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5 Questions to Ask a Prospective Stepmom Therapist


Most therapists will offer you the opportunity to talk with them for a free fifteen minute consultation via phone before committing to the first session.  I highly recommend you take them up on this offer.  Therapy is about the connection you have with the therapist, and from what I’ve seen, you can absolutely tell over the phone if this is someone you like/want to work with.  It’s important to connect emotionally with a therapist and for them to have the expertise to be responsive in your stepmom issue.  If you are a stepmom and you’re struggling with how much to be involved in parenting, you may want someone who can help you set healthy boundaries.  If you’re a stepdad and the biological father of your stepchild isn’t present or engaged in their life, you may want a therapist who can help you understand what your stepchild may be going through. Here are several questions you may want to ask during that initial phone call to determine, is this the right therapist to walk with me through this season of my stepmom journey?  

1)  What experience do you have working with stepmoms, stepparents, or blended families?  

There are a variety of ways a therapist may have experience working with stepmoms, stepparents, or blended families.  This may come through their current work in private practice serving adults or teens, it may come through work in an Employee Assistance Program, or for families who have a child involved in the juvenile justice system. 

You’ll want to hear from the therapist that they have experience seeking to understand your specific constellation of blended family, understands the conflicts, loyalty binds, and different roles of blended family life, and engaging in the long-term work of balancing the demands of being a stepmom with being a human.  Stepparenthood has many unique attributes, which are completely different than parenting a biological child.  If your partner is not a stepparent too, they may not be able to relate to your experiences and what it’s like for you to be in your family. 

A therapist who treats a stepmom has be good at both the short-game (minimizing daily stress) and the long-game (staying connected and building a healthy marriage and family).  Not every therapist works this way or has experience in both, so it’s good to ask.  

2) How do I know if I’m the one who needs therapy?

So often, stepmoms may notice something going on with a stepchild that their biological parent simply doesn’t.  As a stepmom, you’re coming in to an existing family structure.  Routines, behaviors, and patterns of being have usually been operating in the same way for a long time.  But you, you’re new to this whole blended family life.  You have a fresh set of eyes.  You have different experiences than either biological parent. 

It’s kind of like the frog in boiling water analogy. 

If a frog is in a pot of cold water, which is raised to a boiling temperature, it doesn’t recognize the danger and jump out.  But if you place a frog in an already boiling pot of water, it jumps out immediately.  How does that apply to blended families or new stepmoms?  The issues going on in your family with your stepchildren, spouse, or the other parent may have been going on a long time.  So long in fact, no one else realizes they’re getting boiled.  You on the other hand may be finding yourself in a pot of boiling water.  Your initial instinct may be to get everyone else out.  They’re used to the temperature though, and you’re not. 

As noble as it can feel sometimes to put on the hero hat and rescue everyone, there’s a reason they say to put on your oxygen mask first.  If you’re not okay, it’s going to be hard for you to support those around you. 

It can be easy to focus on others first, but the only one you can really change is you, so if you’re reading this, I invite you to consider that taking the first step for yourself is a great way to model healthy development and growth for the other members of your blended family. 

3) How will you respond if I want to bring my spouse or partner into session?

There are different ways to involve a spouse or partner in the therapy process.  Some therapy for blended families is specifically for couples.  In couples therapy, the “Client” is the relationship between you and your spouse or partner. 

Another way to involve a spouse or partner is to bring them in for an occasional “family” session, where you are the primary Client who has the individual relationship with the therapist, then your partner comes in from time to time to discuss something you have on your mind. 

Finally, after attending some individual sessions with a therapist, you may decide that you actually like this space for yourself, and you don’t want to bring anyone else in.  As a stepmom, so much of your life revolves around others: your partner, their kids, the ex. 

Therapy, as a stepmom, can be a sweet space where you get a minute to breathe, where you can say how you actually feel without worrying who it might hurt or how it might be interpreted, and a place just for you. 

That is sacred stuff.    

4) What is your style of treating stepmoms?

There are many different ways to treat the issues which may arise in your role as a stepmom in a blended family.  This is also an opportunity for you to gain clarity on what type of support you want (and if you don’t know that’s okay too!). 

The therapist may ask, “What do you need the most help with right now?”  This helps them gain an understanding of where you’re at and if they can help.  You may be struggling with symptoms related to stepmom depression, or you may be struggling with communication between you and your partner, or issues in your new family may be triggering you based on experiences you’ve had in the past. 

It helps to know if your therapist focuses on the here and now, like reduction of symptoms, mindfulness methods, or uses an evidence-based model, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  This type of work explores the link between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  A therapist who uses CBT will help you to notice your thinking errors, like, “things will never change.”  As you become aware of your thoughts, this type of therapist will support you in changing those thoughts into more neutral or helpful thoughts, such as, “this is a really hard season in our family, and I know we’ll get through it,” which in turn can lead to feeling less sad and more hopeful. 

Many stepmoms have no idea what their role is supposed to be in their family.  A therapist who is skilled in boundary setting can help you determine what feels “okay” and “not okay” for you in your role as a partner, stepmom, and member of your family and will be skilled in walking with you through this part of your journey.  

5) What outcomes do your clients typically see?

Isn’t the goal of therapy to help you feel better, improve your relationships, and move through difficult seasons in your life?  If so, you’ll want to hear how other stepmoms who work with this therapist feel after being in therapy. 

While a therapist cannot “fix” a stepmom, a therapist who has high quality experience in working with stepmoms and will be able to confidently say the types of outcomes their clients experience. 

Some of these outcomes may be an increase in positive emotions, such as connectedness and joy, decreased feelings of hopelessness or anger, feeling as if you’re more grounded in your role as a stepmom, experiencing peace, laughing more, and feeling confident in your ability to respond effectively to what comes up in your blended family in the future. 

You’ll also want to be thinking about what kind of outcomes you’d like for yourself, so that you can communicate those to the therapist when you have your initial session as you’re setting goals for your work together.  

In Conclusion…

Most therapists will say they treat any adult, including stepmoms, but by taking a few minutes during your initial phone call with a prospective therapist, you can ask some of these specific questions, which will give you an idea of whether or not this is the right therapist for you. 

After all, you want to feel better, and 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 they answer the above questions to your satisfaction, you’ve found a mutual time to meet, and they work for your budget, then book the first session.

Ready to connect with me to see if I’m a good fit to help you move from 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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