Welcome to the Institute of Step-Family Dynamics

We’re a resource for people who are part of a step-family or work with step-families, and those who are both!

There are some very important differences between how step-families function and the dynamics involved and how ‘first families’ work. Far too often people in step-families are given advice that might work very well if the advice was for a ‘first family’, but for a step-family that advice can leave them feeling like failures and sometimes make things even worse.

For professionals, like teachers, counselors, health professionals, and even legal professionals, there isn’t a lot of training in how to deal specifically with the step-family dynamic. School systems often aren’t set up to deal with children having multiple homes. Professionals aren’t trained in how to deal
with high conflict situations, or how to recognize when there is attempted parental alienation at play.

Here at the Institute we are experts in Step-Family Dynamics. It’s what we do, it’s what we know, and we are passionate about sharing that expertise with people.


Check out our latest Ebook!

Silently seething with hurt and resentment? Sick of people ignoring your boundaries and pleas for help?
Conventional wisdom around boundary setting doesn’t always work in a step-family dynamic. Figuring out how to manage 7 kids spread across several households in the middle of years of family court gave Anita plenty of practice at boundary setting.
She soon figured out boundaries had to be about what she allowed, rather than what she expected or demanded.
For a fresh look at boundary setting and staying sane in a step-family, grab your copy of “When The Ones We Love Don’t Love Our Boundaries”
Solid, achievable goals and thought provoking journal prompts will help you design your path to boundaries that keep you feeling safe and seen.


Anita has allowed me to keep my sanity. Going through multiple high conflict court cases and becoming a step mum is hard. Having someone in your corner who listen and understands is priceless.

Having someone who has been through the process, makes it a lot easier when it feels like the world is against you. Reminding you, you can do this and giving you tips and tricks helps get you through.

I cannot recommend Anita enough. She is a rock that can help you through the process. She gets it when so many just don’t. Thank you Anita, you have allowed me to continue to be me. Allowed me to see my strength and be the rock my family needs. Even rocks need someone to talk to
Christchurch, New Zealand
Getting into the nitty gritty of our BF makes me most comfortable with Anita.

As aspects of our family have changed over the years so too have the strategies Anita has given us to help us continue to grow, learn and strengthen our relationships.

A journey we are grateful to be on with her!
AM (Stepmum)
Auckland, NZ
Working with Anita has shown me two different types of support – the kind that meets me where I am and, when she knows I’m ready, the kind that helps me work beyond the limits I have long believed about myself.

My life is now moving in the direction I want and my relationship with my fiancé is the best it’s ever been.
Georgia USA
Anita has a no-nonsense insight into behavior and a willingness to challenge me that has led me to very positive change.

Anita has helped me where other therapists have not.
Greg A
Georgia USA
Anita has helped me to express my feelings I didn't know how to explain.

Her suggestions are simple and easy to follow when I have family conflict that's really hard.
AM (age 13)
Auckland, NZ
Anita has strong skills for translating her observations into relatable, realistic advice and language to use on our journey.

Her understanding of each of our roles has given us greater insight to each other and our relationships to them be better.
Phil M
Auckland, NZ

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    When the Ones we Love Don't Love our Boundaries

    What is Emotional Load in Step-Families?

    Helpful Resources

    Aroha's Way - A Children's Guide through Emotions
    How Do I Feel? A Dictionary of Emotions for Children