Meeting with a client for a first-time appointment or an intake assessment can be quite overwhelming – especially as a trainee! Only having 60 minutes to obtain all of the information you need is often challenging and sometimes even feels impossible.
However, I encourage you to think of the intake assessment as both a skill and an art; a skill and an art that can be honed through practice and by implementing the tips offered below. Rest assured that by the time you begin your career as a psychologist, intakes will flow fairly routinely and may not even take a full hour to complete.
In the early history of psychotherapy, research on integrating faith and spirituality did not arouse much interest . However, this attitude has changed in the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Psychology has, of late, experienced a paradigm shift with an increased openness to religion and spirituality . This paradigm shift refers to the significant change in historical practices in science . It is suggested that counselors, when building a therapeutic alliance with clients, explore and encourage spiritual expression at the client’s discretion. Current research also suggests individuals with a religious and/or spiritual worldview typically find comfort in their religious or spiritual beliefs and practices during times of un¬certainty or crisis.
As a private practice psychologist who specializes in educational consultation and school-based behavioral health, I have sat in on hundreds of IEP meetings.
Students and interns in school-based settings often play an essential role in IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings. Many trainees are supervised in administering, interpreting, and reporting on psychological assessment data – which can be quite an intimidating task for new student psychologists.
Growing up in a home with physical abuse, emotional neglect, mental illness, alcohol use, or drug use are some examples of childhood adversities. The seminal work of Dr. Vincent Felitti and colleagues asked over 17,000 adults to answer questions about adverse childhood experiences — or ACEs — and current health . Results were shocking: More ACEs led to poorer health in adulthood and early death.
It is important to understand that ACEs do not directly cause poor outcomes; there are likely many mediating mechanisms such as maladaptive coping, unhealthy interpersonal relationships, negative health behaviors, dysfunctional thinking styles, and insecure attachments that contribute to these outcomes. In addition to prevention efforts, these are all potential areas that therapists can intervene to mitigate the long-term effects of adversity.
Mental health stigma in ethnic minority communities can create critical barriers to treatment for groups including African Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. One of the primary contributors to disparities in mental health treatment is mental health stigma, which refers to a collection of negative attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, or beliefs that help to facilitate fear, rejection, and discrimination against people with mental illness1.
Suicide is a significant public health concern. Approximately 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year . This equates to approximately 123 suicides per day. Recent reports have indicated a 30% increase in suicide rates from 1999 to 2016 (10.5 per 100,000 to 13.4 per 100,000) . Additionally, we know that suicide does not only affect those with a diagnosed mental health condition. The CDC data notes that approximately half of those who died by suicide between 1999 and 2016 did not have a known mental health condition . Though a mental health condition can be a risk factor for suicide, other factors that can contribute to suicide include stress related to relationships, finances, jobs, housing, substance use, or physical health. The ubiquity of suicide and the increase in suicide rates over the last 17 years support the importance of community suicide education and consistent suicide assessment, intervention, and treatment among clinicians interacting with individuals at increased suicide risk.
As you and your cohort settle into practicum, you will hear at some point about the intake process, specifically how different sites may have different ways of approaching an intake. Department of Mental Health sites in your county may have an intake form with questions that go on for several pages. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Adult Intake form has nine sections, with subsection questions for each one!
However, if you find yourself in a site that allows you freedom to conduct a semi-structured intake, it may still be challenging to find the balance between having an organic session with the client while obtaining relevant information that can inform your treatment plan.
Many therapists and graduate students would like to do the legwork of starting a private practice while still in training or earning their licensing hours, but they struggle to find the time: How are you supposed to create your private practice while you’re still occupied with your other work? I know this dilemma from firsthand experience: I started my private practice while working full time at a demanding (yet wonderful) place where I had earned my licensing hours.
A lot of the steps below can be done while you’re working a full time job and building your practice, or even just in anticipation of opening a practice if you’re still in graduate school or earning your licensing hours. I laid the groundwork for myself as much as possible so I wouldn’t have to worry about all these things upon licensure, when I’d want to just focus on seeing clients as much as possible. It worked out REALLY well. Here’s how I did it!