Understanding and working with Stepfamilies

Module Sections:

Introduction and Pre-Test

Welcome to the Stepfamilies Course


This Family Issues module is focused on stepfamilies. It seems appropriate that the first Family Issues module will address a situation that most therapists have experience with both professionally and personally. Although the literature uses various terms to refer to stepfamilies (blended families, reconstituted families, etc.) throughout this module, we will refer to the family as "stepfamily." Most of this terminology was developed to reduce the stigma and negative connotations society has attached to stepfamilies, especially the stepmother. The term stepfamily was actually developed to more clearly depict family member positions including: stepfather, stepmother, stepchild, stepsibling, etc. (Ganong & Coleman, 2004).

We recognize that some of the issues we present in the Family Issues section may have a personal impact upon us. Therefore, as you proceed through these modules you may want to use your journal to reflect on personal experiences as they relate to your professional work.  There is also a resource tab to explore topics for further study.

The structure of this module will guide your exploration of applicable, therapeutic issues of working with stepfamilies through the following:

  1. Establishing a common ground of terminology and a lens through which to view the complexities and unique characteristics of stepfamilies.
  2. Utilizing a unifying framework to organize the complex dynamics involved in the process of therapy with stepfamilies
  3. Applying your personal theoretical framework to a family vignette and working through how unique characteristics of stepfamilies are organized through the blending of two familiar theoretical models.
  4. Creating a journal of your personal responses and reflections

Audio Companion: Understanding Stepfamilies