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Session notes are a critical component of offering services to your clients. Every counselor should be very familiar with the importance of note-taking, what details should be included inside notes and what an example of counseling session notes should look like. 

What are Counseling Session Notes? 

Counseling notes are referred to as several other things, such as therapy notes or psychotherapy notes. There are many different formats for note-taking, but their purpose is to hypothesize, observe, record thoughts, ask questions, and outline the plan for a client or patient. Notes are meant to be a source of information that providers can keep track of patient progress on, reference in later sessions, and use for billing purposes. 

They are essential to the care process because they help providers keep track of the details as they work with many different individuals, ensuring they can always offer them the best care and attention possible. 

Things That Must Be Included in Your Notes: 

There are some requirements for what must be included in a good example of counseling session notes include: 

  • Name 
  • Type of Visit
  • Date  
  • Length of Visit 
  • Developments From Previous Sessions 
  • Observations About the Client/Patient 
  • Review of the Plan Previously Set in Place 
  • Details of the Session 
  • Primary Focus of Session 
  • Safety of Client 
  • Action Items 
  • Provider Questions 

Good Examples of counseling Session Notes Modalities: 

SOAP Notes 

SOAP stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan and is a very commonly used example of counseling session no taking. The goal of SOAP notes is to first be subjective in the recording of information, meaning you leave out your personal assessments or interpretations of the interaction and focus on the patient’s own words. 

Once you have recorded the session subjectively, the next step is to be objective. In this section, providers record observations they made regarding the patient during the visit. 

Third, providers are to make an assessment using both the subjective and objective elements of their notes. 

Lastly, providers must form a plan for how to move forward with future sessions. 

DA(R)P Notes – 

DAP stands for Data, Assessment/Response, and Plan. The Data section includes everything that was observed during the session, and this should include all relevant information that you could gather involving their behavior, disposition, and responses. 

Next, providers make an assessment and form a response based on their collected data, transitioning it from objective information to subjective information. They then document the client’s response to their professional assessment. 

The plan component of DA(R)P notes is the section where the provider makes decisions and forms a plan of action for the client.

BIRP Notes – 

BIRP stands for Behavior, Interventions, Response, and Plan. First, providers record how the client presented themselves during a visit, the main topic of the session, the client’s behavior, and any other subjective and objective details in the visit. All data is recorded in this session. 

Next, providers record the methods or interventions they choose to use with the client to help them reach their goals, uncover information, or guide them through their next steps. These are the counselor’s actions, not the clients. 

The response section is dedicated to analyzing the client’s response to the interventions you chose to use during the session. 

Lastly, the plan section details the plan of action for future sessions. 

How to Improve Note-Taking With Software: 

No matter what example of counseling session notes you choose to use, you should not spend too much of your time on documentation. While it is necessary to be a provider, it can take up a lot of your time, distracting you from time with clients. Note-taking software can be a huge help in streamlining your documenting process. 

Easy Note-Taking – Software equipped with DSM 4 individual and group notes, diagnostic codes, and more makes it easy to pre-select relevant options. Specialty-specific templates make progress notes, initial assessments, treatment plans, and discharge summaries so much simpler. 

Electronic & Accessible – Your notes need to be easy to access and understand so that you can quickly catch yourself up on your client before their next session. Quality software can store and manage client charts electronically, including all of their information, diagnosis, treatment, and history. 

Easy Signatures – Signatures are a necessary part of counseling session notes. Software can offer supervisory review and co-signing options as well as accept client and staff signatures right within the application. 

Huge Library – Note-Taking should be simple. Software can provide you with hundreds of prewritten treatment goals, objectives, and progress notes while also giving you the flexibility to record your own notes if you need to. 

Note-taking is a crucial part of every session. Make sure you use the best tools and resources to get the job done in record time with quality results.