The intake appointment is the case manager’s first opportunity to meet with the student. In this appointment the goal is to 1) explain case management services, 2) build rapport with the student, and 3) gather holistic information regarding the student’s needs and strengths.
Explain Case Management Services
Transparency is key – students deserve to understand the nature and the privacy of the services they are receiving. To aid in this process, provide written and verbal information to the student which explains the scope of services for case management as well as the scope of privacy. This is particularly important for non-clinical case managers given that the privacy is governed by FERPA and the services are therefore not confidential. To the student, case management can seem like counseling – the case manager is an empathic, active listener who is there to help – and the nuanced differences between counseling and case management may not be as easily understood by the student as they are to us. As such, you must take measures to clarify your role and the boundaries of your privacy. This can occur first in written form – have your students complete an Intake Form which can serve as a guide for explaining the scope of services and privacy to the student, as well as an opportunity to gather information directly from the student about the barriers they are experiencing and their own goals for seeking services. Then, follow up verbally, in-person, at the start of the appointment regarding the information covered on the written form to ensure the student understands the scope of services and privacy, and to clarify any questions.
During the intake appointment, the first step must be building rapport. Rapport is the foundation of any helping relationship. There will be moments in the intake where you have to press for difficult information and moments throughout the case management relationship where you have to challenge students’ thoughts and behaviors – this is most effective and produces the best results when rapport is established first. Borrowing from Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy, case managers can build rapport by using reflection, empathy, positive regard, and authenticity. Some practical strategies for doing this include engaging in active listening, offering water, tea, snacks, having personal items in your office to build connection, using humor and self-disclosure where appropriate, and finding common ground with the student. Investing in building rapport is key to information gathering.
The information-gathering phase of the intake appointment will be much more productive if the student trusts the case manager and feels heard by them. When gathering information, explore all areas of wellness to conduct a holistic assessment of their strengths and needs and to determine what might be contributing to their difficulty. In other words, the intake assessment should be as comprehensive as possible. As you gather information and check-in with the student, move beyond just the issue disclosed in the referral and try to understand the student’s strengths and needs across the wellness spectrum. Consider developing a form or template that can serve as a guide to information gathering during the intake interview. The form should be considered a reminder of the talking points, and not a script that must be followed verbatim. The assessment should feel like a conversation with the student guiding the discussion and moving at their own pace.
On April 8, 2021, NABITA is hosting a “Conducting an Effective Case Management Intake” webinar, designed to discuss strategies for conducting a good intake or first appointment — including using intake and screening forms, building rapport and demonstrating empathy, asking effective questions, and ending the appointment in a way that fosters success. To register for the webinar, visit this link.