1st Edition

Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships What Works and What Doesn't

By Patricia L. Papernow Copyright 2013
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships draws on current research, a wide variety of clinical modalities, and thirty years of clinical work with stepfamily members to describe the special challenges stepfamilies face. The book presents the concept of "stepfamily architecture" and the five challenges it creates, and delineates three different levels of strategies—psychoeducation, building interpersonal skills, and intrapsychic work—for meeting those challenges in dozens of different settings.

    The model is designed to be useful both to stepfamily members themselves and to a wide variety of practitioners, from a highly trained clinician who needs to know how and when to work on all three levels, to a school counselor or clergy person who may work on the first two levels but refer out for level three. It will also be useful to educators, judges, mediators, lawyers and medical personnel who will practice on the first level, but need to understand the other two to guide their work.

    The Families  Key to Genograms  List of Figures  Acknowledgements  Part I: Laying the Foundation for Stepfamily Architecture  1. A Map for Stepfamilies  2. What Makes Stepfamilies Different?  Part II: The Five Challenges  3. The First Challenge: Insider/Outsider Positions are Intense and Stuck  4. The Second Challenge: Children Struggle With Losses, Loyalty Binds, and Too Much Change  5. The Third Challenge: Parenting Tasks Polarize the Adults  6. The Fourth Challenge: Creating a New Family Culture  7. The Fifth Challenge: Ex-Spouses are Part of the Family  Part III: Four "Diverse" Stepfamilies  8. Stepfamilies Headed by Lesbian and Gay Couples  9. African American Stepfamilies: Strengths We Can Learn From  10. The Challenges for Latino Stepfamilies  11. New Wrinkles: Later Life Cycle Stepfamilies  Part IV: Stepfamilies Over Time  12. The Stepfamily Cycle: Normal Stages of Stepfamily Development  13. Six Patterns of Becoming a Stepfamily  Part V: Helping Stepfamilies Thrive  14. Level I: A Tool Box for Psychoeducation  15. Level II: A Tool Box for Interpersonal Skills  16. Level III: A Tool Box for Intrapsychic Work  Becoming a Stepfamily is a Process, Not an Event  Working with Stepfamily Members Over Time  Conclusion  Endnotes  References


    Patricia L. Papernow, EdD, is a nationally recognized expert on stepfamilies, couples in "blended family" systems, and parenting after divorce. She also provides training and consultation throughout the US. Since 1981, she has been in private practice focusing on clinical supervision, and individual and couple therapy with adults.

    "Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships is the best clinical book ever written on the topic. Period. It is unique in recognizing the variety of forms of modern stepfamilies and their different treatment needs. And no one writes as eloquently and knowledgeably as Papernow about both the problematic patterns of stepfamilies and the rich variety of helpful interventions available to therapists. This compelling book should be part of the curriculum of every graduate training program and should be read by any therapist who works with couples and families."

    —Alan S. Gurman, PhD, visiting professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and clinical professor of psychology at the Family Institute at Northwestern University

    "This is a long awaited and extremely important book that is destined to be a classic. Written by a pioneer in the field who is in her fourth decade of studying and treating stepfamilies, it is a remarkable achievement filled with wisdom both for those who help stepfamilies and for those who live in them. It both authoritative, including all the relevant research, and engaging, sprinkled with clear and well-written examples and practical advice. It is also comprehensive, covering stepfamilies of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, stages of development, and suggesting interventions at a variety of levels. I recommend it to all my students and stepfamily clients."

    —Richard Schwartz, PhD, developer of the Internal Family Systems model

    "With Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships Patricia Papernow has written a book that does justice  to the complex issues involved here while at the same time being readable, accessible, down-to-earth, and most important, practical and chock full of what to do and how to do it in the face of problems and crises. This book is a great resource for both families and the clinical practitioners seeking to help them effectively. I highly recommend it to both groups."

    —Diana Fosha, PhD, developer of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy) and author of The Transforming Power of Affect

    “The book, and the outline of the stepfamily cycle, gives readers an organized way to identify challenges and find ways around them. Some chapters also offer tips on interpersonal skills and ways to openly communicate. …[H]ers is an easy-to-read book that can help clinicians as well as family members begin to understand the complex nature of stepfamilies. And, hopefully, help them begin to work together.”

    — Tamara Hill, MS, Psychcentral.com