How Does Family History and Assessment Contribute To Individual Therapy?
At the beginning of most individual therapy sessions, the therapist will conduct an assessment and obtain information regarding family history. The assessment is used to gather as much information about you as possible to help you. The therapist wants to know some basic information about where you work or if you go to school and what brought you to therapy. The assessment might also include information about your family history.
The therapist might ask questions about whether any one in your family has a history of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other mental health disorder. The importance of these questions has to do with genetics. There is a strong relationship between whether your parents have a mental health disorder and if you might develop the disorder. The therapist will ask about family history related to primary relatives such as your mother, father, or siblings, and might also ask if any secondary relatives such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles, have any history with mental health disorders.
It is important that you are honest with the therapist and if you do not know about your family history, then let them know. If you do have some information, share it. This information provides the therapist with a foundation in determining a diagnosis and course of treatment for you.
There may be some family issues that you do not want to disclose to the therapist and that is okay initially. Your family and what kind of environment you grew up in is very important information to have as it can help explain some of the issues you are experiencing today. Many of the behaviors you exhibit today were learned in childhood and the therapist is using the information to understand you in a more holistic way. In addition, you learned how to be you from your primary caregivers, therefore this information can be useful to explore what it was like for you to be a child. Childhood experiences from your perspective give the therapist great insight into your personality and thoughts and feelings you might have today.
The therapist will also ask questions about the strengths of your family and inquire about a few positive childhood experiences. Sometimes these positive childhood experiences provide insight into how you view the world today. You may have been close to a particular relative and the therapist can use this information to determine how you interact with others today.
The first two to three sessions of individual therapy are really about getting to know you and what makes you who you are today. The information you provide on your family history will shape the therapy sessions and help you to understand where you came from and where you want to go with therapy and beyond. The assessment and family history information are the pieces of the puzzle that help the therapist understand you.
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