When providing behavioral health services, it is known that the quality of the working relationship, the treatment alliance, or the engagement with our clients or patients is a major factor in positive outcomes.  Simply put, if we do not engage effectively, they will likely not do as well in treatment or follow through with recommendations and referrals.

The engagement process begins with the first contact, often over the telephone, and continues through the intake, assessment and early counseling sessions and when using computerized, self-administered tools, like the Behavioral Health Index–Multimedia Version (BHI-MV), the Addiction Severity Index–Multimedia Version (ASI-MV) and the Comprehensive Health Assessment for Teens (CHAT), it may be challenging for some staff to effectively engage.

Many of our customers were initially concerned about how their clients would respond to using a computer for part of the assessment process.  Some worried it might be too impersonal, or even a bit intimidating, and that it would hurt their ability to develop effective working relationships.  What we have heard over time from our customers is that clients find these programs engaging and easy to use, and acceptance is very high.

We know that customers, who effectively integrate the BHI-MV, ASI-MV and CHAT into their assessment processes, pay careful attention to client engagement from the start.  Although processes differ, prior to having non-clinical staff orient and assist clients starting the computer interview, they typically have clinical staff briefly meet with clients to:

  1. Introduce themselves and explain their role in the assessment process
  2. Check mental status and ensure clients are not “at risk”
  3. Remind clients that they will review the results with them afterwards
  4. Assure clients that the information gathered on the computer and in the face to face interviews will be used to develop a plan, together, to best meet their needs

Some organizations accomplish this in brief meetings, or in intake group sessions, but the bottom line is to help clients understand that this is a collaborative, not a punitive process to help them feel engaged.

For more information on the BHI-MV and ASI-MV, click here.