Through therapy, people can discover their inner selves and greater well-being by finding the answers they couldn’t get before. Relationships with therapists are based on trust and helping clients to become “unstuck” in their lives.

Questions that delve into deeper exploration are essential for empowering clients because there aren’t easy answers to many of life’s problems. 

An analysis of records from healthcare providers found that:

  • 45.7% of adults avoided telling their providers that they disagreed with their care recommendations.
  • 81.8% of adults withheld information because they didn’t want to be lectured or judged.

Therefore, therapists should design questions that show empathy while presenting multiple perspectives to help clients learn more about themselves, improve their self-esteem, and hopefully reach some realisations that motivate them to move forward.

How can we ask our clients the right questions to give them the best care at the beginning?

And how can we record these questions and answers for every new client we work with? 

The top 3 questions to include on your intake form:

The first contact with a new client is an essential foundation for successful therapy, as the relationship between practitioner and client should be productive for progress. 

Creating an environment where everyone can be completely themselves and feel safe sharing their thoughts and feelings is important. Questions designed specifically for client intake should focus on establishing rapport and assessing the needs of the individual, even before you’ve met. 

Open-ended questions that encourage self-reflection can build trust by giving clients appropriate space to express their feelings without judgement. 

According to Positive Psychology, three great questions to ask at the start of a client’s therapy journey are: 

  1. Why did you seek therapy?

The first step in creating a therapeutic connection is understanding why the client has come to therapy. 

Whether it is due to feeling overwhelmed with life circumstances, struggling with difficult emotions, or a desire for personal growth, creating a safe space for them to open up is essential. As such, acknowledging their courage in seeking treatment can be particularly helpful.

  1. Have you ever seen a therapist before?

If a client has seen a therapist before, inquiring about their experience can prove valuable. 

These questions can include inquiring about the frequency, duration, and topics discussed during the sessions and one particular thing that stayed with them from those sessions. 

Questions could also ask how successful they were in maintaining changes made outside of therapy and if their desired results were achieved while working with their previous therapist. 

These questions help gauge a client’s engagement in therapy and further clarify expectations that a prior therapeutic engagement may have set.

  1. What do you want to achieve from the therapy process?

The counselling process typically involves an evaluation phase in which a therapist and client discuss the prospective client’s current situation, goals, expectations, and potential sources of conflict. 

A successful initial interaction provides the basis for developing a strong therapeutic relationship in which both parties believe they can trust each other. The primary focus should be creating an environment that promotes open communication and encourages honest self-reflection.

Ask clients how they learn best, what level of engagement or feedback they want or need, and if they would like to engage in external activities between meetings, such as assignments, journaling, or reading materials related to their goals. 

Setting clear goals at the onset can help keep both parties motivated and increase chances for success.

Digitally recording your therapy intake form.

Many factors can affect a client’s engagement and progress in therapy.

Questions about preexisting conditions, current and past treatments, medications, and family history are essential for assessing needs and providing treatment. In the initial intake process, having a clear picture of these details is key.

Therapists increasingly use practice management software to gather this information securely and efficiently. Using software like this, you can create and distribute standardised intake materials, such as forms and agreements, that clients can complete at their convenience before arriving at their first appointment.

Digital intake forms can help practitioners keep more accurate records and improve documentation. 

Although most therapists don’t prescribe medication, they often work with other medical professionals to make recommendations, particularly when clients are referred for therapy. So, having accurate and secure documentation for this purpose is essential. 

Setting up a digital intake form for therapy.

Once you know what questions you want to ask your clients at the beginning of treatment, you can save them in an online assessment form and use this template to send to all your new clients. 

Create a digital intake form in WriteUpp

At the same time, you can send them your consent form and any other information you’d like to gather, such as the CORE-10 form

Answering their intake questions at home gives your clients more time to think about their responses and give a detailed summary and analysis of their current situation and future treatment goals. 

This will give you both a head start when they step in for their first session, and it means you and your client can have a meaningful discussion about their care from the get-go.  

Forms can be automatically sent to your client when the appointment is booked into your diary. After receiving the form, your clients can access it through a secure portal to share any needed information before meeting you in person:

Your form is automatically sent to your client’s inbox for them to fill in

Once the form has been filled out, you’ll be notified, and the form will be added to your client records – where you can review them before the appointment.

Sending out automated intake forms to your clients will also significantly reduce the amount of time you are spending on:

  • Scanning forms and questionnaires that your client has completed and uploading them to your practice management system
  • Sitting with your client and going through pre-assessment forms during their session
  • Waiting for your client to complete a paper-based form before their session can begin
  • Transcribing answers from a paper form completed by your client to an electronic form in your practice management system

Want to learn more? Check out this free webinar on how to use automated communications and assessment forms:

To take things one step further, some more advanced clinic management systems will allow you to take specific information that clients have shared in online forms and automatically import this straight into their client summary.

This usually works for information such as:

  • Demographics
  • Address and location information
  • Contact information for the client (phone, email)
  • Contact information for next of kin

This automation will save you time capturing this information on paper or verbally while the client sits at reception. With the click of a button, it will be imported directly into your system, saving time and the possibility of transposition errors.

Using assessment form templates in your therapy practice.

When writing your intake form, use a well-crafted template. You won’t forget anything and will be prompted to record your requirements. You can save templates for conditions you regularly treat, such as PTSD, generalised anxiety disorder, and depression. 

You’ll also be able to keep your assessments consistent and share them with other clinicians in your practice.

WriteUpp is a tailor-made practice management software for therapists, counsellors, and psychotherapists. It has over 20 therapy-specific note and assessment templates, including CORE-OM, CORE-10, YP-CORE, PCL-5, and SOAP. 

Software like this will allow you to access therapy assessments from anywhere, using any device.  It’s also GDPR compliant and ISO27001 registered, so you can rest easy knowing your intake forms and patient data are stored safely. 

Sign up for a free trial, and you’ll have instant access to the library of assessment templates and a host of time-saving features to provide better care for your clients.

If you have any questions or want to chat about what an integrated practice management solution could do for you and your physiotherapy practice, grab us for a live chat!

The button is just there in the bottom right corner of your screen.


Ellie is WriteUpp’s in-house Content Creator. Her research and writing for private practitioners focuses on marketing, business growth, data security, and more. She also hosts WriteUpp’s podcast The Healthy Practice; the show that guides practitioners in the early stages of their careers through every aspect of practice management. Outside of work Ellie writes a mental health blog, studies mindfulness and is a keen nature photographer.