My agency uses the SOQIC forms for assessment, treatment planning, progress notes, and transfer/discharge. These were developed on the state level of our department of mental health and, for the most part, are good forms to use. I use all these forms but as the primary assessor of my agency I use the diagnostic assessment the most.
These forms cover every detail that you would want to ask a client, even if it is not applicable for the client at all. The DA is around 13 pages and normally takes one hour for me to complete with client and parent but has at times taken two hours if there is a tremendous amount of information. It is very structured and can at times seem very sterile from a clinical perspective.
I was discussing the sterile subjectivity to my clinical supervisor during a supervision hour. I commented since we have time restrictions when assessing clients, because of the schedule, I think a lot that they are bored to death or are just overwhelmed by the deluge of questions. My supervisor responded back to me that even though it may seem sterile to me, it is serving a purpose to gain as much information as possible and (to my delight) there have never been any client complaints that I was sterile, stiff, or lacked a connecting quality.
Clients coming for assessments are completely out of our control. For that reason and the fact that we have a lot of no shows for assessments, I will be a guinea pig for our agency. Starting October 1st and every Friday of the week afterwards, I will be scheduling one hour assessments only. I have not had much of a problem completing assessments in an hour but the agency has always scheduled the DA’s for 1 ½ hrs. Having that extra ½ hr allowed me to get all the typing, printing, and filing completed. Having assessments scheduled back to back in one hour increments is slightly unnerving but I have been working on completing all the paperwork within the hour while the client was still in the room with some success. I have learned to type less fluff and stick to pertinent facts that the referred clinician would need to know.
Scheduling on one hour increments will not only decrease my down time but it will increase my productivity and of course bring in more income for the agency. My supervisor commented that she is expecting for receive a dissertation from me as my frustration builds from being overwhelmed with DA’s. I have in the past composed long e-mails listing my frustrations in detail and sent them to my supervisor, which is one of my coping mechanisms to release all the built up tension. After receiving three or four of these “dissertations” as my supervisor calls them, she feels comfortable enough with me to joke about the process and understands I’m not attacking but simply venting in extreme detail.
So, in the blogs to come, you will either read that I am doing great and the hour assessments are progressing well or you will read about how I dread Friday’s. More to come…
Josh Andrews is a counselor at a behavioral health agency working with children, adolescents, and families. His professional interests include the spiritual side of humankind, cognitive behavior therapy, reality therapy, and advancing the knowledge and practice of professional counseling.