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Parent Counseling and Counseling for Teenagers: Attending the First Session

Asking for help from a marriage and family therapist is a serious decision. Even if the problems at home are heartbreaking, the thought of sharing family issues with a stranger can be scary and intimidating. Knowing what family therapy can look like starting with the first appointment can help alleviate those fears. Here’s one fictional family’s story that includes parent counseling, and counseling for teenagers.

Joanne and John sat nervously in the waiting room. Julie, the family therapist they had decided to see after using their local therapist finder, had scheduled an initial meeting with both of them. She told them this first session would take about 90 minutes and it was a chance for everyone to get to know one another, identify some issues, and decide if she would be a good fit for their family.

When Julie appeared they handed her their completed paperwork and went back to her office. The service agreement outlined Julie’s background and philosophy, limits of confidentiality, fees and meeting times, and contact information for both Julie and the state therapist licensing board. Joanne and John had also signed a release of information so Julie could talk with John’s psychiatrist.

Joanne and John were slow to share at first, but eventually the dam broke and they shared what their family had been and what it had become. Julie listened and assured them they were resilient and she would help them work on a plan to capitalize on their strengths, not just focus on their weaknesses. It was agreed that Joanne and John would meet with Julie weekly at first, and then taper to an as-needed basis.

Joanne and John left that first meeting with hope. Neither had felt that way in a long, long time.

When you decide to seek help for your family, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different mental health professions and choose the professional with whom you feel the best fit. And remember, it’s okay to keep looking if your family is not making progress.

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