The combined uses of life cycle and structural family therapy with remarried families

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Klymkiw, Orysia Zora
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Working with remarried families presents the therapist with special challenges. The most obvious of these challenges is assessing the impact that the remarried family structure has on the family versus the impact of other factors. These families may be more vulnerable to stressors which are inherent in integrating members from varying life cycle phases and providing continuity between more than one household at the same time as trying to develop a sense of "family". Also, individual idiosyncratic factors influence remarried family functioning. This practicum describes the use of the life cycle perspective and structural family therapy in working with remarried families. As well, the work draws on findings from the evolving remarried family literature. The writer's experience with four of the families seen in therapy provides the basis for discussion. These family constellations are explored in detail including their unique challenges, goals and interventions. Emerging themes from all four families are discussed. Issues highlighted in the remarried family literature such as change and loss, divided loyalties, boundary issues, roles, and conflicting life cycle phases play out in these families. Most of the families presented with child focused problems. The writer examines the usefulness of structural family therapy and the developmental life cycle perspective with these families. Evaluation of the practice is made with the use of the use of the FAM III, Client Satisfaction Survey, and therapist observation. The last chapter reflects on the writer's practicum experience.