Studying for the NCE – Personal Lesson about the Binuclear Family

Ahrons, et al, (2006), describe the binuclear family as a concept that helps normalize a broken home situation in a healthy way.  This term refers to situations in which one family member lives in two homes as the result of divorce. (Ahrons, et al, 2006).  Since nobody in my extended family has ever divorced, my experience with binuclear situation is very limited.   For this reason, I find it interesting that unresolved conflict is the norm in a binuclear family situation.   Upon learning this fact, I’ve stopped to examine my personal beliefs about conflict.  In my family of origin, conflict is conceived of in a highly negative manner.  My parents are college professors who tend to “lead” with their intellect.  As a result emotions take a back seat and issues were “discussed” calmly.   This typical manner of handling issues stands in stark contrast to shows such as “Rosanne”, which my mother always hated.  According to here, it was off putting because everybody was rude to one another.   To this day, as a result of those experiences, I tend to have difficulty with conflict.

Ahrons, et al, (2006) describe conflict as a component of the nuclear family, which must be normalized.  Rather than defining it in highly negative terms, Ahrons, et al, (2006) see it as an issue to manage.  Improving communication styles, examining boundaries and establishing roles are just a few ways in which the therapist can help a families manage conflict more effectively

Most Rewarding Challenges

Helping a family getting unstuck from dysfunctional patterns of interaction would be especially rewarding to me.  This starts as the family learns to see the situation differently by taking time to consider all perspectives of a situation in a therapy session together.   With this understanding in place, this video introduces the concept of a limited partnership that involves a redefinition of the co-parenting relationship (Ahrons, et al, 2006).  Small changes such as developing clear boundaries and roles can make big differences for children.

Most Difficult Challenges

The therapist in this video cautions against allowing our beliefs and values to enter the therapeutic situation (Ahrons, et al, 2006).  Self-awareness is critical in order to prevent imposing our beliefs upon others.   As I’ve stated earlier, I have a problem dealing with conflict.  In a previous position, I worked in a law office with several family law attorneys.  As the individual responsible for preparing many of the legal documents, I often found myself in the middle of conflict.  Family therapy situations such as the one in this video wouldn’t be overwhelming to me.   However, in families with greater levels of dysfunction and conflict, I might become overwhelmed.   The therapist in this video makes a point of noting that beginning therapists often become anxious with so many people in the room together who don’t get along (Ahron, et al, 2006).  This may become me, especially if you add addiction and domestic violence to a situation.

Handling Difficult Challenges

As a therapy student, I don’t think avoiding difficult situations would be the best option.  Working on developing the skills necessary to address these issues effectively would be the best route to take.   I need  to educate myself on issues I have little experience with, such as addiction.  Finally, I will need practice on learning how to manage conflicts in the directive manner as described in this video (Ahrons, et al, 2006).


Ahrons, C. R., Graumann, P., Lerner, S., & (2006). Making divorce work: A clinical approach to the binuclear family (Instructor’s version. ed.). San Francisco, CA:

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