How To Find A Good Stepfamily Therapist

Did you know that the wrong therapist can actually make your situation worse? It’s true! Watch this video for tips on how to find a qualified therapist to help you work through the most common stepfamily challenges.

Tell us what you think about this video. Have you ever worked with a therapist? Do you think it might help your stepfamily situation?


How to Find A Good Stepfamily Therapist | Video Transcript:

Hi there. I’m Brenda Ockun with StepMom Magazine and you’re watching StepMom-TV …because even when it’s good, it’s complicated.

If you’re watching this video I’m guessing it’s probably because you’re part of a stepfamily and stepfamilies are complicated! But more importantly, you’re probably watching this video because you are a strong person and you’ve made the important decision to call a trained professional. Someone who can help you work through the specific things that are happening in your life right now.

Deciding to consult with a therapist is a positive step in learning how to manage all the challenges that come with stepfamily life. But you have another really important decision to make and that’s to choose the right therapist.

The right therapist is someone who is trained in and understands stepfamily dynamics. Why? Because, second marriages and stepfamilies don’t operate anything like first-families.

Think about it. First families don’t have the same challenges that stepfamilies do. They don’t deal with ex-spouses, or have to worry about child support or kids in loyalty binds, or parental alienation, or co-parenting. None of it! So a therapist who treats your situation using the same principles and methods that apply to a first family model can actually do more harm than good. Let me repeat that: The wrong therapist can make your situation worse!

So here’s some information to help you find and select a good, qualified therapist:

One of the best ways to find a qualified therapist is to ask someone you trust for a referral. Remember though, you want to qualify this request by asking for referrals from friends or family members who have also worked with someone who understands stepfamily dynamics.

Another way to find a qualified therapist in your area is to use an online therapist locator. These are directories that provide local therapist contact information based on whatever zip code you enter. Websites like and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy can be great places to start.

One of the best ways to find help is to visit our therapist recommendations page. There you’ll find licensed therapists and certified stepfamily coaches. What’s especially great is that most of them offer phone and Skype sessions – so it doesn’t matter where you live you can still work with them. The bonus is they’re all members of stepfamilies, so they really get it!

Your first conversation with a therapist or stepfamily coach should feel like an interview. That’s right, you should interview this person. Grab a pen right now so that you can jot a few questions to ask them:

Got your pen? Here we go:
Are you licensed? Are you certified?
What type of training have you received?
What is your fee? Do you accept insurance?
How many years have you been in practice?
How many years have you been treating stepfamilies?
Are you part of a stepfamily yourself?
(It’s a bonus if they are!)
What stepfamily books or resources can you recommend?
(Be cautious if they can’t)
What are the most common stepfamily problems you treat?

Look for them to use terms like: outsider syndrome, parental alienation and role ambiguity. These are all clues that tell you they’ve been there, done that, and they can help you.

There are a few red flags to watch for when you interview a potential therapist. If the person you’re speaking with suggests that you should treat your stepkids just like they’re your own or that you should put the kids first above your needs and above your relationship with your partner. If they dismiss your feelings or make you feel like you’re overreacting, it’s probably best you keep looking.

The bottom line is that a good therapist will understand your situation and they’ll be able to explain why many of the things you’re feeling are actually quite common. They’ll help you understand your options and work with you to find realistic solutions. A good stepfamily therapist should help you to feel understood and empowered.

You deserve all that – and more!

Tell me what you think about this video. Have you ever worked with a therapist? Do you think it might help your stepfamily situation? Join our conversation by leaving a comment below.

If you found this video helpful, please help someone else by sharing it! For more tips and advice subscribe to our monthly magazine.

Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you here, next time, on StepMom-TV.

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8 thoughts on “How To Find A Good Stepfamily Therapist”

  1. Thank you, thank you!! I would love to find someone in orange county, ca. I am still looking. Our current therapist with our stepson asked bio parent, who does not live or is an active part in his life, to join the sessions, but I am left out (the one who is with him 24/7). I think it can be valuable for exes to be in the sessions with the kids, but we (stepparents) need our own safe place as well. We are not invisible and we are valuable! Thank you for the reminder.

    1. I am in Orange County, CA and am in search of a couples/family therapist that is familiar with blended families, prior to us all moving together, this summer! I would love any recommendations or sources to find a good person in the area.

  2. Absolutely agree.
    When I was looking for a counsellor for a specific reason, (grief) I first askedy local GP, then phoned the counsellor & ‘interviewed’ her.

    Lucky for me that same counsellor was also in a stepfamily, with kids, and had ‘been there/done that’ with pretty much all your typical step-family issues.

    I think it’s really important to ask the questions & move in if they don’t ‘fit’. Keep trying because it’s so worth it to find the right support.

  3. I loved this video and shared it with my BF. Do you know of any step family therapist in the hudson, wisconsin or st.paul, mn area?

  4. This is an excellent video. Great advise for those hunting down solutions for the people they love. A Step Family is complicated and nothing about it feels normal compared to how we were raised or what we have dreamed about. I know now that it can never be anything like that. My husband and I took many hours together in reading from experts, role playing, and having discussions about how we would handle our family, our goals, rules, expectations, honoring our marriage, etc.. Still, we were not prepared for what was to come.
    We spent a lot of time and money working with individuals who had no experience in a stepfamily. The confusion surrounding PAS as well as other things had taken its toll and was shooting holes through all of us. Where we live, there were not many options for counseling 9 years ago.
    I learned through my own certification process that therapists aren’t even required to take courses linking them to step family treatment. This is shocking to me with 70% of our nation being involved in a step family.
    This is important information. Thank you for your time and effort as it will surely help to aid others going through desperate situations. God Bless!

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