Paperwork For Your Intakes

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Happy 2018! Every January I edit and revise all of my paperwork. As promised, here is a fifteen minute video blog of me editing my new client intake paperwork.  What do you think?


New Year New Paperwork?

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Annual Paperwork Cleanup

January is that beautiful time of year when I clean my counseling practice ‘house’ including my paperwork. This year was a little extreme because I literally got a new coat of paint and new floors. As you can see from the artsy filtered photo I took below, my office looks amazing.

But what about the things you can’t see in the photo? Is my paperwork up to date with the latest licensing laws? Have I changed my passwords on a regular basis? Have I checked to see if my credit card charges are accurate?

I’m not even joking – I called about a charge on my account I didn’t recognize and found out it was from something I THOUGHT I had closed in February 2017. The lesson? Watch your bank account.

January 2018 I will edit all of my new client paperwork, change my passwords, and update my bookkeeping. Today’s housekeeping item will be my new client intake Face Sheet. Catch my next blog and I will walk you through my editing process for our 2018 Service Agreement/Consent to Treat. Is it exciting? No, not really, but it’s only 3 minutes of your life and it will save you a lot of headaches down the road. When you’re ready you can even head to our store here to purchase the fully edited  paperwork you can download and customize for your practice. Enjoy!

Watch Me Edit My Face Sheet








If You Don’t Mind it DOES Matter

Learn about good habits at

If you are reading this blog and you are planning to be, or already are, a counselor, then you probably have a story that is your strength and your compass. The problem? Amazing stories start us, but too many of us lack the good habits and positive attitude that will sustain us and our practice.

Success is in the details.

Good habits and a positive attitude are important because without them you will lack the motivation to take care of the details. As a counselor, you have a lot to do after you graduate and there is no syllabus to guide and push you along. If you don’t take care of the details, the consequences can be dire:

  • Private practice owners must complete the paperwork for the correct legal structure or risk having a practice that is poorly protected against client lawsuits.
  • New graduates must interview supervisors or risk having dissatisfying or even dangerous supervision experiences.
  • Those making the leap from school counselor to LPC must take time to choose the right school to pick up licensing hours or risk delays during the application process.

Attitude is everything.

When I graduated with my master’s degree in counseling in 2000, I went right back to my teaching job. Why? I was scared to make the leap and start my counseling career. Private practice was my ‘someday’ idea. Basically I was an introvert who knew nothing about business. I had great study habits, zero business habits, and I had bills to pay.

Somehow, I learned about a cheesy-sounding book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. As a broke teacher/post grad it didn’t hurt that the book was in the public domain and I could download it for free. I set up an office in an upstairs bedroom, got the book, and did what I do best, started studying.

Create Good Habits.

HTWFAIP was written around the time of the second World War joining other self-help books like Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” These books, with their very straightforward messages (shake hands firmly but not too tightly), and no-nonsense titles were designed with a purpose. American farms had been decimated by the dust bowl and men were having to find jobs in the city. World War two was coming to an end and men were coming home to compete for jobs and start families in the suburbs. These men had to learn how to survive in the post-agrarian economy and prosper. The premise was simple: change your mind, create good habits, and successfully make enough money to support your family. I liked that.

Turns out, Dale Carnegie was a counselor. He taught me how to have confidence and define success. I began to smile and make eye contact when I talked to people at networking events. I learned that if I could remember people’s names they were more likely to refer business to me. Thanks that that book, I learned the habits and attitudes that keep my business running successfully today.

Remember, your story and your passion only get you so far. Setting an intention, creating good habits, and having a good attitude lead to adjustments in time and resources (otherwise known as prioritizing). If you can prioritize then you can protect your license, provide excellent service to your clients, and have a great counseling career.


We Need You Counselors and Supervisors!

Resources for passionate counselors and supervisors at

Texas, we have a problem.

Our state has over 15 universities with CACREP accredited counselor education programs. There are almost twenty thousand licensed professional counselors at this writing and almost four thousand counselor interns and counselor supervisors. We have active state organizations, a legislature that is open to hearing us if we choose to speak, and one of the hottest business demographics in the United States.

According to NAMI 2010 statistics Texas spent just $35 per capita on mental health agency services in 2006. This was just 1.1 percent of total state spending that year in the state of Texas. Nationally, approximately 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems experience mental health disorders and in 2008, approximately 37,700 adults with mental illnesses were incarcerated in prisons in Texas. This makes the criminal justice system in Texas our most reliable mental health provider.

It’s not easy being a counselor.

Potential counselors enter universities with dreams of helping, but the reality is, the job market doesn’t offer much. LPC Interns, after having completed a sixty-hour master’s degree program, still cannot bill insurance for their time. As a result, they compete for lower paying bachelor’s level Qualified Mental Health Provider positions, gain low quality hours in hospital settings, or volunteer. That is tough to do when you are paying a supervisor and student loans every month.

When fully licensed counselors get a job, the situation is less than ideal. Counselors in agencies are often overworked, underpaid, forced to do paperwork on their own unpaid time, placed in dangerous situations, and required by third-party payers to apply ineffective treatment modalities that are inconsistent with their training. Counselors in private practice face the daunting task of running a business, a skill that was missing from their counseling.

We need counselors and supervisors.

We need passionate people who will advocate in the legislature and supervise the interns. We need generous people who will give time because not every client has the means to get the help they need. We need balanced people who will focus on their own attitude and mental health so we don’t lose them to burnout. Good training and opportunities to grow will help counselors keep the passion that got them started. Counselors who train to become supervisors can expand their knowledge, grow their practice, and impact the next generation.

So consider supervising. Remember, we need you.


Dear Future Counselor

Dear Future Counselor,

Now that you have decided to become a professional helper, I want to welcome you to the field! It won’t be easy and it won’t always be neat and tidy, but it will be the most satisfying thing you have ever done. As I think back to my own journey from ‘thinking about counseling’ to ‘actually counseling,’ I remember some key elements.

The story

We all have a story that led to our passion.

Ask any professional counselor (and that includes licensed professionals and school counselors) ‘what made you choose counseling?’ and you will hear the story. It is usually a tale of heartbreak, perseverance, pain, and victory. The teller will probably explain how an important person, perhaps a counselor, clergy member, or family member, listened and served as a guide through the fire. The professional counselor may then relate how this experience led to the desire to become a helper and provide hurting people with the same unconditional positive regard he or she received.

The training

Once we decided that we could not live a moment longer without actually becoming a counselor, we started our training. Not gonna lie, the search for the perfect school has gotten a little more complicated (CACREP, non-CACREP, online, etc.) over the years. I cannot emphasize enough Future Counselor, the importance of choosing a school that will actually enable you to get PAID once you have your almighty license or certification. Even if you earn your master’s degree and pass your exams, many organizations and third party payers (think insurance panels, the VA, some schools) will NOT hire you (or pay you) if you went to the wrong type or insufficiently accredited counseling program. Choose wisely.

Speaking of exams…

The Exam

Yes, there is an exam. Also, you will have to be supervised, evaluated, and followed closely for THOUSANDS of hours while you practice your craft as an intern. Once you are fully licensed/certified you will continue gaining continuing education and passing exams tailored to ethics knowledge in order to stay licensed/certified. The learning and growing never end!

“I’m a good listener, why should I go through all of that?”

A license protects the public from individuals who may be ‘good listeners,’ but don’t have the skills to help. Ditto with school counselor certification. If you choose to practice without a license, that is grounds for a conviction. If a school district hires you to be their school counselor and you are not certified, then you, and the students you serve, are being set up for failure.

So, dear Future Counselor, the stakes are high

But in the end, it is worth it.