Margaret Perlstein, Marriage and Family Therapist

Your First Visit

What To Expect & How To Prepare

While every client presents a unique situation, the first session usually follows some general guidelines in order to begin the conversation and handle paperwork logistics.

In General:

First sessions are a combination of getting to know each other and handling necessary paperwork. All clients will be asked to take care of the following forms:

This journey is all about you and/or your family, so it’s important that everyone feels comfortable. We’ll discuss objectives, general background, and specific relevant details. In the first session or two, it’s important to get to know each other, clarify goals, build a comfort zone, and see if we are a good fit for each other.

For Young Teens:

When working with young teens, I will usually meet the parents first. During this discussion, we will review things like family history, school performance, and social habits. When the teen comes in for the first time, the parents will usually stay in the room for a few minutes to help establish a collaborative and trusting relationship between all parties.

Once I start talking with teens one on one, I often ask why they think they are seeing a therapist. This helps to create perspective and ownership of the therapeutic goals – which are often different from those of their parents. I will also review with them the limits and extent of confidentiality, so they know the types of details that might become shared with others, and the types that will not.

For Older Teens:

Much of the process is the same when working with older teens. However, as older teens tend to have a greater independence, there is usually implied consent that they can come to a session without a parent. Often the older teen comes to the first appointment to establish whether we are a good fit. Once that’s determined, the parents come in early in the therapy to add their perspective on the issues for their child, to discuss family history and current family issues that may be influencing the stressors their child faces. Whether working with older or younger teens, I usually meet with the parents about every 6-8 weeks to ensure everyone is still on the same page and no new questions or issues have arisen.

For Adults & Couples:

With individual adults and couples, we’ll begin by talking about any emotional challenges, along with relevant background information. Most importantly, we’ll discuss how I can help the client(s) given the current circumstances, and how we can proceed towards short-term and long-term goals.

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