Family and Stepfamily Counseling
Family dynamics and issues, typically involving children, but also extended family and in-laws, can be even more complex than the adult couple’s dynamics and issues. This is a function of even more people being involved, thereby creating more complex patterns of interaction, as well as the potential for competing or split loyalties.
This happens exponentially in the case of stepfamilies, where children in particular feel torn by competing or split loyalties to each biological parent while also having to deal with one or two stepparents that pose additional challenges regarding emotional loyalties and a fear of alienating either or both biological parents. The structural challenges of stepfamily life therefore are even more complex than the challenges faced by in-tact biological families.
I take the same skills-training approach in family and stepfamily counseling that I take in marriage and couples counseling. My first goal is to teach core communication and other relationship skills from the research validated Relationship Enhancement® approach. My second goal is to use those skills and a structured dialogue process to enable your family to replace less than helpful patterns of interaction with more helpful ways of communicating that will enable you to address your family’s issues in a manner more likely to result in more satisfying relationships amongst all family members. An important sub-goal is to empower less empowered family members to find their voice so as to better balance power imbalances in the family, especially with children and adolescents. In the case of stepfamilies, I also provide perspective on the structural challenges and strategies that can assist you to function more smoothly and harmoniously as a stepfamily.