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Making Peace with Progress Notes: A Resolution for 2018

       Thinking about resolutions you need to make as a counselor for 2018?  One to consider is to make peace with your progress notes.  Most of us – as counselors – do not enjoy writing progress notes.  In fact, I have found that most of us tend to dread writing progress notes, procrastinating the completion of this task.  I encourage counselors to “make peace” with progress notes by doing what we often do with our clients – reframing the way in which we think about them.  Progress notes are imperative to our work as counselors, and we need to see these notes as the way to inform the work we do with our clients so that we become better therapists.  So, here are three ways to cognitively re-structure the way in which we view progress notes:

  • Think of your notes as the way to reflect on the work you engaged in with your client. Progress notes are a type of journaling, but with objective statements and factual information that provide an overview and synopsis of the session.
  • Your documentation helps you put together the pieces of your client’s story. You can see yourself as being a detective, uncovering more about the client, the motivations behind their behaviors and the thoughts that are connected to their emotions.  With each session, you learn more about your client, piecing together the pieces of the puzzle that construe the “bigger picture” associated with the client.
  • A third way to embrace progress notes is to view these as part of the counseling session. Your documentation is the final step that adds your conceptualization of the therapeutic encounter you had with the client.  Once you have written the note, you have finalized that particular interaction you had with the client as your notes provide the summary of what occurred, what was done and what the plan is for the next session with the client.

       So, reflection, detective work and conceptualization are three ways to positively view progress notes.  If you are interested in having a systematic format to help you with the process of writing progress notes, I invite you to review the new STEPnotes online tool at:  www.stepnotesinc.com.  This online tool is available at a reduced price through the first part of January.  If you have the resolution of writing your notes in a more efficient and organized manner, check out the STEPnotes online tool; it will help you save time and give you consistency with your documentation.  Happy New Year!


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