top of page
Adoration for strip 4opacity .jpg


Earn 6 CE Hours

  • Early Registration $149

  • Registration $169

at UC Irvine

Contact Us

(949) 464-0131

Email Us

Coleman-headshot 133.jpg

Joshua Coleman, PhD

Healing the Pain of Family Estrangement: Best Treatment Strategies and Common Pitfalls *
Saturday, October 21, 2023     9am - 4pm    6 CE Hours

Beckman Center, University of California Irvine


When adult children cut off ties with parents, family estrangement causes excruciating emotional pain and is usually shrouded in shame and secrecy. The field of psychology has largely ignored the realities of estranged parents or children in theory and practice. While therapists frequently encounter estranged parents and children in their practice, few have undergone training that adequately addresses the specificity of the trauma afflicting this population, facilitates clients’ growth, or enhances the likelihood of reconciliation. In fact, many therapists who provide guidance to estranged family members inadvertently worsen the estrangement by too quickly endorsing a cutoff as the solution to a toxic relationship with parents who are open to feedback and change.


Dr. Coleman offers us a comprehensive and practical day of training outlining both the causes and consequences of estrangement, steering away from shame and blame to  focusing on what needs to happen to create a path forward. He emphasizes that reconciliation is often a marathon, not a sprint, and that parents who aren’t open to self-examination, writing letters of amends, or empathizing with the child’s perspective or request for boundaries may doom themselves to continued estrangement.


Dr. Coleman offers extensive clinical wisdom and experience in demonstrating how to effectively work with the complexities of estrangement, powerfully challenging rigid beliefs while extending compassion for all parties. He provides therapists with a clear road map, the typical pitfalls and necessary steps towards repair. This is not a quick fix but you will leave the day much better equipped to work with these families.

The workshop will illuminate:

  • Common mistakes that therapists make in counseling these clients that tend to perpetuate clients’ feelings of shame, blame and guilt

  •  Obstacles that keep clients trapped in painful feelings of rejection, fear, guilt, and anger

  • Best treatment methods for overcoming the trauma that is evoked by the estrangement

  • Best strategies for facilitating a potential reconciliation


Learning Objectives

  • Define the 5 most common reasons for parental estrangement

  • Demonstrate knowledge of key intervention approaches with estranged parents

  • Explain the difference between estrangement and parental alienation

  • List the most common pitfalls therapists encounter with this population

  • Discuss the cultural changes that make estrangement more likely today

  • Explain best practices if the estranged parent or estranged adult child has mental illness


* This course is appropriate for both beginning and advanced clinicians.

Joshua Coleman, PhD, has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and is also a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families.


He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Behavioral Scientist, Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and more. A frequent guest on the Today Show and NPR, he has also been featured on Sesame Street and Good Morning America.


Dr. Coleman is the author of numerous articles and chapters and has written four books: The Rules of Estrangement; The Marriage Makeover: Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony; The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework; When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along.

bottom of page