The 2 Biggest Blocks to Writing Progress Notes

Today I’m going to tell you a juicy secret.

What kind of secret? I’m going to share the two most common things I hear from therapists about what blocks them from writing their progress notes.

I know you’re thinking that if I hear it all the time, it’s not a secret, right? Well it’s a secret therapists keep from each other, and I’m here to air it out so we know we’re all dealing with the same issues.

Issue #1


Yup, fear. Fear is a huge block. Lots of therapists become paralyzed when they sit down to write progress notes because they don’t know what to write.

They worry about who will read a note and what they might say about it. Even if a therapist has never had a note critiqued, never had a negative comment, never had a note read in court, so many are afraid that those things are lying in wait, just around the next corner.

People sit down to write, or they think about writing, and this fear actually stops them from writing altogether.

Other things therapists are afraid of are audits or client record requests. The idea of a client reading notes, even if they’re written, can be terrifying. Embarrassment about the idea of notes making people look bad or un-professional can also keep someone from writing notes or being as thorough as they should be.

Issue #2


This is huge for a lot of therapists, people who have Masters or Doctorates, so they are used to doing things well! And when it comes to notes, we don’t typically get a lot of training in writing notes, and there isn’t a lot of information out there about writing notes, or even a general criteria therapists can refer to if they want to be sure they’re covering the right bases and writing really good notes.

That freaks a lot of people out.

So a lot of us think our notes have to be perfect, and I know from experience there are therapists spending 25-30 minutes on ONE note for ONE client!

If you see ten clients, that’s already FIVE hours a week of note-writing, and if you’re only getting paid for ten hours of work. No one should be doing 50% more work than they’re getting paid for, right? But a lot of therapists agonize over every word in a note.

Usually that agony is really about a lack of knowledge about what needs to be in the note.

I’ve also seen people paralyzed with worry over writing the right thing. They’re so concerned that they don’t write the notes at all, which is super common if someone is behind in their notes, because the idea of writing the wrong thing is so anxiety-provoking that they just don’t write the note at all.

Now we need a solution, though, right?

So I’m also going to share with you the one thing that I’ve seen help therapists overcome both of those issues: having a community and a push to get those notes done.

My challenge to you today is to find that community and that push. Whether this blog is the push you needed, or you get together with some therapist friends or coworkers to get through your notes, or you join the Meaningful Documentation Academy and take advantage of our WEEKLY Get Notes Done hours and monthly Get Notes Done days, find an option that works for you.

Accountability and support are key to solving this problem. Leave me a comment below about your biggest block. Take the leap of putting that out there into the world right here, where there’s no judgment, ever.

What is the thing that makes you dread writing your notes?