Write Family Therapy Notes with AI

How to Write Clinical Family Therapy Notes Using AI

Family therapists play an important role in family services, mental health, and the medical world as a whole. While their job is to help family members communicate and solve problems, their ultimate goal is to ensure each individual feels seen and heard during their session.

A family therapist does more than just listen and guide clients. They also need to document the entire session while still giving each individual their full, undivided attention. Depending on the number of people in the room and the dynamics, this can be easier said than done.

Fortunately, there are tools to help make note-taking easier during sessions. The key is to learn how to properly take notes and how to utilize those tools.

What Are Family Therapy Notes?

Family therapy notes are documents of the sessions, observations, assessments, and interactions between family members. There are times when the session may involve multiple problems or several people trying to communicate at once, and everything still needs to be documented for the clinical notes.

Information to Include on Family Therapy Notes

Part of learning how to use note-taking tools, such as AI, for family therapy notes is learning what information needs to be included in the documents. You are teaching the tool to create the notes, so you need to include all the necessary information.

Start by determining who is paying for the sessions, such as an insurance company. In this case, the sessions are billed under a participating family member who meets the requirements for the service. This individual is considered the patient, and the notes include their goals, treatments, and progress.

Families who pay out of pocket are equally considered patients, and the notes include the observations, interventions, and progress of each member.

There are several factors that therapists need to keep in mind when writing their notes:

  • Participants: Therapists must take note of who was present, who was absent, and whether their absence was planned or unplanned.
  • Goals and treatment: It is essential to include notes about the family’s progress toward their identified treatment goals. This way, therapists can keep everyone on track with treatment. The notes should also include weekly goals to determine if everyone is on the same page or if the plan needs to be adjusted.
  • Observations and reflections: The focus should be on observable behaviors during the session rather than personal interpretations. Therapists should take note of important observations, patterns, and dynamics between family members.
  • Summary: Family therapy notes should also include a detailed overview of the session, including the exercises or techniques used and how they relate to the treatment goals. Furthermore, notable interactions, interventions, and events should also be included in the notes.

Family Therapy AI Prompt Examples Using This Information

A therapist needs to guide an AI tool with all the necessary information to ensure the notes are accurate. It takes a bit of experimenting with different prompts and directions, but there are AI prompts that can be used for these notes. The following is an example using a mock family and covering all the details of the dynamics and session:

“AutoNotes, I want you to act as a licensed family therapist. I need to record notes on a family of four dealing with complications of marriage and stepsiblings, where the father is paying for the session. The teenagers, ages 13 and 15, are not getting along well, and this has the newlyweds at odds. The goal is to create a healthy home environment through calm communication rather than yelling and insults.

For this session, all four members were present. The teenagers went back and forth with complaints that ended in raised voices and several insults. The father tried to step in and mediate, and the mother became nervous and shut down.

Fortunately, a ‘talking stick’ was introduced, which only allowed the person holding the stick to speak. This gives everyone a turn to share their feelings. Additionally, stress balls are being discussed for the next session, indicating the family is ready to move forward. We are also exploring anxiety medication for the 15-year-old daughter because she is dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s passing and a lot of change.

AutoNotes, I need you to create clinical family therapy notes using the information above.”

Family Therapy Note Example

The results included all the information from the above AI prompt, and the notes are detailed, professional, and accurate enough to summarize the entire session and overall progress:

Session Date: [Enter Date]


  • Father (Client)
  • Mother
  • 13-year-old daughter
  • 15-year-old daughter

Family Dynamics:

The family is currently navigating a challenging phase, marked by significant shifts due to a recent marriage, resulting in stepsibling relationships between the two teenage daughters. The teenagers’ relationship is strained, characterized by frequent conflicts, raised voices, and exchanges of insults. The tension between the daughters has begun to impact the marital relationship of the parents. During discussions, one parent attempts to mediate while the other parent becomes visibly anxious and withdraws from the conflict.

Intervention Strategies:

The session employed a “talking stick” strategy to regulate communication. This tool allows each family member the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a structured manner, fostering a more respectful and controlled dialogue. This technique helps in creating a space for each individual to be heard without interruptions, promoting a sense of equality and fairness.

Treatment Plan:

  • Implementing calm communication: Encourage the family to continue using the “talking stick” approach to facilitate respectful communication, ensuring that each member feels heard and understood without fear of interruptions or judgment.
  • Introduction of stress balls: Introduce stress balls as a way to manage emotions and stress during future sessions, providing a physical outlet for tension and anxiety.
  • Exploring medication for anxiety: Recognize the 15-year-old daughter’s struggle with the recent loss of her mother and subsequent changes in the family dynamic, considering the potential introduction of anxiety medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional to assist her in coping with the emotional strain.

Goals for the Next Session:

  • Promoting understanding and empathy: Foster a deeper understanding between the teenagers, encouraging empathy and respect for each other’s experiences.
  • Enhancing parental support: Assist the parents in developing coping strategies to effectively manage conflict and anxiety within the family unit.
  • Continued support for 15-year-old: Focus on the emotional support for the 15-year-old daughter dealing with grief and adapting to changes in the family structure.

This session marked the initiation of structured communication methods, which will be further refined in subsequent sessions. The family demonstrates a commitment to improving their interactions and building a healthier home environment.

Follow-Up Plan:

A follow-up session is scheduled in [Specify duration], during which the effectiveness of the implemented strategies will be evaluated, and additional support or adjustments will be made as necessary.

Therapist’s Reflection:

The family session highlighted the significance of implementing structured communication tools to establish a more respectful dialogue. The recognition of the 15-year-old’s emotional distress due to significant life changes and the loss of her mother will require ongoing attention and support.

The family’s commitment to change and their willingness to engage in therapeutic strategies to improve communication and cope with emotional stress bodes well for the progress of future sessions. Therapeutic support will continue to focus on promoting a harmonious family environment, acknowledging individual challenges, and facilitating healthier coping mechanisms.

Formatting Family Therapy Notes

Therapists do not need to follow any specific rules when formatting family therapy notes. However, it is best to stick to the same template for each session, such as the GIRP format or a narrative paragraph. When therapists stay consistent and use a familiar format, they can avoid confusion when reviewing their notes. 

Regardless of the format, there are certain guidelines that should be followed when taking notes:

  • Intervention description: Describe the intervention or technique used during the session, such as the “talking stick” in the above example.
  • Identify the purpose: Share the purpose of the intervention, which should fit the family’s treatment goals. For example, the “talking stick” was used to ensure everyone felt seen and heard without any interruptions.
  • Client responses: Take note of each family member’s responses or reactions to the intervention. 

Using the example above, you want to create an AI prompt that focuses on the topic of intervention:

“AutoNotes, I want you to act as a licensed family therapist. I need to form clinical notes based on the ‘talking stick’ technique. The notes must include a description of the intervention, the purpose of the intervention, and client responses. 

All four family members were more receptive to the ‘talking stick,’ and this allowed everyone to share their thoughts and feelings without being interrupted, talked over, or insulted. Furthermore, it was the 13-year-old daughter who mentioned the idea of stress balls. Her family agreed to the stress balls for the next session, showing they are willing to try other techniques with the ‘talking stick.'”

Once the prompt was entered into the AI tool, it resulted in the following clinical notes:

Intervention: Talking Stick Technique

Description of the Intervention:

The “talking stick” technique was introduced during the family therapy session. This method involves the use of a physical object, such as a stick or any designated item, that grants the sole right to speak to the individual holding it. Only the person holding the stick is permitted to share their thoughts and feelings, ensuring an uninterrupted and respectful dialogue. This technique serves to create a structured and egalitarian communication environment, fostering a safe space for each family member to express themselves without fear of interruption or judgment.

Purpose of the Intervention:

The primary goal of introducing the “talking stick” technique was to establish a structured and respectful communication framework within the family. By providing a designated time for each member to speak without interruptions, the intervention aimed to facilitate active listening, prevent conflicts, and promote a sense of equality and fairness among family members. It was intended to enable every individual to feel heard and acknowledged, thus reducing the likelihood of heated arguments and allowing for a more constructive exchange of thoughts and emotions.

Client Responses:

During the session, all four family members demonstrated receptiveness to the “talking stick” technique. They actively participated by adhering to the rules of the intervention, allowing each individual the opportunity to express themselves without interruptions or disrespectful behavior. The family members engaged in the process, understanding and respecting the concept, which significantly contributed to a more controlled and respectful dialogue.

Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that the 13-year-old daughter initiated discussions about stress balls. The family members, in a collaborative spirit, agreed to incorporate stress balls in the subsequent session. This decision illustrates their openness and willingness to explore additional techniques that complement the “talking stick,” showcasing a commitment to improving communication and managing emotions more effectively.

Therapist’s Note:

The family’s enthusiastic engagement with the “talking stick” technique is a promising indicator of their receptiveness to structured communication approaches. Their willingness to embrace additional tools, such as stress balls, suggests an openness to exploring diverse strategies to enhance their communication and emotional management skills. The family’s collaborative efforts are encouraging and reflect their commitment to creating a healthier and more empathetic environment within the household. Continued use of these techniques and the exploration of new methods will likely support the family in their journey toward improved communication and emotional well-being.

Challenges for Writing Family Therapy Notes and How to Make It Easier

Therapists may feel emotionally exhausted after a session because of all the responsibilities they must take on at once, such as observing interactions, guiding conversations, encouraging interventions, and adjusting treatment plans. This is all done while remembering past notes and training, and some sessions may even lead to heated discussions and arguments. A family therapist must be fully present during the session, even if they feel drained.

In addition, therapists must go back and document every detail of the session. It is best to do this immediately to avoid difficulty recalling what happened. All of these responsibilities combined can be overwhelming to even the most well-together family therapists.

Fortunately, therapists can turn to HIPAA-compliant AI software to effectively take clinical notes, such as AutoNotes. The idea is to create clinical documents using the notes with AI software and prompts such as those listed in this guide.

Furthermore, some AI software can listen and transcribe the session, allowing therapists to access a transcription or generate notes from significant events of the session. While the AI program can be trained to identify key moments and create clinical notes, therapists can still make edits based on their writing style and preferred format.

Using AI software to generate notes can save both time and stress, especially when the prompts include as much information as possible.

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