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Post-Therapy Visit: What to Do After Your Therapy Session

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

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July 7, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

How Should You Feel After Therapy?

It is normal to feel different emotions after each therapy session. As you identify and process emotions, you may feel overwhelmed, in pain, angry, or sad. However, once you are able to process your emotions, you will feel lighter, at peace, and more clear minded.

What Should I Do After My First Therapy Session?

First, congratulate yourself on taking the first step to healing. After your therapy sessions, you should write down your thoughts and how the session went for you. Write down any important talking points or advice your therapist suggested. This is important to document your progress and allow questions for your next session. Going to therapy is courageous, and you should be proud of yourself for taking that step. 

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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What is a Therapy Note?

A therapy note is a note used by your therapist during your therapy session to organize the session’s talking points, gather information, and formulate opinions for progress. Therapy notes, also called psychotherapy notes or process notes, are the personal thoughts of the therapist during your session. If you see your therapist jot something down on their notepad after you said something, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Therapists have to process your emotions as well and writing down their thoughts and feelings helps them process with you. Otherwise, just listening might be overwhelming for the therapist, and they would not be fully engaged in the session. 

Why Do Therapists Write Notes?

Your therapist may use a pen and notepad during your session to write down words and important parts of your story in order to memorize. Your therapist may look over their notes a few days after your session and use it as a reminder about the session’s talking points, emotions expressed, and if any resolutions came forward.

Therapy notes include main points of discussion, generalizations, specific examples, impressions, and observations. Therapy notes are never meant to belittle, judge, or condemn. They are simply notes used by your therapist to keep track of each client and not confuse any information.

What Information Do Therapists Include in Their Notes?

Therapists use notes to memorize important dates, people, events, and emotions. Your therapist may write down important emotions you shared such as the 8 basic emotions:

  • Trust
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Anticipation
  • Joy

Therapy sessions work around these 8 basic emotions. These emotions have intensity scales that dive deeper into the meaning of each emotion. These notes are used to create client history and develop a treatment plan. Don’t be paranoid that your therapist is jotting down notes. If in fact, they are writing notes during your session, rest assured, that they are maintaining a proper medical record. Your therapist may also keep track of symptoms that are improving or getting worse. 

Therapy notes also assist the therapist with progress notes which include the length of time for each visit (start and stop time), the reason for the visit, progress since the last visit, intervention or focus during the present session, and the plan going forward. Progress notes are used for medical records, billing purposes, and record-keeping guidelines. Therapy notes are the thoughts and impressions that are similar to keeping notes in a journal. Asking a therapist to read their notes is similar to them asking to read your diary. 

Sometimes people write things that may offend you, but they have good intentions. It is part of processing emotions and complex situations. Usually, it is best if clients do not read therapy notes, since these are essentially the therapist’s innermost thoughts about you and your situation. These notes may be misinterpreted by you, causing a setback in your therapy and damaging your client-therapist relationship.

Can You Request Your Therapy Notes?

Yes, you can request your progress notes under the HIPAA act which states you have the legal right to see most, but not all, of your medical records. You may ask your therapist to read your therapy notes, but you should be clear in your explanation as to why you want to see them. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, you do not have any right to therapy notes taken during your session or treatment. You may request progress notes which are considered separate from therapy notes and are more similar to medical records like diagnostics, medical history, and treatment plans.

How to Request Therapy Notes

You may request therapy notes, but it is up to the therapist if they grant permission. HIPAA protects progress notes, which are different from therapy notes. As opposed to progress notes, therapy notes are the thoughts and impressions of your therapist. Because of this, your therapist can decide if you are allowed to read them or not. Under HIPAA law, a therapist is not legally required to do so. Depending on your relationship with your therapist, reading therapy notes may increase your trust and help you feel more in control of your care. Conversely, reading therapy notes may confuse or anger you, causing unnecessary setbacks.

Talk To a Therapist Online

Talk to a therapist online if you are struggling with mental health issues. Your online therapist can help you improve your life, develop better cognitive skills, fine-tune emotional skills, and reduce symptoms of mental illness in order to cope with life’s challenges. Make an appointment today to speak with one of our online state-licensed therapists.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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Read More About Online Therapy:

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Online Therapy Visit

Virtual Therapy Session Checklist

Emotionally Focused Therapy


Sources:

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Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Office of Civil Rights. Health Care. Accessed on June 29, 2022 from FAQ 2094 Does a parent have a right to receive a copy of psychotherapy notes about a child’s mental health treatment? | Guidance Portal (hhs.gov)

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