Mounds and mounds of it.  Every day.  Several hours of it.

So, you might think that being a counselor is all the listening to people’s problems and giving advice.  Not. Even. Close.   It’s about providing guidance and insight through various techniques into helping another individual change.  In the case of addicts, part of the challenge is that they do not believe they want to change.  Or they believe they are unable to do so.

But, paperwork?  I sat through a staff meeting because it’s Thursday and that’s what we do for two to three and a half hours every week.  Why?  Because we have cases to review and paperwork to keep updated.  How much administration do I do in a week?

I work 40 hours a week.  Easy, right?  I run 5 groups a week.  That’s 5 hours plus notes and drug screens at 5 more hours.  I have 4 evaluations at 1 hour each plus administration of .5 hours each.  6 hours of time for evaluations.  Total?  16 so far.  Staff meeting?  Call that 3.5 hours.  19.5 hours.

My caseload.  I should have a caseload of approximately 25 people.  That’s 12.5 hours per client per week (45 minutes per session and 15 minutes for notes).  We’re up to 32 now.  And then there’s 2 hours of supervision and 0.5 hours of review with our clinical coordinator.  Total 34.5.  Court of 3 hours every other week for 36 hours total.  And 4 hours of faxing, phone calls, emails, voicemails, and other correspondence.

That’s 40.  Sounds like a lot of wasted time?  No doubt it seems that way.  But, when you consider my agency is licensed by the state and a privately-held company, there are people I need to answer to.  Heck, there are people my boss needs to answer to.  The same would be true if I was in private practice, really.  We all answer to someone, no matter what our jobs are.

Of the 40 hours, less than 18.5 are spent with clients (assuming they all show up and, let’s face it, the substance abuse population is often resistant to treatment). 10 for paperwork (case-related).  Meetings (court, staff, and supervision) are 7.5.  And 4 for correspondence and overall case management.

People ask.  What is case management?  Essentially, it’s all the work that we do while the client is not in the room to manage their care.  It might be contacting your EAP or lawyer to advise him or her of your progress in treatment.  It might be calling your mother (if we have a release to do so) to let her know that you haven’t shown up and your phone has been disconnected – maybe she knows where you are.  It might be faxing reports to the judge or your CPS case manager.  Regardless, there is always something to do.

And if casework is caught up?  It might be time to research the inspirational TED talks or journals for topics and conversations to bring up in groups as well as find creative ideas for client homework to promote growth and change.

Yes, we’re always finding something.  Remember that Diana Nyad video I linked on my blog post “Journey/Team”?  That was something I found one morning over breakfast.  Learning never stops.

What kinds of things do you find are important to do in your daily life but nobody sees them being done and everyone assumes it’s just magic?

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9 Responses to Paperwork.

  1. malindar says:

    hahahaha…umm…all of it? i love your thought process here, Derek. it sounds like my life. i mean, really, in the scheme of things, SAHM’s are also counselors. taxi drivers. “bar tenders.” confidantes. and in the course of a day, the magical happens: like…4 loads of laundry. vacuuming. bathroom-cleaning. mopping the whole house. cutting and coloring my hair. getting an oil change. brushing the dogs. 🙂 maybe i should pursue psychology?

  2. Pingback: What No One Sees | Raindrops in the Ocean

  3. Magic. Everything I do is magic.

    Just kidding. Check out my response at

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