The main purpose here is to clarify the needs of the family and to allay any worries or anxieties that they might have. It is important to note that different members of the family may have different worries and anxieties and they also need to be addressed. If you have some preliminary information about the family (like a referral letter), or about some of it's members, try not to let that information govern your thoughts; you need to listen carefully and make sure you hear ALL of the family members.
As a professional you also need to consider the composition and relationships within the family (Weber, 2010) as well as being sensitive to different needs (for example the family's cultural needs) (Hultsjo et al, 2007).
If there are children in the family, invite them to the meeting and listen to their viewpoints and ideas as well. The concepts associated with systems theory (inner link) applies here; if something happens to one family member it affects all of the other members as well. Use the information you have about different age-groups and your imagination when there are children in the meeting. For example you can ask children to draw their worries if it is hard for them to articulate them. In this example, you can ask more about the picture, which can make it easier for you to understand the child's experiences in an age appropriate. This discussion might be really important for other family members as well and they should be invited to to hear and join in if it is appropriate to do so. (While there are specific therapies for children, we have not included that information here).
Never underestimate the loyalty of children to their parents and their knowledge on issues within the family. Therefore, for example, drawings should not be used to keep children busy while adults talk, but a way to include children in the discussions.
Take the position of each family member in the animation. Try and imagine your feelings and emotions if you were in that particular family members position.
Think back to when you were a child and then an adolescent. Does this help you to understand how family members in different age groups can react in this situation? Don't think that everything is the same as it was for you, but use your experiences to understand.
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