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How to Write GIRP Notes (with Examples)

Marissa Moore2023-02-04

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GIRP Notes

GIRP notes are a form of progress note documentation that mental health professionals can use to document their sessions. GIRP progress notes differ from some other common forms of documentation as they include a goal section in their format. These notes may be a good option for your practice, as they may help you keep the focus of your session client-oriented.

What does GIRP stand for

GIRP stands for:

  • Goals
  • Intervention
  • Response
  • Plan

When you write your notes in this style, you can see clearly what your client wants to work on and how they're progressing towards their targets and objectives in therapy.

These notes can help you and the client identify and track the progress of short-term and long-term therapy goals.

How to write a GIRP note

GIRP progress notes have four distinct parts, with tailored information about the session in each part of the note.


The "G" in the GIRP note stands for goals. The goals section addresses what the client wants to work on in therapy.

The goals section includes information such as:

  • Why the client is in therapy
  • What they want to work on in therapy
  • Why the client may need therapy

This section can include both short-term and long-term goals. One tip for the goals section is to use what the client wants out of therapy in this section.


The "I" in the GIRP note stands for intervention. The intervention section addresses what you, as the mental health professional did.

The intervention section includes information such as:

  • What interventions the therapist used
  • How the therapist helped the client work towards achieving their goal

The intervention section may highlight the therapist's theoretical orientation.


The "R" in the GIRP note stands for the response. The response section focuses on how the client responds to the prescribed treatment.

The response section includes information such as:

  • How the client is responding to therapy
  • Client's progress toward achieving their goals
  • Their attitudes about therapy
  • The therapist's observations of client behavior, such as: Client has a flat affect, the client is withdrawn, etc.

The response section should tell the readers of your clinical documentation how the client is progressing in therapy.


The "P" in the GIRP note stands for plan. The plan section discusses what happens next in the client's therapy.

The plan section includes information such as:

  • Referrals to other medical providers
  • Topics of future sessions
  • The date and time of the next session
  • Any homework the therapist assigns to the client

The plan section discusses an actionable system for moving forward with the client's treatment.

However, creating the progress notes in GIRP format can be a time-consuming process, as they require a great deal of detail to be added. So alternatively, you can make use of the Mentalyc Progress Note Generator to create notes. This software is designed to allow clinicians to efficiently generate progress notes in a fraction of the time it would take to create GIRP notes. The software includes a number of features that help clinicians quickly create and manage their clients' progress notes.

Example GIRP note for depression

If you need an example of what this may look like for a client with depression, here is an example:


The client met with the psychotherapist for an appointment on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The client reports they would like to learn three coping skills to help with depression. The client wants to implement these skills within the next month. The client also states in the long term; they would like to improve their mood and engage in activities they previously enjoyed, such as going to yoga class and spending more time with their friends. The client reports needing help because their low mood and lack of energy make it hard to engage in social relationships and hobbies they enjoy.


The psychotherapist and client discussed the client's depression during this session. The psychotherapist modeled a grounding exercise for the client during the session to help them cope with intense emotions when they feel overwhelmed. The psychotherapist taught the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding method, and the client voiced an understanding of how to use this skill. The psychotherapist and client also discussed obstacles to engaging in activities they used to like. The psychotherapist will focus on interventions for these obstacles in future sessions.


The client responded well and appeared to understand the purpose of the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise. The psychotherapist started with this exercise because the client reports that their symptoms of depression ramp up when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. The client was receptive to learning more coping skills and grounding practices in the future.


The psychotherapist will meet with the client again next Wednesday at 4 p.m. The client was assigned homework to implement the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise before the next session if there are times when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed. The client stated they wanted to talk to their doctor about depression medication and have a goal for themselves to call their primary care physician and schedule an appointment. The next session of the client will focus on learning more coping skills and grounding exercises.

Benefits of GIRP notes

Using the GIRP notes format offers various benefits. This note format is best when your client has clearly defined goals and objectives. When clients meet specific targets while working toward a larger goal, tracking their progress and reinforcing their ability to meet particular objectives is easy. This not only helps mental health professionals track client progress, but it helps the psychotherapist track client progress as well.

These goal-focused notes may also be beneficial for clinicians who are writing treatment plans. This style is easy to follow. Using the client's stated goals and objectives for treatment planning is simple.

GIRP notes vs. SOAP notes

If you're wondering if GIRP or SOAP notes are better, it's a matter of personal preference. GIRP and SOAP notes both have four sections.

GIRP progress notes focus on goals, and SOAP notes focus on the subjective and objective aspects of a client's behavior. GIRP progress notes also offer an intervention section and response section that focus on what the mental healthcare professional does in response to the client's goals and responses to the interventions. In contrast, SOAP notes have an assessment section that focuses on the clinical judgments of the clinician.

GIRP and SOAP notes have a plan section that helps the mental health professional document what's next for the client's treatment.

GIRP notes vs. DAP notes

These are two formats if you're trying to decide whether to use GIRP or DAP notes. But, again, your style of psychotherapy may determine what type of clinical documentation you like best.

GIRP progress notes focus on short and long-term client goals and the therapist's interventions. In contrast, DAP notes focus on documentation of the client's behavior and assessment of that behavior from the therapist. GIRP progress notes tend to be more client-oriented as your documentation reflects what the client wants from therapy, how you helped them progress toward their goals, and how they responded to your interventions.

GIRP notes and DAP notes, like many note formats, include a plan for what comes next for the client in therapy.

GIRP notes vs. BIRP notes

GIRP notes and BIRP notes are very similar documentation formats. Both documentation styles have four sections; the only differing section is the first. The GIRP note first section focuses on the client's goals, which can include short and long-term goals and objectives. On the other hand, the first section of a BIRP note focuses on behavior rather than goals.

Both styles have an intervention, response, and plan section. These sections discuss the therapist's in-session interventions and the client's response to treatment. Finally, both note styles outline the next steps for the client's treatment.

Quick overview of a GIRP note

If you want an easy way to remember what goes into a GIRP note, consider using this guide below:


Some helpful tips for the goals section include:

  • Using client quotes for what they state they want out of therapy
  • Remember, it can be short or long-term goals
  • Think about the client's presenting problem to write the goals section

The goals section helps you track why the client is there and sets the frame for therapy.


To make the intervention section easier and quicker to write, consider these tips:

  • Record what the mental health professional does to help the client reach their goals
  • Use an intervention words list to speed up this section
  • Use interventions based on your style or way of doing therapy

The intervention section focuses on the role of the mental health counselor.


If you're finding the response section challenging, consider the following:

  • Using Client quotes about what they find helpful and unhelpful
  • Document what is and isn't working for the client
  • Record any feelings the client is having about the process of therapy

The response section helps you track your client's progress and readjust the course of treatment if necessary.


When writing the plan section, consider these questions:

  • Did I give the client homework?
  • When is the date and time of our next session?
  • Will the client follow up with any outside referrals?
  • Did I send the client any resources to use outside of the session?

The plan section is always about the following action steps for you and the client to continue therapy.

About the author

Marissa Moore

Marissa Moore is a mental health professional who owns Mending Hearts Counseling in Southwest Missouri. She specializes in providing affirming counseling services to the LGBTQIA+ community. Marissa has 11 years of experience working in the mental health field, and her work experience includes substance use treatment centers, group homes, an emergency room, and now private practice work.

Learn More About Marissa


All examples of mental health documentation are fictional and for informational purposes only.

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