2024 BIRP Notes Templates and Examples

Updated: April 25, 2024

Professionals rely heavily on structured note-taking to document client progress, treatment plans, and sessions in the mental health and counseling field. BIRP notes have emerged as a practical framework among the various formats for clinical documentation. These notes assist with organizing observations and interventions in a manner that supports the continuity of care.

This article covers the structure of BIRP notes, their differences from other documentation styles like SOAP notes, and offers insights into best practices. Additionally, we will provide examples and templates that can be utilized in different therapeutic settings.

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What is a BIRP Note?

BIRP is an acronym standing for Behavior, Intervention, Response, and Plan. It is a type of progress note used by healthcare professionals to document patient or client encounters. Here’s what each section typically contains:

  • Behavior: This section documents the client’s behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication, and interaction during the session.
  • Intervention: Here, the clinician notes the methods and techniques used during the session to address the client’s behavior or issues.
  • Response: This part records the client’s reactions to the interventions applied by the therapist.
  • Plan: This outlines the steps that the client and therapist agree to follow before the next session, including goals, homework, and any changes to the treatment plan.

Difference between BIRP Notes and SOAP Notes

While BIRP and SOAP notes are both systematic methods for recording clinical interactions, they have distinct focuses. SOAP—Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan—notes offer a more medically oriented approach, with emphasis on diagnosis and assessment. BIRP notes, on the other hand, are more behaviorally focused, tracking specific interventions and the client’s responses in a mental health context.

Best Practice for BIRP Notes

When writing BIRP notes, the best practices include:

  • Confidentiality: Ensure that all notes maintain client confidentiality and comply with HIPAA regulations.
  • Clarity and Conciseness: Write clearly and concisely to ensure that others can understand the note.
  • Timeliness: Document the notes as soon as possible after the session to ensure accuracy.
  • Objectivity: Record facts and observable behaviors rather than subjective judgments.
  • Consistency: Use a consistent format to make sure all important aspects of the session are documented.

BIRP Note Templates

BIRP note templates offer a customizable framework for detailed session records, capturing key elements from behavior observations to interventions, client reactions, and future plans. Here are templates suited for general and specialized counseling needs.

Standard BIRP Format Template Copy Snippet Copied!

Patient Name: [Full Name]
Date of Service: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Session Number: [Number]
Therapist: [Full Name]

Behavior: [Describe client’s behavior]
Intervention: [List the interventions used]
Response: [Document client’s response to the interventions]
Plan: [Outline the follow-up plan for the client]

BIRP Template for Counseling Copy Snippet Copied!

Client Name: [Full Name]
Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Session Duration: [Time Duration]
Counselor: [Full Name]

Behavior: [Detailed account of the client’s verbal and non-verbal behavior]
Intervention: [Specific counseling techniques and therapeutic interventions applied]
Response: [Client’s immediate reactions and progress in the session]
Plan: [Next steps, therapeutic homework, and goals set for future sessions]

BIRP Note Examples

These BIRP note examples illustrate their practical application, guiding the documentation of client behaviors and care planning. Below is a standard BIRP note and a counseling-specific example.

Standard BIRP Format Example

Patient Name: John Doe
Date of Service: 11/05/2023
Session Number: 8
Therapist: Jane Smith

Behavior:
The client arrived on time for their in-person session. They appeared distracted and frequently checked their phone. The client was neatly dressed and mentioned skipping meals due to a recent breakup, which seems to have exacerbated their stress levels.

Intervention:
The therapist introduced grounding techniques to help the client manage acute stress. A discussion on healthy eating habits was initiated, and the client agreed to start a food journal. The therapist provided reassurance and normalized the client’s feelings of distress post-breakup.

Response:
The client engaged with the grounding techniques, noting a temporary reduction in anxiety. They agreed to use the food journal and expressed a willingness to try to establish a regular eating schedule.

Plan:
The therapist scheduled a follow-up session next Wednesday at 2 p.m. The client was tasked with maintaining a food journal and practicing grounding techniques twice daily. They were also given resources on nutrition and stress management to review.

BIRP Template for Counseling Example

Client Name: Emily Clark
Date: 11/05/2023
Session Duration: 50 minutes
Counselor: Michael Thompson

Behavior:
The client connected via video call for their scheduled session. They reported persistent feelings of isolation and exhibited signs of social withdrawal, avoiding eye contact and giving brief responses. Despite this, the client maintained a neat appearance and was responsive to direct questions.

Intervention:
The counselor employed motivational interviewing techniques to explore the client’s feelings of isolation. They collaboratively set a goal for the client to reach out to one friend before the next session. The counselor also introduced the concept of cognitive restructuring to challenge negative thoughts the client had about social interactions.

Response:
The client was initially hesitant but became more open to the idea of reconnecting with friends as the session progressed. They recognized some of their thoughts as overly negative and agreed to work on reframing these thoughts.

Plan:
The therapist and client will meet again next Tuesday at 3 p.m. The client agreed to contact at least one friend and to note any negative social thoughts that occur, along with their reframed, positive counterparts. The counselor also suggested a brief daily journaling activity to track mood and social interactions.

Interventions for BIRP Notes

Crafting the ‘Intervention’ section of BIRP notes can sometimes be daunting, especially in determining the most precise language to encapsulate the therapeutic activities. For those writing BIRP notes within a counseling context, consider incorporating these dynamic verbs to accurately describe your therapeutic actions:

  • Assisted
  • Reinforced
  • Developed
  • Identified
  • Discussed
  • Explored
  • Challenged
  • Clarified
  • Prompted
  • Educated
  • Supported
  • Reframed
  • Redirected
  • Guided
  • Affirmed
  • Modeled

This selection of verbs, while not exhaustive, can effectively convey the nature of your interventions and enhance the clarity of your BIRP notes. Using these terms helps to portray a proactive approach to addressing and engaging with the client’s needs during the session.

BIRP notes serve as a fundamental tool in the documentation of clinical sessions within the mental health field. Utilizing the examples and templates provided can enhance the quality of care and treatment outcomes. Remember, well-documented BIRP notes are not just a professional responsibility but also a cornerstone of effective clinical practice.

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Patient Name: [Full Name] <br>Date of Service: [MM/DD/YYYY] <br>Session Number: [Number] <br>Therapist: [Full Name] <br> <br>Behavior: [Describe client’s behavior] <br>Intervention: [List the interventions used] <br>Response: [Document client’s response to the interventions] <br>Plan: [Outline the follow-up plan for the client]
Client Name: [Full Name] <br>Date: [MM/DD/YYYY] <br>Session Duration: [Time Duration] <br>Counselor: [Full Name] <br> <br>Behavior: [Detailed account of the client's verbal and non-verbal behavior] <br>Intervention: [Specific counseling techniques and therapeutic interventions applied] <br>Response: [Client's immediate reactions and progress in the session] <br>Plan: [Next steps, therapeutic homework, and goals set for future sessions]
Patient Name: John Doe <br>Date of Service: 11/05/2023 <br>Session Number: 8 <br>Therapist: Jane Smith <br> <br>Behavior: <br>The client arrived on time for their in-person session. They appeared distracted and frequently checked their phone. The client was neatly dressed and mentioned skipping meals due to a recent breakup, which seems to have exacerbated their stress levels. <br> <br>Intervention: <br>The therapist introduced grounding techniques to help the client manage acute stress. A discussion on healthy eating habits was initiated, and the client agreed to start a food journal. The therapist provided reassurance and normalized the client's feelings of distress post-breakup. <br> <br>Response: <br>The client engaged with the grounding techniques, noting a temporary reduction in anxiety. They agreed to use the food journal and expressed a willingness to try to establish a regular eating schedule. <br> <br>Plan: <br>The therapist scheduled a follow-up session next Wednesday at 2 p.m. The client was tasked with maintaining a food journal and practicing grounding techniques twice daily. They were also given resources on nutrition and stress management to review.
Client Name: Emily Clark <br>Date: 11/05/2023 <br>Session Duration: 50 minutes <br>Counselor: Michael Thompson <br> <br>Behavior: <br>The client connected via video call for their scheduled session. They reported persistent feelings of isolation and exhibited signs of social withdrawal, avoiding eye contact and giving brief responses. Despite this, the client maintained a neat appearance and was responsive to direct questions. <br> <br>Intervention: <br>The counselor employed motivational interviewing techniques to explore the client's feelings of isolation. They collaboratively set a goal for the client to reach out to one friend before the next session. The counselor also introduced the concept of cognitive restructuring to challenge negative thoughts the client had about social interactions. <br> <br>Response: <br>The client was initially hesitant but became more open to the idea of reconnecting with friends as the session progressed. They recognized some of their thoughts as overly negative and agreed to work on reframing these thoughts. <br> <br>Plan: <br>The therapist and client will meet again next Tuesday at 3 p.m. The client agreed to contact at least one friend and to note any negative social thoughts that occur, along with their reframed, positive counterparts. The counselor also suggested a brief daily journaling activity to track mood and social interactions.

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