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Online Training – Meeting the (Big!) Challenges for “Blended Families”: What Works and What Doesn’t

May 17 Login to Zoom 8:30am ; Training 8:45am-4:15pm (EST) $189, 6 CEUs Presenter: Dr. Patricia Papernow, EdD Psychology Virtual Event,

“Blended families” begin with such high hopes. However, all too often the adults find themselves facing unhappy “resistant” children, mired in unexpected and painful stepcouple ruptures, struggling with differences over everything from discipline to the “appropriate” cost of a pair of sneakers, and caught in tangles with ex-spouses. The longing captured in that language of “blended families” can add layers of shame to dashed hopes. Meanwhile children often feel quite misunderstood and alone.

Whether you work with individuals, couples, or families, with adults or with children, the intensity and complexity of the issues can be daunting. The good news is that there is solid, practical, evidence-based guidance about what works, and what doesn’t, to help stepfamily members meet their challenges.

This workshop will give you a framework that integrates over 40 years of research and clinical experience with a wide variety of therapeutic modalities on three levels: Psychoeducational, interpersonal, and intrapsychic/family-of-origin. You’ll leave with a clear map of the territory and a full box of tools for sowing realistic hope, softening conflict and forging connection, as well as a boat load of great handouts.

Registration for each workshop closes one day before the workshop date.

If you want to sign up for this course and missed the registration deadline, please don’t worry. You can still contact Gerri Baum at gerrib@theferentzinstitute.com or call 410-409-7061 to inquire about joining the class. We will do our best to accommodate you. We appreciate your interest in our workshops and look forward to seeing you soon!

The Ferentz Institute, Inc. is an approved sponsor of the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners for continuing education credits for licensed social workers in Maryland. CEU approval for all trainings is also granted to Psychologists, LCPC’s and MFT’s and approved by the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists and the Board of Examiners for Psychologists in Maryland. Reciprocity has also been granted for clinicians in Washington, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas.  If your state is not among this list, we encourage you to check with your state licensing board to see if they will grant reciprocity.
The Institute maintains full responsibility for all programming. In order to provide Category 1 CEUs for all of our trainings, the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners requires online workshops to be live, interactive, and experienced in real time. Therefore, none of our trainings are recorded for later viewing.


Learning Objectives

1. Describe several “easy wrong turns” therapists make in working with stepfamily members.
2. Recognize stepfamily challenges for children, parents, stepparents, and ex-spouses
3. Gain practical tools for meeting stepfamily challenges on three different levels: Psychoeducational, interpersonal, and intrapsychic
4. Describe what works (and what doesn’t) for parenting, stepparenting, and discipline in stepfamilies.


8:45 – 9:40

  • Introduction
    • Meet Gary and Claire
    • The numbers
  • Internal Family Systems 101
  • How Stepfamilies are Different
  • Stepfamilies Come in Many Forms
  • The Five Challenges
  • Three Levels of Clinical Work
    • Psychoeducational
    • Interpersonal
    • Intrapsychic

9:40 – 10:00

  • Meeting the Challenges
  • First Challenge: Insider/outsider positions are intense. And they are “stuck.”
    • Understanding insider/outsider challenges

10:00 – 10:10            BREAK

10:10 – 10:35

    • Meeting insider/outsider challenges: Practical steps on three levels

10:35 – 10:55

  • Demonstration

10:55 – 11:05              BREAK

11:05 – 11:20

  • Discussion and Questions

11:20 – 12:15 pm

  • Second Challenge: Children struggle with losses, loyalty binds, and change.
    • Understanding children’s challenges
    • Meeting children’s challenges: Practical steps on three levels

12:15 – 1:15 pm        LUNCH

1:15 – 1:30  pm

  • Discussion and Questions

1:30 – 2:00 pm

  • Third Challenge: Parenting tasks divide parents and stepparents
    • Understanding the challenges of parenting and stepparenting
    • Best practices for parenting, stepparenting, and discipline in stepfamilies

2:00 – 2:10 pm     BREAK

2:10 – 2:25

  • Fourth Challenge: Building a new stepfamily culture while respecting already-established cultures.
    • Understanding the challenge of building a sense of “we” in the presence of “us and them”
    • 3 levels of help for what works (and doesn’t) to build a new stepfamily culture

2:25 – 2:45 pm

  • Fifth Challenge: Ex-spouses are a permanent part of the family
    • Understanding the challenge
    • 3 levels of help for meeting the challenges of parenting across households

2:45 – 2:55 pm

  • Later-life Recouplers
    • The fantasy (“The dog is dead the kids are gone and it’s just us.”) vs. reality
    • Fraught father-daughter-new partner dynamics

2:55 – 3:05 pm     BREAK

3:05 – 3:35 pm

  • Demonstration and Discussion

3:35 – 3:45 pm

    • Stages of development in stepfamily relationships
    • Claire and Sam as a mature thriving stepfamily

3:45 – 4:00 pm

A silhouette of a family, under a bright sky, with the man holding a child high and the woman reaching ups and the other children looking up
"Patricia is Fantastic. Her energy is Beautiful "– Marilyn Murphy, LMSW

"Patricia offers a succinct and engaging presentation and teaching style. I appreciated her articulate presentation and deep knowledge about such a crucial topic." – Sean P. Daughtry, LICSW

"Wonderful teacher - the training was informative, clear, interactive, and very applicable to a range of clinical situations involving blended families." – Alexander Wheeler, PhD

"The presenter [Patricia] conveyed a strong commitment to this very important material through the information she shared as well as appropriate self-disclosure." – Ellen Mazer, LICSW