This concludes outlining four areas of self-awareness required for
effective service to these clients: (a) inner-family structure and leadership,
ruling subselves' key attitudes, (c) present vs. current knowledge status, and
Present vs. Required
The second self-awareness requisite is "How
much do I know now about working with these clients, compared to what I need
to know?" An effective way to answer that is to follow the links in
these quizzes about relationships,
grieving, parenting, and stepfamilies. Then
methodically follow the links in this article on four areas of requisite
special knowledge. Each time you get a summary popup window, follow the "More
detail" link at the bottom.
Adopt a long-range view, and philosophy "Progress
(at learning), not Perfection;"
Print and use these two pages as a checklist to
guide and note your learning progress.
Augment the quizzes and this article by studying
these questions and answers, browsing these
Solutions articles, and invest in one or
more of these selected titles over time.
Suggest some or all of this learning be included
in any in-service or training program in your workplace.
Personal Process Awareness
Here process means "What's going on
_ right now and _ over time (a) inside me, (b) inside the [client system + workplace
system], and (c) between us?" Useful tools to help increase your process
awareness in all three areas are:
Beside special knowledge of (A) human systems and (B) themselves, effective
professionals also need special...
Special Knowledge of the
In addition to "normal" counseling and therapy basics, effective professionals will want
to learn the following array of clinical topics. Many of them
apply to any client. I include them because (I believe) many
human-service professionals are not (a) aware of or (b) experienced with them.
See if you agree if effective professionals need to know these
special clinical assessment and intervention topics...
When, and Why to assess
_ a) Their
(what kind of client are they?), and _ the intervention
the work is beginning with.
_ b) How clearly client
spokespeople can articulate their presenting problems, and _ whether they're
aware yet of the primary problems causing them.
Since 1981, I have never met a client who was aware.
_ c) False-self
members, and co-parents' awareness of _ their
and _ how to
_ d) The client's _ home and _
and _ the adults' awareness of them.
_ e) The _ type
(absent > weak > strong, closed > open) and _ stability of client-system
and _ whether co-parents are aware of these as family strengths and
_ f) The adults' _
awareness and _ use of
_ basics and _
- specially how effective co-parents are at
general and family-related conflicts.
_ g) Whether client
co-parents _ can differentiate between
first-order and second-order
and _ whether they know how this difference applies to their presenting and underlying
_ h) adults' _
understanding and _ acceptance of stepfamily
basics, including their
significant risk of re/divorce because of
and _ knowledge of these myths and
_ i ) adults' _
awareness of and _ strategies for managing _
(priority) conflicts, and _ associated
_ k) possible
in grandparents' and co-parents' generations, _ whether any likely addicts
are in true recovery now or not, and _ the extent and accuracy of
co-parents' knowledge about addiction, recovery, and recovery resources;
_ l) the client's two
_ kids home, and _ kids visiting.
strengths and stressors,
and co-parents' awareness of each of these;
And effective professionals will also want to learn about
how, when, and why to
assess divorced and
stepfamily clients for...
acceptance and _ understanding its
_ o) Whether client
co-parents have a meaningful
and _ each co-parent's attitude about _ making and _ using such a statement
in guiding their family.
_ p) Whether each
re/married mate chose the right
to commit to, for the right
at the right
If not, knowing _ how to adjust intervention goals to help the couple grieve
lost re/marital dreams, and prepare themselves and their kids for probable
psychological or legal divorce.
_ q) The degree of
between co-parenting ex mates, and _ any significant
in and between related homes, including
_ r) How motivated each
client co-parent is to reduce any significant teamwork barriers, and _ how
effective their strategies have been recently;
_ s) Client-adults'
awareness of their biofamily-
tasks, _ their
status with these tasks, and _ any significant obstacles
(e.g. wounds, ignorance, grief-blocks, and/or co-parent barriers) to
progressing on their tasks.
_ t) Adults' _
understanding of healthy-grieving
basics; _ the causes, implications, and symptoms of blocked
grief; and their _ home's and _ nuclear family's pro-grief or
_ u) Significant
in kids and/or adults over _ childhood, _ biofamily, and _ stepfamily
losses (broken bonds), and _ the
impacts of any blocks on the recent family's nurturance level.
_ v) Client-adults'
awareness of stepchild _
developmental and _
needs, and _ the status of
each minor and adult child with their unique set of these needs.
_ x) Spouses' recent _
stated and _ demonstrated
and _ whether mates' solidly accept that their
remarriage needs to be (usually)
second (to personal
for long-term success. Restated: assess whether each client
bioparent wants to rank their marriage higher than their kids' short-term
needs in impasses without compromises
_ y) How satisfied co-parents and
kids are with current child _
financial-support arrangements, and _ how
well co-parents can resolve disputes over these.
_ z) Whether current and/or "ex"
relatives significantly support or
_ how effectively co-parents are coping with
any significant stressors.
These are common assessment factors
typical professionals need to know about for effective long-term outcomes with divorced and
stepfamily clients. Each item has related knowledge requisites about if,
how, and when to intervene with a given client family system. Once
these factors are assessed over time, professionals then need to know how to
_ separate and _ rank "significant
(presenting) problems" among the above, _ identify the
primary problems causing them, _ avoid
overwhelm and burn out, and _ weave these conclusions into an effective intervention strategy.
Clinical Knowledge about
addition to the special clinical assessment knowledge above, effective
professionals want to know how to help clients _ become aware of, _ accept,
_ rank, and _ reduce whichever of these 11
primary problems are relevant to their
situation. Clinicians will strategically choose among these interventions
based on a
given client family's
following can be misleading, because it is organized into discrete knowledge
areas. In the therapeutic process, clinicians will probably want to use the
following as a buffet to select from dynamically so applying these
interventions will overlap organically, rather than follow a rigid
"syllabus." The order of
these general interventions in the work is important: success with later
interventions depends on major progress with earlier ones.
Preparing Clients for
Note - the lay guidebook for topics
2-9 is Stepfamily
Courtship (Xlibris.com, 2003)
Know how to
stabilize any "crisis"
the client-family adults
are experiencing, and _ motivate them to continue therapy for long-term
benefits (all clients). This often manifests as helping all co-parents feel clear on and
hopeful about reducing presenting (surface) problems focusing on children
and/or ex mates. A special case of is knowing how to effectively (a)
stabilize stepfamily couples in major re/marital conflict, (b) clarify what each
partner's primary needs are now, and (c) provide a framework for _
separating safely, or _ re/divorcing
2) Know how and when to
non-crisis divorced or stepfamily co-parents for long-term successful
introducing the three common
of pre and post-re/marriage family therapy, and helping them see which phase
they're in; and...
_ encouraging the adults to
adopt (a) a patient,
vs. a short-term problem-solving focus; and to...
avoid rigid black-white thinking
and assumptions (signs of false-self dominance); and encouraging client
adopt the curious, open "mind of a
student" as they do this work
3) Know how and when to alert adult clients to
realities that affect their family and this
_ five common
and _ related (a) surface and
and (c) the concept of
first-order (superficial) and second-order (lasting)
_ how these hazards and problems relate -
specifically - to their current presenting (surface) problems; and how and
_ introduce the
can adapt to master their hazards and primary problems
over time. Then professionals need to know how to...
_ overcome any c/overt (false-self)
client "resistances" to the accepting and applying each of these
four core concepts to their situation.
Using the 12 Co-parent Safeguards
(Projects) to Create Second-Order Systemic Changes
_ initially assessing client type, phase, and primary problems; and _
preparing clients for lasting (second-order) changes, professionals need
Know how and when to
_ introduce and _ use
concepts (all clients):
_ a) Know _ the
justification for, _
goals of, and _ main steps in
_ b) Know how to describe _ family
_ an inner-family of subselves
(personality), and _ pseudo and true
from the six false-self
_ c) Know how and when to motivate client co-parents to
assess themselves and each other family co-parent
for significant wounds, and _ help each other to evolve and implement an
Know how, and when to
introduce and apply co-parent
_ a) Know _ the
justification for, _
goals of, and _ main
steps in Lesson 2;
Know when and how to present
_ strengths, and _ common
motivate client adults to learn and
apply these toward making second-order (lasting) changes
in each primary (vs. presenting) _ inner-family and _ physical-family
6) Know if, how, and when to introduce
i.e. to invite divorced and stepfamily co-parents to...
_ agree on (a) what a
is, and (b) who comprises their
This includes (c) knowing if, how, and when to _ describe what
are and _ how clients can
make and use one to
help with these two related projects;
as a normal
_ accept what their identity
to their adults and kids. A key meaning to alert clients to is that the ~ 60
structural and dynamic differences between
stepfamilies and intact ("traditional") biofamilies put co-parents (and
supporters) at risk of up to 60 unrealistic
expectations about their stepfamily roles and relationships.
_ accept that
each living or dead bioparent
of each minor and grown child is
of their nuclear divorced-family or stepfamily,
regardless of _ co-parenting involvement and/or _ ex-mate
_ know how and when to _ help
co-parents use a long-range
view to _ accept that wanting to overcome any
to effective co-parenting teamwork
(Lesson 7) helps raise their odds of _ forging a stable high-nurturance,
multi-home nuclear family and _ protecting themselves and their dependent
kids from the high risk of (re)divorce
7) Know how and when to introduce and apply
_ a) Know the _
justification for (benefits), _
goals of, and _
main steps comprising this healthy-grief
_ b) Know how and when to present
grieving basics, and the concepts of _
blocked grief, _ its
common impacts, and _ personal and family
(pro or anti-grief);
_ c) Know how and when to
motivate co-parents to identify key
losses each nuclear-family
adult and child has experienced (including ex mates and grandparents) from
_ childhood, _ biofamily reorganization from death or divorce, and _
_ d) Know how and when to facilitate client co-parents'...
assessing their members for
of blocked grief,
forming _ an effective family grief policy
and _ strategy to free any blocked grief over time, and...
implementing their strategy successfully
together as teammates (Topic 12). See
Topic 13 for locating and using
appropriate grief supports.
A key aspect of this clinical task is helping
clients see and accept the causal connection between psychological wounds +
ignorance + ineffective communication and significant grieving blocks in
adults and kids;
Recall - we're
outlining the fourth and last area of requisite special knowledge
professionals need to effectively _ assess and _ intervene with
typical divorced-family and stepfamily clients.
8) KNOW if, how, and when to introduce and apply
family mission statements:
_ present and illustrate the concepts
of personal, marital, and family
(goals), and _ relate them to the client's presenting and primary problems;
_ use the co-parents' long-term
attitude (1 above) to facilitate client co-parents evolving (a) personal and
(b) a family mission statement, and discussing them constructively with
other family members.
_ prepare clients to
statements as guides in implementing all relevant
in this self-improvement course.
Topic 9) Know how and when to
with _ courting and _ re/married co-parents:
|_ Review the five
and _ explain the concept of couples using these self-improvement
to avoid the fourth hazard - i.e. to enable each partner
(individually) to choose the
(plural) to re/wed, for the right
at the right
This is the single most
effective intervention professionals can make toward
protecting client families and
society from the long-lasting trauma of
_ Know how and when
to motivate courting couples to study and
discuss these common stepfamily
and general stepfamily ques-tions and answers.
_ Alert courting co-parents and their
supporters to _ typical stepkids'
needs, _ the 16 groups of things their
if they re/wed; and _ the common
to co-parenting teamwork they'll probably need to resolve together,
long-term, for everyone's sakes.
_ Know how and when to encourage
couples to rough-draft tentative
(including co-parenting ex-mates and/or relatives), to see what questions
and conflicts occur.
_ Know when and how to
courting couples to appropriate resources (e.g.
in this site and related guidebooks, and
these) to help them make informed re/marital deci-sions.
_ Know if, how, and when to
co-parents who minimize or ignore safeguards 1-7, and _ facilitate
their breaking significant false-self
that the five hazards really
to them and their kids, creating...
high odds of eventual psychological and
legal re/divorce and...
of existing and any future children.
I propose that all human-service professionals - specially clergy and
pre-marital counselors - have the same ethical responsibility to confront
this as they do with apparent client abuse, addictions, child neglect, and
Continue with more
special clinical-intervention knowledge that effective stepfamily