By Shauna Zotalis, M.A.
Remarried is the new married. And blended families are more or less the new family structure.
But these complex family systems are confronted with a lot of challenges and do not have access to enough information and resources to help them manage the struggles of blending, which sadly contributes to the even higher dissolution rate than first marriages putting it at approximately 60%.
To help better prepare families for the challenges of merging before it happens, I created and offer a Pre-Blending Family Therapy. This style of family therapy is similar to premarital counseling and aims to help the couple and family proactively by:
- providing information on what to expect,
- discussing common problems blended families experience, and
- offering potential solutions to difficulties they face
The Pre-Blending Family Therapy that I offer was inspired by a research article by Jaymes Gonzales and based on my personal experiences of blended families as both a child and adult, as well as my clinical experience and research. Made up of about 10 sessions, the counseling program includes a mixture of individual, couples, and family sessions and focuses on:
- solidifying the couple relationship,
- disseminating information about blended family challenges and its typical life cycle,
- processing grief and loss for parents and children, and
- developing a shared vision for the new family unit
As someone who has experienced the best and the worst of blended families and wants to ensure the success of her second marriage as well as yours, my goal is for this type of family therapy to help others know what to expect and figure out how to handle the knowable roadblocks ahead in the “new American family”—the blended, nontraditional one.
If you’re ready to blend your family with intention and support, get in touch today.
Bray, J. H., & Kelly, J. (1998). Stepfamilies: Love, marriage, and parenting in the first decade. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
Cartwright, C. (2010). Preparing to repartner and live in a stepfamily: An exploratory investigation. Journal of Family Studies, 16(3), 237-250.
Gonzales, J. (2009). Prefamily counseling: Working with blended families. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(2), 148-157.
Visher, E. B. (1994). Lessons from remarriage families. American Journal of Family Therapy, 22(4), 327-336