Mind Over Manual: Psychologist's AI tool notes a revolution in patient therapy sessions

Debbie Beattie, a dedicated psychologist at Clear Health Psychology in Perth, Australia is known for her eclectic therapeutic style. Originally from South Africa, Debbie moved to WA in 2019, bringing with her a wealth of experience from the not-for-profit and private sectors, including employee assistance programs, critical incident response, and fitness for work assessments.

Debbie’s approach to therapy is all about warmth and collaboration.

“I want to provide my clients with a safe space where they have the opportunity to explore, grow, and heal,” she says.

“It’s important to me that each client feels heard and valued, and I tailor my approach to meet their unique needs, whether through cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), or solution-focused therapy (SFT). I’m also training in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy to further improve my practice.”

Grappling with Admin Demands

In the early days of her career, Debbie struggled with the administrative demands of her practice. When she was a provisional psychologist, she started with pen and paper.

“I reached a point where I was so overwhelmed and distressed that I had to find another solution. Using a laptop and then an iPad with handwriting-to-text conversion were steps in the right direction, but they still felt lacking. That’s when I discovered PatientNotes. It was one of the only products that met all the legal criteria, and I haven’t looked back since,” Debbie says.

The transition to PatientNotes was a game-changer, allowing Debbie to reclaim huge portions of her day previously consumed by note-taking.

“I used to schedule 15 to 20 minutes after each client session to write notes, but now I see my clients back-to-back. It has given me back my evenings, allowing me to end my workday without the stress of catching up on notes.”

Improved Client Interactions

One of the best benefits of PatientNotes for Debbie is the ability to maintain eye contact and fully engage with clients during sessions, as this is crucial in building trust and understanding.

“I think if you're not fiddling on a device, you're just looking at them engaging and being in the moment and that makes a big difference to my patients.”

At first, Debbie thought some of her clients might be hesitant to have their sessions recorded. In fact, she has experienced the opposite.

“I've only ever had one client say, ‘no, thank you’ and then I just went back to the iPad and pencil for them. But that was just one session. The next session they came and I just asked the question again, ‘Hey, can I record our session so I can make notes?’ That's pretty much how I say it to clients. ‘Do you mind if I record this session to make notes?’.”

“I get a lot of very enthusiastic yeses from my clients now, which can be quite funny. I've had clients that will come into my office and just be chatting about how the day is and then say to me, are you recording me yet? And I'm like, no, I'm not recording you yet. I haven't asked the question, but now that you asked, yes, can I turn it on?”

Patients Enthusiastically Embrace PatientNotes

Debbie has extensive experience in dealing with a variety of psychological issues, including relationship struggles, depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. “I’ve worked with clients from diverse backgrounds, including culturally diverse individuals and FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) workers, which has enriched my understanding and approach,” she says. Her work also involves supporting individuals with chronic pain, bipolar disorder, and work-related issues.

“I've started using the patient summary for the clients and they are getting that email after each session and it just makes them feel so good, they want the session recorded too.”

The AI-generated notes are not just a time-saver; they improve the overall therapeutic process.

“Clients appreciate receiving summaries. It gives them a chance to correct any misunderstandings and feel validated. Having thorough clinical notes is not only an ethical responsibility but also a key to effective client care. It allows me to remember important details, like a client’s birthday or significant events, which makes them feel valued and special.”

Accurate and Thorough Notes

Debbie finds PatientNotes very versatile, assisting her across various aspects of her practice. Whether it’s writing detailed reports or handling complex assessments, the AI tool ensures accuracy and thoroughness.

“It’s especially beneficial for report writing and assessments. The level of detail and accuracy it provides is invaluable, reducing the pressure to remember every specific detail.”

Despite her initial hesitation, Debbie found the process of customising and refining the AI prompts straightforward.

“Creating the major prompts was easy. The support from the PatientNotes team has been amazing, making the entire experience smooth and stress-free.”

Impact on Practice and Wellbeing

Using PatientNotes has not only improved the operational efficiency of Debbie’s practice but has also positively impacted her personal wellbeing.

“Before PatientNotes, I often worked late into the evening to make sure all my notes were up to date. Now, I finish my workday on time, which has significantly reduced my stress levels. This change has been crucial in maintaining my own mental health, allowing me to provide the best care for my clients.”

Debbie actively encourages her colleagues to adopt the tool, sharing her insights and tips to ease their transition.

“I tell all my colleagues about it. The biggest barrier for them is usually the initial hesitation to ask clients if they can record sessions. Once they see how easy it is, they are convinced.”

As Debbie continues to integrate AI into her practice, she looks forward to future advancements that will further enhance her ability to provide the best care.

“The improvements in PatientNotes have been fantastic, and I’m excited to see what’s next. It’s made my life so much easier and my work more enjoyable,” she says.

A Deep Passion for Psychology

Debbie loved her psychology classes, and her career began with a deep-seated passion for helping others.

“The subject itself grabbed me, and I also realised that I really enjoyed being the person that people felt they could talk to quietly. The privilege of having that role of being that quiet person in the background that nurtures relationships in that way was very important,” she says.

This passion has guided her throughout her career, shaping her into the psychologist she is today.

“With PatientNotes at a day to day, human level your clients feel you're just picking up where they left off last time. You're not losing little pieces of information they just casually mention, you can just pop up something small in your notes. And it makes such a difference to the client, makes them feel so special and validated and important to you. That's my service.”

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