Sometimes a marriage doesn’t work out and ends in divorce. When you join together two families after finding new love, a blended family counselor can help you transition smoothly.
In this article, we will review two websites that provide blended family counseling, helping you, your partner, and your children find the support you need.
Want to skip right to the suggestions for blended family therapists? Here are our 2 recommended therapy solutions:
Blended family counseling near me
Let’s begin our reviews.
Below, we’ve looked at two services that provide blended family therapy from licensed family counselors.
Tailored for individuals and couples navigating relationship or marital issues – ReGain is your online relationship therapy solution. Starting at $65/week, you can schedule one weekly live session and message your therapist anytime. Start your path to healthier connections with ReGain – fill out their online assessment form.
ReGain is an online therapy platform, focused specifically on improving relationships. Their mental health professionals offer blended family counseling over the internet, helping you to navigate your new family dynamic.
ReGain’s licensed marriage and family therapists provide individual, couples, and family counseling sessions, to help you and your partner create a successful blended family. With a ReGain subscription, you get one session a week by default, over a video or phone call, but your family can also enter a group chat with your therapist as well, making ReGain a very accessible way of getting help.
To sign up to ReGain, you navigate to their website, and fill in a straightforward questionnaire. This gives you the opportunity to explain that you’re looking for step family therapy, and you can also specify the exact issues you’re looking to address, as well as what you’re looking for in a family counselor.
Once you’ve completed the sign-up process, ReGain will match you with a therapist who meets your specific needs. You can choose to change to a different counselor at any time in the future for no additional cost.
After signing up, it’s easy to invite your partner to ReGain. You can either do it from the start (providing their email and phone number), or later on in the process, once you’ve created an account, by clicking “Invite partner”. They will get a link from ReGain to join the conversation.
Although they don’t provide in-person counseling, another advantage of ReGain is that you can fit therapy in whenever you’d prefer. You don’t have to make an appointment for messaging sessions – your counselor will get back to you during business hours. It’s also easy to make an appointment for a live video or phone call at a time that works for you, including outside of work hours for you and your partner. You can get therapy from your sofa if you want, through their website or mobile app, making ReGain a very convenient option.
Tailored to individuals, couples, teens, and offering psychiatry services, Talkspace plans kick off at a wallet-friendly $69 per week. What’s more, many health insurances also cover their services, enhancing accessibility and affordability. Complete a questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you.
Talkspace is another platform that provides blended family counseling online.
Finding blended family counseling nearby can be quite difficult – there may not be a massive number of good family therapists near you to choose from. One advantage of Talkspace is they have a massive number of therapists on the platform, including a huge number of licensed family/relationship counselors with experience helping blended families.
To join Talkspace, rather than filling in an online form, you have a live chat conversation with a matching agent, who is also a qualified therapist. Based on you and your family’s needs, they will give you a choice of qualified family therapists to choose from, rather than assigning you a specific counselor.
With Talkspace, the process to add your partner is similar to ReGain – you click the invite button and they will send the invitation to his or her email after you create an account. Using this platform, you and your soon-to-be spouse can iron out any potential issues before moving in, and get on the same page when it comes to parenting and household responsibilities.
Once signed up, you can contact your counselor through phone/video calls, chat, or text messages. Unlike on ReGain, you don’t get video counseling sessions included by default, so you don’t have to pay for them if you don’t want to. You could choose to message your counselor instead, in a group chat with your partner.
However, if you do want regular video or phone calls with your family counselor, Talkspace is a bit more expensive than ReGain. You have to add live sessions on to your subscription package for an additional fee.
What is blended family counseling?
Blended family counseling is a type of family therapy focused on working through the specific challenges that blended families face.
Blended families, also known as stepfamilies, are new families formed by two parents entering into a relationship, together with children from a previous relationship.
A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) can help you, your partner, and your children plan your new family dynamic, and work through any challenges that it has brought up. For example, you can work through issues such as:
- Household responsibilities
- Financial responsibilities
- Parenting styles, such as methods of discipline
- Relationships between children, if both partners have kids
- Any associated conflicts or arguments that arise
Types of blended family counseling sessions
There are three ways in which you can access blended family therapy.
- Individual sessions – you might want to work on your insecurity or coping skills
- Couples or relationship sessions – this can be especially helpful for planning prior to moving in together, or to resolve conflicts/issues that have arisen after beginning to live together
- Family sessions with the children included – in some situations, it can be very beneficial to involve children in your counseling sessions, to help them adapt to their new family situation
Counselors can provide all or only some of these sessions. It’s common to begin with couples sessions and involve children later, if your children are still missing their old family situation, for example.
How does blended family counseling work?
Blended family counseling is slightly different from regular family counseling, in that it is designed to help fuse multiple already-formed units into a singular family unit. It’s designed to help build the foundations for a successful family from the ground up.
This process can be rather challenging for a couple, as it usually consists of maintaining and growing a new relationship, in combination with taking on a new parental role.
Gonzales (2009) introduced the concept of preblended family counseling, providing a set of ten sessions to blended couples. His approach starts from the perspective of the couple.
The counseling sessions focus on:
- Discovery. Get to know your new family. While a traditional family has years to grow and get to know siblings and parents, a blended family is usually more time-constricted.
- Education. A mental health professional can educate you and your family on what to expect when moving in together. They can help you learn about certain feelings or situations that might arise in the future, like punishment, hard words, rivalry between blended siblings, or other potentially challenging situations.
- Parental unification. Fusing two families and stepkids is a big task. Therefore, it’s important that you and your spouse present a united front for your children. Discussing parental unification involves exploring parenting styles, how to ensure discipline, and what rules to implement in your new household. It might also include your expectations of involvement with raising your partner’s kids (and vice versa).
- Family unification. In this stage of the sessions, other family members are invited to join. As a parent and spouse, at this stage you probably have positive expectations of what your new family will look like. Still, your kids will want a say as well – moving house or getting an extra parent might make them feel scared or insecure. At this point in counseling, your children get the time and a safe space to express their concerns or feelings freely without any judgment.
Another way of working with blended step families is to start from the perspective of the (step) parent – (step) child relationship.
- Make a family tree. An exercise that is recommended by the Berwick Family Relationship Center is to draw a family tree in group sessions and explore how you visualize yours. They focus on real-world experiences and create awareness of the reality of what it means to have a strong family bond.
- Focus on communication and conflict resolution. Learning these skills can strengthen the bond between two partners.
- Acknowledge the loss. During separation, your children lost their family, and their expectations of what it means to be a family. Mommy and daddy are not together anymore, and somebody else took a parent’s place. This might lead to understandable feelings of bitterness, jealousy of sharing their biological parents, or children blaming the new partner.
- Traditions and rituals. Consider which traditions you can keep with your new partner/family, and which would be better to leave behind. New traditions and rituals can also strengthen the bond between blended families.
- Talk discipline. Disciplining children is often a big pain point of blended families, and it’s important that you and your partner are on the same page. This topic is best discussed before the need to provide discipline ever arises.
Common problems blended families face
As mentioned above, there are some very specific problems that blended step families often face.
Some of these problems have to do with the relationship between the new parent and the child. It might be that the child does not accept this newcomer into their world. They might not accept them in the role as a parent, or as a new partner to their original parent.
Some children go through a period of grief due to the loss of their original family. They might even reach out to the ex-partner of your spouse to ally against you. This could make it more difficult for you to create a parenting relationship with your blended children.
Another issue could be the way parents speak about their children. Some parents keep referring to “his”/ “her”/“my” children, potentially creating distance within the family structure.
Some parents also aren’t ready to take on new parenting responsibilities. If they have already raised children to grown teenagers, it might be that they feel exhausted caring for younger children – as they already did this in their first marriage.
Discipline should also be discussed with your partner, and it’s important that you’re both on the same page when it comes to your parenting style. The most simple solution is to make each parent responsible for disciplining their own child or children, but this can raise issues. If different children are treated differently, this may be seen as unfair, for example. A family counselor can help you to work through these types of issues.
How long does it take for blended families to adjust?
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) believes it can take up to two years for blended families to adjust. It makes sense that the process takes time – each person must get to know each other on a very intimate level, essentially from square one. Traditional families also take a while to adjust to life with kids.
While you found new love and had time to work on your relationship, your children, friends, and close family might still be getting to know your partner. Your family might have questions about how the relationship with your ex (and aunty or uncle to their children) will continue.
Also, children might need time to adjust from seeing their step parent once in a while, to seeing them every day. Change can have a big impact on children – they might still be grieving their original family, their old home, or the parents that they lost due to divorce or death.
Taking the next step in your relationship also will have an impact on you as an individual and as a couple. Your relationship might change from the fun partner who takes the kids out to the movies, to a new figure of authority. This sounds like a lot to think about, however, a counselor can guide you through these issues so you are well prepared and are on the same page as your partner from the start.
Creating a blended family is a challenge, however, it can be highly rewarding as well. Working together with a therapist can be a great way to prepare you and your spouse for success.
Finding a new love and creating your own family can be a beautiful new start for yourself and everyone else involved. However, there are challenges to work through, such as how children react to this new situation. They might present with grief, which is normal. They might try to test your boundaries, which can be helped when you and your partner discuss discipline.
If you, your partner, or your children are in an emergency, you should contact 911. In-person therapy would also be more recommended in such situations, as online therapy is better suited to work on your quality of life, rather than your immediate mental or emotional health.
Other numbers that could provide advice and help if needed are 1-800-786-2929, in case of a runaway child or youth. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 in case of crisis, suicidal thoughts, or depression.
If you’re still unsure how best to get help for your new family, feel free to leave us a comment below, and we’ll help out.