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

December 12 Login to Zoom 8:30am ; Training 8:45am-4:15pm (EST) $179, 6 CEUs Presenter: Dr. Patricia Papernow, EdD Psychology Zoom, MD + Google Map

“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.

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, and Texas. The Institute also 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

Photo of mother and father with stepson and stepdaughter
"I liked [Patricia's] her warmth, and wealth of knowledge, and approachability." ~Edina Adler, LCSW, Mediator

"Patricia was very engaging and offered a truly interactive experience. She is clearly very knowledgeable on this topic." ~Amy L. Whitesel, Ph.D., LCSW-C

"Dr. Papernow is a highly-skilled, empathetic, engaging and clear communicator who is able to connect with the audience in powerful and meaningful ways. Her examples, handouts and years of clinical experience will most definitely assist me in my work with clients moving forward. Thank you so much! ~ Hayley B. Sherwood, Ph.D.

"Patricia Papernow is very clear, her presence and engagement with participants is natural; she creates safety, invites questions and feedback, makes room for questions along the way, is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the content. Supportive of sharing handouts with other clinicians, and includes handouts to give to clients. Amazing amount of resources given to us.
Thank YOU!" ~Teri Freeman, LMHC