The Importance of the Initial Intake

Therapists,

Something I come across frequently in working with my clients is that point when the therapy runs out of steam. I hate to think of myself as a therapist who keeps asking the question at the start of a session, “How was your week?” or “What are we going to talk about today?” While it may get things started, it may not keep the therapy focused. And, ethically, most clients (and surely the insurers) want to make progress toward a goal. (There is room, of course, for the client who wants to explore his or her life, to develop a life narrative – and that tends to be less focused.)

So, in my opinion, this points to the first intake session and how it has to be complete. (This is the first 90-minute initial intake session.) I type up my intake session so that I can easily go back to it on the computer and I use a template so that things can stay organized. When my therapy with a client begins to lag, I always go back to the intake where I can pick up clues that lead us to stay focused in the therapy. So, now I can go back to the age of the client when her parents got divorced, and I can begin to ask what that must have been like for her mother and what impact those years must have had on the client. It’s just a clue I pick up on when I review the initial intake again, and it really adds to the richness of the therapy.

The topic for the July/August 2015 issue of Emotional Wellness Matters will be Actively Listening.

Till next time … Bob