Group counseling notes: What you need to know

Are you a therapist who recently decided to start a group, or is even just considering it, and then thought, “Wait — How do I write the note?”

I’m here to give you the basics so you feel confident documenting those group experiences.

The first thing to remember is that group notes really aren’t that different from individual therapy notes. Phew, right? So breathe deep and relax, because you can do this. The notes are pretty much the same and some parts are *exactly* the same, and that will help you save time.

The biggest difference in notes from group therapy is that you need to document the individual interactions and the group interactions. And the good news about THAT is: it’s pretty easy.

Step One:

Follow your normal notes template. Whichever one you use — DAP, SOAP, GIRP, PAIP, or your own format — and make sure you include all those components in how the individual client acted, how they interacted with the group, how the group reacted to and interacted with them, how they influenced the group, and how the group influenced them.

It sounds like a lot, but I promise, it really isn’t.

Step Two:

My biggest advice for therapists writing group notes is:

DON’T WRITE ANYTHING TWICE!

This means you can sort of “cheat” a little in group notes, and this is where you start saving time. How? Well as you work with the group you might provide an intervention for the whole group, and you definitely don’t need to write that five or ten times. Write it once, and then copy and paste into everyone’s individual note.

I heard that little sigh, even though the computer.

Yes, you do still need to write individual notes for each member, because they are each still individual clients and should have separate records.

So you’ll have a portion of the note that deals with the whole group, interventions you provided, the things you did that apply to everyone, and another few sentences specific to that client.

Easy enough, right?

Use your template and take advantage of those little tricks to save yourself time: copy and paste what you can, and then add the individual components highlighting how the group is different for each person.

That’s it. You’re done!

Are you doing group therapy? What tips and tricks do you use?

If you want more information on the notes templates listed above, or aren’t feeling confident with your individual notes yet, check out my FREE Private Practice Paperwork Crash Course. For more in-depth help with note-writing, check out the Meaningful Documentation Academy, which is full of trainings on notes, treatment planning, time management, and more.