In my previous post I informed everyone that I would be trying to complete the whole diagnostic assessment plus printing and scheduling to the referred counselor in one hour. I am here to say that, so far, it has been a success. I have had a couple go over one hour but not too many and it seems to work out fine. I still am able to gather as much needed information to complete the DA and the client/family hardly ever adds anything at the end of the DA upon my “anything else I should know that I didn’t ask about” question.
Now that one hour DA’s were not a problem on Friday, yes you guessed it, I will now be completing one hour DA’s every day of the work week. I’m happy to say that I did not have much anxiety upon hearing this great news from my clinical director. I have been able to complete most of my DA’s throughout the week in an hour, so I know that making it “official” was not going to be much of an adjustment for me, the support staff is a different answer but that is for another blog.
Much has occurred at our agency since my last post. The administrative department has, upon direction from our board, started vigorously implementing reprimands for not reaching productivity expectations. I was told that upwards to 85-90% of our agency clinicians received a “verbal” written reprimand from out CEO. I was one of the 90% who received a reprimand and at first I was a little peeved because our referral base is not as active as it once was. We have been told that we are serving more families in recent years but, as the primary assessor, I am seeing less DA’s in my schedule over the past year. Our agency is usually hopping with new clients right after the start of the school year but not this year and our caseloads reflect that reality.
Knowing that the slow down, freeze up, and reduction of funds coming into mental health is a major concern for the solvency of employment and the agency as a whole, it can also be a perplexing thought to wrap our minds around. If we are serving more clients then we should be bringing in more money, right? Makes sense to me but apparently serving more clients does not correlate with higher productivity. Clinician levels do not seem to be any higher than it was a year ago, in fact many of our clinicians are no longer working for this agency for multiple reasons.
So, after my digressing moment, I will be receiving most, if not all, of the diagnostic assessments to increase my productivity. Allowing only one hour instead of one and a half hours should mean more available time to schedule assessments into my schedule, which in turn is more productivity for me and more income for the agency. One hour/unit of a DA financially brings in the equivalent of one and a half hr counseling session. I can see one reason the agency wants more DA’s because it is financially rewarding to do so. Scheduling more DA’s also increases the client base and ultimately the caseloads of clinicians, which hopefully increases individual productivity. Wow, to many if/then statements for me!
Let’s hope this assumption of the administration department is correct or the ultimate if/then statement will come to pass. If you do not meet productivity, then you will not have a job. Looking back, one hour diagnostic assessments do not seem as scary anymore.
So from this clinician to all who read this blog, many blessings to those who are going through the same situation as my agency. Tension is running high as the unknown is trying to ruin the focus of the helping profession. We will get through this down time together, as long as we all support one another and put down the blaming finger.
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.