Stepfamily Counseling

Nuclear Families Have it Hard, But Stepfamilies Often Have it Hardest

Stepfamily PuzzleThe relationships within any family are both complex and ever changing. Like a jigsaw puzzle, members of a family are interconnected in intricate ways. Because the demands of life, and we ourselves, change over time (particularly with regard to children), the way each person fits into the family is a state of constant flux. This process is challenging for any family, but it becomes vastly more difficult when forming a new stepfamily.

Blending families into a stepfamily group can be especially difficult, particularly during the first few years when new relationships are formed and roles in the emerging family are established. It is like combining the pieces of two jigsaw puzzles and somehow managing to get them to form a new picture that makes sense. The challenges are numerous and formidable. New stepparents can feel like an outsider as they struggle to find their place in the family. Shuttling children between multiple households adds strain to already busy schedules. Conflict with ex-spouses complicates co-parenting duties and puts a strain on the new couple's relationship. Other difficulties may include:

  • Lack of respect for stepparent by stepchildren
  • Feelings of being torn between birth children and a new spouse
  • Jealousy and conflict between step-siblings
  • Conflict between partners about how to discipline the children
  • Disappointment caused by unrealistic expectations

Why Seek Therapy?

If you recognize your blended family challenges in this description, you know that things can begin to feel like a frightening maze with no way out. Stepfamily counseling offers a way out by untangling the complicated causes of tension within blended families. Or, perhaps you are about to enter into a blended family and want to avoid the pitfalls above: many soon-to-be-stepparents seek stepfamily counseling to help smooth the road ahead.

The safe environment of the therapist’s office is a place where issues can be understood and addressed. I will partner with you to identify solutions to problems, establish a vision of hope for the future, and build a path to getting there. At times that path may be a straightforward one involving brief therapy, and other times it may take more time to reach your goals – but you ***can*** get there. Depending upon circumstances, family therapy sessions can involve all family members, a subset of family members, or just an individual. However, I regard the entire blended family as the client no matter who is in the room for a particular session.

What to Expect

Solving the Stepfamily PuzzleI believe a good fit between therapist and client is essential to successful therapy. During our initial consultation, I will meet with you to discuss the issues your family would like to address in therapy. You will come away from this meeting with a clear sense of how we can work together. The actual course of ongoing therapy varies according to your issues and your goals. I will patiently listen to you without judgment, and will work with you to solve your family problems, deepening understanding of the issues you face and the underlying causes, and exploring ways to begin living the life you choose.

Resources for Stepfamilies

Read the article about stepfamily therapy I wrote for the Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy newsletter here.

Links to my favorite stepfamily books on can be found here.

Gerry Presar, MS, LMFT
Individual, Couple, and Family Therapist
11415 NE 128th Street, Suite 100
Kirkland, WA 98034
Phone: 425-420-8420
Fax: 425-952-0135