What to Expect in Your First Family Therapy Session

Family Therapy

Welcome to Paragon! We are so happy that you’re here. We know that families are so important to kids’ wellness and recovery. In family therapy, you’ll be working with your family therapist to identify your family strengths, challenges, and work towards your new normal. This blog post is about what to expect in your first family therapy session.

You will schedule your first family session during the day that your child admits to the program. Family sessions are offered Monday-Friday, usually during business hours (8am-5pm). We usually meet in-person for those sessions, and for the first couple of sessions, we’ll usually ask that everyone who lives in your child’s house or houses come to those sessions. We understand that there are a lot of different ways to be a family, so if you have specific questions about your situation, ask your team during your child’s admission day.

During your first session, you’ll meet in a therapy room with your family therapist, your family, and your child. Residents usually say that they expect the first session to be intense, but find that most of the time it’s kind of boring. In your first couple of family sessions, your family therapist will be getting a family history and drawing a family tree (they might call it a “genogram”) to help understand how your family came to be, your family values, and your family goals. Each family session usually takes 45-50 minutes.

By the end of your second session, you will be working with your family and family therapist to establish family goals. Family goals are things that everyone in the family system is working on. Everyone in the family can see what everyone else is doing to work on the goal. “Our child will have fewer depression symptoms” is not a family goal; “Our child will be able to talk to us about their depression symptoms, and we’ll be able to take care of ourselves and be open to that conversation” is a family goal. Your family therapist will help you develop these goals together.

As you continue to move through family therapy, you’ll work on accomplishing your family goals in phone calls, visits, and passes. Your family therapist will help you and your family make decisions, experiment with new approaches and behaviors, and acknowledge and support your growth. We’re looking forward to having you and your family in care!