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About Patricia L. Papernow
I am completing my fourth decade of working with, learning about, and teaching others about stepfamily relationships.
I am passionate about helping others to understand and successfully navigate the often intense challenges of this family form. I give workshops all over the world and consult with folks who want to learn more about supporting thriving stepfamily relationships.
I began this journey when I was married to a man with two children and I needed a dissertation topic. I wrote about normal stages of development in stepfamilies, which later became my first book, Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families.
Since that time the research has grown exponentially. We now know so much about what works and what doesn't. However, very little of this information has been made available to the public, nor to therapists and others who are in a position to help stepfamily members meet their often intense challenges.
The goal of my second book, Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn't (Routledge, 2013), was to integrate my decades of clinical work with the burgeoning research to describe clear evidence-based steps for meeting the five major challenges this fundamentally different family form creates for stepcouples, stepchildren, stepfamilies, parents and stepparents. I wanted to provide a readable, accessible guide for both stepfamily members and for a wide variety of helping professionals, including couple, individual, and family therapists, as well as family lawyers, mediators, guidance counselors, and medical personnel.
The latest book, The Stepfamily Handbook: From Dating, to Getting Serious, to Forming a "Blended Family" (CMC, 2019), co-authored with long-time mediator and post-divorce co-parenting coach Karen Bonnell, was written for the general public. As the title suggests, it provides step-by-step, evidence-based guidance from the moment a parent starts dating, through the period of getting more serious, to meeting the challenges of forming a "blended family."
I am now closing in on 25 years in my second marriage. My 35-year old daughter from my first marriage is about to make me a grandma, my 3 stepchildren in this marriage have now birthed a total of seven stepgrandchildren, and I remain connected to my stepdaughters from my first marriage. I am a psychologist in private practice in Hudson, MA.
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Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships is written in a lively style with lots of vivid examples. It is designed to be useful both to stepfamily members themselves and to a wide variety of practitioners, from a highly trained clinician who needs to know how and when to work on all three levels, to a school counselor or clergy person who may work on the first two levels but refer out for deeper psychological work. It also provides a guide for educators, judges, mediators, lawyers and medical personnel who are often on the front lines of providing information and support to stepfamily members.