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How to Write a Counseling Report

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Counseling reports are used by a variety of professionals, from mental health counselors to workplace supervisors and academic advisors. Whatever the situation, the counseling report serves as a record of the meeting and gives the counselor and the person being counseled a diagnosis or remedy to follow in future sessions. A well-written report provides accountability for the counselor and organization served.

Start with the Basic Facts

A counseling report includes the basics of an intake form. Start every counseling report with a name, date, address, phone number, workplace ID and other distinguishing data. Include your own name on the report, the time the session took place and what circumstances precipitated the need for counseling. In this intake-type form, you can document an employee’s grievance, disciplinary record, or manager who made the referral. In a mental health facility, note the symptoms presented by the person being counseled.

Take Careful Notes

Follow a set of prepared questions to guide the counseling session and complete your report. Notes can be taken by tape recorder to later be transcribed into the official record or you can take written notes during the session. You need to be as detailed as possible because counseling notes in both the workplace and in a mental health environment serve as an official record of the counseling session.

Include Pertinent Details

Start by taking notes based on what the client tells you. Refrain from trying to record exact quotes because they often are difficult to prove when the report is referred to by auditors or in legal proceedings – unless you are using a tape recorder and keep a copy of the recording for further investigation. Instead, paraphrase the client’s explanations and feelings. Clarify statements with follow-up questions.

Summarize the Counseling with a Plan

An effective counseling report ends with a summary based on your conclusions as the counselor or advisor. State the reason the client came to you, the highlights of your conversation, and the recommendations for a plan of action. Set a goal for the client and list the steps you recommend for treatment or follow-up sessions. Wrap up the report with your overall evaluation of the counseling session and sign the report. File it in the appropriate place within your agency or office.


Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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