Live Seminar at Alliant University

Join us on Saturday, October 28th from 8:30am o 4:30pm

at Alliant University in San Diego, CA for a live seminar:

Overcoming Parent Child Contact Problems will be presented by


Matthew Sullivan, Ph.D.

Hon. Marjorie Slabach (Ret.)

Sherry Cassedy, JD, MA

all members of the Overcoming Barriers Board and Advisory Council and who have been rethinking ways to help families in conflict where a child resists or rejects a parent for decades.

 The Morning will include a full panel for Mental Health Professionals, Lawyers and Judges with topics:

  • Old problems, New concepts – the evolution of our thinking about parent-child contact problems.
  • How do these cases present to attorneys, judges and mental health professionals? How lawyers and judges can help.
  • Child interview (video demonstration)
  • The challenges of the Child’s Voice in these cases.
  • An Interdisciplinary team approach

The Afternoon session is an in-depth presentation for Mental Health Professionals with Dr. Matt Sullivan. Topics will include:

  • Interventions in child resistance cases; Structure of doing the work; court order and service agreement; balance, family systems, favored parent, fees,accountability for non-compliance.
  • Court-involved therapy – a specialized practice in high conflict shared custody
  • Video –  PC and child therapist
  • Continuum of intensity of legal and psychological interventions
  • Lessons Learned

8 hours Continuing Education Units for psychologists, MFTs, social workers and registered nurses sponsored and provided by Alliant University. (There is a separate 4 hour training on Domestic Violence being offered the day before. Please correspond with Katherine Gutierrez about it)

Cost is $175 and continental breakfast and lunch are included.

For more information and to register email Katherine Gutierrez at [email protected]

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High Conflict Coparenting Course for Mental Health Professionals

Overcoming Barriers, Inc. in collaboration with William James College is pleased to offer a new online multi-module course entitled

High Conflict Coparenting: Interventions for
Children’s Alignment and Resistance. 

Mental health professionals face significant challenges trying to assist families when a child is resisting contact with a parent after separation/divorce.

This 28-hour multi-module training provides an exciting opportunity for those working in the field and encountering these complex situations.

Through online presentations utilizing video clips illustrating work with a “typical family”, combined with extensive readings and a live 2-hour Q & A webinar, trainees will learn the nuts and bolts of how to work with the whole family.  From intake and contracting, to the role of the court and aftercare planning, the expert team will share its knowledge and experience working with these families. Modules will address how to work with each individual family member, with parent-child and parent-parent dyads and with the whole family.

The goals (Learning Objectives) of the training are to educate participants to:

  • Encourage constructive coparent communication
  • Show parents how to use conflict de-escalation strategies.
  • Teach coparents to self-regulate thoughts and statements reflecting harsh, rigid, black and white thinking.
  • Effect the coparenting dynamic from one of blame to shared responsibility
  • Allow each parent to express regret to one another and to the child(ren)
  • Help coparents to reframe the divorce story into a new narrative

The training team is comprised of members of the Overcoming Barriers Board of Directors and Advisory Council including the three OCB founding clinicians. All are experienced Clinical Psychologists and educators with decades of experience working with high conflict parenting and present and publish nationally and internationally.

Video Clip of Dr. Deutsch problem solving with the “children”

The Presenters include:

Robin M.Deutsch, Ph.D. ABPP
Barbara Jo Fidler, Ph.D, C.Psych
John A. Moran, Ph.D
Matthew Sullivan, Ph.D
Peggie Ward, Ph.D


Continuing Education Credits as well as the Registration and Administration of the Course will be provided by William James College.  For more information on CEs, Registration, Payment and Cancellation policies please visit their website here.

The 28-hour course fee is $750.

The course dates are:   September 11th – December 3rd, 2017 with live Q & A session with two of the presenters the week of December 4, 2017.    A second offering will be available in the spring of 2018.

Participants will be required to purchase the following text available from Amazon:

Overcoming Parent-Child Contact Problems: Family-Based Interventions for Resistance, Rejection and Alienation. (2016) Edited by Abigail M. Judge & Robin M. Deutsch. Oxford University Press.

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Overcoming Barriers responds to Washington Post Article

The Washington Post article dated May 14th mentions Overcoming Barriers in an article on interventions for High Conflict families.  You can read the article here.

Overcoming Barriers Letter to the Editor follows:

May 17, 2017

Dear Washington Post Editor,

We here at Overcoming Barriers were happy to see that the Washington Post in Cara Tabachniks’ article (“They were taken from their mom to rebond with their dad.  It didn’t go well”)  is addressing the issue of High Conflict Divorce where a child(ren) is resisting contact with a parent.

This is an escalating public health issue as it now affects almost 10% of divorced families in this country.  Overcoming Barriers, a 501 c 3 non-profit organization, utilizing the experience of our esteemed Board and Advisory Council, has endeavored in this past decade to raise awareness of the issue, provide direct service to families and educate mental health and legal professionals about the issue and how to help.

To that end we have created a multi module course to train mental health professionals how to identify the issue early and to work with the entire family.  All Overcoming Barriers programs implement the OCB Approach which includes working with all members of the separated or divorced family in the intervention.  This online training will join the publications and other resources Overcoming Barriers has developed in an effort to address this complex issue.

While we opted not to run our family camp this year we have not shuttered our doors as Ms.Tabachnik notes. Based on the decades of experience of our Clinical Team and information from our independently administered program evaluation we decided to review all aspects of our program in order to offer an even more effective program for all attendees.  Family Camp will be offered again in Vermont in 2018.

Although the costs of these programs may seem exorbitant, the cost of litigation far surpasses that of the available evidence-informed interventions.  The hope of Overcoming Barriers, many attorneys, and judges is to move these struggling families out of the courts and into the therapeutic model where they can begin to de-escalate the intractable conflict in which they find themselves.

As a retired Family Court Commissioner and Overcoming Barriers’ Board President I find this work and our innovative approach essential to the future of an emerging societal problem.


Hon. Marjorie Slabach (ret.)

Overcoming Barriers Board President

On behalf of the Overcoming Barriers’ Board and Advisory Council

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Seminar for Judges and Attorneys!


SHGA Logo&

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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