This is a step-by-step guide of how I use Notion to store clinical session notes.
Update on 30/7/2022: I wrote this back in 2020 as a student music therapist and a lot has changed since then. I’ve updated my template and workflow on Notion.
If you haven’t heard of Notion before, it’s the all-in-one note-taking, planning, document storage application that basically manages every aspect of your life. Since discovering it in late 2019 I have been managing my whole life on it. Watch my video here to see how I plan all my social media content on Notion as a content creator. At my current part time work in a music therapy clinic we use Unitus to store all assessments and notes, but I still copy them on Notion as a backup. You can never be too careful these days.
For sure you can use any note-taking system of your choice to write session notes. It’s just that I found the layout and functions of Notion the most handy among all. Now, whatever I’m going to show you below is all hypothetical (5 points to Gryffindor for picking up the game I’m playing with the names ;)).
First off, you have your pages. Like opening up a blank page on Microsoft Document, or Evernote, you can do whatever you like. I have this page dedicated to storing all the session notes in this particular location.
Then I usually include details about the place. I always do my research – its history, team, intervention, any telehealth service, media, contact etc. No matter whether you need to go through an interview before joining the team of you are just joining for an internship, I still think the more you know, the better it is to get into the culture and workflow. This is just my usual method.
This proves to be helpful when you travel to clients’ locations a lot. The other day the staff forgot to open the gate for me and it was easy to pull up my notes and call the site manager instead of going through my emails for handover notes/calling my manager for help.
This amazing function to hide stuff in a line is called toggle – once you click on the dropdown, all the info will show. But most the time you might not need it, so it’s alright to hide it. This toggle is also very useful if you’re a student. When you’re studying, trying to remember as much stuff as possible, toggle is your best friend. You can just write all the questions down, and hide all the answers inside the toggle. Every 2 weeks you can pull up the questions and test yourself on certain topics. This is called active recall and it is the most effective study method. Toggle is helpful in helping you remember your materials.
After that we have tables – just like spreadsheets, you can add any columns and rows as you like. For my session notes, I always like to start with the date. Now, the interesting thing about Notion is that, the text inside the table can operate on its own as a page.
Notion now enables users to create simple tables for non-analytical stuff and I use this function a lot.
Here’s an example of my current client file:
Pages inside Tables
When I click open of the text under the Name, you will find all my session notes. My structure for the notes are always the same: possible goals, impression, intervention and reflection/future direction.
You can refer to a video walkthrough here regarding each section and its function:
So this is basically the template for each client. And at the end of the page I have this “other notes” session where I write down everything about myself. I assess my skills, my communication with clients and supervisor, my leadership skills, any transference or intertransference and stuff to discuss with supervisor. as I always say, self-awareness is crucial in personal and professional development. If your clinic records your sessions then it’s even better – you can review the footage and make notes. It is perhaps the fastest way to learn and improve.
Personal and Professional Development as a Healthcare Worker
Now if we go out to the table again, you will see other columns. I just like to note the number of sessions I have on any particular day as reference. Then I have labels for the clients who showed up that day. This comes in handy when you just want to see how many sessions a particular client has been to. You can use the filter in the table to select information you want to see.
Next to the clients name, I have mood. this is my own little mood tracker. I always like to check in with my own mood. For example, it might be my first session on 1st Jan so I was feeling nervous. On the 8th Jan, something might have happened during session, for example Bill sang a whole song without any prompts. thats’ a feeling of accomplishment for both of us, so I noted contented here. Music therapy is client-focused, but in order to deliver the best service to them, it is equally important to take care of ourselves. As healthcare professionals, we need to be careful what kind of emotions we are bringing into therapy. At last, I have a quick note column just to jot down any notes quickly, without clicking into the page.
Should we be worried about anyone reading the session notes – since they contain all the clients’ details? The answer is no. All the pages on Notion are set to private mode unless you share with anyone – which usually happens if you want to collaborate with someone. Otherwise it’s just you who read and edit the pages. If you bring your laptop or iPad, just remember to set passwords and turn off the screen yeh? It’s pretty standard. Like how you would protect your personal belongings.
This is a simple walkthrough of my clinical session notes. It works for me, and the beauty of using Notion is that you can always customise it for your ever-changing work conditions.
I have included the template here that you can duplicate and tweak it to suit your settings. Notion is such a powerful tool in creating, storing and linking notes and I cannot recommend it enough 🙂
Wanna discuss about Notion? DM me on instagram.