Seminar for Judges and Attorneys!


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Overcoming Barriers 

Present an opportunity for the Family Law Community

Registration is Open!

“What Attorneys and Judges Can Do When a Child Resists Contact with a Parent”

In this program we will address the significant challenges
that legal professionals face when assisting families where a child is resisting contact with a parent after separation/divorce and provide skills and strategies for working with them.

May 20, 2017 9:00 until Noon

San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront

Esteemed Panel:
Hon. Marjorie Slabach (ret.) OCB Board President

Leslie Drozd, PhD  OCB Board of Directors

Pamela E. Pierson, Esq  OCB Board Vice President

Michele M.Bissada, Esq – Moderator, OCB Advisory Council

Continuing education credits (MCLEs) and Specialization Credits will be provided to participants through our co-sponsor and provider the

San Mateo County Bar Association.

Additional Support provided by the

Bar Association of San Francisco and the

 Association of Certified Family Law Specialists

Cost is $195.00 for the 3 hour training.

Register Here Today!

Cancellation Policy: Refund less $50.00 Administration Fee when written notice of withdrawal is received no later than May 1st.  Substitution of registrant is permitted. No refunds after May 1st.                                                                                                                   



Overcoming Barriers is grateful to Sandhill Global Advisors whose generous contribution is underwriting the entire event.  All Fees will go to support the work of Overcoming Barriers.  Community Service is at the core of

Sand Hill Global Advisors

Over the years, they have been fortunate to participate in dozens of programs and partnerships that have touched many lives and many needs. They regularly direct the company’s charitable giving resources to organizations that employees support with their time, energy, and personal financial contributions.

Sand Hill Global Advisors is committed to creating meaningful change in the communities they serve through leadership, volunteerism, and through our professional investment management of non-profit endowment funds.


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Overcoming Barriers Plans for 2017

Overcoming Barriers’ (OCB) Board of Directors recently held its annual retreat to review our past 10 years and plan for the future. Our work continues to receive ever-increasing interest from families and court-involved professionals. We continue to try to support the needs of families in crisis by utilizing our resources in the most impactful way.

In 2017 we plan to focus our organizational resources on

Training, Publications & Planning for a 2018 camp.

We will not be hosting a 2017 camp as we take the opportunity to look at all aspects of our programs with a view to expand and improve our 2018 camp, future camps and other direct service program offerings.

We are very excited about developing an online training for mental health professionals entitled, High Conflict Coparenting: Interventions for Children’s Alignment and Resistance, to learn about working with the entire family system through reunification strategies. Training professionals globally will give families access to intervention locally and earlier in the conflict.

In addition we are authoring a companion book to our coparenting guide, entitled, Overcoming Strained Parent-Child Relationships: Coparenting Nuts and Bolts, that will provide parents with pragmatic tips about how to work as an effective post divorce family keeping the best interests of the children in mind.

We received a grant from AAML National and will be producing a training module for attorneys and judges.

Finally, we are in the process of updating our website to make it mobile friendly and the information easier to access by our users.

These efforts will meet the goals of our mission and purpose and provide a broader range of support options to families geographically and financially. Stay tuned for more information about all of our endeavors.

OCB Resources

Our first publication, Overcoming the Co-Parenting Trap, was released in early 2015. The book is unique because it describes the challenges for both resisted and preferred parents, providing important insight and concrete solutions for moving forward. Lawyers and mental health professionals have been recommending this practical guide to their clients.

Click here to see the book on Amazon

You can find our publications at Amazon.

Our newest academic book, Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems, published by Oxford University Press is providing the forensic world with a detailed look at working with High Conflict families where a child is resisting contact with a parent. It encompasses information on topics such as intake, current research and characteristics of the families and uses the Overcoming Barriers’ Family Camp as one intervention example.

We are offer our online training, Legal Interventions When a Child Resists a Parent in collaboration with the  Steve Frankel Group.

10 Year Accomplishment Highlights

We have:

  • Run 8 family camps and intensives servicing 75 families Trained 55 mental health professionals in the Overcoming Barriers’ Approach – 22 in immersion at Camp and 23 in live training about how intensive interventions
  • Trained 30 program staff – Green Shirts – to work with these families
    Videotaped our 2 day live training providing us with raw footage for future online trainings
  • Published two books and many articles about the issue of parent resistance
  • Provided trainings with CEs and CLEs for legal and mental health professionals live and via video recordings and mp3s
  • Hosted awareness raising events for judges, attorneys and mental health professionals in CA, MA, NY and AZ
  • Performed program evaluations utilizing an independent researcher at camp in 2014 – 2016

We look forward to continuing to rethink unnamedparent-child contact problems as we  strive to provide innovative and effective solutions to this complex and multi-faceted issue.


Photo of our annual Board Retreat held in California – Hon. Marjorie Slabach (ret.); Drs. Barbara Fidler & Shawn McCall; Attorneys Sherry Cassedy & Pam Pierson 

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OCB authors Oxford University Press Book

The Overcoming Barriers Oxford University Press Book is available now!

judge_overcomingparent_9780190235208_r5b-2Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems: Family-Based Interventions for Resistance, Rejection, and Alienation Edited by Drs. Abigail Judge and Robin Deutsch.

Contributors Dr. Deutsch and Dr. Matt Sullivan of the OCB img_0894Advisory Council enjoyed signing copies at the AFCC- Atlanta Fall Symposium.



Joining them were Drs. Michael Saini and Leslie Drozd, also contributors.

Find it at

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We welcomed 6 families to our 2016 Vermont Family Camp!

Our 9th Family Camp Program ran in Vermont in mid July with six families from all over the US including two from Northern California, and others from Ohio, Indiana, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota and even England.

“It was so valuable to hear similar stories and realize that our struggle is not unique to our family. As a rejected parent living with favored parents (at camp) helped me to expand my perspective.”

“A good place to find balance and truth.” Aligned parent

“I had a challenging time at camp which was a blessing. We had the opportunity to understand and work to resolve our role in the family conflict. We learned a lot while also having fun. Very glad I was given the opportunity to attend.” Rejected parent

The families included 12 kids who were active with soccer, tetherball, tennis, and water games at the pond. Some attended morning yoga each day. Everyone participated in the “Big Show” with hilarity all ’round.

Four trainees from Texas, Colorado and California worked with Dr. Matthew Sullivan. The Clinical Team hailed from New Jersey, Arizona, California, and Ohio. We trained a new Clinical Director. Our Green Shirts (recreational staff) were also drawn from all over the US.

“I found that there is a way, or more accurately, many ways to help people open a window when the room seems closed shut.” – Mary, a trainee

Sunny afternoons and thunderstorms echoed IMG_3757the family dynamics as parents worked hard.

All of the staff left camp with the expectation that most of the families had a chance at a new start and that repair had occurred in these ruptured family relationships.

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OCB at Seattle AFCC Conference

Visit our table at AFCC National Conference in Seattle, WA, June 1 – 4 where members of the Overcoming Barriers Board and Advisory Council will contribute on various presentations. Our organization is honored to be a part of this conference and contribute with our wealth and breadth of knowledge developed working with families in crisis.

Presentations including the OCB Team include:

  • Hon. Marge Slabach (ret.) and Dr. Jack Moran presenting Before Too Much Damage is Done: Early Intervention with Parent-Child Contact Problems; 
  • Dr. Barbara Jo Fidler presenting The Voice of the Child in Parenting Coordination;
  • Dr. Robin Deutsch presents Stepping Up: Our Understanding of Parenting Plan Modifications;
  • Hon. Slabach joining with other Judicial Officers on a forum entitled The Coercive Powers of the Court.
  • Dr. Matt Sullivan, the AFCC Co-Conference Chair presents on Examining Attorney-Expert Relationships
  • Dr. Deutsch offers: Parenting Under Fire: Resilience in Children Growing Up in Military Families.  
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New Additions for 2016

Overcoming Barriers board members and staff met at the end of 2015 for the annual board retreat. The gathering, as always, was filled with animated discussions about how much families and the family courts need more Overcoming Barriers resources. The board reviewed and updated the strategic plan, taking into account some exciting new additions to the organization for 2016.

New ED - Don Fann

New ED – Don Fann

First, we are thrilled to welcome Don Fann, our new Executive Director! Don is a thirty-year veteran nonprofit executive with a background in health and human services. He has also served for more than a decade as a nonprofit management consultant specializing in organizational growth initiatives, reorganization, and executive transition. Don synthesized his early experience and training in psychology with his three decades of training in the martial art, Aikido, into his approach to organizational development and nonprofit executive work. Don lives in Napa, California with his wife, Kathy, and is a musician and private chef.

We are also grateful to have the significant experience and fresh perspectives of new board members Rebecca Lizarraga and Pam Pierson. Both Rebecca and Pam are highly respected family lawyers from the Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay Area, respectively. Their insight into the legal side of divorce and tremendous compassion for families and children moving through this challenging transition will serve our organization for years to come. We appreciate their dedication and service.

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Vermont Family Camp 2016

July 11-15, 2016 – Applications are available now!

Overcoming Barriers and Common Ground Center have been to hosting the High-Conflict Family Camp since 2008. The supportive staff, beautiful nature and amazing facilities at Common Ground Center are the ideal environment for families to come together and do the hard work of repairing ruptured relationships and move forward.

Be sure to review the following pages before applying:

Application and Intake

To inquire or request an application please contact us at: [email protected]

Dinning Hall Common Ground Center

If you are interested in this program on behalf of your family please ask professionals working on your case to look into the program. Neutrality on the part of Overcoming Barriers is a key component of all our programming and the intake process needs to assure that neutrality. Most families require a court order to attend the camp.

*Admission to camp will require the agreement of both parents or a court order.

**Space is limited for this program!  Due to this limitation, we must give priority to families according to the order of their application to the program, including application fee. 

The intake process is described in detail on the Family Camp Intake page (click here).

We have the following documents available for download below so that the family and support network can petition the Court before or simultaneous to contacting Overcoming Barriers. We highly recommend you contact us before petitioning the court to verify spots are still available.

Fees for 2016 Family Camp

All fees are non-refundable. Camper fees do not cover our costs for running camp. OCB subsidizes the cost of Camp through fundraising and relies heavily on volunteer hours to keep costs as low as possible.

  • Non refundable application fee: $250 per family. To be sent in with the application and the application agreement.
  • Non refundable clinical intake fee: $750 per family. To be paid as allocated per the court.
  • Non refundable deposit: $5,000 due upon acceptance to Camp, allocated as the court has ordered.
  • Non refundable balance of tuition: $7,500 is due by June 27th.
  • Attendance at Camp: $12,500 per family for families of four or less. More than four family members, add $1,000 per extra family member. The total for a family of four will be $13,500 (application + clinical intake + camp fee)
  • OCB clinical follow-up with courts to be paid by hourly rate.
  • Family transportation to and from Vermont is not included.
Reduced tuition – Overcoming Barriers is committed to making programs available to all families who would benefit. In 2016, as in past years, OCB will make every effort to provide the program at an affordable cost to families.  Please advise us if you’d like to be considered for a reduced fee.  There are limited Reduced Fees available for families who make less that $150,000 verified combined parental income and are based on a sliding scale.

More Information

OCB will send program updates to to people who have joined our email update list (bottom of right sidebar) or otherwise given us their contact information.

Direct questions to [email protected]*

*Please, in your initial inquiry, do not convey to us any information which you may regard as confidential.  Any information which you may convey to Overcoming Barriers by the internet or by e-mail may not be secure.

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Support OCB in 2015

Clay pieces drying

Camper Artwork

Your support in 2015 will significantly increase our impact in 2016 and beyond.  Please consider making a donation to Overcoming Barriers, a 501c3 non-profit!

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Building Family Resilience From The Ground Up

As Overcoming Barriers (OCB) has grown from an original program prototype to a national organization working to expand and deliver programs throughout the US and Canada, we have recognized the critical importance of training to the success of OCB’s mission. While expanding the scope of programming is ultimate goal, maintaining the quality and integrity of the program delivery is essential to positive outcomes for families and long-term success.

OCB provides programs for for post-divorce/separation families caught in intractable parental conflict, bringing the entire family together in a positive, fun, clinically supported, natural environment, to practice skills as a reorganized family. The OCB Approach is unlike the prevailing adversarial court paradigm that engenders distrust and conflict engagement, while consuming public resources with little resolution of parental conflict. OCB has developed and refined a “whole family” intervention, a creative alternative to the ineffective adversarial court process or conventional therapeutic interventions. OCB has run High-Conflict Family Camps annually since 2008, working with the most entrenched families in the country, largely court-ordered to attend.

Sharon Ryan Montgomery, Psy.D., and Marcy Pasternak, Ph.D., had both been doing family forensic work in New Jersey in private practice for many years, including child custody & parenting time evaluations, therapy for individuals and families, mediation, and parenting coordination. They were both finding cases involving child alienation to be the most tragic as well as difficult to treat, and that the common treatment of weekly family/reunification therapy was generally inadequate to shift the family dynamics in a meaningful way.

They began to hear about intensive family treatments, including residential family programs such as the OCB camp conducted by leading experts in the field. Resultantly, Sharon had referred some entrenched families to the camp, and Marcy served as an after-care therapist for one OCB family. Encouraged by their experience with OCB, they reached out to see if they could visit the camp and observe the treatment model for themselves.

Sharon and Marcy attended an OCB outreach event in NYC in the fall of 2012. Robin Deutsch, Ph.D., was present and they discussed their desire to observe camp. Shortly thereafter, OCB announced that there would be opportunity for clinical trainees to attend and observe the Family Camp in summer 2013. They both applied and were accepted.

In the summer 2013, Sharon and Marcy participated in OCB’s first clinical training at camp, learning the model, observing the families and interventions remotely, and participating in the team discussions and the camp milieu. “We found it to be a powerful and amazing experience.” *

As a continuation of the OCB training model, Sharon and Marcy were invited to attend camp the following summer as clinical fellows, to co-lead one of the parent groups and assist clinical staff in family interventions.

“Working at the camp was an intense, exhausting, and rewarding experience. Working with the entire team (both clinical and milieu staff) in the camp milieu setting was powerful. The mode of working that we experienced is unique. The approach to treating the families is somewhat like a “boot camp” in that the entire time at camp is geared toward one goal, and is approached from many angles. Learning to go with the flow and think on your feet for twelve plus hours a day, how to work with a group in a milieu setting, while also individualizing treatment for each family, were skills that were developed. It was a training experience like no other, and what I feel is essential to experience in being able to run an weekend intensive for one family at a time.”

Encouraged by the OCB clinical team, and supported by OCB staff, Sharon and Marcy began working to bring an intensive program to their local jurisdiction in New Jersey. Because of the many challenges to implementing a safe and effective intensive program, and Sharon and Marcy’s desire to provide the best possible program they could, OCB “incubated” the intensive program in New Jersey.

Sharon, Marcy and OCB led the first intensive weekend program in New Jersey in September 2015. Sharon, Marcy and Robin Deutsch filled the clinical roles, and OCB provided support and supervision for all the aspects of the endeavor, including logistics of location, staff, paperwork, and clinical support from Dr. Deutsch.

“The weekend intensive went extremely well, and we really were able to solidify the skills that we learned by participating at camp. It was important to have this support, as while many of the skills and techniques are the same as what is done at camp, there are also differences and a greater intensity of therapeutic involvement. The family Intensive is a new concept to many attorneys, judges, and mental health practitioners, and it is important to demonstrate how helpful the program can be to families. To that end, intensives must be of high quality and run by professionals who understand the dynamics in these families and have the skills and experience to treat them. It is essential to have both a clinical and forensic background, as these are some of the most difficult families to treat. Conducting successful programs will result in Courts being interested in referring families in the early stages of alienation before it becomes too entrenched.”

Marcy and Sharon have been marketing the intensives through speaking engagements, the creation of a web presence, and brochures they have sent out to New Jersey family lawyers, judges, and other forensic mental health clinicians. Their new program is called “Building Family Resilience” and they have their first independent family intensive program scheduled for December.

“Experiencing both camp and an intensive is necessary in order to know how to approach intensive work and how to think on your feet and be creative for a multi-day treatment program. Observing and reading about this treatment is not the same as actually doing it.”

“This is not an area that a therapist should be entering without having had an extensive background in forensic family work. It is important to be well-seasoned in working with families in which a child refuses contact and to also be able to recognize when there is a situation of alienation versus realistic estrangement. Familiarity with research, experience working with the legal system (courts and attorneys) and devising parenting plans is essential. Experience in working with this high conflict and very litigious population is also very important.”

OCB is proud to have Sharon and Marcy among its first “graduates,” having completed the series of trainings from soup to nuts, now offering their own intensive programs and coming to camp once again in 2016, but this time as lead clinical faculty. They are a shining example of the successful completion of the OCB training model, in fact, they have been instrumental in the development of the training model, and OCB looks forward to continuing to partner with them in the future.

*All quotes were contributed by Sharon Ryan Montgomery, Psy.D., and Marcy Pasternak, Ph.D.

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Intensive Immersion Training 2015

Deadline for registration extended to November 24th, 2015.

This specialized program is for clinicians working with post-separation problems where children resist contact with a parent.  Trainees will have the unique opportunity to be immersed in an Overcoming Barriers Family Intensive Program guided by Drs. Robin Deutsch, Barbara Fidler and Peggie Ward.

December 3 & 4, 2015, at the Dex Media Hotel and Conference Center, conveniently located on the grounds of the Dallas airport.

For details including pricing and registration click here.

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