVENTS WE SHARE?
- PA-A is a 12 step recovery focused group. We are a place to come and share our experience in a general way, our strength and hope.
- This is one of the only places that recovery is centered over our stories.
- By focusing on recovery we can find a path through a seemingly endless, hopeless impossible space. Recovery is a language we share in order to re-engage with our lives in a more integrated useful way.
- The possibility of secondary trauma is incredibly high as we are all facing massive challenges emotionally and spiritually. Our words and stories have an impact way beyond our intentions.
DO I HAVE ANY SAY IN HOW MEETINGS of PARENTAL ALIENATION SUPPORT GROUPS ARE RUN AND WHAT FORMATS ARE USED?
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH A PARENTAL ALIENATION SUPPORT GROUP MEETING, MEETING FORMAT OR A SECRETARY ?
- Contact the secretary of the meeting by email or in the chat. If they can’t help you they should be able to point you in a direction. If you contact the secretary by chat and they don’t respond please follow up by email. Meetings can be tricky to manage at times and not all chats are tended to.
- If you have a problem with a secretary please reach out to another meeting secretary. They will either help you, point you in a direction or let you know if they can’t be of help.
- If you have a problem with a format ask the secretary when the next group conscience will be. A group conscience is when all members of a specific meeting get to share any concerns or requests for a change of formats. A group conscience is help directly after the meeting instead of fellowship time.
- Any member of a group can ask for a group conscience at any time. The secretary will schedule this within 2-3 weeks of request if it is appropriate.
- You will need to ask the secretary to have your issue placed on the group conscience agenda and be present for the meeting for your issue to be discussed.
- There is a secretaries meeting once every quarter. The secretary is the representative for the group.
- If you want to be more involved on this level please volunteer for service positions.
- The secretary can bring any group issues to the secretaries meeting. Changes will be discussed and voted on at the secretaries meeting if it is appropriate.
HOW DO I GET A SAY IN HOW PARENTAL ALIENATION ANONYMOUS MEETINGS ARE RUN?
- Volunteer for a service position. It is suggested to start with timing a meeting and then offering to lead a meeting when you are comfortable. A secretary is the group representative and they can ask for changes to formats and general polices. Secretaries meet every quarter to address meeting concerns and best practices.
- In order to be a secretary you will need to have a sponsor and be working the 12 steps of PA-A. A secretary commitment is for 6 months. Every six months a new secretary will be elected or the current secretary will continue with their commitment.
- Secretaries will announce group conscience every quarter. Have the secretary put any topics you would like included on the agenda.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I DO NOT LIKE THE FORMAT OR STRUCTURE OF A PARENTAL ALIENATION ANONYMOUS MEETING?
- All PA-A meeting formats are on the website at PA-A.org. They are open source and you can use them to start a meeting that might fit more of your needs.
- You can start a new meeting and if you follow all of the guidelines and scripts you will be added as a sanctioned meeting. Your meeting will be added to the website, emails and any other PA-A related announcements.
- If you choose to start a new meeting and adjust some of the structure or format of the meeting you will not be allowed to reference PA-A what so ever. Additionally it will not be a PA-A sanctioned meeting.
- We are a 12 step recovery group this is centered as an anchor in all of our meetings.
WHEN AND HOW DO PARENTAL ALIENATION ANONYMOUS MEETING FORMATS GET CHANGED?
- Formats get changed after a vote at a quarterly secretaries meeting.
- Every secretary gets 1 vote. If there are co-secretaries they each get 1/2 a vote. More than 50% of votes are needed to make any changes. There is no hierarchy in the weight of any one persons vote.
- A secretary would need to add a topic of discussion prior to the quarterly meeting. Any new topics that come up at a meeting will only get voted on at the next secretaries meeting.
- Any person can request a change at a group conscience. If the group votes to enact any changes that effect the script, the secretary will take this to the quarterly secretaries meeting to get a majority consensus.
- On a group level more than 50% of the votes are needed in order for the secretary to add any new items it to the next secretaries meeting agenda.
CAN I START A MEETING WITH THE “OPEN SOURCE FORMATS” PROVIDED ON THE WEBSITE BUT NOT ENFORCE SOME ITEMS I DO NOT AGREE WITH?
- Yes, you can start a meeting with any of the open source formats provided on the website.
- Some changes would need to be made to the script if you don’t intend to follow all the guidelines and have it not be a sanctioned meeting.
- You would need to change PA-A to another group name as you wouldn’t be able to mention this PA-A in a newly formed group. Beyond that you are free to use and change the literature as needed.
- You would not be a sanctioned meeting as we are specifically a recovery based group.