Over the last 30 years, systemic approaches to family therapy have been largely successful at treating even the most intractable problems in family functioning. However, stepfamilies have long proven a particular challenge for family therapists. Recent research has confirmed that, given their unique dynamics, stepfamilies are vulnerable in a way that is distinct from typical "first-families," leaving them often resistant to traditional family therapy techniques.
In this book, Scott Browning and Elise Artelt integrate clinically validated interventions within an original theoretical framework for stepfamily therapy. They envision the stepfamily as comprised of subsystems, a series of overlapping relationships between individuals. This key insight enables clinicians to divide the stepfamily into more manageable units and plan treatment accordingly.
The authors guide readers through their 10-step model, emphasizing techniques that range from the conceptual — determining the unique structure of the stepfamily to help guide treatment — to more concrete interventions, from identifying and encouraging empathy, to identifying and challenging unhelpful beliefs, and assisting in work with co-parents. The importance of extended family members is stressed, as is the necessity of understanding and valuing racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity within stepfamilies. The ultimate goal is positive communication between family members, with subsystems that are fully integrated into a functioning and happy stepfamily.
As the first full, length investigation of clinical treatment with this important but underserved population, Stepfamily Therapy is a landmark publication in the field.