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kristen@gtxteentherapy.com

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4 Common Questions About Therapy for Stepmoms

You may be thinking back to how you felt before you entered the brave new world of blended family life.  You may be wondering, was I always so angry?  Did I feel hopeless before?  You may be experiencing confusion or sadness that feels unexplainable. 

Here you are newly married or making a plan to spend the rest of your life with your partner and these hard feelings are often present just below the surface.  You don’t know if it’s just you or if there really is something about being a stepmom that’s different. 

Your partner doesn’t seem to understand. 

They definitely feel the tension and have their own stress, but it’s not the same.  Some days they get frustrated with you, because you’ve been unhappy a lot lately.  They get that it sucks when schedules change or their kid is behaving a certain way, but what are they going to do about it?  That’s just the way it is. 

Some days, it just doesn’t feel like they have empathy for your role.  It feels like you’re taking on more and more, all the while your resentment is building and you don’t have the same warm glow your partner has from taking care of their kids. 

It’d be nice to feel understood and to check-in to see if what you’re feeling is okay.  Is it normal to feel this way?  Do I need to rethink my relationship?  These are all common questions a stepmom may ask themselves when the fun and ease of dating wears off and the reality of life sets in. 

Maybe you’ve done everything you know to do, and you’re still feeling out of control and angry. You’ve been talking to your friends, your family, and the people at work, but nobody really knows how to help, so you’re considering therapy for yourself. 

Maybe you’ve been to therapy as a child or earlier in life, and you know how it helps. 

Or maybe this is all new to you, and you’re really just not sure of what all a therapist will do to help you with navigating blended family life. 

Read on below for answers to commonly asked questions about therapy for stepmoms.

1)  How will therapy help me as a stepmom in a blended family?  

A lot of moving through tough times is in the “doing”, so by having a scheduled therapy appointment, getting out of the house, and showing up, is part of the healing process. 

It’s easy to lose sight of your own wants and needs when you’re absorbed into an already functioning family system. 

Many stepmoms don’t want to “rock the boat,” so they keep quiet, defer to their partner, and avoid voicing their thoughts, feelings, or concerns. 

While this strategy can work in the short term, over time, it can corrode relationships: the relationship you have with yourself, the relationship you have with your partner, and the relationship you’re building with your stepkids. 

By showing up for yourself in therapy, you’ll be able to put words to the experiences you’re having in your relationship and family.  You’ll be making space for your story too. 

Blending families brings multiple family systems together, often on a collision course. 

Many stepmoms struggle with the lack of clarity around their role, feeling like their voice doesn’t matter, or their opinions are of little value. 

Therapy offers space for you to gain clarity on your own family values and what you’re bringing to your blended family. 

It helps you get clear on what matters to you, so you can help build a blended family that works for you and the other members. 

And it just helps to have someone hear your story, listen, and be there with you as you walk through this season of your blended family life.

2) What will I learn in therapy as a stepmom in a blended family?

Therapy as a stepmom offers an opportunity for you to sit with discomfort of your own relationship patterns.  You may have already noticed how your behavior echoes the relationships you saw growing up or relationship patterns from your past you thought you outgrew.  When we’re stressed, humans typically revert back to familiar patterns. 

So, if I learned to be critical in my relationships, but worked on my behavior and changed, so I could be a better partner today, that critical behavior may come back, as I struggle to adjust to parenting someone else’s kids or figure out how to do this whole blended family thing. 

In therapy, stepmoms can learn how to notice their patterns and put some space between an automatic thought or reaction and taking action. 

As a stepmom you can learn to be responsive rather than reactive. 

If feelings are something you’d rather shove in the closet and avoid, through therapy, you may learn to feel those feelings, realize they won’t kill you, and learn strategies to let them go. 

In a stressed blended family system, it can feel like a never-ending cycle of hurt feelings and overreactions. 

The good news is, you, Stepmom, have a ton of power, and by focusing on your behavior and role in your family, you can learn to break the cycle, so that you can create new patterns in your relationship and family. 

And hopefully, you’ll have space to give yourself grace for how you’ve handled things in the past and how you’re going to handle them in the future. 

It’s easy to become judgmental or self-critical in how you react to things that come up in your blended family. 

Through therapy, you have the opportunity to practice skills of self-compassion and reframing negative thoughts into neutral thoughts, so you can move forward and be a balancing force in your blended family.

3) How do I know if now is the right time for me to invest in therapy?

Great question! 

There are a ton of ways you can determine if now is the right time for you to invest in therapy for your role as a stepmom. 

First, I want you to consider the fact that you’re on a therapy website reading a blog post about therapy for stepmoms.  This tells me you’re exploring the idea of therapy already, and you’re doing your research. 

You’ll need to decide if you’re willing to make space in your calendar and your budget for a commitment to therapy.  Usually therapy starts out with weekly sessions, so you can build a relationship with the therapist and start to feel better faster.  If a weekly commitment isn’t an option for you right now, in this season, that’s okay.  There are a ton of great resources you can tap into that will fit with your time and budget (books, podcasts, a therapist who may work with you less frequently).  Especially in the beginning, prioritizing your mental health needs by being consistent in therapy, will support the work you are there to do. 

You could also ask yourself, “If nothing in my family changes, am I willing to do the work on myself to continue being a member of this family?” 

This can be tough to ask this question.  It’s tough, because we often want others to change, or we aren’t ready to accept what’s going on, or give up hope for things to be different. 

And, at the same time, you’re the only person you can actually change.  If you’re ready to step into that truth and take ownership of changing yourself, then it may be the right time to consider therapy. 

And finally, think about what sacrifices you may be willing to make in order to invest in therapy. 

You may have to say no to things you really enjoy like new clothes, weekly happy hour, or the latest Iphone.  If you’re willing to put some of those things on hold for a season to invest in yourself, then this may be the right time for therapy. 

Trust yourself.  You’ll know when it feels right. 

Going to therapy isn’t necessarily easy. 

It can be uncomfortable and awkward. 

And when you’re ready to change, you’re willing to go through the experience of it, because you know you can get to something different on the other side.  

4) How can I tell if therapy is working?

When you work with me, during the first session, we’ll look to the future three months or six months down the road, and I’ll ask you that exact question. 

I want to know from your perspective, how we’ll be able to tell if it’s working by looking at the outside. 

For some stepmoms that means spending more time with family, and for others it may mean spending more time with friends. 

It may mean laughing more with your partner or less crying alone in the bathroom. 

It’s important for us to talk about this in the beginning, so we know where we’re going. 

I want to have a clear picture of what you want out of therapy, and I want you to have a clear picture too.  That way we’ll be able to tell, is it working?  Because if it’s not working, then what’s the point? 

I don’t want you to come to therapy every week and not feel better or gain skills to help you respond differently to stressors in blended family life. 

Having a clear picture also allows us to have regular feedback throughout the course of therapy, so we can know early on, are we on the right path?  Is this headed where you want it to go?

This allows us to course correct and change things up, if things aren’t working.  It also allows us to have conversations like, how am I doing as your therapist?  What am I doing that you like?  What am I doing that you don’t like?  Am I still the best fit for you

This type of feedback is so powerful in therapy, because it keeps us moving toward your goal and gives you continual input in the process. 

And you’ll be practicing communication skills and boundary setting all along the way, which are crucial to staying calm and grounded in what can often be the chaos of blended family life.  

In Conclusion…

Asking questions and doing your research are a big part of determining if this is the right time to invest in therapy and find the right fit therapist.  By knowing more about what to expect and what questions most stepmoms, stepmoms, and caregivers in blended families have, you’re on the right path to making the best decision for you, in this season of your life.  

After all, this is your life.  It’s not your partner’s.  It’s not your stepkids.  It’s not your parents.  This is your life, and you get to be in the driver’s seat.  Part of feeling better through the therapy process is finding a right fit therapist who you’re confident can support you during this part of your journey of stepparenthood. 

If you like what you’ve read above, thought through the questions in number three above, and want to learn more, then reach out and connect with me to see if I’m a good fit to help you move from a resentful and hopeless stepmom to calm and balanced blended family member.

Give me a call at 737-808-4888 for a FREE 15-minute consultation or fill out the secure contact form, and I’ll schedule a time to talk with you.

You’re right to take the time you need to find a great fit therapist who is skilled at meeting your needs, so you can continue to show up as your best and most authentic self in your family.  By finding the right fit, you’ll be that much closer to helping yourself move through this difficult experience in your life and find calm and humor from within in this sometimes chaotic storm of blended family life.

  

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kristen@gtxteentherapy.com
737-808-4888

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