Episode 72

Why do we need to diagnose clients?

Is it harmful to give someone a diagnosis?

Can’t I just give everyone an adjustment disorder?

Diagnosing is fundamental to the work of a therapist. If for no other reason than you need to be able to bill insurance to get reimbursed. Even if you are private pay, many states have statutes that require a diagnostic assessment. Clients also want to know what you think and what their diagnosis is. Some of us had great teaching on this in our programs. Other therapists got almost nothing. With your very first client, it becomes apparent that you need to know how to diagnose accurately and quickly. Whew. That can feel tough. 

I believe that done correctly, diagnosing can help both you and your client. I believe that having a name for what someone is going through can be healing for them. It’s all in the delivery and the intake interview questions you ask. In this episode we’ll talk about why we diagnose, how we do it and how we can help our clients.

An Excerpt from: A Correct Diagnosis-Personal Stories


“They decided I had depression with anxiety. I was assigned a psychiatrist and a therapist. The therapist helped, but the psychiatrist didn’t. To be fair, she was buried under more cases than she could handle, but that didn’t help my mental state. I fought with her for two and a half years until I became suicidal twice over and was admitted to the intensive inpatient mental program at the same hospital. I spoke with the on-site psychiatrist, and she finally gave me the proper diagnosis I’d been fighting for: bipolar II. Before this, my psychiatrist had diagnosed me with PTSD, depression with anxiety, borderline personality disorder, everything but what I was actually dealing with.

Armed with this new, accurate diagnosis, I was able to get the treatment I needed; combination medications and therapy.”

“Now, after a couple of months of the right medication, therapy and actively working to improve, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not fully recovered or stable, but I’m getting there. I feel like, had I been listened to, had my concerns and comments been considered, I would have gotten a proper diagnosis earlier. It wouldn’t have gotten this bad”


Helpful Links

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4421902/ Why do we need a diagnosis? Maybe a syndrome is enough?

Your Diagnosis | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

https://www.coamfte.org/ COAMFTE

https://www.cswe.org/ Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – Home

https://www.cacrep.org/ Home – CACREP





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