We specialize in working with what we call Re-Formed Families, or blended/step-families. We help reformulate the rules and roles of this entirely new dynamic system.
We focus on normalizing, empathizing with and understanding re-formed family issues. The core issues of the insider/outsider and inclusion/exclusion phenomena lend themselves to polarized dynamics, so we cultivate better integration and family wholeness. We explore fears of abandonment, and the different ways members of a family show their love.
We bring awareness to and validation of the experience every member is having, particularly surrounding things being different. We do this by noticing what positions are taken. We encourage more movement toward safety and different configurations and alliances .
Collaborate on flexibility in new roles
Explore what is working/what is not
Reflect on tension that keeps members distant
Notice what is missing in the dialogue
Encourage reducing fear around sharing feelings
Explore unnoticed yearnings for contact
Notice what is being separate and what is being together
Mourn the loss of the past, embrace the creation of something new
A safe place to feel and heal the hurt
Talking about shame
Inquiring about the ‘shoulds’
Exploring what is the hope behind the need
Unpacking guilt from previous families and relationships
Noticing experiences of jealousy, competition, blame and resentment
Re-Formed families can move toward their goals by unpacking the fantasies around family integration and mourning the loss of the idealized family. We help families grow their awareness around unrealistic hopes and expectations, and instead cultivate what is possible. We explore issues around loyalty binds and scapegoating. We highlight the difference between being a biological parent and a step-parent.
Working with children and adolescents in re-formed families is essential to having a family experience that supports the integration of all members. Everyone needs to experience feeling they are worth being heard and understood. When members of a family are in the therapeutic setting, we can notice and acknowledge what the process is of meeting, connecting and separating. We validate the fears and grief children experience, whether from trauma, divorce, or growing pains. We also cultivate awareness of developmental stages for better parenting and we encourage increasing flexibility in all relationships.