Notetaking helps therapists better assist their clients. During therapy, many emotions, thoughts and revelations may come up that are important to continue discussing together. Some people who attend therapy feel ignored when their therapist takes notes; At the same time, the counsellor should always ensure that their notetaking doesn’t distract from their engagement with the client, notes are a valuable aspect of the therapeutic process.
Why Therapists Take NotesCounsellors do not transcribe entire sessions while talking with clients. Instead, they typically take what are called SOAP notes. These notes assist with memory and help the therapist record any important topics that are brought up during a session; reviewing SOAP notes also helps a therapist refresh their mind and develop more targeted treatment plans.
Depending on where someone receives mental health services, a therapist might also be legally required to write structured counselling notes at the end of each session. The smaller points they jot down with clients can help them format these notes later.
Patients do have a legal right to any formal notes on their record, but they shouldn’t hesitate to ask their therapist to see their notes during a session. What matters more than the information a therapist writes down is how well they can record information without hurting their client.
When Notetaking Becomes Interruptive
Some therapists do not acknowledge their notes during therapy, which can create a communication barrier. In some cases, the therapist may feel uncomfortable hearing certain subjects; a client’s struggles could be triggering for their mental health struggles, and notes can be an easy way for them to detach themselves from the subject material.
Notetaking only becomes problematic when it interferes with the empathy and attention extended to a client; the therapeutic relationship between counsellors and client influence the outcome of treatment more than any other factor.
If a person feels unheard or bothered by their therapist’s notetaking, they shouldn’t hesitate to start a dialogue about it. This can be an excellent opportunity to practice voicing uncomfortable feelings. Assertiveness is difficult for many people, especially in therapy. By addressing a therapist’s disruptive notetaking, clients can begin to explore the difference between conversation and conflict.
Therapists should also not shy away from mentioning their desire to take notes during a session; asking for a client’s permission can help enhance the collaborative nature of the process and make therapy feel less intimidating for many.
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