A counseling intake form is a fantastic approach to learn important information about the patient even before scheduling the first appointment (although they can also be used as a guide during the intake session). In addition to giving information about the client's background and life changes, intake forms offer extremely valuable insights for you to structure the counseling sessions and the strategy moving forward.
Gaining a solid grasp of the client early on helps save time while also increasing the client's trust and confidence in your counseling private practice. Additionally, intake forms can be very useful for preparing insightful follow-up questions to gather additional information you may have a concern about during the first session. Gathering this information during sessions may take up a lot of your time, which can lead to clients losing motivation or interest.
If you want to draft your own client form and make your intake sessions more efficient, we'll go over the main aspects you should cover.
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What Elements Should Your Client Form Cover During the Intake Process?
The ultimate purpose of your client intake form should not only be to collect the client's basic information but also to learn about their personal and family history, their reasons for seeking counseling, goals, and expectations for the therapeutic relationship. Additionally, you want to confirm that you and your patient are a good fit and that you can deliver the support they require.
Even though the precise questions used vary among mental health professionals, there are some crucial components you must not overlook in order to get all the information you require. Let's examine these essential components in more detail so you can develop a thorough yet simple intake form and fully understand your clients.
One of the main purposes of intake forms is to collect the patient's contact details and any other pertinent information you need in order to reach out to them during the counseling process. These are some of the basic details your patients must fill out on the counseling intake form.
- First and last name
- Contact number (cellphone, house phone, work)
- Email address
- Billing/physical address
- Emergency contact details (name, address, phone number, relationship)
- Insurance information
- Preferred means of communication
You must ask the potential patient a series of questions to learn why they are searching for counseling and what they hope to gain from it in order to make sure the services you offer are suitable for them. Here are a few of the most typical inquiries seen on an intake form regarding patient expectations.
- What is the major cause of your need for counseling?
- Have you ever worked with a counselor before? If so, how was the experience?
- What are your counseling/therapy goals ? (behavioral change, decision-making improvement, etc...)
- How are you going to know when you're ready to stop the therapeutic process?
- Do you have any current life transitions I should be aware of?
- What have you already done to try to address the issue?
You can provide your patient the best diagnosis and course of treatment if you ask them to be open and transparent regarding their medical history prior to beginning counseling. Do your best to find out as much as you can about their health, family background, and any other facts you deem pertinent. These are some of the topics that are most frequently discussed in relation to a patient's medical history.
- Diagnosis of family members who have previously had mental illness.
- Current medications
- A history of abuse or trauma (emotional, physical, or sexual)
- Prior mental health diagnosis, substance abuse history, and the treatment provided.
- Pre-existing illnesses
In order for the patient to make an informed decision about working with you, informed consent is the process of informing them about the risks, benefits, and expected outcomes of your counseling approach. Even though many people offer this notification as a distinct form, it can still be included in your client intake form as part of the intake procedure. The rules governing informed consent vary from state to state, and many of them stipulate the data that informed consent forms must contain.
In order to stay HIPAA compliant, make sure you have all the essential paperwork ready for the intake session. Some additional forms you may want to provide include a social media policy, release of information form and a notice of privacy practices.
Create Perfect Client Intake Forms With Bonsai
Are you looking for an easy and effective way to create the perfect counseling intake form? Bonsai is the best way to manage your paperwork without compromising quality. Our lightweight form builder allows you to quickly create professional and branded intake forms that you can print out or send as online documents via email or URL link.
You can also have the intake form embedded into your business website to help with lead generation and streamline the onboarding process. Our forms are completely customizable so you can add your own branding elements, include all the important questions you need, and choose the answer format that best fits your needs (text, multiple choice, etc...).
Start your 14-day free trial today to check out these and many more administrative tools that Bonsai has to offer.