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Smart Stepfamilies

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Counselor Quick Links



Equipping You to Counsel Stepfamilies



Don't be part of the problem. One study found that half of subjects in therapy suffered from the treatment received because their clinician lacked specific knowledge about common stepfamily dynamics. Prepare yourself to be an asset, not a liability. Click the video to the right to watch three successive videos with Ron Deal talking about working with stepfamily couples (or click the playlist button to select the one you want to watch). 
Pasley, K. , Rhoden, L., Visher, E.B., & Visher, J. S. (1996).  Successful stepfamily therapy: Client’s perspectives.  Journal of Marriage and the family, 22, 343-357.] 


Key articles & web-based resources:

·    Pre-Stepfamily Counseling, Marital Therapy, & Prepare-Enrich - three YouTube training videos watch here  

·    Therapy with Stepfamilies– article by Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC providing an overview of remarriage and stepfamily assessment and intervention. An essential guide for learning how to counsel stepfamilies.

·    Stepfamily Developmental Tasks– download a PDF quick reference guide by Ron L. Deal describing the key developmental tasks for stepfamilies over three periods of time: before the wedding, during the integration years (first 7 years), and beyond 8 years of marriage. Plus, separate charts describe the tasks of stepfamilies following death, divorce, and an out-of-wedlock birth. Ron candidly calls this his “cheat sheet” for ministry leaders and therapists.

·    Couple Checkup inventory – have dating, engaged, and remarried couple’s take the online Couple Checkup (powered by PREPARE/ENRICH) before or during treatment. You will get an x-ray of their strengths and couples’ receive dynamic feedback (and intervention) for their relationship. Counselors may choose to use the more detailed version PREPARE/ENRICH (visit www.prepare-enrich.com).

·    Pre-Stepfamily Counseling– learn how preparing couples for stepfamily living is different than first-marriage premarital counseling and see a sample 10-session format.

·    Stepfamily Ministry– encourage your congregation to build a supportive, educational ministry to couples in stepfamilies. Learn about available resources and how to structure the ministry here.

·    Marriage Intensives – difficult cases and crisis couple’s may benefit from a 2 or 3-day Marriage Therapy Intensive with Ron L. Deal. He will work with you to provide after care following the intensive.

·    Therapy with Stepfamilies trainingfind training workshops throughout the country here...

·    Recommended Resources – includes a list of web sites, books, and video resources for both clients and therapists.

·    Statistics on Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage in America.

·    Stay abreast of research - read Ron's article Monitoring the Impact of Divorce and Remarriage on Families or print this Building Smart Stepfamilies article for a colleague or pastor. 



Key Interventions: depending on the client system’s needs, these links may be helpful to you as you counsel the couple, children, or family. For your convenience, a Client Quick Links page has also been created. Refer your clients here... and print this Help for Blended Families tipsheet for them.

The premier stepfamily educational tool


Psychoeducational interventions prove very helpful with stepfamilies because couples gain perspective and understanding as to the dynamics impacting their family. You can suggest they:

1.  Watch an online TV program (click here)

2.  Read or listen to one of our resources (e.g., The Smart Stepfamily)

3.  Watch The Smart Stepfamily DVD series (available from FamilyLife)

4.  Attend a live conference event

5.  Read an online article at our web site (see below)

·         Read & discuss with your clients: Parent & Stepparent Roles Chart

·         Read & share with your clients: How to Cook a Stepfamily

·         Articles for Dating Couples

·         Articles on a variety of subjects for Couples and Stepfamilies



LEARN - Videos & Articles

EXPERIENCE - Conferences & Cruises

SAVE - Marriage Therapy Intensives

GROW - Get a Couple Checkup

EDUCATE - Blended Family Ministry & Professional Training