How your Family Should Prepare for your First Therapy Session

The decision to start family therapy is a huge step. This guide should help you get started on the right foot.

The decision to seek therapy is probably one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for your family. But if you are like many other families, the decision comes with reservations about what to expect.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

The first thing that your therapist wants to know is why your family sought therapy in the first place.

Families come to therapy for many reasons. Examples include marital discord, sibling rivalry, addiction, grief, and/or anxiety. Some people struggle with eating disorders while other people struggle with self harm.
Many times there is an “identified client” who is the main person in need, while the family acts as supports for that client. Examples of this include an example like this.
LaVonte is an 8 year old boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD. His parents are in desperate need of resources to get him the emotional and psychological support that he needs so that he can focus at school and at home as his current behaviors are causing him to forget things and to constantly get into trouble.
Other times, the family unit is the main focus. Examples of this include the follow:
The smiths have entered treatment since the death of Mrs. Smith’s father. Mrs. Smith cries all day and cannot get out of the bed, Mr. Smith works all the time and is unavailable to assist with the kids, and the two children are getting into trouble daily because there is no oversight.
The point is, while a therapist can often treat many problems, there are specific reasons that your family needs help and you want to share those with your therapist in your first therapy session.


Your therapist will also ask about the current symptoms of the different family members.

The therapist will want to know if anyone in the family is having having mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia or excessive sleep, loss of interest in activities, increase or decrease in weight gain, etc. This will help guide the therapist on what areas to focus on so that they would know how to help the family to deal with them better, or reduce them entirely.

Your therapist will also help you develop a treatment plan.

This will take into consideration the responses to your Assessment, your symptoms, and explore your goals for treatment. Oftentimes these are measurable and include the start and end date.

Your therapist will also want to know what is working for you.

While your relationship will grow with your therapist, it helps if your therapist has an idea of things that you already knew worked well. For instance, knowing that your family is religious or already adheres to a movie night routine is helpful. If one family member is a star basketball player and the family supports that member, this is also helpful. This information is used to expand upon in order to further assist the family while also acknowledging whatever limitations it poses for family dynamic as well.

Your therapist will also want to know if you have been in treatment before and if so what has and has not worked.

If you have not been in treatment at all, your therapist will likely want to know why now is the perfect time to begin this work.

In a nutshell, the first session is one of the most important sessions your family will have because it lays the foundation for the treatment that your family will receive. It is important for your family to do all that you can to be as honest and authentic with your therapist so that your therapist can be the most helpful to your family.

If you are thinking about starting family therapy, there is no better time than the present. We have great therapist here who are ready to work with you.


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