Inland Empire Chapter of CAMFT

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Step-Families: Performing an Assessment

  • 24 Jan 2014
  • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Loma Linda University Behavioral Health Institute 1686 Barton Rd. Redlands, CA 92373


  • State CAMFT member, IE-CAMFT member
  • Non IE-CAMFT member, Guest; IE-CAMFT members are free

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Friday, January 24, 2014:  Chapter Meeting

Topic:  Step-Families:  Performing an Assessment by Cecile Dillon, PhD, LMFT, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

For years family therapists have been engaged in the process of family assessment of one form or another. Whether the clinician specifically starts with a critical period of family evaluation and diagnosis or the process is continuous and ongoing throughout treatment, family practitioners implicitly utilize a series of underlying dimensions. Some may focus their evaluation on terms of family conflict, some aim toward an understanding of family needs or roles played by different members, and some deal more with issues of boundaries, culture, and social context. Yet, each therapist must employ a conceptual schema, a model, a personal point of view of family functioning, which is useful in understanding the family and in facilitating therapeutic work.

This presentation will review a two-part assessment format. The biopsychosocial history is completed by the family members outside the session. In the session, the therapist administers assessment of the stepfamily. The clinician’s emphasis is on the particular aspects of stepfamily life that plays a crucial role in the adjustment of the remarried family including the resolution of the previous relationships, the influence of the outside parent(s) on the household, the mobility of the children between households, the integration of the new spouse/partner and the different family cultures, values, and norms in a stepfamily landscape.


Presentation will focus on the part of assessment that is conducted by the practitioner in session, while the copy of the biopsychosocial history completed by the family members will be provided as a guide to show how gathered information helps the therapist to conceptualize the problems and strengths of each family in an effort to develop the treatment plan for amelioration of the complaints.  After assessment is completed, the strengths, needs, and preferences factors contributing to the stepfamily’s adjustment should be identified separately from the presented problems areas. It is important also to recognize the support system of the stepfamily as being a crucial predictor of family strength and success.


Learning Objectives:

      Participants will:

      1. increase knowledge about stepfamily assessment that is based on four fundamental principles (identify, respect; educate; empathize)

      2. review administration of two-part stepfamily assessment format (use of biopsychosocial history questionnaire outside the session; performing assessment in the session)

      3. Increase knowledge on how to use assessment data to formulate plan for treatment by using case material.

Presenter’s Background

Cecile Dillon, Ph.D., is licensed both as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist, and has been practicing in Huntington Beach, Orange County for over thirty years. Her special interests include work with families in transition, such as divorce and remarriage, as well as serious mental and emotional disorders in children and adults.

Dr. Dillon, a team member in a Clinical Care Management division of IBH, Inc., is also an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and a core adjunct faculty member at the National University, who recently completed her six-year appointment as a volunteer member of the Orange County Mental Health Board. Eighteen years ago, Dr. Dillon co-founded the Living Success Center, a non–profit community counseling center in Costa Mesa. Currently her affiliation with the LSC is in the capacity of Advisory Board member.

In addition to making presentation at national and international conferences and professional meetings, Dr. Dillon maintains professional relationship with colleagues at the Nis Philosophy University, Psychology department, in Serbia where she visits and lectures on various topics related to her areas of expertise. Her last professional international trip in December of 2012, co-sponsored by The International Family Therapy Association, took her to the Republic of Gambia in Africa where she became acquainted with members of the Family Association of Gambia.



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