I was in a counseling session one morning, when the teen I was with asked, “What are you writing down?” We were having our fourth session together, and she said she’s been intrigued that I was taking notes while she answered my questions and shared her thoughts. She wasn’t upset about the note-taking; she was just curious. It’s such a great question.

Like many counselors, I do take notes during sessions, for any number of reasons. One of the most common is that the person I’m with says something that I want to explore in more depth … but I don’t want to interrupt her train of thought. So I jot down the comment so that I can remember to bring it back up when there’s a break in the conversation.

Sometimes I take notes for accuracy. I want to record exact words, because word choices are important. That way, when I ask about the statement she made, I can use the same words instead of paraphrasing them.

At other times, the notes help me identify recurring themes. For example, as I look at the notes from our last three sessions, I see that she keeps mentioning fears. That’s something I may want to explore in the next session.

I also write potential “homework” ideas or resources to share as we wrap up our time together. So I’ll write the homework idea down and discuss it at the end of the session. And, of course, the notes help me remember important details from session to session, so I can be sure I stay on task and make the best use of time.

If you’ll notice, there’s a running theme through all these reasons. Taking notes helps me become more effective in helping during a session and as I plan for future sessions. Although I’m the one who reads the notes, the purpose is to make the most of the counseling process.

One more thing about the notes I take: nobody sees them but me. I don’t share them with anyone else — not with the rest of the team at Care to Change, not even with the insurance company, unless you’ve given permission to do so. This way you’ll never have to worry about having your privacy compromised.

Do you have any questions about why our counselors do what they do during sessions? We want you to ask. Do you have other questions about what we do at Care to Change in general? Those are okay to ask too. We want you to be comfortable with the way we work together, so please ask us!

To schedule an appointment with one of our counselors, click here.

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