Mental health impacts of stepmotherhood: An examination of the systemic and contextual influences that reduce therapeutic support

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Muljiani, Marie
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The diversity of familial structures within westernized culture has expanded beyond the nuclear family framework reflecting familial roles that exist within an expanded scope of the traditional nuclear family unit. The expansion of the family unit into a bi-nuclear structure has also reflected a limitation for diverse families, in particular stepmothers, to access tailored therapeutic supports, legal recognition and destigmatized cultural integration. As such, the correlation between the stepmother role and the increase of mental health challenges reflecting depression, anxiety and addiction (among others) has become more prevalent. In this thesis, I offer a detailed examination into the lived-experience of the stepmother role, the social-cultural contexts within which the role exists and the therapeutic approaches that practitioners should incorporate into therapeutic practice for this client segment. Focused aspects of socialized contextualization and the reflections of the Feminist perspective will also be included along with reflections of Attachment, Emotionally Focused and Narrative Theories will be discussed within this examination. Moreover, the aim of this thesis is to assist therapeutic practitioners, counsellors, and community workers, to reflect on the isolation and systemic implications of familial cultural norms when engaging with stepmothers as clientele. This will reduce her suffering and generate more support for those functioning within the maternal familial role.
nuclear, bi-nuclear, stepparent, stepcouple, stepmother, attachment theory, narrative theory, feminist theory, emotionally-focused theory, social context, systemic framework, isolation, mental health
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States, openAccess