Most family therapy models subscribe to the view that preparation for interviews is necessary (for example, Palazzoli et al. 1978, 1980; Minuchin and Fishman 1981; de Shazer 1982). This chapter introduces some preparation procedures and suggests useful tools and rituals. It is important to remember that preparation is an important ‘ritual’ to be observed before each session.
Planning makes interviews more productive: it reduces confusion and gives the therapist the initiative in the session. Routine preparation establishes sets of regular plans which need only minor revision from session to session. Fundamental procedures should be periodically questioned and amended as necessary. This ensures that practice does not become rigidified. The suggestion that therapists plan a session sometimes meets with objections: that planning is controlling, diminishes therapist spontaneity, ignores the client’s position, and may cause important issues to be overlooked. These comments do point to some disadvantages of rigorous planning. However, the advantages of being prepared for a family session far outweigh these disadvantages, especially for a beginning therapist. Family systems present a wealth of information on many levels. If workers are confused, their chances of helping a family are greatly reduced. For these reasons most therapists do some preparation before each session. Preparation can give the worker a clear framework that allows them to take the initiative