The Toolkit: 9 Essential Resources I Wish I Had As A Beginning Therapist

By nature counseling is an overwhelming job. These tools can get you up to speed quickly

Counseling is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. If you’re anything like me you regularly deal with unreasonable supervisors, out of control paperwork and clients who never seem satisfied. Worst of all, interns and beginning workers are often thrown into situations where they feel over their heads.

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I can’t change any of that. But I can tell you some good news – the internet has changed every step of practice, from engagement to termination.

So let me take the load off a bit. Here are nine essential tools for any smart clinician’s toolbox.

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Clinical Resources

Your supervisor introduces you to a new client and takes you aside to say, “He has insomnia. Use whatever treatment is best for that.” And you say, “Insomnia is what Pacino had in that movie, right?”

You’re in a bind – and ideally, you should seek training and supervision to help you understand your client’s issues. But in the meantime, the Social Psychology Network has a truly remarkable library of websites and articles organized by disorder. If you have 15 minutes to learn about an illness, this is the place to go.

15 minutes later…

OK, you know a bit about the client’s disorder, and you’re ready to think about treatment.

My all-time favorite online resource is Psychology Tools, an impressive and user-friendly database of free worksheets and handouts for clients. If you have a rudimentary understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, the tools here will bring it to life.  I highly recommend taking 10 minutes now to explore the site – I can almost guarantee you’ll come away with a new skill.

The Centre for Clinical Interventions in Australia also has a top-notch directory of free handouts for clients as well as detailed treatment manuals for clinicians. Combined with clinical skills and training, both of these websites have resources that can go a long way towards a successful therapeutic journey.

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You’ve successfully treated your client – congratulations! – and she’s ready to leave your program. But she needs a referral. Now what?

Trust the government on this. SAMHSA has created an incredibly detailed database of mental health, substance abuse and VA providers that you can search by treatment orientation, insurance accepted, and more. 

You can also try a crisis referral line. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be automatically routed to a crisis line in your area (800-273-TALK). Lifeline Crisis Chat also has a list of crisis lines for specific populations, including veterans, people with eating disorders and more. All of these lines serve consumers, but most will also be happy to help providers find the best resource.


You’ve treated all your clients and referred them to the appropriate programs – a little friendly humor there – and you find yourself with some downtime. Why not use it to get up to speed on the latest developments in mental health?

The American Medical Association makes some articles from its prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association available online for free – its psychiatry articles are here. The American Psychiatric Association also puts out truly informative updates on clinical issues, as well as developments in politics and the mental health system.

I also highly recommend finding a news aggregator that helps you subscribe to your favorite websites and blogs. I personally love Feedly, which is available on Android, iPhone and the web.

You should throw a subscription to The Onion in there, too – life is short, and you’ve earned a laugh.

Will any of these tools help you in your work? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments and I’ll include updates in a future post!

Would you read a SocialWorked newsletter? I’ll start one if people say they’re interested – let me know here.

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