* Is living in a Blended Family or a Stepfamily “more than you bargained for?”
* Does step parenting feel like the most challenging and thankless job of all?
* Is the tension and conflict taking its toll on your relationships
* Are you becoming worried about your children and their well-being?
* Are you constantly arguing with your partner about the kids, discipline and parenting in general?
• Is your ex or your partner's ex causing real problems in your blended family and in your relationship
• Are you at the end of your rope and need some answers NOW
* Are you considering entering into a Blended Family or Stepfamily and want to be prepared?
How We Do It
We use an educational and organizational model in our work with families. Our approach is directive and solution focused. Much of our work is based on the research and achievements of Jeannette Lofas, PhD, LCSW, Founder and President of the Stepfamily Foundation Inc., headquartered in New York City. www.stepfamily.org Jeannette has been a pioneer in this field since the early 1970's and has authored several valuable books found on the Books and Resources Section of her site.
Traditional family therapy, which is often non-directive and "feeling" oriented, doesn't take into account the unique dynamics and behaviors that characterize stepfamilies. While "feelings" are acknowledged and respected, we focus on reaching forward, and getting to the solutions that will enable families to function effectively. (Stepfamily Foundation, Inc.)
With an increased awareness of the challenges, the tools to address these, and the motivation to work hard, comes the power to improve our life situations. "When you know better, you do better" is one of our favorite mottos.
How We Work - Our Methodology
We focus on: Increasing awareness, Establishing structures, Enhancing understanding and Developing skills that allow our clients:
To adequately assess the challenges of living in stepfamily before entering into the situation
To navigate the turbulent waters that they find themselves in once they have already entered the step situation.
Understanding the specific behaviors and dynamics common to divorce and stepfamily systems, is essential to the survival of everyone involved. We educate our clients to the fact that “the step system cannot and will not function, as does a biological family” (The Stepfamily Foundation, Inc.) We teach couples how to partner and work together in the context of the stepfamily.
The group format brings together individuals and couples who have similar roles and experiences in the step situation. For example: One group would involve women who are planning a relationship with men who have children; another group would be comprised of couples already in the midst of stepparent life and struggling to find some answers.
The group format works well because it offers education and support, not only from the group leaders, but from other group members as well. It is also a more economical way for participants to get the help they need.
For couples and families that require more intensive counseling and support to sort out their issues, we work directly with their families to establish a plan uniquely suited to their needs.
The following points outline key principles of the approach developed and tested by the Stepfamily Foundation in their work with individuals, couples and families.
(The Stepfamily Foundation, Inc.)
“We ask the couple to separately define their vision and their wishes as to just "HOW" they want their family to function. We coach couples to respect each other's point of view. Our model is positive and forward- looking. We are mindful that we are merging two family systems - two family systems with different ways of functioning, different ways of looking at the family, at the world, and at God (if applicable)”
“We ask each partner to describe his/her point of view, and we honor both. Often there is an A Reality and a B Reality and most often we must form a C Reality to create an new orderly family system in which all family members learn to function in a positive and healthy manner.”
“Using an organizational approach, we develop a structure that contains an action plan and job descriptions including the roles, rules, responsibilities and contributions of each member of the in-house family as well as the visiting children. We facilitate issues such as the allocation of time, energy and money from each person's point of view.”
“We build couple strength, and teach the unique communication skills necessary in a step or blended family system. In addition, we address a variety of other issues including visitation, the prior spouse, co-parenting and so much more.”
“We work with the family to create a positive action plan. Each session, we identify a specific issue relevant to the family system, and work to obtain a solution to that issue within the time frame of the session. Most clients complete their work in about 5-8 sessions.”
Full Acknowledgement given to Jeanette Lofas, Ph,D, LCSW, Founder and President of the Stepfamily Foundation Inc. headquartered in New York City.
For more information about the Stepfamily Foundation, their approach, programs and many resources,
please click here: www.stepfamily.org