Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell

Second Advisor

Frederick A. Kosinski, Jr.

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai


Problem. Stepfamilies are becoming the largest family type in the United States. This has significant implications for understanding the complications of remarriage and providing clinical interventions that support the adjustment process of stepfamilies. The Internal Family Systems Model, developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, asserts that an individual's personality is multiple naturally, and that there are interactions within the individual that have significant impact on their external systems. In applying the IFS model to the study of stepfamilies, this present study identifies the IFS maps of the partners of remarried couples active in stepfamily interaction and to determine how this IFS Map enhanced or detracted from stepfamily development.

Method. A combined qualitative and quantitative study was designed. The Stepfamily Adjustment Scale, developed by Dr. Margaret Crosbie-Burnett, provided quantitative assessment of the stage of stepfamily adjustment. Stepfamilies were assessed qualitatively as to their stage of stepfamily adjustment as well. The IFS Map of each individual in stepfamily interaction was identified along with their access to Self.

Results. Six stepfamilies were found to be in Stage II of stepfamily adjustment, two in Stage III, and two in Stage I. SAS results supported these qualitative conclusions, with one exception. IFS Maps disclosed both functional and extreme personality parts present in stepfamily interactions.

Conclusions. The ability to evoke Self leadership was found to be a significant factor in stepfamily adjustment with these stepfamilies. The SAS appeared to be a valid instrument in assessing stage of stepfamily adjustment, and more so when accompanied with a qualitative evaluation. Internal personality parts played acomplex role in the adjustment process of these stepfamilies.

Subject Area

Stepfamilies, Domestic relations, Remarriage--Psychological aspects

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