attachment and loss could be helpful in identifying and addressing the repair of existing attachment injuries. The EFT model might also be useful, through insight and awareness of related issues, in reducing the risk of future injuries to the couple’s attachment bond.
This study was informed by attachment theory and the related construct of attachment injury. The results suggest that the therapeutic interventions that are successful in mitigating attachment injury would be effective in addressing the attachment problems found in stepcouples.
The prevalence of stepfamilies, and the incidence of re-divorce, suggests that effective methods of working with stepfamilies are needed. As B said, “stepfamilies are not the same, and never will be the same” as traditional families; however, if this sample is indicative, they do experience attachment injury, albeit in a unique context. Therapy that could address attachment injuries, in the context of their unique problems, could be beneficial to challenged stepcouples.
This study was originally intended to interview both men and women in stepcouple relationships. However, as only females completed the interview process, this became a study focused solely on the bio/stepmother’s point of view. The sample also was biased in selecting respondents who reported that their problems were of a certain level of threat to their relationship.
Interviews were conducted via the Internet, so that there were no aural or visual cues observed by the researcher. Attachment injury in other studies often was first identified by a change of facial expression, a tone of voice or tearfulness. It was not possible to make these observations in this interview format. Without tone of voice or physical expressions as cues, the researcher also took extra care to be certain that the meaning she thought they conveyed was the intended message. Although the Internet format was useful in some ways, affording privacy and convenience to the respondents, for example, studies relative to attachment injury might be better served by the ability to directly observe the respondents.
The interviews all took place within an eight-week span in the late autumn, around the start of the traditional holiday seasons. The holidays were an important factor in some of the interviews; the timing of the interviews may have had direct bearing on this. Had the interviews been conducted at a time of year not so potentially emotionally loaded, the responses might have differed.
In two cases, the respondents noted the presence of their spouse, either through sharing interview information with the spouse or his reading over her shoulder. This may have affected their responses, which was not possible to determine. One respondent seemed distracted, in that her response time seemed longer than the length of her answers would indicate. This led to a lengthy, yet truncated initial interview, and protracted follow up; the entire interview occurred over a two-week period, affecting the flow of the “conversation,” and it was the shortest interview, in terms of length of the transcript. It did, however, yield extremely helpful data.