Workbook for Clients

Notebook for Therapists

In an attempt to make my process easier with clients, and to add value to the therapy services I offer, I have created a “notebook” for myself with a corresponding “workbook” for my clients. The idea is to have a dedicated workspace for both myself and my clients for sessions – no more assembling together odd bits of paper in a folder or my client asking for a notebook, trying to find their notes on their smart-phone, or not recording anything from our session at all.

Given, there are sessions where you may not write much at all, and there are clients who would not write down anything at all (one client told me straight up that the workbook looked like “work” and that was immediately stressful for her). But for those sessions and clients where you are on a journey, with a process over a number of sessions, then the client may find recording the important parts of the session, homework, revelations, narratives, etc., very valuable.

But why would I as a therapist buy a notebook like this? Yes it’s a small financial outlay at $6 each (although increasingly less of an outlay the longer you work with a client) but it can give a very good first impression of your practice – it says you are organised, you have a plan, and your client has something tangible to take home and work with (with a beautiful glossy cover!). I suggest that you get sticky-labels, with your practice details, to go on the front or back or inside of the client workbook.

This systematic way of taking notes and having a space where clients can take notes, is not for everyone nor every client, and I suspect there will be those who would consider it a waste of money or they have something similar they produce themselves. But for those who may think this is a valuable addition to their practice I’ve made it available as cheaply as I can on (especially if you are in the USA as postage is cheaper there) for like-minded therapists. The images below have links to the appropriate Amazon pages.

Here is a brief on what’s in the books – the Therapy Notebook is 61 pages and the Client Workbook is 67 pages (both 8.5 x 11 inches)

516ZNbaNpKLContent – Therapy Notebook

The Therapy Notebook has the following content:

a) Initial Assessment: A typical client assessment checklist that would be familiar to many with space for:

  • Client Details
  • Chief Complaint
  • History of Present Illness
  • Past Psych History
  • Auxiliary Data
  • Appearance, Behaviour, Speech, Attitude toward therapist, Mood & Affect, Perception, Thought, Sensation & Judgment
  • Presenting Problem, Predisposing Factors, Precipitating Factors, Perpetuating Factors, Protective Factors, Prognosis, Diagnosis, Differential Diagnosis
  • And space for summarising any test data from instruments you may have used

b) The Big Picture: This is space to record the current state in 8 blocks (half a page each). The idea here is to capture a holistic picture of the current state of the client and need not be done in the initial session but may be built up over a number of sessions as you get to know their full bio-psycho-social-spiritual state:

  1. Mental Wellbeing
  2. Physical Wellbeing
  3. Diet
  4. Sleep
  5. Exercise
  6. Relationships
  7. Intelectual Stimulation
  8. Spirituality

There is also a page to record notes on the client narrative and your impressions about their approach/avoidance schemas (or whatever else you feel is salient in the early intake process).

c) Treatment Plan: The treatment plan aspect of the notebook is broken up into three areas with reminder check boxes related to “The Big Picture” (a page for each area):

  1. Mind (Psychological tools, Medications, Relationships, Intellectual Stimulation)
  2. Body (Diet, Medications, Sleep, Exercise)
  3. Spirit (no checkboxes in this one)

There is also a page in this section to record basic psychological needs enhancement and meeting safety needs – something that neuropsychotherapy is obsessively focused on. It’s only a page for initial impressions – these core needs and safety will, I trust, be a focus in the session by session notes.

d) Session Notes: Simply a blank page and a ruled page for each session. There is space for 12 sessions.

e) Further Notes: This is a space to jot notes that may not fit into a session but is relevant to the client – research notes, case study observations, art by the client, other auxiliary information, or simply a continuation of sessions should you need more than 12 sessions (there are 11 of these pages).

f) DASS + Marking Sheet: A copy of the DASS and a marking sheet.

g) Sample Intake Form: A relatively comprehensive intake form I use myself and have included here – you can fill this in yourself in session as you ask the client the relevant questions, have them fill it out before the session, or use it as a template for an online form.

41Jz04LU-ELContent – Client Workbook

The content of the Client Workbook follows the layout of the Therapist Notebook but without the assessment aspect (obviously). The Client Workbook does have a “Your Story” section that has been provided to encourage the client to write down their story, or some aspect of what they are going through, not only so you can be informed but as an integrative left-brain/right-brain process that can often be therapeutic in itself (see the article on narrative therapy in The Neuropsychotherapist).

a) Presenting Problems (What’s wrong)

b) The Big Picture (Where you are right now)

  1. Mental Wellbeing
  2. Physical Wellbeing
  3. Diet
  4. Sleep
  5. Exercise
  6. Relationships
  7. Intellectual Stimulation
  8. Spirituality
  9. Your Story

c) The Big Plan (Getting to where you want to be)

  1. Mind
  2. Body
  3. Spirit

d) The Journey (session notes in your journey toward thriving)

e) The Journal (Optional space to journal you journey)

If you do purchase these books to try out (the above images have links to the appropriate Amazon pages), I would love to have your feedback and any suggestions on how it may be improved (consider it a work in progress). Although it would be impossible to accommodate every modality with their different idiosyncrasies and focuses, I would like to know what you have found useful and what not. To have broad appeal it does need to be relatively open and I do want it to maintain a holistic focus with a neuropsychotherapy basis.

Matthew Dahlitz: The founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Neuropsychotherapist Chief Editor of the International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, Managing Director of  The Institute of Neuropsychotherapy, and member of the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies. His therapeutic orientation is an amalgamation of powerful interventions such as Coherence Therapy, and Emotion Focused Therapy, while being informed by the meta-framework of neuropsychotherapy.

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