For every client appointment, you can add a progress note or a psychotherapy note from the Appointment page.
In this guide, we'll cover:
- Progress and psychotherapy notes
- Adding a note from the Appointment page
- Navigating the Appointment page
- Writing your progress and psychotherapy notes
- Viewing documentation history
- Editing or deleting an existing unlocked note
- Locking and signing notes
- Sharing a progress note with a client for e-signature
- Amending, correcting, or clarifying a locked note
- Granting or revoking clinician access to unlock locked progress notes (group practices only)
- Printing and downloading a note
Progress and psychotherapy notes
Progress Notes are tied to the medical record of a client.
- If you’re required to share client records with other professionals or insurance companies, the progress note for each appointment will be included if you print it out.
Psychotherapy notes aren’t tied to the medical record of the client, and don’t need to be shared with others except if your records are subpoenaed.
Note: SimplePractice is flexible in allowing clinicians to have their own preferred workflows, so there isn't a way to require adding a note to appointments before billing them.
Tip: You can use the Appointment Status report to find any appointments that are missing progress notes. See Appointment Status Report: Checking the billing and documentation status for appointments for additional details.
Adding a note from the Appointment page
Progress notes and psychotherapy notes are managed on the Appointment page associated with a date of service. You can access this page from the Calendar homepage, the appointment flyout, or from the client's Overview page.
Note: Only one progress note can be saved per date of service. If you’d like to add additional progress notes, you can create the note as an Assessment and add it to the client’s file. For more information, see: Adding an assessment to a client's chart.
From the Calendar homepage
To add a note from the Calendar, click the note icon on the appointment while on the Week view of the calendar:
Note: For additional details on the note icon on the Calendar homepage, see: Progress note indicator.
From the appointment flyout
To add a note from the appointment flyout:
- Click the appointment from the Calendar page
- Click Add Note
From the client's Overview page
To add a note from the client’s Overview page:
- Navigate to the client's Overview page
- Find the correct appointment
- Click + Progress Note or + Psychotherapy Note to go to the Appointment page
- If your client’s Overview page is set to List View, hover your cursor over the appointment and click Edit to go to the Appointment page
Note: To learn more about your view options on the client Overview page, see: Changing your view.
Navigating the Appointment page
We’ve carefully redesigned the Appointment page to simplify your workflow and provide the relevant information you may need to reference or update when writing client notes.
With this enhancement, your clients’ contact information, date of birth, and appointment information are now all located at the top of the page for you to reference while writing a note:
Select the Services tab to view the Billing Type, Total Fees, and CPT code for the appointment, and click Go to Billing if you need to make any adjustments:
Note: The billing details for an appointment will only be available if the team member has the appropriate access level.
You can also click Manage treatment plans in the upper right corner of the Appointment page to open the client’s Diagnosis & Treatment Plan(s) in a side flyout alongside your Progress Notes, without interrupting the note you’re currently writing:
This is especially useful if you need to quickly copy and paste any relevant information from the Diagnosis or Treatment Plan to include in your notes.
If you need to correct the date, start time, or duration for a date of service, click Edit date and time to make adjustments directly from the Appointment page. Or, click Open in Calendar to jump to the Calendar homepage in another tab where you can update other details such as the clinician or location assigned to the appointment:
If needed, jump ahead to the Appointment page for the client’s upcoming appointment, or back to a past appointment:
At any point while writing a note, you can click Save to keep your progress and leave the screen. Then, return another time to finalize the saved note before clicking Sign.
Important: While our system will autosave a draft of your note in some instances, it's important to make sure that you click Save on the note anytime you leave your browser page to ensure you don't lose your work. If you try to leave your browser without saving your note, you'll see a pop-up modal letting you know any changes you made may not be saved. Our Autosave functionality saves your progress via your browser's cookies, so clearing your cookies or opening the note on a different device or computer won’t display your autosaved note.
Writing your progress and psychotherapy notes
On the Appointment page, you can select which progress note template you’d like to use from the dropdown menu.
- If you’re on the Starter plan, you'll be able to select a Simple Progress Note template or populate the note field with a SOAP or DAP note.
- On the Plus and Essential plans, you can select from your list of customized notes templates.
After selecting a template, you can begin writing your note by typing in the blank box provided.
You can also click Load last note to choose and edit the content of the client’s last progress note.
Note:Load last note is only available on the Essential and Plus plans.
Clicking the arrow next to Load last note will open a dropdown menu where you can choose to load and edit from the client’s previous notes. The dropdown menu will display the client’s last 25 notes from newest to oldest.
To add an attachment to a progress note, click the paper clip icon, select the file you'd like to attach, and click Upload:
- When a clinician's specialty is set to anything other than Behavioral health therapy, Substance use counseling, Marriage and family therapy, Psychology, Social work, or Counseling, all references to Psychotherapy Notes on sessions she or he is assigned to will not be available as this is not typically a field that they would need.
- If a clinician with a specialty other than Behavioral health therapy, Substance use counseling, Marriage and family therapy, Psychology, Social work, or Counseling has previously saved a Psychotherapy note for a client, she or he will still have access to this field.
- If a clinician's specialty is changed to Behavioral health therapy, Substance use counseling, Marriage and family therapy, Psychology, Social work, or Counseling, the Psychotherapy note field and Add Psychotherapy Note link will start displaying for all of this clinician's appointments, both past and future.
Viewing documentation history
When writing a progress or psychotherapy note, click Documentation history to conveniently view past:
- Chart Notes
- Diagnosis and Treatment Plans
- Mental Status Exams
- Progress Notes
- Psychotherapy Notes
Clicking Documentation history will open a right side panel where you can use the drop-down menus to view specific documentation for the client.
- To fix the date range, click All Time
- To sort by document type, click All Items
- To remove the Documentation history panel, click X
Editing and deleting an existing unlocked note
To edit an existing unlocked note
- At the top of the Progress Note, click Edit
- Make any changes you need, then click Save
To delete an existing unlocked note
- Next to the Edit button, click Delete
- Click Delete now to permanently delete the note
Note: Be careful, as there is no way to recover a deleted note, and we can't recover a note you have deleted.
Locking and signing notes
To sign a progress note, click Sign.
On the Sign and Lock Progress Note flyout, review the signature preview. You can edit the Provider Name and Credentials as needed. Click Sign & Lock when ready.
Note: For your first signature, the Provider Name and Credentials will automatically populate from Settings > My Profile > Clinical. Once you edit the Provider Name and Credentials on the Sign and lock Progress Note flyout, it’ll save your edits going forward for future progress notes.
Once the note is locked, you'll see the Provider Signature that includes the clinician's name, signature, license type, and the date and time at which the note was locked.
If you’re pre-licensed under supervision, you have the option to Sign & Share with your Supervisor.
Note: There isn't a way to customize this signature.
Sharing a progress note with a client for e-signature
After signing and locking a progress note, you can share it via the Client Portal to be signed electronically by a client or contact. To do this:
- Navigate to the client's Overview page and click the appointment associated with the progress note
- Select Share
- Review the attached document and click Continue to Email
Once the client or contact signs the document, you'll see the Provider and Client/Contact signatures in the appointment's details.
Amending, correcting, or clarifying a locked note
Progress notes are important for creating a legal health record of your client encounters, client billing, and measuring client progress. The Unlock Progress Notes feature allows you - the account owner - to unlock your or a colleague’s progress notes to make amendments, corrections, or clarifications.
This feature should be used with care. You’ll need to implement some best practices to use it in a way that is consistent with HIPAA requirements and professional ethics:
- Be vigilant about maintaining the security and privacy of your SimplePractice account. This means using antivirus software, using strong passwords for your accounts and your devices, maintaining a safe environment for storing your records, and taking other precautions you deem necessary. Find more information on recommended practices by reviewing our Security page.
- Make sure you’re always logged in to your own account and never share accounts with others, even other users in your own SimplePractice account.
- Any time the Unlock feature is used, a new entry will be logged in your Account Activity. You can learn more here: Account Activity: Tracking changes and information access in your account.
- Monitor and audit your Account Activity on a regular schedule to identify any unusual behavior right away.
- Train your HIPAA Workforce, including clinical and administrative staff, in accordance with the Privacy and Security Rules.
While this feature is built in a HIPAA-compliant way, you and your fellow clinicians are ultimately responsible for safeguarding the information in your SimplePractice account.
For more information, please review these helpful resources:
To unlock a locked progress note:
- Click Unlock at the top of the not
- You'll then see the Notice of Data Integrity. You'll need to type the Reason for unlocking in the text field and click Accept & Unlock to unlocked the locked progress note.
- Once you click Accept & Unlock, you'll see the Unlocked message beneath the progress note.
Important: A progress note that's been signed by a client or contact can't be unlocked or edited.
Granting or revoking clinician access to unlock locked progress notes (group practices only)
As an Account Owner, you can grant or revoke other clinicians' ability to unlock their own notes in your practice:
- Go to Settings > Team Members and click the name of the clinician you want to edit permissions for.
- Scroll to the Permissions section, and check the Allow clinician to unlock Progress Notes checkbox to grant the clinician this access, or uncheck the checkbox to revoke this clinician's access.
- Click Update Team Member.
Tip: Practice Managers can also adjust clinician permissions.
Printing and downloading a note
Here's how to print a note:
- Once you've saved a progress note or a psychotherapy note for a client, you'll see the option to print.
- Click the printer icon, and a new tab will open to print your note.
To download a note:
- Select the download icon, located next to the printer icon.
- A PDF version of your note will be downloaded.
Your printed notes and documents will contain all the information auditors, insurance companies, and other third parties require in an easy-to-read format. All exported documents will include your logo if you've added one to your settings, your client’s name and DOB on every page, and your license number(s) and license type(s) in the Provider License section on Page 1.