Announcing Book from Oxford Detailing the OCB Approach

Family-Based Interventions For Children’s Resistance, Rejection and Alienation:

Overcoming Barriers and other Clinical Approaches

Edited by Drs. Abigail Judge & Robin Deutsch

This edited volume is intended for clinicians, legal professionals and other members of the family law community.

Chapters will first provide an overview of the current status of outpatient treatment for families in high conflict where children are at risk of losing a relationship with one parent. Then, the book will describe the OCB Approach as one example of a promising family-based intervention where dynamics of estrangement, rejection and alienation are present. Chapters on OCB include evaluation data, possible applications of the OCB approach beyond the camp setting and proposed directions for future research and practice.

Contributors to the book will include OCB Founders, Drs. Robin DeutschMatt Sullivan and Peggie Ward; respected author Dr. Barbara FidlerDr. Rebecca Bailey of Transitioning Families, Dr. Michael Saini of the University of Toronto; Dr. Abigail Judge of Harvard Medical School; and commentary by Professor Nicolas Bala, Dr. Janet Johnston, and Dr. Leslie Drozd.

The book is under contract with Oxford University Press and its anticipated publication date is early 2016.

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Arizona Reception

The Arizona Fund- and Aware-ness Raising Event 

A fun and educational success!

Thank you Sponsors!

Annette T. Burns, Esq.

Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada – Family Law

Professionals from the AZ Family Law Community came out to learn more about the OCB Approach and our upcoming Family Camp in AZ.

Overlooking the Phoenix horizon at sunset the AZ Team of Jack Moran, PhD; Michael Liebman, LPC; Judy Lewis-Thome, parenting educator; and camp director Jodi Woodnick provided a lovely, entertaining evening.

Our special guest was a mom whose family participated in the first OCB Family Camp in 2008.  She said, “Six years later, I believe I now have a relationship with my children because of Overcoming Barriers.”

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2014 Training Opportunities

New! Overcoming Barriers single-day seminar

Legal Issues and Family Interventions when Children Resist Contact with a Parent

San Francisco, September 13, 2014. 

Overcoming Barriers offers a single-day training to family court professionals at the downtown headquarters of the San Francisco Bar Association. This interdisciplinary training will explore the characteristics of high-conflict families and legal and mental health interventions where children are resisting contact with a parent.  The program will also explore the spectrum of interventions for these families and best practices for legal and mental health professionals who work on these cases.  Presenters:

Continuing education units will be available.  More information on our training page.

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Camp Memories Site

We are happy to announce a new sister site created for the “Common Ground,” the amazing group of kids who participate in the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp. This blog is intended to help kids remember the love that was present at camp and the connections that were made.

Check it out here:

The Overcoming Barriers Family Camp was created to help families get their kids out of the middle and we are grateful for the hard work of these families and their amazing kids.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Louisa May Alcott

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2014 Vermont Family Camp at Full Capacity

Update August 2014: Camp is complete!

Our dedicated “green shirt” program staff and expanding group of clinicians came from all over North America working with Drs. Robin DeutschBarbara Fidler, Peggie Ward and Matt Sullivan to provide an intensive experience at Common Ground Center in Vermont.

The Overcoming Barriers Family Camp is designed to help families where a child is at risk of losing a relationship with a parent.

Families came from California, Illinois, Canada, Massachusetts and Arizona to participate in psycho – educational morning groups and afternoon family interventions. Campers built safe connections in the Camp milieu during activities including arts and crafts, hiking, campfire and a talent show.  Parents who had not seen their children for some time were able to reconnect in a safe and supportive environment which includes a reknowned clinical team and an exceptional recreational staff.

In addition to supporting families in these challenging situations Overcoming Barriers is providing training to professionals from across the US and Canada in the Overcoming Barriers Approach to increase program accessibility both geographically and financially. In 2013 and 2014 Overcoming Barriers has trained seventeen clinicians at Camp.

As part of continued support for families, particularly the children who are caught in the middle, we have created a new Camp Memories page to remind them of the hard work and love present at Camp, and to help them remain connected to their experience.

Please read about the program and the intake process here:

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Reduced Tuition Application

Update June 26: Camp is at full capacity, consider Family Camp scheduled for October in Arizona

Reduced Tuition for Family Camp in Vermont – Overcoming Barriers is working to make programs more accessible to families.

Applications for reduced tuition must be received by June 10, 2014. Overcoming Barriers will offer reduced tuition to families based on their individual need and the available resources of Overcoming Barriers.

Reduced tuition 2014 Camp application including auxiliary documents:

  1. Declaration by Dr. Peggie Ward, 2014 Clinical Director for Family Camp, explaining details of the program (pages 4-5)
  2. Sample court order identifying the critical elements to be included in an agreement for participation in the program (pages 6-7)
  3. Application to be filled out by parent (pages 8-11)
  4. Intake agreement to be read, signed, and included with the submission of the application (page 12)


Reduced tuition applications should be working on a court order or have an agreement of both parents to attend the program in Vermont, July 14-18, 2014.

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Boston Reception

Waterworks Museum April 29th

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsors who made the Boston event possible!

Dee, Nick, and the Adams Family

Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada Family Law, LLP

Attendees joined us for a festive evening to learn more about Overcoming Barriers’ programs and trainings that help families in high-conflict divorce situations.

In an effort to raise awareness of this innovative approach co-founders Drs. Robin
Deutsch and Peggie Ward and Board President, San Francisco-based Hon. Marjorie Slabach
(ret.), presented about the organization’s work. They were then joined for an
interactive roundtable discussion with William Levine, Esq., Hon. Chouteau Levine
(ret.) and Vicki Shemin, Esq./LICSW about how to create a good professional team.

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Marin County Brown Bag Lunch

Overcoming Barriers Founder and Clinician Dr. Matt Sullivan will make a presentation about Overcoming Barriers program offerings during the Marin County Family Law Section monthly Brown Bag Lunch event.  Family lawyers and mental health professionals are welcome to attend, including from jurisdictions outside of Marin County.  Thank you to Richard Helzberg and the Marin County Family Law Section for arranging the event.

Tuesday March 18, 12 noon – 1:15 PM

Marin County Civic Center CourthouseCourtroom H (Floor C)


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San Francisco Reception

Board member Michèle Bissada at the Harding Gallery

The Harding Gallery at San Francisco’s Union Square hosted the Overcoming Barriers Winter Reception in early December. In attendance at the event were representatives from family law firms and mental health professionals from San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. We were honored to have Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Jan Johnston in attendance, two pioneers in the field of divorce and researching its impact on children.

Attendees enjoyed art, food, drink and connecting with other professionals in the field. Outgoing President of the Overcoming Barriers Board, founder and clinician Dr. Matt Sullivan presented on the challenges of working with families experiencing intractable conflict and the effects on their children. Massachusetts based founders Dr. Peggie Ward and Dr. Robin Deutsch presented on the elements of the Overcoming Barriers approach and ongoing work with evaluation and delivery of programs. Overcoming Barriers program staff were also on hand to discuss their experience working at programs.

Thank you event sponsors


Marjorie Slabach Private Judging


Hanson, Crawford & Crum Family Law Group

Lakin Spears, Attorneys at Law

Nachlis & Fink, An Association of Attorneys

Sherrol Cassedy & Matthew Sullivan


Berra, Stross & Wallacker, LLP

Chung & Romano, A Family Law Practice

Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada, LLP

Robert Simon, Ph.D.

Robin, Ferguson & Kempton, LLP

Seeley & Madigan, LLP

Sideman & Bancroft, LLP

The Suzie Thorn Foundation & Brent Seymour

Transitioning Families

Special thanks to Pug Wine and Peggy Bennington for donating wine for the event.



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Evaluation of Programs

Overcoming Barriers recently began a collaboration with Dr. Michael Saini, Associate Professor of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto (visit website here) to develop, implement and analyze a program evaluation of Overcoming Barriers’ programs. In the first pilot of the evaluation protocol, parents attending the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp in Vermont (July 2013) were asked to complete pre and post online surveys based on their experiences of attending the camp. In addition, the evaluation team completed individual interviews with both parents and children. The pilot evaluation also includes a six-month follow-up with each parent. It is anticipated that the pilot evaluation project will produce process and outcome data to inform interested parties about the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs in changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of participants. The pilot evaluation protocol was designed to be applicable for a range of intensive programs, including: the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp, Family Intensive, and other similar programs that will be operated by outside groups in the future. The results of the pilot evaluation will be published by the beginning of 2015.

The evaluation strategy has been developed based on the core mission and values of Overcoming Barriers in assisting families where a child is resisting contact with one parent.  Key evaluation questions have been developed to assist in monitoring and evaluating the impact of the program and expansion of services, including, but not limited to:

  • Relevance: Are Overcoming Barriers programs relevant to the stakeholders involved in family disputes (judges, lawyers, mental health professionals, children, parents, etc.)?
  • Program Implementation: How have these programs been implemented with reference to the original objectives?
  • Program Administration and Operation: Are the services offered administered and operated satisfactorily from the viewpoint of clients and stakeholders?
  • Impact: What impact have the programs had on the families and stakeholders engaged in family court matters?
  • Sustainability and Expansion: Are Overcoming Barriers programs adequately designed to support the development of new and expanding services as required?
  • Costs and Productivity: What are the costs of delivering the services and is there any evidence that the services are cost effective for families involved in family courts.

The development and implementation of the evaluation meets the urgent need to ensure that services offered to families involved in family courts are based on evidence-informed principles and guided by quality assurance for providing both efficient and effective services to help families resolve their disputes.

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