Follow up to the initial telephone contact with the client who has called in to set up an appointment for family therapy, the therapist will find out if the caller is a single parent, or if they are also calling on behalf of their other marital partner. The therapist often encourages an initial face-to-face consultation with the primary parent(s) in the family, establishing positive trust and rapport, prior to meeting the whole family, parents and children together.
As in conducting individual and couple therapy, the therapist encourages and empowers the parental partner(s) to safely articulate the nature of the difficulties they are experiencing in their family, the strengths and limitations they perceive in their family unit, whether the difficulty is experienced broadly by all, a few or an individual member in the family system. This exploratory narrative process will reveal to the parent(s) and the therapist, whether the difficulty being experienced truly is a systemic family counselling issue, or whether it might be an issue most effectively resolved by couple / marital counselling (strengthening this core executive role in the family unit), or individual counselling with one member of the family unit, or combinations of these family unit components.
A clearly stated treatment plan will now be crafted between the client(s) and the therapist, with outcome objective identified, in guiding the therapeutic process contracted between the parental/family executive and the therapist. An age-relevant individual treatment plan will also be created guiding relevant work with one of the children in the family unit, if this is the need, and how this relates to a strengthened family unit.
During, and follow-up to one member, or unit of the family being the focus of individual counselling, a strengthened family life functioning is enhanced by sitting down together as a whole family unit, to incorporate new, healthier functioning by all members of the family.
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