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Till the ocean do us part: Italian and American therapists’ representations of stepfamilies in treatment

Monica Accordini, Scott Browning, Marialuisa Gennari, Kevin McCarthy, Davide Margola
  • Scott Browning
    Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • Marialuisa Gennari
    Catholic University of Milan, Italy
  • Kevin McCarthy
    Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • Davide Margola
    Catholic University of Milan, Italy

Abstract

Research often focuses on the characteristics of stepfamilies and their differences with first-union families; however, few studies take into account the therapist’s perspective with regards to the treatment of such families. Also, cross-cultural research on the topic is limited. To fill these gaps, a content analysis of responses from 125 Italian and 45 American therapists regarding their representations of stepfamilies and stepfamily therapy was undertaken. Results show that American therapists emphasized specific stepfamily characteristics (e.g., the lack of a shared family history, the occurrence of conflict between former spouses, the presence of unrealistic expectations towards treatment) to a greater extent if compared to Italian therapists. By contrast, besides being more general in their definition of stepfamilies, Italian therapists focused more on themselves, their theoretical models, and their professional and personal skills. The study provides insights on both the differences in the clinical cultures of the two countries and implications for stepfamily therapy and training.

Keywords

Content analysis; Cross-cultural differences; Stepfamilies; Stepfamily therapy; Therapist attitudes

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Submitted: 2017-05-02 01:42:04
Published: 2017-10-27 16:32:57
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Copyright (c) 2017 Monica Accordini, Scott Browning, Marialuisa Gennari, Kevin McCarthy, Davide Margola

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