Course: Treating Stepfamilies
Instructor: Scott Browning, Ph.D., ABPP
Approved for 3.0 Hours of CE Credit
Fulfills License Requirements
High Resolution Video
This course outlines a treatment approach for treating stepfamilies. Based on his co-authored book Stepfamily Therapy: A Ten Step Clinical Approach (Browning & Artelt, 2012), American Psychological Association), Scott Browning will examine what systemic dynamics make the “stepfamily,” a unique family form, and how a clinician adjusts their clinical work to best serve these complex families.
This approach is designed to contain the anxiety commonly experienced by stepfamilies in distress. Clinical interventions, case conceptualization and use of the genogram, will be described with video used to clarify these tools.
Many stepfamily members are perplexed by stressful dynamics and hurt feelings that seem to appear quickly after a remarriage or living together. Thus, it is imperative that the clinician be aware of the common systemic patterns that often emerge in these newly formed stepfamilies. An awareness of these dynamics allows the clinician to effectively normalize the experience of many in stepfamilies and begins the process of adjustment.
Importantly, family therapy (as a field), has some techniques that worked well with many first union families, but are unhelpful in treating stepfamilies. These interventions are discussed and alternative methods of treatment are expanded.
While subsystem work has become increasingly common in family therapy, such an approach is critical when working with stepfamilies. Practical issues around shared confidentiality will be discussed as a foundational aspect of effective and ethical subsystem work. While the general treatment issues of stepfamily therapy will be the focus of this course, additional topics, such as step-grandparents, cultural issues in stepfamilies, and extended family concerns, will be examined.
Goals & Objectives:
At the conclusion of this program:
- Participants will be aware of the features and dynamics that make stepfamilies unique from first union families.
- Participants will be aware of traditional family therapy interventions that are poorly suited to treating stepfamilies.
- Participants will have a clear protocol to engage stepfamilies in therapy that stabilizes the stepfamily, one subsystem at a time.