Counseling has many definitions and approaches, but most recognize the significance of the therapeutic relationship (Nelson-Jones, 2014).
Part of this relationship includes building an appropriate therapeutic framework that provides “a safe and consistent professional structure for the therapeutic work to take place” (Knox & Cooper, 2015, p. 1).
As with any other professional service, especially one that focuses on client wellness and safety, procedures, policies, and forms are required to ensure appropriate record keeping and handling of the client and their information.
This article introduces templates and forms that support the intake, assessment, referral, and other key stages of the counseling journey.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
- Conducting Intake Sessions: 3 Forms & Templates
- Best Counseling & Assessment Forms (+ Templates)
- A Look at Informed Consent Forms: 3 Samples
- 2 Useful Referral Forms
- Telehealth Counseling Forms: 5 Helpful Templates
- 2 Best Forms for Group Counseling Sessions
- PositivePsychology.com’s Relevant Resources
- A Take-Home Message
Conducting Intake Sessions: 3 Forms & Templates
Counseling typically begins with the intake and the assessment process. Together, they provide crucial opportunities to capture information regarding the client, their needs, and their hopes for treatment (Corey, 2013).
The intake and assessment forms can be merged – their degree of information overlaps and they’re both used in early sessions – or they may remain separate, even if only in terms of form completion.
This article has kept the forms distinct for convenience and clarity. We use the intake form to capture the client’s personal details and their initial thoughts on why they seek treatment, and this may be completed before their first session with the counselor.
In the next section, we introduce sample assessment forms, typically used in the client’s first (and perhaps second) session to assess their situation, concerns, and goals in more depth and form a clearer and shared understanding of where they are and how they may need help.
Treat the intake and assessment forms as templates, designed to be modified as required, and either kept separate or combined depending on the counseling approach, techniques adopted, and needs of the client.
General counseling intake
Getting started with new clients and structuring the first counseling sessions requires an initial understanding of their background, concerns, and primary thoughts on how and where they require help and support (Cochran & Cochran, 2015).
The New Client Intake Form can be completed before the first session to capture personal information relating to the client, such as:
- Name, age, and contact details
- Employment status
- Reasons for seeking help
- Physical and mental health history
- Counseling goals
Employee counseling intake
Employee counseling can take many forms and may be performed face to face, by telephone, and even live chat or email. It may be offered in response to (Lagerveld & Blonk, 2012):
- An incident at work
- Employee mental health concerns
- Returning to work after a period off
- A member of staff seeking new opportunities
- Concerns over bullying
The Employee Counseling Intake Form is written with a staff member seeking change in mind, but it can equally be used for other purposes. The employee will typically complete it before meeting a counselor and includes:
- Limited personal information
- Contact details
- Occupation and status
- Manager/supervisor name
- Educational, training, and employment history
- Change sought
- Reason for attending counseling
Couples counseling intake
Couples counseling is “not the same thing as individual counseling, with two clients in the room instead of one” (Williams, 2012, p. 1). The therapeutic relationship with the client will be different, and it is crucial to understand the needs, concerns, and personal history of each individual and the couple as a whole.
Both members of the relationship complete the Couple Counseling Intake Form, and while asking the same questions, the form will often surface different points of view and insights.
Information requested typically includes:
- Personal details (e.g., name, age, etc.)
- Status of the relationship
- Length of relationship
- Reason for seeking help
- Relationship strengths
- Relationship risks and concerns
Best Counseling & Assessment Forms (+ Templates)
A typical first counseling session is likely to include questions such as “What brings you in?” and focuses on therapeutic listening, where information gathering may form a natural by-product of the therapeutic process (Nelson-Jones, 2014).
The following forms (some general, others with specific uses) provide templates for the initial and ongoing assessment of a client and their needs. There is some overlap with the intake forms, but they offer a continuing opportunity to gather additional and valuable information, particularly in the early sessions.
Whether performed before or during an early session, it is important to understand the reasons for the employee attending or being referred to counseling.
The Employee Counseling Assessment Form can be helpful for understanding and discussing an issue or event that has arisen at work that has led to an employee being referred for counseling. It continues on from the original employee intake form, asking:
- Reason for referral
- Details of the incident and witnesses
- Corrective actions agreed upon between counselor and employee
- Employee comments
- Consequences of not taking the agreed-upon steps
Couples counseling assessment
It can be helpful for the counselor and a powerful and rewarding exercise for the couple to review how they met (Williams, 2012).
Use the Couple Counseling Assessment and/or the Couple Counseling Relationship History Assessment to review and assess how the couple met, what drew them to each other, and their current degree of difficulties.
Each member of the relationship may have very different answers in response to questions, such as:
- How did you meet?
- What first attracted you to your partner?
- What continued to attract you to your partner?
- What do you think first attracted them to you?
- What do you think continued to attract them to you?
- Describe your early years together.
- How were things better then?
- How are things better now?
- What current stressful events or situations exist?
- How satisfied are you with your marriage?
- What areas require focus?
Reviewing the answers makes it possible to develop a plan and a commitment to daily caring behaviors.
Assessment of skills
Sometimes clients lack the skills needed to manage difficult situations or problems (Nelson-Jones, 2014).
Through considering and discussing a problem or situation that has been upsetting, it is possible to identify insufficiently strong skills and potential goals for counseling.
Use the Assessment of Insufficiently Strong Skills worksheet to reflect on and capture the nature of the problem and where there are opportunities to improve, including mind and communication skills.
Work with the client during the session to describe the problem or situation and create goals.
Capturing such areas for skill improvement will direct future counseling sessions.
A Look at Informed Consent Forms: 3 Samples
Counselors must be sufficiently competent to offer their services to the client. They must be qualified or undergoing supervision, trained according to the guidelines and mandates in the location they are practicing, self-aware, and have worked out their own issues (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2015).
The idea and practice of informed consent is closely aligned with counselor competence, where “clients have the right to know your training status and the supervision arrangements you have” (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2015, p. 19).
The counselor should share their qualifications, the techniques they will be using, and how long counseling will likely last.
The following is a selection of examples of informed consent. There are many others available that may be suitable for your needs and can be found via a quick online search.
- Counseling and psychotherapy – It is important that the client is made aware that the counselor is licensed, the number and length of sessions, and how to make or cancel appointments. And while confidentiality is vital, the client typically gives consent for the counselor to act when they or others are in danger or at risk of harm.
- Informed consent for therapy agreement – Informed consent agreements will often clarify the nature of the client’s voluntary participation and their commitment to attend appointments on time. It is also essential to state that while therapy is usually beneficial, there are no guarantees that the client will get better.
- Counselor in training – When counselors are in training and dealing with clients (sometimes children), it is vital all parties are made fully aware they are currently under supervision and yet to qualify.
These three samples of informed consent are not exhaustive and must be created in line with local laws and guidance, and safeguard the rights and needs of the client at all times.
2 Useful Referral Forms
There may be times when an individual is not aware of their need for support or requires help and does not know what to do. Other services and individuals may be called upon to refer them for counseling.
General Referral for Counseling
The General Referral for Counseling form can be completed by a concerned other party or by the client themselves if self-referring and includes:
- Personal details, including name, address, age, etc.
- Reasons for referral, significant incidents, etc.
- Details of the person referring (such as title, role, contact details)
- Examples of behavior
- Actions taken so far
- Urgency of referral
Student Referral to School Counselor
School and college years can be stressful for students, and there may be times when they are unable to cope. Warning signals may include (Anderson University, n.d.):
- Excessive procrastination
- Poorly presented work
- Infrequent class attendance
- Trouble concentrating
- Disruptive behavior
- Appearing overly nervous, tearful, or tense
Playing back their behavior to the student can be helpful in agreeing with them (and their parents) that they would benefit from referral to a school counselor.
The Student Referral to School Counselor form can be completed by the teacher or supervisor, captures their reasons for referral, and includes:
- Student and guardian name
- Behavioral reasons for referral
- Details of any incidents
- Actions taken to date
- Any risks that need to be captured
Telehealth Counseling Forms: 5 Helpful Templates
The provision of remote healthcare or telehealth continues to grow in the fields of counseling and therapy (Kanatouri, 2020).
Powerful online platforms such as Quenza provide a wealth of ready-made tools, functionality, and templates for use with face-to-face or remote clients.
The article titled How to Build and Send Counseling Forms explains how to use telehealth forms effectively and offers the following templates:
- Informed Consent for Online Counseling defines what is expected and acceptable in online counseling.
- Patient Health Questionnaire offers an online approach for assessing a client’s depressive symptoms.
- General Anxiety Disorder assessment is used to assess a client’s overall anxiety
- School Referral Form is useful for parents and teachers referring students for counseling
- Employee Counseling Form captures employee information and details surrounding a potential incident along with corrective actions.
Each of the above forms and templates can quickly be built or modified for telehealth purposes with an online tool such as Quenza. The platform was built for practitioners by the PositivePsychology.com founders to meet the need for a user-friendly, engaging healthcare platform.
2 Best Forms for Group Counseling Sessions
Group counseling can be a highly effective means of offering support to more clients, with individuals learning from other members and the counselor (Cochran & Cochran, 2015).
“The ultimate goal in process for many groups is to help group members respond to each other with a combination of therapeutic attending, and sharing their own reactions, and related experiences” (Cochran & Cochran, 2015, p. 329).
Group work can be underpinned by forms that act as interventions themselves or capture the work for evaluation during or after its performance.
Evaluating a group’s performance
Use the Support Group Evaluation Form to capture individual experiences of the group’s performance that will help structure counseling going forward.
What did you like most about the group?
What did you like least about the group?
How do you rate the group overall? (0 = had no value; 10 = incredibly valuable)
How much of a difference has this group made to your life? (0 = none at all; 10 = a great deal)
Did you feel safe raising points or asking questions? (0 = not at all; 10 = a great deal)
Parental consent for group counseling
Like individual counseling, parents’ consent must be sought to attend group sessions.
Use the Group Counseling Permission Form to get consent from parents before introducing a child to group counseling.
PositivePsychology.com’s Relevant Resources
We have many free resources, including forms for counseling, such as:
- BASIC-ID Template for Multi-Modal Coaching
This helpful template uses multi-modal coaching to assess clients’ habits and how to break them.
- Session Feedback Form
Capture your client’s evaluation of a session and use it to improve future counseling.
- Coaching Intake Form
Complete this form before attending life coaching to help the counselor prepare for the first session.
- Brief Mental Status Exam Form
Use this form to capture the results of a brief mental status exam.
More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, but they are described briefly below:
- Backward Goal Planning
Planning and preparation are integral to goal achievement and a powerful intervention in counseling.
This form facilitates planning in reverse chronological order to minimize the likelihood of viewing the present reality as an obstacle to achieving the client’s desired end state.
- Step one – Identify and visualize the end goal.
- Step two – Identify and outline the steps to get there.
- Step three – Take action and reflect on the progress.
- The Energy Audit
Complete this audit form to help clients manage their energy throughout the day.
- Step one – Use the form to track energy levels.
- Step two – Plot daily energy levels.
- Step three – Use the form in the counseling session to discuss how to replenish energy levels.
- 17 Positive Psychology Exercises
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.
A Take-Home Message
A collaborative working relationship is fundamental to a positive therapeutic alliance and should be embedded from the very outset of counseling (Nelson-Jones, 2014).
Creating, completing, and safely storing intake, assessment, referral, and other essential forms help ensure:
- A robust therapeutic alliance between counselor and client
- The client’s needs are put first
- Confidentiality is maintained, and appropriate records are kept
- Treatment is appropriate and working toward client goals
Appropriate form use encourages a complete understanding of the client’s circumstances, whether as an individual, part of a couple, an employee, or a student. The forms facilitate treatment by clarifying and communicating the counseling approach and the client’s expectations.
For the student, member of staff, or the couple, the forms record the changing dynamics, understandings, and situation and can be referenced to measure progress toward treatment goals.
The forms and templates in this article can be merged and modified as appropriate to the structure and theoretical approach adopted by the counselor. They provide feedback, learnings, and confidence for the growing professional, potentially marking avenues for future training and skill development.
For a HIPAA-compliant system that creates and stores all your forms electronically, and makes it easy to send them to clients for completion, consider Quenza, built with the practitioner in mind.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
- Anderson University. (n.d.). When to refer students to counseling services. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://anderson.edu/uploads/campus-life/refer-students-to-counseling-services.pdf
- Cochran, J. L., & Cochran, N. H. (2015). The heart of counseling: Counseling skills through therapeutic relationships. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
- Corey, G. (2013). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Cengage.
- Kanatouri, S. (2020). The digital coach. Routledge.
- Knox, R., & Cooper, M. (2015). The therapeutic relationship in counselling and psychotherapy. SAGE.
- Lagerveld, S., & Blonk, R. (2012). Work-focused psychotherapy can help employees return to work sooner. American Psychological Association. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/02/psychotherapy
- Nelson-Jones, R. (2014). Practical counselling and helping skills. Sage.
- Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2015). Study guide for counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice: Skills, strategies, and techniques (2nd ed.). Wiley.
- Williams, M. (2012). Couples counseling: A step by step guide for therapists. Viale.
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