Who We Are and Why Choose Us?

Alison Bushell

Alison is the founder and director of CFS.  She now practices as an Independent Social Worker and Expert Witness in Family Law.

She deals exclusively with private law cases but offers consultation on public law matters cases when needed.

Having had nearly three decades of Local Authority social work experience, she is able to offer advice on working with most client groups, although her expertise is mainly in the field of Child Protection.  She has also been a Children’s Guardian- public and private law- for 10 of her years in social work.

She can offer parenting support and advice to groups or families as a stand alone service or as part of an ongoing work plan.  

Alison is a trained counsellor and has appreciable experience of mediation and conciliation work.

She is experienced in Court work and is a fully qualified paralegal and member of the Professional Paralegals Register. She is frequently recommended to offer expert assessments and intervention in complex and high conflict cases, some of which are now in the High Court.

She has skills in working with contact resistance and has successfully helped several estranged parents reunite with their child/ren including where unavoidable, effecting and moreover managing a transfer of residence for those children to ensure they are able to have a relationship with both parents. 

Alison however works to an ethos of shared parenting and is a member of the international organisation Leading Women for Shared Parenting. (http://lw4sp.org)

Whilst she has developed a specialism in assessing cases of alienation and hostile parenting, her focus is nonetheless on repairing and working therapeutically to resolve issues arising from strained parent child relationships. This therapeutic work involves exploring the roots of the problem by assessment of the adults’ attachment relationships and also undertaking direct work with children which include art and play therapy techniques built up over many years of working with families. 

Her work to repair broken family relationships and reunite children with estranged parents is now well known and she has recently been involved in resolving a long running public law case so that the child involved has returned to a shared care arrangement. The Local Authority Guardian spoke in his final report of the work having ‘exceeded in its success all professional expectations’.

Alison is experienced in dealing with diversity. She has advised parents in same sex relationships and is also able to assist in culturally complex matters in an informed and skilled way. 
She is also vigilant in challenging gender bias within the family court system. 

Her testimonials from both colleagues and clients attest to the respect she has built up in the Courts and to her good interpersonal skills. She has an energetic and solutions-focussed approach to the challenges of family law and consistently achieves good results for her clients.

She is now based in Suffolk but is able to cover most of the South and South East and has been known to cover cases further afield including international matters.
Hilary Trevelyan

Hilary is a motivated and experienced social worker who also has nearly two decades of social work practice experience, also with many client groups.

She is skilled in direct work with children and in assessing complex cases and providing child focussed solutions.

Hilary is able to take on assessments in public law proceedings and undertake assessments for Local Authorities.

She had a specialism in assessing for permanency and thus will manage the referrals for adoption and Special Guardian assessments. Her reports have been commended for their helpfulness.

In terms of Private Law proceedings, Hilary, like Alison, has been a Children’s Guardian and thus has appreciable experience of private law and conflict resolution.

Hilary works systemically to assist families and couples within work on an ongoing case or as a stand alone service.

Her testimonials speak to her skills with clients and her professional and focussed approach to practice.

She is based in Essex and can cover London and the East of England.

Ashley Pledger

Ashley works as a family support worker, as well as having "in Court" experience as a McKenzie Friend..She has a friendly and approachable and reassuring nature.

Ashley has a degree in Psychology with Criminology, during which she developed a particular interest in Attachment Theory, which is highly relevant when working closely with families. She understands the importance of a child having a relationship with both parents whenever that is possible, and is motivated to achieve this outcome.

Trish Barry-Relph

Trish has almost 4 decades of social work experience in children and families, was a joint interview trained ABE child protection social worker, trained as an ASW, and was warranted under 1983 Mental Health Act.

Trish has extensive experience in adult mental health working in CMHTs and in CAMHS working with children, young people and their families undertaking one to one and family assessments and delivering tailored clinical interventions.Trish has worked as a GP practice counsellor in primary care for many years. In addition to this Trish undertook a 10 year clinical training as a Humanistic Integrative Psychotherapist and trained in group analysis, becoming an associate member of the Group Analytic Society in London. Trish was a co-founding partner with a Jungian training analyst of a Private Psychotherapy clinic in Dorset which is still thriving 22 years on.

Trish worked as a clinician, a manager and a senior manager in Tier 2, Tier 3 specialist CAMHS and Tier 4 for 20 years. She had been Clinical Director of a Psychotherapy Service offering psychotherapy to adults who were sexually abused as children and to children who had been sexually abused. 

While completing her Professional Doctorate/MA in Advanced Social Work at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Clinic/University of East London Trish worked as a psychodynamic psychotherapist in the parents service and the adolescent department of the Tavistock clinic for many years. Trish initiated and chaired the service user and carer forum at the Tavistock clinic. She was the UK elected social work lead for children and families for the International Society for the Social and Psychological Treatment of the Psychoses for 5 years and has published articles.

Trish is a visiting lecturer at Bournemouth University, Winchester University, East London University and Kingston University in child protection, child observation, and emotional development, Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) Training and MA in strategic leadership and management. 

Trish has been working nationally as an independent expert witness in the family courts in both public and private law cases offering Special Guardianship assessments, parenting assessments across the South West, the South East and London as far afield as the isle of Jersey.  Trish has undertaken a number of Section 7 reports for private law proceedings.

Trish’s post qualification clinical training and experience has enabled her to bring a blend of psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, systemic and pysychosocial clinical expertise.  Trish creates bespoke therapeutic interventions for children, young people and their parents to fit with the assessed individual needs.

She has developed a specialist clinical service as a stand alone provision or as part of recommendations following Section 7 assessments and offers co-parenting conciliation work with parents, individual one to one work with children or young people and systemic family work with parents and children who have become estranged from each other.

Trish has undertaken the approved British Psychological Society’s training in the assessment and treatment of suspected or real parental alignment, alienation or estrangement.  Trish is a member of The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts AFCC an interdisciplinary, international association of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict.

Trish is based in Guildford and covers Surrey and Borders, London, the South East and South West. Trish is a legally professionally registered social worker in the Republic of Ireland and undertakes expert witness work within this jurisdiction. She is an assessor on the CORU Board for International Social Work qualification in the Republic of Ireland.

Stacey Alexander-Harriss

Stacey works as a contact supervisor and family support worker.  She is a lively, motivated and experienced in contact supervision in both private and public proceedings.

She has been commended for her empathic and sensitive approach to working with families. She is able to respond in creative ways to the challenges of the work and is specifically skilled in her communication with children of all ages, which is perhaps attributable to the fact that she is also a published children’s author.

Stacey is a diligent supervisor with a real awareness of safeguarding and has been commended for her very thorough reports.
Kevin Stroud

Kevin is an experienced social worker and manager who worked in local authority Children’s Services teams for 20 years before becoming an Independent Social Worker in 2016.

His local authority work included reporting in both public and private proceedings. His main areas of expertise are in child protection and permanency planning for children.

Kevin has a record of high standards of social work practice and management and a commitment to personal and organisational development. He has strong communication, assessment and reporting skills and engages instinctively with children and their families.

Since becoming an Independent Social Worker Kevin has undertaken Special Guardianship assessments, reported in private proceedings, acted as an Independent Person for registered children’s homes, supervised contact in high conflict cases and acted as an Independent Member of an adoption and permanency panel.

Kevin offers independence, integrity and innovation with a clear focus on good long term outcomes for children and their families. He is able to undertake a wide range of social work assessment and consultancy work.

He is based in Surrey and works primarily in London and the South East.

Wolsey Bonnick Jnr.

Wolsey has 20 years experience as a Youth Worker, which has given him a passion to help young people fulfill their potential.

Wolsey Jnr. has worked for the Youth Offending Service for over 11 years in various roles which have included mentoring, one to one programs, group work and Appropriate Adult. The age range is 11 - 17 years old. His role requires him to interact with parents and various agencies e.g. care homes, police social workers etc., to bring about the best outcomes for young people.

He is studying at The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust on a diploma course, which covers the emotional care of babies, children, young people and families. The course is designed for practitioners who work with children. The ethos of the Tavistock is to learn through observation; a variety of psychoanalytical concepts are also studied related to behavioral patterns.

Captain the Therapy Dog                                    

Captain is a 10 year old Jack Russell terrier. When he lived with Alison in London and was much younger he received some training to be a therapy dog and this means he is judged to be the correct temperament to work with children, elderly people etc.

He is gentle and playful and both children and their parents seem to love him.  

He is useful when there are young children who find it difficult to express complex feelings and his ‘listening ears’ have been appreciated by many young clients at times when speaking to an adult is just too difficult…

Captain is available to assist at an ‘icebreaker’ meeting and works well with our family support worker colleagues to make contact sessions more fun.  

He doesn’t charge for his services but appreciates treats. 

One mum reunited with her previously estranged little boy recently said this:

“Captain to me was my Hero!  He was there for me when I became extremely anxious on witnessing my son become very distressed during the first reunification period for us with Alison and her team. Captain seemed to feel the same, as he came to sit very close to me… so we comforted each other during this difficult time. I was just so glad he was there…he is a very special dog”.  

Robert Clifford

Robert works as a youth mentor and family support worker. He is newly engaged as a family support worker and so at present co-works in this role with our Independent Social Worker staff.

Robert has used his personal experiences in the care system in inform over 10 years of voluntary work with young people.

This has included international expeditions with youth charities, youth mentoring and research fellowships.

Professionally, in addition to this youth work, he has over eight years’ experience in the international development and consultancy. He has worked in executive management and operations across four continents, growing a technical specialism in supporting grassroots organisations.
His work has seen him support programmes covering education for street children, maternal and neonatal health, early child marriage, FGM, disabilities and SRHR (sexual reproductive health and rights).

Robert is a Fellow at the RSA and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, with whom he carried conducting international research into progressive uses of technology in the adoption of children.

Through personal and professional practice, he has developed rounded communications skills and an ability to form and manage successful relationships with children and adults.

He currently lives in the South West and is comfortable with travelling to support cases.

John Denbigh

John has assisted parents and grandparents as a McKenzie Friend in the Family Courts since 2002 and attended court at all levels in matters involving children.

He has dealt with cases involving: Adoption, Guardianship, Child Arrangement Orders, Prohibited Steps Orders; Specific Issues Orders and parental responsibility orders.  This has included exercising Rights of Audience on frequent occasions when the Courts have exercised judicial discretion to allow that. 

Prior to becoming a full time McKenzie Friend in 2010 John worked in a range of roles in the UK Civil Service, including a period in Government Legal Services, which gave him experience of litigation/legal and representational areas that strongly supported his role as a McKenzie Friend.

Personal experience in the Family Court in 2002 led John to provide support and advice as a McKenzie Friend/lay adviser in Family Law on a part time basis. In that role he gained comprehensive knowledge and experience of Children Act and Family Law Act proceedings.

Since 2010 John has operated full time in the role and consolidated relevant experience and knowledge through a combination of involvement with hundreds of court cases and the acquisition of relevant legal qualifications.

Based on John’s successful 16 years’ experience in Family Law proceedings, he frequently receives referrals from Family Law solicitors and barristers who he has been able to work with constructively to achieve desired outcomes for the litigants.

John is a member of Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family law professionals, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.

John holds the Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies, Common Practice Exam, Masters in Law and the Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, including the Family Law elective.

Jayshree Pillay

Jayshree is a highly motivated and versatile social worker with 20 years of experience in protecting and supporting children and their families. 

She has a strong background in family public law. She has also had a strong strategic managerial background frequently leading on key areas of children’s services such as  exploitation through gangs , county lines , child sexual exploitation and missing children. 

She has also devised and delivered bespoke training for elected members, senior leaders and multi agency professionals e.g police, health and education colleagues in the protection and support of vulnerable children. 

Having served many years in public law she is now choosing to specialise in complex family law cases and her lengthy professional association with Alison Bushell led her to begin working with CFS where she is able to undertake a variety of court and family work.

WHY CHOOSE US? - therapeutic social work and systemic therapy with families.

CFS has developed a specialism in cases where there is some evidence of hostile parenting and difficulties with contact and post separation care arrangements

Alison in particular has developed casework expertise in this area over many years having worked as a Guardian and now as an ISW almost exclusively with proceedings involving allegations of parental alienation and associated harm.  She has successfully reunited many children with an estranged parent and where this hasn’t been possible has successfully managed a change of residence for the children.

All our ISWs however are familiar with and some have specific training in this area of family law and understand the very specific needs of the children involved.

We are able to recognise the signs of children being caught between their parents and also to identify when a parent is actively preventing a child from enjoying a relationship with the other parent following separation.

We have been commended by judges, lawyers and psychologists for our sensitive yet robust approach to this particular family dysfunction and moreover for the good outcomes we achieve.


We are able to work intensively on a reunification plan for children who have been separated from a parent and where the attachment has been disrupted. Whilst many practitioners work on a daytime only basis we believe that to normalise contact and re-establish a fragmented attachment extended contact is sometime necessary. ( more details under what we do and also available on request)


Delay is known to be unhelpful in family cases and is inimical to the best interests of children within proceedings. The stress of court proceedings for all concerned is protracted when there is delay due to reports being ordered that can't start or when there is a wait to allocate an assessor. Here at CFS we are responsive and there is always someone able to begin work within a matter of two or three weeks, sometimes sooner. This also means that you wont usually need to wait to spend time with your children as we can offer almost immediate supervision of contact.


We are all skilled in direct work and trained in being able to engage with children to ascertain their wishes and feelings. With the many years of experience we all have within family work we have a wealth of tools and resources in order to help put the more nervous child at ease including those with complex special needs.

We sometimes utilise the calming and reassuring presence of Captain the therapy dog who works well with children and parents alike.

Children can exhibit different and complex reactions to their parents having separated, and we are able to assist and guide parents and carers in how best to manage this unsettling time for them. Between us we have many qualifications and much experience in systemic practice with families.


We have experience of managing international cases and have experience of working with interpreters and managing the demands of cultural and religious issues.
We can cover cases not in our immediate locality and have worked all over the UK as well as abroad.
We can assist with Leave to Remove applications and have considerable experience in the assessment of such cases.


Our ISWs are all HCPC registered, and are also members of NAGALRO, which means we have full professional indemnity insurance.
We receive professional supervision and we also practice peer supervision as a team.
We are committed to developing our professional practice in line with emerging research and case law and keep abreast of new developments in these areas.


We believe that children have the right to a relationship with both parents and that shared parenting is likely to best meet the needs of children whose parents have separated.

We actively challenge all forms of discrimination and we value diversity.  We take anti discriminatory social work practice into all our areas of expertise.

 We believe that conciliation and a collaborative approach can work even in the most entrenched situations if we gain the trust of the family involved.


© Copyright 2019 Child and Family Solutions LtdWeb Design By Toolkit Websites