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Treating Step and Remarried Families

Challenges in Differentiation


AAMFT Winter Institute in Advanced Clinical Training

Ruth Morehouse, Ph.D.


 Remarriage provides an opportunity for a fresh start in life but is often fraught with conflicting loyalties, integrity struggles over differing values, and accentuation of emotional fusion between parents and children.  Effectively dealing with these high intensity issues requires therapists to be firmly grounded in systemic thinking and to use a therapeutic approach that can be applied equally effectively to couples, children, the entire new nuclear family and the increasingly complex extended family system.   The Crucible Approach®, a differentiation based therapy which focuses on the Four Points of Balance® provides a reliable framework for understanding step family dynamics and facilitates successfully working through varied  issues ranging from parenting styles, conflict with biological parents, sexuality , intrusive in-laws, and developing non-traditional family units.

In this institute, Dr. Ruth Morehouse will effectively weave together three important themes: current research about stepfamilies  and an explanation of  the myriad issues occurring as clients try to build new family constellations; the efficacy  of a differentiation based therapy approach to address these issues; and a strong emphasis on clinical application. Through case examples, discussion, brief demonstrations by the presenter, and guided active-learning approaches, the participants will explore

Crucible interventions such as working close in,  maintaining a balanced therapeutic alliance;  helping couples develop a collaborative alliance around step parenting issues;  and working with step family conflicts  in a manner that enhances differentiation and increases the well-being of  all those involved.    

For more information go to the AAMFT website and look for information about 2011 Winter Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.