Developing a Comprehensive and Inclusive Initial Client Screen

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Kathryn Barrs

Second Advisor

Jessica Bartley

Third Advisor

Colby Rogers


Initial client assessment, Phone screen, Inclusivity, Evidence-based, Safety assessment, Data collection


In 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) developed criteria for community-based behavioral health clinics who wish to achieve federal certification. These guidelines aimed to improve the quality and outcome of services provided to clients, which was operationally defined as persons of all ages (i.e., children, adolescents, transition-aged youth, adults, and older adult populations) for whom behavioral health services were provided. Among these guidelines were criteria for preliminary screening intended to determine the level of care a client may require and assess potential risk factors. The guidelines also stated that clinics should demonstrate cultural competence, which can be included in needs assessments that inquire about cultural, identity-based, linguistic, and treatment needs. This paper is intended to offer guidance on how to screen new clients in a manner that is inclusive, comprehensive, and addresses the wide variety of identities and behaviors of mental health consumers. It is by no means a replacement for a formal intake assessment, but it does synthesize best practices discovered through a critical literature review with the hope of creating an initial screener that gathers sufficient information to determine goodness-of-fit for clinics, identify potential client needs and supports, and create a welcoming and inclusive environment upon initial contact.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


42 pgs

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