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How to Write a Summary of Counseling Notes

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Counselors may have more notes and papers to keep track of than the average individual. Their work is based in large part on their personal perceptions and interpretations of clients. This necessitates that counselors keep detailed notes and organized summaries of these notes for quick reference. Disorganized or sloppy notes and summaries could ultimately lead to a misdiagnosis, costing a great deal for both the counselor and the client. According to "Basic Counseling Techniques," an unorganized counselor's work results in a shoddy approach and "the net result of this un-examined patchwork is that therapy feels and looks patched together."

Set the notes in front of you. Make an individual pile or folder for each client and topic you'd like to summarize.

Read through the notes and highlight important aspects of the client's condition and behavior. Bring the most important facets of her treatment to the forefront.

Use a separate note pad or a divided folder for each intended summary. Head each summary with the client's name and your succinct assessment of his situation.

Add specific details you feel are pertinent. Create a bullet point or numbered list to organize underlying material and your conclusions.

Close the summary with your own recommendations and suggestions for the client. Incorporate references to research or past cases that may shed light on this individual case.

Type up a clean summary from your handwritten version. Edit your summary for clarity and ease of reference.


Never share client information or case-specific notes that would violate privacy and put you in danger of losing your job.