What to Expect in Couples Counseling

Starting counseling can be a daunting experience – especially couples counseling. In fact, most couples put it off until they just can’t take it anymore.

Managing Marital Conflict with Kids

If your kids can see you and your spouse manage conflict in a positive and healthy way, you will be teaching them valuable lessons about relationships.

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 6

pet

From the onset, a stepfamily has several moving parts that a first family doesn’t encounter. For the children in a stepfamily, it is an overwhelming amount of change and can feel destabilizing. Studies have shown that that the most disrupting factor for children is not divorce, but exposure to parental … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 5

Every family has it’s own unique culture. Family cultures include a set of belief systems that include aspects such as: how to spend money, how to spend time, what acceptable behaviors are and family traditions and rituals. When a stepfamily unites, they face the challenge of merging these cultures (Papernow, … Read More

Conflict in Marriage: Two Kinds

GROW Counseling

Conflict in marriage is what brings many couples into counseling. With two unique individuals coming together, values, opinions, and personality traits are bound to collide. According to John Gottman, a leading research scientist on marriage and family, all marital conflicts fall into one of two categories: either they can be … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 4

divorce

In newly formed stepfamilies, the standard advice that I give to the couple is for the parent to take the lead with discipline. There is a great deal of research supporting this stance. The most helpful role for step parents during the early years of stepfamily formation is to nurture … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 3

stepfamily

While the step-couple may be experiencing the bliss of their new relationship, children are likely experiencing a myriad of emotions.  When a stepfamily forms, changes often happen too quickly for the children. According to Dr. Patricia Papernow, this presents a common challenge that stepfamilies encounter: Children are dealing with losses, … Read More

Yours, Mine, and Ours: 5 Tips for Merging Two Families

families

When families blend and stepfamilies are created, it is not uncommon for problems or conflict to arise. This adjustment process comes with its own unique rewards and challenges. Research findings suggest that a stepfamily takes several years to develop into a family unit. In order to increase your best chance … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 2

stepfamily

One of the most frequent challenges I see with the step-couples that I work with is that one of them is struggling with feeling like an outsider in their own family. According to Dr. Patricia Papernow (2013), stuck insider/outsider positioning is a core challenge for the stepfamily. And for those … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 1

stepfamily

In her book, “Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t,” Patricia Papernow, EdD, discusses the five common challenges that a stepfamily can face and offers some straightforward guidance to help address them. In my work with stepfamilies and in my own stepfamily experiences, I have witnessed … Read More