Toward effective service to wounded persons and low-nurturance family clients

Requisite 5) Selected  Resources
for Human-service proiders and clients

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


  The Web address of this article is

       This article outlines the last requisite for effective service to these six kinds of family client - special resources for clients and clinical professionals.

        One of five common relationship hazards for American single and stepfamily co-parents is
[ unawareness + ignorance (lack of knowledge) ]. Typical co-parents don't know what they need to know about relationships, healthy grieving, effective communication, and stepfamily basics. So an ongoing part of clinical work is assessing how much client adults and other involved professionals know about these topics, and providing and/or referring them to selected print, media, and organizational resources.

        For cost-effective long-term service to these clients, typical human-service professionals and their organizations need to augment existing resources with...

a referral network of qualified (a) human and (b) media resources, and...

an inventory of educational materials for (a) divorced-family and stepfamily clients and (b) unqualified colleagues in related disciplines.

        This article outlines typical resources for (a) professionals and (b) these clients in both categories.

colorbutton.gif Human Resources

        These six types of client family are usually more complex, stressed, and needy than other types. Therefore, they and their therapists often need several kinds of qualified lay and professional support as the work unfolds. Qualified means...

  • "knowledgeable and experienced enough in their specialty and in...

  • each of the four requisite knowledge domains; and...

  • usually guided by their true Self ."

Implication: to build an effective referral network of human resources, therapists, supervisors, and administrators must be qualified themselves.

Typical Client-families May Need: Professionals Need:
  • a qualified pre-re/marriage counselor

  • a qualified family-life educator

  • a qualified grief (a) specialist and (b) support group

  • a qualified trauma-recovery (a) clinician and (b) support group/s

  • a qualified child therapist, tutor, and/or big brother/sister

  • a qualified clergyperson or pastoral counselor

  • a liberal (recovery-oriented) church

  • a qualified professional mediator

  • a qualified school counselor/social worker

  • a qualified financial advisor (for estate planning, taxes, wills, and insurance)

  • a qualified wholistic psychiatrist, family doctor, and/or clinic

  • a qualified pharmacist and/or dietician

  • a high-nurturance co-parent support group

  • a qualified addiction /intervention specialist

  • appropriate 12-step recovery groups

  • qualified local law-enforcement officials

  • a qualified hospice worker

  • A qualified supervisor and administration

  • Qualified in-service instructors

  • An qualified intake worker or staff

  • Qualified co-therapists and consultants

  • A qualified case-consultation / support group, and...

  • Access to each of these client resources

        Most communities have one or more licensed professionals in the categories above. The challenge is for therapists to evaluate each of them to see if...

  • they're usually guided by their true Self ,

  • have requisite attitudes, and...

  • they know enough about typical divorced-family and stepfamily _ systems and _ their common surface and underlying primary problems (needs).

        Because most human-service professionals aren't aware of or trained in these three areas and don't know they need these requisites (or where to get them), typical clinicians must choose whether to refer co-parents to unqualified specialists, and/or proactively motivate local specialists to self-qualify for effective work with divorced and stepfamily co-parents and their kids and kin.

        The inherent challenge here in building an effective, qualified human-resource network is that _ most professionals (and their schools and licensing bodies), and _ typical co-parent-clients believe they know enough, and see no need to qualify. Their ignorance and wounds are self-replicating. Recall: one of five widespread hazards for these at-risk families is adult unawareness .

        1) Whether in working individually or part of a formal or informal case team, most stepfamily professionals need the consistent sensitive support of an informed supervisor, case manager, and/or clinical program director.

        By definition, such a person needs to have most of these five sets of special attributes to provide effec-tive support to the primary professional/s. Such people need their own informed support from their superiors, boards, administrators, policy makers, and funders.

        2) Skilled, informed intake workers can save direct-service professionals valuable time by taking and gross-evaluating complex information about new client families. Organizational and clinical directors can significantly support their staffs - and clients - by hiring, training, and supervising such workers. "Standard" intake protocols designed by people unfamiliar with the key ideas at this site (or equivalent) are likely to miss much significant information, because of the unique, complex nature of stepfamilies.  

         3) As with other multi-problem clients, stepfamily professionals need competent, informed professional consultation support from other knowledgeable, objective, undistracted, professionals directed by their true Selves

        This support needs to be from (a) available worksite colleagues, as in a regular case review or consultation group, and (b) strategically, from similar other-discipline colleagues. For example, stepfamily cases often need situational (problem-oriented) integrated inputs from teachers and school counselors, family-law practitioners, (including professional mediators), psychological evaluators, doctors and nutritionists, pastoral advisors, and sometimes financial professionals. 

        Because the range of "regular" + special knowledge and skills required by these clients is so broad, a provider or case team - including co-therapists - is often the most cost-effective way of providing the full range of skills in an integrated way.

        4) Human-service professionals urgently need an integrated educational program  and related resources available in their workplace. Alternatively, they need those from their national or local professional organization (e.g. NASW, APA, ABA, or AMA) and/or their state's human-services department.

        The resources - like a library - need to cover both clients' special needs, and the professionals' own needs. These needs often include the names, credentials, and contact options of a range of local professional specialists who are known to provide empathic, informed service to divorced-family and stepfamily clients.

        5) Direct-service professionals need national, state, association, and local-organization policy support to work effectively with divorced-family and stepfamily clients. Fully effective clinical work usually passes through at least three phases, over many months and visits.

        An EAP or HMO policy (for example) that limits the number of paid clinical visits for stepfamily "problem" to - say - six or eight hours or visits - will probably frustrate everyone involved unless the problem is minor. More detail, and suggestions about this, is beyond the scope of this site, presently.  

colorbutton.gif Media and Print Resources

        This section augments these lay resources for single and stepfamily co-parents and their supporters - selected books, games, periodicals, organizations, and web links. These web pages are representative vs. comprehensive, because new resources appear all the time, and there are good ones that I'm not aware of. If you know of any resources that typical professionals could use with these clients, please let me know!

Educational Handouts

        A cost-effective way to raise clients' awareness and (potentially) motivate them between sessions is through strategic use of brief, factual handouts. Every Web page in this site can be printed*, copied, distribu-ted strategically, and used for fruitful assessment, education, and discussion. Most of these pages are inte-grated into this series of guidebooks. These pages fall into several categories: (a) educational articles, (b) self-evaluation checklists and worksheets, and (c) resource summaries. Their content can also be grouped by main topic:

  • General information about stepfamilies

  • Overviews, subtopics, and link-maps for each of the 7 Lessons

  • Basics articles, worksheets, and quizzes on _ stepfamilies, co-parenting, _ remarriage, _ relatives,  and special situations.

  • A free self-improvement marriage-evaluation course for courting co-parents;

  • Solutions articles describing over 90 common individual stepfamily surface problems, and options for resolving the primary problems underneath them; and...

  • Selected reprints of other authors' articles and inspirations, and research and resource summaries.

        Printing these Web pages will lose the embedded hyperlinks that allow readers to explore selected ideas in more detail. To preserve these links for clients (or co-workers) with Internet access, convert selected pages to ".pdf" format using Adobe Acrobat, after editing all links to absolute form.

        If you wish to convert any Web page in this site, email me - I'm glad to email you the .pdf-format article at no charge. Most articles are designed to be independent, so there is significant redundancy in their con-tent. Some articles span multiple Web pages.

        To locate selected articles to hand out, use the links above, the   or this table:

Articles by Project (W)orksheets, Practices,
and Quizzes
Reprints and
Reference articles
1) wound assessment and recovery (20), and an overview of "parts work" (9)

11 self-assessment worksheets

5 brief reprints
9 pages of recovery inspirations

Who's Really Running Your Life?

2) - build seven effective communication skills (25) basics quiz
nine checklists,
four skill practices
3 reprints

Satisfactions - 7 relationship skills you need to know

3) - stepfamily identity and implications (W) identity-acceptance  

Stepfamily Courtship

 for courting and re/married

4) - forge realistic family expectations    
5) - assess for and free-up blocked grief grief-basics quiz

(W) your grief values

6) - evolve a family mission statement    
7) - make three wise re/marriage choices (W) 16 courtship danger signs

(W) 3 right choices

(W) stepfamily strengths inventory

8) - steadily nourish your re/marriage    

The Remarriage Book (summarized in
Build a High-nurturance Stepfamily)

9) - merge three or more biofamilies (W)  

Build a High-nurturance Stepfamily

10) - forge an effective  co-parenting team    

Build a Co-parenting Team

11) - evolve and use an informed support network    

Build a High-nurturance Stepfamily

12) - help each other stay balanced and enjoy these projects over time!    

Selected Professional Books

       Links below will take you to and more information about each title. Titles below are grouped by...

Personality ("Inner family") Organization and Function (Lesson 1)

        Perspective: researcher and clinician John Rowan's book "Subpersonalities" below has a nine-page single-spaced bibliography on published writings about theoretical and applied aspects of personality, Self, multiplicity, dissociation, perception, and behavior. The titles here below are representative. The starbullet.gif below indicates a book that has significantly shaped my views and this site.

Assagioli, Roberto, M.D. - Pychosynthesis  - a Collection of Basic Writings; The Synthesis Center, Amherst, MA; 2000.

Beahrs, J. O., M.D. - Unity and Multiplicity - Multilevel Consciousness of Self in Hypnosis, Psychiatric Disorder, and Mental Health; Brunner/Mazel, New York, NY; 1982. This is out of print, and worth searching for.

starbullet.gif Chase, Trudi. ("the Troops") - When Rabbit Howls; Jove Books, New York, NY; 1987

Crabtree, A. - Multiple Man: Explorations In Possession and Multiple Personality, Praeger, New York, NY; 1985;

starbullet.gif Cooper, Mick, and Rowan, John., Eds. - The Plural Self - Multiplicity in Everyday Life; SAGE Publications; London, Thousand Oaks, CA; 1999

Emmerson, Gordon - Ego State Therapy; Crown House Publishing; 2003

starbullet.gif Goulding, Regina A. J.D., and Schwartz, Richard C., Ph.D. - The Mosaic Mind - Empowering the Tormented Selves of Child Abuse Survivors; Norton Professional Books, New York, NY; 1995.

Grof, Christine, and Grof, Stanislav., M.D. - The Stormy Search for Self - A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee Books, Los Angeles, CA; 1990

Hilgard, Earnest R. - Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action; John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY; 1979

starbullet.gif Johnson, Robert A. - Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth; Harper, San Francisco, CA; 1986. This is a clear, non-clinical guide to understanding and using two techniques to help meet your inner subselves, and learn what they need you (your Self) to know.

starbullet.gif Masterson, James F. - "The Search for the Real Self - Unmasking the Personality Disorders of Our Age; the Free Press, New York, NY; paperback, 1988. Veteran psychoanalyst Masterson writes clearly and compellingly of the creation of false selves from "abandonment depression" during the first three years of life. The bulk of the book explains and sketches related defenses and (psychoanalytic) treatment for Borderline and Narcissistic personality disorders, based on his theory of splitting, and deflated and inflated egos. Written before commonplace multiplicity gained clinical acceptance. Well worth reading, even if you're not a Freudian.

starbullet.gif Rowan, John - Subpersonalities - The People Within Us; Routledge, London and New York, NY; 1995. Written for clinically-oriented lay readers. The depth and scope of Rowan's research on, and experience with, subselves shine through. Curiously, he skirts the question of who's in charge of our subpersonalities.

McArthur, Dorothea S., Ph.D. - Birth of a Self in Adulthood; Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, NJ, London; 1996

Ornstein, Robert - Multimind; Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY; 1986

Satir, Virginia - Your Many Faces, Celestial Arts, Berkely, CA; 1978

Shapiro, Stuart. B. - The Selves Inside You, Explorations Institute, Berkeley, CA; 1976

Sliker, Gretchen. - Multiple Mind; Shambhala, Boston, MA.; 1992

starbullet.gif Schwartz, Richard C.; Ph.D.; Internal Family Systems Therapy; Guilford Press, New York, NY; 1995

starbullet.gif Stone, Hal, Ph.D.; and Winkleman, Sidra, Ph.D.; Embracing Our Selves - the Voice Dialogue Manual; New World Library, San Rafael, CA; 1989

Watkins, John G., and Johnson, Robert. J. - We, the Divided Self; Irvington, New York, NY; 1982

Watkins, John. G., and Watkins, Helen. H. - Theory and Practice of Ego-state Therapy: a Short-term Therapeutic Approach, in Henry Grayson (ed.) Short Term Approaches to Psychotherapy; Human Sciences Press; London, 1979

Watkins, John G. and Watkins, Helen H. - Ego states: Theory and Therapy; W,. W. Norton, New York, NY; 1997

Watkins, Mary - Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogs; Spring Publications, Inc. 1986

Winnicott, Donald Wood - Wikipedia excerpt on true Self and false self

Therapeutic Change

Bowen, Murray, M.D. - Family Therapy in Clinical Practice; Jason Aronson, New York, NY; 1978

Carter, Elizabeth A., ACSW; and McGoldrick, Monica, ACSW - The Family Life Cycle - A Framework for Family Therapy; Gardner Press, Inc; New York, NY; 1980

Fisch, Richard; Weakland, John H., & Segal, Lynn; The Tactics of Change - Doing Therapy Briefly; Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA; 1982

Haley, Jay, Ph.D. (Ed.) - Changing Families - a Family Therapy Reader; Grune & Stratton, Inc., New York, NY; 1971

starbullet.gif Haley, Jay, Ph.D.; Problem Solving Therapy; Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA;  1978

Minuchin, Salvador, M.D.; Families & Family Therapy; Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; 1971

Neill, John R., and Kniskern, David P. (eds.) - From Psyche to System - the Evolving Therapy of Carl Whitaker; Guilford Press, New York, NY; 1982

starbullet.gif Palazzoli, Maria Selvini, M.D.; et. al; Paradox and Counterparadox - A New Model in the Therapy of the Family in Schizophrenic Transaction; Jason Aronson, New York, NY; 1978

Papp, Peggy, MSW; - The Process of Change; Guilford Press; New York, NY; 1983;

Satir, Virginia - Conjoint Family Therapy; Science and Behavior Books, Palo Alto, CA; 1967

starbullet.gif Watzlawick, Paul, Ph.D.; The Language of Change - Elements of Therapeutic Communication; Basic Books, New York, NY; 1978

starbullet.gif Zeig, Jeffery K.; Ph.D. (ed.); Ericksonian Approaches to Hypnosis and Psychotherapy; Brunner/Mazel Publishers, New York, NY; 1982 

Stepfamily Theory and Therapy

Berger, Roni; Ph.D., C.S.W. - Stepfamilies: a Multidimensional Perspective; Haworth Press; 1997

Bray, Dr. James H., and Kelly, John; Stepfamilies - Love, Marriage, and Parenting in the First Decade; Broadway Books, New York, NY; 1998

Burt, Mala S., and Burt, Roger B. - Stepfamilies - the Step by Step Model of Brief Therapy; Brunner/Mazel, New York, NY; 1996

Huntley, Debra K., (Ed.) - Understanding Stepfamilies - Implications for Assessment and Treatment; Family Psychology and Counseling Series, xxxx;1995

Levin, Irene, and Sussman, Marvin - Stepfamilies: History, Research, and Policy; Haworth Press; 1997

starbullet.gif Papernow, Patricia L. - Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families; Gestalt Institute of Cleveland; 1998

Pasley, Kay, Ed. D.; and Ihinger-Tallman, Marilyn, Ph.D. (Eds.) - Remarriage & Stepparenting - Current Research & Theory; Guilford Press; New York, NY; 1987

Pasley, Kay, Ed. D.; and Ihinger-Tallman, Marilyn, Ph.D. (Eds.) - Stepparenting - Issues in Theory, Research, and Practice; Greenwood Publishing Group, xxx; 1994

Sager, Clifford. J., M.D.; et. al. - Treating the Remarried Family; Brunner/Mazel, Inc.; New York, NY; 1983

Visher, Emily B., Ph.D., and Visher, John S., Ph.D. - Therapy With Stepfamilies; Brunner/Mazel Publishers; New York, NY; 1996

Wald, Esther - The Remarried Family - the Challenge and the Promise; Family Service Association of America; New York, NY; 1981

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Updated  October 05, 2015