Stepfamily Therapy in Practice

Stepfamilies and first families have markedly different dynamics and developmental cycles, and clinicians too often approach stepfamily work with insufficient understanding of these differences. Scott Browning's stepfamily therapy model differs from standard practice in its emphasis on stabilising each family subsystem before moving on to more integrative work with the whole stepfamily. This model holds that stepfamilies are especially aided by comprehending the systemic dynamics that influence them, and that this understanding mitigates frustration with differences in personality style and leads to recognising the importance of every family member's role. Specific interventions used by the therapist normalise the experiences of family members, which helps to shift perceptions and clarify intentions. In this demonstration, Dr. Browning helps a stepfamily to normalise their experience, increase empathy among stepfamily members, identify mistaken beliefs and misperceptions that cause tension, and uncover techniques to avert issues that create impasses.