finnish PP changes in family structure

Changes in family structure

Marquette Bradley, Lauren Johnson, and Tanya Sotura


April 30, 2018

Dr. Aaron Cannon



Give definitions of the issues.


List the populations most affected by the issues.


Discuss effects the issues have on the field of psychology.


Discuss any potential challenges in treatment options.


Discuss any potential changes you foresee occurring with these issue.




Remarriage: step-parent, step-children and step-sibling(s)

Death: parent or sibling

Birth: new baby or grandchild




When someone seeks out a psychologist for assistance in overcoming issues related to a change in their familial structure or because of racial or ethnic discrimination, the psychologist should be experienced in the particular challenges this patient is facing. Clinical psychology has had to develop new ways to treat these patients as previous strategies were not as beneficial as they could be. Clinical psychologists also needed to evolve as psychology did so that they have the knowledge and experience to assist patients in these particular situations.

As time continues to go on, the American family is not what is once was. Over the last 50 years there has been a dramatic rise in divorce; the highest it has ever been in the U.S. Divorce affects all types of marriages, whether it a heterosexual couples, blended couples, and even homosexual couples. “This marks a shift away from the ideal of the companion marriage popularized in the early 1920’s to self-aspiration, enhanced freedom, and egalitarian relationships” (Castelloe, 2011). Since the 1960’s the rate of divorce and separation has risen because of the fact that “society has become more inclusive and women more financially independent, resulting in increased tension in marriages between individualization and what psychoanalyst Erik Erickson described as “generativity,” a concern for the welfare of others” (Castelloe, 2011).


Definitions (Con’t)


Not one race, ethnicity, culture.

High Conflict

Financially Unstable

Children of Divorce

Divorce is not exactly privy to one specific culture or ethnicity; many people of all races become separated or divorced. Since 1970, the rate of divorce, at 72%, has declined to 59% (Friedman, n.d.). Jeffrey Drew conducted a study in 2009 on couples who argued about finances. He concluded that couples who argued about finances more than once a week were more than 30% likely to get divorced than couples who argue about it only a few times a month. “According to Drew, couples who disagree about money less than once per month run a 30-40% increase in the risk of divorce” (Divorce Source, 1996). The rate of divorce ultimately increases as the arguments become more often, several times a week, daily; the risk increases 125% to 160% (Divorce Source, 1996). It is believed that children who come from a separated family or divorced family are going to be two times more likely to get divorced than a child whose parents remained together (Castelloe, 2011).


Effects on Psychology Due to Changes to Family Structure

Negative Behavior Health Issues

Negative Developmental Issues

Poor Social Skills and Interpersonal Issues

Emotional Stressors and Low Self-Esteem

Depression and Instability

Cognitive issues

Changes to the family structure, whether it be from divorce or the addition to the family with a step parent and siblings, may cause psychological issues. The home environment affects the child’s well being and development depending on the stage the child is in when the changes happen. From birth to the age of five, the child’s brain is going through important and crucial development and bonding between the child and their parents/caregiver is taking place. The structure of the family may be used to predict negative behavioral issues in middle childhood and adolescence. Certain events, experiences, family characteristics, and structure can affect the psychological health of a child (Ryans & Claessens, 2013). More than half the children in the United States are living in homes without two married parents. In fact, in 2013, the Pew Research Center explained that 46% of kids under 18 years of age are living with parents in their first marriage 34% are with a single parent, 15% are with two parents, one or both of whom are remarried; and 5 % have no parents at home.

Family life becomes much more demanding when one parent shoulders the responsibilities of the household. Kids in single-parent families sometimes feel cheated or feel a sense of loss. Because single-parent families result from different circumstances, it is important for single parents to recognize the specific needs of their children.

The feelings kids have about their relationships with both present and absent parents create dynamics that affects their capacity to trust. For example, hostility and anxiety of children during divorce also generates very different kinds of emotions than the feelings of grief and resentment a child may feel when a parent dies that may affect the relationships of that child with members of the opposite sex positively or negatively. In both of these situations, however, experiences of abandonment and loneliness may interfere with a child’s ability to trust and invest in relationships.

In divorce, children often feel torn between their allegiances. Many struggle to balance or negotiate a connection with both parents. Parents are often unaware of or unable to manage the strain that their marital plight places upon their children. While the circumstances of divorce may disable coordinating parental guidance of relationships and sex education, parents need to communicate clearly about specific relational and sexual needs that their children are confronting for their overall well-being.

The sometimes reactive and changing moods of teens, especially in families of divorce or with children whose parents have died, can set parents into a tailspin. It’s helpful to keep in mind that many adolescent manage their angst and defy parents even in the most stable homes. When intense stressors occur for families, it’s understandable that emotions intensify that can be particularly overwhelming for single parents. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that for children, the dissolution of the family or home means dissolving both critical established relationships and parts of their very life. No matter how our children act out, it will help if we can sympathize with their needs and offer reassurance about love and intimacy.

It’s true that without direct experience of demonstrable intimacy and love between their own parents, this discussion may feel remote, yet the demonstration of accessible love for them becomes the foundation for learning lessons of how the power of love can overcome pain and loss. Building blocks for intimacy and love are created through our own relationship with our children and through working through discussions of appropriate loving and intimate experiences in relationships that we have with others or in relationships that exist around us, and in managing the struggles of emotions and communication.


Challenges in Treatment Options Because of Changes to Family Structure

Difficulty in Getting Family Members to Attend

Family Conflict

Lack of Support

Interference From Others

Trying to Make a Positive Change

There may be several different ways that a psychotherapist may have to try to get all members of the family involved for treatment. If all family members are not able to attend, then this can make the situations worse. There just may be one family member that feels they are not necessary because they are not the one having the issue. A psychotherapist may have to contact that member of the family by phone and speak with them about the situations (Santisteban, Suarez-Morales, Robbins, & Szapocznik, 2006). The psychotherapist may have to make a home visits to discuss the situation (Santisteban, Suarez-Morales, Robbins, & Szapocznik, 2006). The change that has happened with the family structure, such as divorce, may be hindering treatment due to family conflict with the mother and father. Lack of support may fall on a sibling that feels it is pointless to be involved in psychotherapy and is not willing to support their siblings towards positive rehabilitation. There may be lack of communication with the family members due to a divorce or family quarrel.

A patient that is receiving psychotherapy that wants to change a behavior may find interference. For example, the patient or a spouse may have to keep a social status and making changes will conflict with that (Plante, 2010). Some people are very easily influenced and making changes in their life can be very difficult if they are not completely willing to receive it. If you are not able to have everyone that you interact with on a daily bases to help you through treatment, then the psychotherapy will not have a positive affect. For example, parents that are divorced and are not on good terms may talk to their child negatively about the other. This interference and behavior will affect how psychotherapy works for the family as a whole.

Humans are creatures of habit, we have set behavior patterns, set ways of thinking, we have certain behaviors. It is difficult to change and making that first step and to keep walking is so hard for a person to do; especially, a family. That is all of the old cliché, but it very true. It is so hard to admit that there is a problem, but have to want to change. Staying in the negative has a sense of comfort because it has been there for so long and that is why taking the first step out of it is so hard.


Challenges in Treatment Options Because of Changes to Family Structure

Teens leave early home

Making bad decision

parents at early age

Higher risk of separation and divorce

Economic hardship

These increased odds appear to be the end result of a longer chain of effects. Children whose parents separated have been found to be more likely to engage in early-onset sexual activity, to leave home at an early age, to enter into an intimate partnership at an earlier age and to become parents at an early age. Early entry into marriage is known to heighten the risk of separation and divorce. In addition,hypothesised that these effects arise in part because youthful marriages involve less socially and emotionally mature individuals, are subject to greater economic hardship and receive less social support, both normatively from wider society and from family and kin.

Even though the majority of children of divorced families are functioning within normal ranges or better on a variety of objective measures of adjustment, Kelly (2003) notes that divorce can create lingering feelings of sadness, longing, worry and regret.





Gave definitions of the issues.


List the populations most affected by the issues.


Discussed effects the issues have on the field of psychology.


Discussed any potential challenges in treatment options.


Discussed any potential changes you foresee occurring with these issue.




Castelloe, M, PH.D. (2011). Changes in the American Family. Psychology Today. Retrieved from:

Divorce Source. (1996). U.S. Divorce Rates and Statistics. Divorce Source. Retrieved from:

Friedman, M. (n.d.). Marriage and Divorce Statistics Retrieved from: http:// / article05.htm

Kelly, Joan B. (1993) “Current research on children’s postdivorce adjustment: No simple answers” Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 31(1):29-4

Plante, T. G. (2010). Contemporary clinical psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Santisteban, Suarez-Morales, Robbins, & Szapocznik. (2006). Brief Strategic Family Therapy: Lessons Learned in Efficacy Research and Challenges to Blending Research and Practice. Family Process, 45(2), 259-271. Retrieved from https://search- proquest 1C2572243BAPQ/1?accountid=35812

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