Kids in the Crossfire of Divorced and Blended Families: Interventions for Anxious, Depressed and Oppositional Children

Children caught in the crossfire of divorce and those struggling with a new blended family frequently exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties. Childr...
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Steve O'Brien
6 Hours 6 Minutes
Audio and Video
Nov 06, 2019


Children caught in the crossfire of divorce and those struggling with a new blended family frequently exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Children’s challenges may become exponential when divorce-related conflict is chronic and/or when parents’ new relationships lead to cohabitation or remarriage.

Kids end up stuck in the middle, taking on the role of fixer or therapist. Negative talk about each parent fuels blame games and regression while reunion fantasies persist.

Watch child-family psychologist, Dr. Steve O’Brien, who will provide you with a practical treatment approach for children struggling with anxiety, depression, and oppositional behavior secondary to divorced and blended family stressors.

Treatment techniques will include:

  • Rapport-building and interview methods for children in divorce and blended family environments
  • Distress-management skills for children facing the stress of family conflict and transition
  • Strategies to improve co-parenting and to help blended families better integrate
  • Family-focused art, play, and game therapy techniques
  • Developmentally-tailored cognitive-behavioral interventions
  • Effective treatments for family-related anxiety, depression, and oppositional behavior
  • Practical tactics for teachers to assist distressed children in the classroom

Upon watching this recording, you will walk away with multiple clinical tools and leave feeling empowered to take on the challenges of helping children struggling with highly stressful family transitions.




Multiple Losses, Multiple Reactions

  • Divorce Do’s and Don’ts: How Kids Cope with Parental Missteps
  • Reduce Children’s Distress due to Dysfunctional Co-Parenting
  • Helping Kids Cope with Parents’ New Relationships
  • Divorce-related Grief and Loss
Blended Families: In Reality, “Semi-Integrated if You’re Lucky”
  • ”Blood is Thicker than Water”
  • Through Children’s Eyes: Residential Invaders and Parent Stealers
  • Healthier Family Functioning via Management rather than Resolution
  • Guidelines for Smoother Stepparent-Child Relationships
  • Strategies for Relationship Protection and Semi-Integration


Intervention Strategies for Anxious Children

  • The 3-R Approach to Anxiety Management
  • Daily Relaxation Rituals
  • Child-Friendly CBT (No Homework!)
  • Family-Focused Play/Art Therapy
  • Transition-Management Skills for Dual Households
Intervention Strategies for Oppositional Children
  • Root Causes of Oppositional/Defiant Behavior
  • Defiance as expression of Anxiety and Depression
  • Social-Emotional Behavioral Assessment
  • Cooperation and Consequences vs. Compliance and Punishment
  • Creative Alternatives to Traditional Behavior Modification
Intervention Strategies for Depressed Children
  • Effective Rapport Building and Interpersonal Approaches
  • Child-Friendly Mood Management Skills
  • Game Play Therapy for Family Dynamic
  • Therapeutic Technologies
  • Emotive Communication Skill-Building
Interventions for High-Risk Children
  • Vindictive/Revengeful Behavior
  • Physically Destructive Behavior
  • Aggressive/Violent Behavior
  • Suicidal/Self-Harming Behavior
  • Non-Suicidal Self Injury
  • Repetitive Substance Abuse
  • Socially Rejected/Excluded Children
Assisting Distressed Children at School: Tactics for Educators
  • ”BASE” Method for Assessing Childhood Functioning
  • Family-Related Stress and Academic/Learning Problems
  • How Family Conflict Leads to Defiance at School
  • Classroom Management for Disruptive Behaviors
  • Special Accommodations for Highly Sensitive Children
  • Feedback/Discussion Guidelines with Challenging Parents
  • School-Wide Solutions for High-Risk Students


Steve O'Brien, Psy.D., PA Related seminars and products: 3


Dr. Steve O’Brien is a clinical psychologist with close to 30 years of experience treating children, adolescents, and families in his Clearwater, Florida practice. His specialty areas include treatment for childhood anxiety and depression, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and divorced/blended family adjustment. Dr. O’Brien utilizes an integrative model which tailors treatment to the developmental level of both children and parents. His approach integrates individual child therapy with intensive parental and familial interventions.

Dr. O’Brien has worked in a variety of clinical settings including community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, and medical clinics. He earned his PsyD at Nova Southeastern University and received specialized training in applied developmental psychology. Pediatric, child psychiatric, and school consultation is a significant part of his clinical work, and he is a frequent guest speaker in the Tampa Bay area. Dr. O’Brien previously worked as a continuing education provider for the Juvenile Welfare Board, and is currently a well-received speaker for PESI, training professionals primarily in the areas of child/adolescent mental health treatment and complex family issues. He served as associate professor at the Florida School of Professional Psychology from 2000 to 2016. While at the University, he developed a unique doctoral-level course, ‘Parent Consultation,’ designed for graduate students pursuing a concentration in child-family assessment and treatment. In 2015, Dr. O’Brien developed ‘[email protected] by,’ a first-of-its-kind clinical tool/app for obtaining a child’s perception of family life. He also serves as a media consultant for Spectrum Bay News 9, Tampa Bay’s 24-hour news source.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Steve O’Brien is in private practice. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Steve O’Brien is a member of the American Psychological Association; and the Florida Psychological Association.