Therapy intake sessions are more than just gathering information. They also help your clients form an initial impression of your practice by demonstrating your listening skills, level of organization, and therapeutic orientation. One of the best things you can do for your therapy practice is to get intake right since it gets your work going in the proper direction. Of course, doing it correctly is easier said than done.
During the first sessions, empathic listening and information collection must coexist in a delicate balance, not to mention describing your practice to your client. For this reason, implementing a therapist intake form before you even meet the patient is a great tool to gather information in advance and be better prepared for the intake session. To help you create the perfect intake form, we will go over some of the main aspects you must cover.
But first, let's further look into the benefits of implementing this client form into your intake process.
Note: With Bonsai, you can quickly create professional online forms and have all of your paperwork ready when you need it. We help you boost client intake and lead capture with questionnaires that fit your workflow! You'll also get access to our contract and invoice templates for therapists. Try a 7-day free trial today.
Why Client Forms Are Vital for Your Intake Process
The first step on the road to better mental health for people seeking therapy is the intake process. When done correctly, this is an excellent way to find out crucial facts regarding the patient before beginning the therapeutic process. In addition to providing information on the client's background and current life transitions, intake forms propose a structure for the first appointment and a potential path to follow moving forward.
Early on, gaining a thorough understanding of the client can save time and increase the client's trust and confidence in the counseling process. Gathering this information otherwise might take up too much time in sessions, risking losing the client's early motivation to seek care. This way, you have the opportunity to formulate follow-up questions to ask during the intake session that help you gain a better insight into your patient's needs and mental health history.
Essential Elements to Include in Your Therapist Intake Forms
When creating your client intake form, keep in mind the ultimate goal is not only to gather the client's basic information, but to discover their drivers for seeking counseling, goals, and expectations of the therapeutic relationship. You also want to make sure you are an appropriate match and you will be able to provide the help that your patient needs.
While the specific questions you choose may vary depending on your niche, there are some essential elements you must not miss in order to collect all the information you need. Let's take a closer look at these vital elements so you can get a better idea of how to dig deeper and create a comprehensive, yet straightforward intake form.
Basic Contact Information
The first section of your intake form should help you gather the patient's basic contact details and any other relevant information for your practice (referrals, insurance information, etc....) Here are some of the basic details patients are often asked to fill out.
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Phone number and email address
- Physical/billing address
- Medical ID
- Emergency contact
- Insurance company information
- Preferred method of communication
In order for you to ensure the services you provide are appropriate for the potential client, you must include a set of questions to understand why they are looking for therapy and what they expect to get out of it. Here are some of the most popular questions an intake form includes.
- What is the main reason why you are seeking help?
- Have you ever sought therapy before? If yes, how was the experience?
- If anything was possible, what beneficial changes would you make to your life right now?
- What outcomes are you hoping for from therapy? How will you know when you're prepared to end?
- Are there any recent changes in your life that I should be aware of?
- What methods have you already tried to address the issue?
Asking your patient to be honest about their medical history before starting therapy with you, will allow you to provide them with the best diagnosis and treatment plan. Try to learn as much as you can about their health, family history and any additional information you consider appropriate. These are some of the most common aspects addressed regarding a patient's medical background.
- Current medications
- Existing medical conditions
- Specific signs and symptoms in the body, mind, and behavior
- Family members who have had mental illness in the past and their diagnoses
- Abuse or trauma history (physical, sexual or emotional)
- Previous mental health diagnosis, substance abuse history and treatment
Your client intake form can also include an informed consent notice, although many present this as a separate form, however still part of the intake process. Informed consent is the process of providing information about the dangers, advantages, and anticipated outcomes of your therapy approach to the patient in order for them to make an informed decision about working with you. Different states have different laws governing informed consent, and many of them specify the information that informed consent forms must include.
Create the Perfect Client Intake Form With Bonsai
Ready to draft the perfect therapist intake form? Do it right, with Bonsai's client form builder. Our forms are fully customizable so you can include as many questions as you like, select the answer format that you prefer and even add your own branding elements to make it unique. Once you are done modifying your intake form you can send it as an online document directly to your clients via email or URL link. Additionally, you can have it embedded into your business website which is incredibly helpful to collect leads and get more clients.
Bonsai is the best way to create professional documents and keep your paperwork organized. Furthermore, we offer a full range of administrative tools to help you streamline your processes from client onboarding to invoicing, payment processing, accounting and much more. Discover all of these amazing features with your 7-day free trial, and join the thousands of independent professionals already reaping these benefits!