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An intake assessment is a systematic evaluation that professionals use to gather information about a client or patient when they first seek services. It’s the initial step in understanding the individual’s background, needs, concerns, and goals, and it serves as a foundation for the development of an appropriate care or intervention plan.

The intake process often involves:

  • Interviews: Structured or semi-structured conversations with the client or patient to gather information.

  • Questionnaires or Surveys: Standardized forms the client fills out which can provide additional data.

  • Observations: Clinician or provider notes on the client’s behavior, appearance, or demeanor during the intake process.

  • Review of Records: Previous medical, academic, or other relevant records can be examined to provide a more comprehensive view of the client’s history.

A properly conducted intake assessment not only helps in designing the intervention plan but also builds trust and rapport between the provider and the client.

Progress notes, often a part of a client’s record or file in medical, psychological, and social services settings, are brief, timely, and systematic documentation of client encounters. They provide an ongoing chronicle of a client’s status, interventions, and outcomes related to care, treatment, or services.

The typical components of a progress note might include:

  • Date and Time: When the note was written and when the session or interaction occurred.

  • Client Identifier: Usually a name, but sometimes a unique ID number, to specify whom the note pertains to.

  • Presenting Problem or Status: A brief description of why the client sought services or their status during the session.

  • Intervention: A description of what the provider did during the session, such as types of therapy techniques used, medications prescribed, or referrals made.

  • Response to Intervention: The client’s reaction or response to the interventions or services provided during that session.

  • Plan: Any plans or next steps to be taken in the client’s care.

  • Signature and Credentials: The professional writing the note will typically sign it, with their credentials, to authenticate the record.

Therapy notes, sometimes referred to as psychotherapy notes or process notes, are private notes taken by therapists during or after counseling sessions. They often contain the therapist’s impressions, speculations, hypotheses, and personal reactions to the client’s disclosures. These notes are meant to assist therapists in tracking and analyzing therapeutic processes, patterns, and their own professional reflections on the client’s care.

Therapy notes differ from progress notes in several ways:

  1. Content: While progress notes typically document the basic facts of a session (like the interventions used and the client’s response), therapy notes are more in-depth and can contain a therapist’s subjective impressions.

  2. Confidentiality: Therapy notes are typically more protected than progress notes. For instance, in the context of U.S. health care, while standard medical records, including progress notes, might be accessible to insurance companies, psychotherapy notes are given special protection under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and usually aren’t disclosed without explicit patient authorization.

  3. Accessibility: Progress notes are often used to communicate with other care providers or to justify the necessity of services to insurance providers. Therapy notes are meant for the therapist’s personal use and are rarely, if ever, shared with others. They’re usually kept separately from the rest of a client’s clinical file.

It’s worth noting that the keeping of therapy notes, and the content within them, can vary significantly among therapists. Some therapists may take detailed notes, while others might jot down only brief reflections or even opt not to take any process notes at all. The choice often depends on the therapist’s training, personal style, and the setting in which they work.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a therapeutic approach designed primarily to treat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Like other therapeutic modalities, when a therapist conducts an EMDR session, they often take notes to document the process and track the client’s progress.

EMDR notes would typically include:

  1. Client Information: Name, date of the session, and other identifying details.

  2. Phase of EMDR: EMDR is structured around an eight-phase approach, so therapists might note which phase was the focus of a particular session. The phases are:

    • History-taking
    • Preparation
    • Assessment
    • Desensitization
    • Installation
    • Body Scan
    • Closure
    • Reevaluation
  3. Targeted Memory or Issue: A brief description of the specific traumatic memory or issue that was the focus of the session.

  4. SUDs (Subjective Units of Distress) Score: This is a scale (typically from 0 to 10) that clients use to rate their current level of distress related to the targeted memory or issue. It helps in tracking the intensity of distress over sessions.

  5. Positive and Negative Cognitions: Negative cognitions are the negative beliefs the client holds about themselves in relation to the traumatic event. Positive cognitions are the desired beliefs they’d like to have. Therapists track these to see how they shift over time.

  6. VOC (Validity of Cognition) Scale: This scale (typically from 1 to 7) measures how true the positive cognition feels to the client.

  7. Body Sensations: Any physical sensations the client notices when they think about the traumatic memory. This is crucial because trauma often manifests as physical sensations in the body.

  8. Descriptive Notes: These might include details about the EMDR process during the session, client feedback, therapist observations, and any changes or modifications to the standard EMDR protocol.

  9. Closure and Grounding Techniques Used: If a session brings up intense emotions, the therapist will use various techniques to help the client return to a state of equilibrium before ending the session. They might note these techniques.

  10. Plan or Next Steps: What the therapist plans to address in future sessions or any homework or tasks the client should do before the next meeting.

Couple therapy notes are records kept by therapists or counselors who provide therapy to couples. The focus of couple therapy is usually on improving the relationship, resolving conflicts, enhancing communication, or addressing other relational challenges. These notes help therapists track the dynamics, issues, and progress of the couple over time.

Typically, couple therapy notes might include:

  1. Client Information: Names of both partners, date of the session, and other relevant identifying details.

  2. Presenting Issue: The main problem or challenge the couple is currently facing or the primary reason they sought therapy.

  3. Session Content: A brief overview of what was discussed during the session, such as specific topics, conflicts, revelations, or patterns observed.

  4. Dynamics Observed: The therapist may note interactions or dynamics observed between the partners during the session. This might include patterns of communication, roles each partner tends to take, emotional reactions, and so forth.

  5. Interventions Used: What therapeutic techniques or strategies the therapist used during the session, and the couple’s response to those interventions.

  6. Homework or Assignments: Couples therapy often includes tasks or exercises to be done outside of sessions to help reinforce skills or insights gained during therapy. The therapist would note any such assignments given.

  7. Goals and Progress: Notes about the goals set for the therapy and any progress (or lack thereof) towards those goals. This helps track the effectiveness of therapy and any areas that might need more attention.

  8. Plan for Future Sessions: Thoughts or plans about what topics or issues to address in upcoming sessions or any adjustments to the therapeutic approach.

  9. Individual Notes: Sometimes, during couple therapy, therapists might meet with each partner individually. They could keep separate notes for these individual sessions, noting any concerns, insights, or information that could be relevant for the couple’s work.

  10. Administrative or Logistical Information: This could include details about scheduling, fees, cancellations, or any other logistical concerns.

SOAP notes are a method of documentation employed by healthcare providers to create a clear and structured form of recording patient information. The acronym “SOAP” stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. This format allows for a systematic and organized way to review and document a patient’s condition and management.


  1. Subjective (S): This section captures the patient’s subjective experiences, including their chief complaints, symptoms, and other information the patient provides about their condition. It typically covers:

    • The reason for the visit or encounter.
    • Description of the symptoms from the patient’s perspective.
    • Duration and onset of the symptoms.
    • Any factors that make the symptoms better or worse.
    • Relevant personal or family history related to the current complaint.
  2. Objective (O): This section contains objective data that the healthcare provider observes or measures. It includes:

    • Vital signs (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, temperature).
    • Physical examination findings.
    • Results from laboratory tests or diagnostic procedures.
    • Any other measurable data about the patient’s status.
  3. Assessment (A): In this section, the healthcare provider offers a diagnosis or a differential diagnosis (a list of potential diagnoses that could explain the patient’s symptoms). It summarizes the provider’s professional interpretation of the subjective and objective data.

  4. Plan (P): This section outlines the next steps in patient care, including:

    • Medications prescribed.
    • Additional diagnostic tests or procedures recommended.
    • Referrals to specialists or other care providers.
    • Patient education or guidance.
    • Follow-up instructions or scheduling.

DAP notes are another method of documentation employed by healthcare and mental health professionals. The acronym “DAP” stands for Data, Assessment, and Plan. This format provides a structured way for clinicians to capture the essential details of a client’s visit and to communicate these details in a clear, concise manner.


  1. Data (D): This section records the factual, objective information from the session or encounter. In the context of mental health, it would generally include:

    • What the client said or did during the session.
    • Observable behaviors.
    • Specific words or phrases the client used.
    • The client’s mood or affect, as perceived by the therapist.
  2. Assessment (A): In this section, the clinician offers their interpretation or clinical impressions of the data. It can include:

    • The therapist’s understanding of the client’s main concerns or issues.
    • Any changes or patterns in the client’s behavior or mood.
    • Potential challenges or obstacles to treatment.
    • Progress (or lack of progress) towards treatment goals.
  3. Plan (P): This section outlines the next steps or interventions for the client’s care. It can encompass:

    • Techniques or interventions to be used in future sessions.
    • Homework assignments for the client.
    • Recommendations for adjunct services, like group therapy, medical evaluation, or consulting with another specialist.
    • Plans for crisis management, if necessary.

The DAP note format is especially popular in counseling and psychotherapy settings. It allows clinicians to capture the essence of a session, their clinical impressions, and their plans for future interventions in a succinct format.