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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This episode is brought to you by PAR. PAR has recently released the Feifer Assessment of Childhood Trauma or the FACT, the first and only comprehensive instrument measuring how stress and trauma can impact children in a school-based setting. You can learn more or purchase the FACT teacher form by visiting parinc.com\fact_teacher.

Hey, what’s going on, y’all? Welcome back to the Holiday Hopes series. This is a business series of podcasts, a seven-part business series where I am talking about just short little tips for changing different aspects of your practice [00:01:00] in time for the new year or around the new year. The idea is that if you change or tweak each of these things, by the time the new year rolls around, you will have somewhat revolutionized your practice.

Now, easier said than done sometimes, right? But the idea is that this gets you thinking about making some time to make some of these changes and perhaps actually making these changes. The problem with making change in a lot of cases is just having the time to do so. I talked in the last holiday Hopes episode about your schedule and how to make time. If you haven’t listened to that one, go back and check that one out.

Today’s episode is about reports. I’ve spoken a lot about reports on the podcast, and I’m going to touch back on reports today just to give you another little nudge to really think about your report templates and what those might look like. So I’ll get into some detail about shortening [00:02:00] reports, using simpler language, and switching up the format of your reports to make sure that you’re including the information that people actually care about.

Now, before I get to the reports’ discussion, I want to invite any of you who have not subscribed or followed the podcast to do so. It’s pretty easy in whatever podcast app you’re listening in. Just look for the button that looks like it will subscribe you. It should say subscribe. It might say follow. I’m not sure what the other ones say in the other apps, but I’m sure you can find it.

All right. Let’s talk about reports.

This is going to be a super short episode because [00:03:00] I have spoken about reports many times on the podcast. When I did a search of episodes with report writing as a topic, it was a number of different pages long on the search results. So, there are several episodes. There’s a link in the show notes to all the episodes that I have done that contain the word reports. You can go back and check those out if you haven’t checked them out, or if you just want to listen again. But the point being, I’ve spoken a lot about report writing. There’s a lot of discussion about report writing in The Testing Psychologist Facebook community.

If you have been a podcast listener for any amount of time or a Facebook group member for any amount of time, you know that Stephanie Nelson, my friend and colleague has written and done a ton of work on report writing and helping people polish up the reports. So she’s got tons of material as well. So there’s a lot [00:04:00] out there on report writing. I’m just going to use this as a simple motivational tool to get you thinking about and maybe push you in the direction of revising your report style.

The new year, again, is a good time to do this. It’s a natural break. Many of us get time off around the holidays. Things slow down. Now is a great time to go in and really think about whether or not your report is working for you and working for the audience that you write for. The tools to do that have been covered pretty extensively. The main points are just to make sure that you are including the information that is actually important to your audience.

What we know from research is that the majority of our audiences don’t care about a lot of our report content, especially things like testing results sections, [00:05:00] even things like the background, behavioral observations, things that over time or historically we’ve really considered to be integral parts of the report, at least according to my training. Research really has not shown that it is these things or that, that important or that are valued by our audiences. What is valued most is the interpretation or summary, the diagnosis, and the recommendations. So if nothing else, that’s something to think about. How can you put your interpretation, synthesis, diagnosis, and recommendations front and center in your reports?

Lots of folks have moved to what’s called an inverted pyramid approach where you put the important information first, put the less important information toward the end, and stop making our audiences flip through our reports to find the good stuff. Just put it right in front.

[00:06:00] Let’s take a quick break to hear from our featured partner.

Kids are experiencing trauma like never before, but how can you figure out whether they’ve been affected and how it impacts their behavior and performance at school?

The Feifer Assessment of Childhood Trauma or the FACT is the first and only comprehensive instrument measuring how stress and trauma can impact children in a school-based setting. The FACT teacher form solicits the teacher’s perspective on the performance and behavior of children ages 4 to 18 years. It takes just 15 seconds to administer. And the available e-manual gives you detailed administration and scoring instructions. You can learn more or purchase the FACT teacher form by visiting parinc.com\fact_teacher.

All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Other ways that you can polish up your reports include: getting away from jargon, [00:07:00] using simpler language, keeping them shorter in general, and doing some simple but very effective visual techniques to break up the text and highlight the parts that you want people to pay attention to. So creating more white space, using much shorter paragraphs, putting line breaks, using bold sparingly to call attention to the things that you want to, and making sure that your report is in a readable font that is not hard on the eyes.

Now, all these tips are out there. I think people probably know these things, but then we get into the science of behavior change, and why don’t people make changes in their behavior? Because some of you are probably saying, oh, I know this stuff, Jeremy. I’ve heard this a million times. I just can’t do it. Well, that’s where he might want to focus then. [00:08:00] What is keeping you from making these changes? Are you scared? Are you worried that you’re going to lose your referral sources if you change your report template? Do you just not have time? Do you not know how to do it? These are all things that you can work with if you’d like to.

If you don’t know how to do it, get some consultation around it. Listen to other podcast episodes. Contact Stephanie who does consulting at her website, The Peer Consult, around report writing. Get some help. Talk to a supervisor. Read a book. There are lots of resources out there that can help you.

If you don’t have time, that’s understandable. I know what that’s like. As I said, the holidays are a great time to carve out some time though. I think most of us have… things will slow down during that week, at least between [00:09:00] Christmas and New Year, maybe even a bigger radius around those dates. So this is something that you could do in a solid gosh, even a two-hour chunk would go a long way. A four-hour chunk would be incredible.

The important thing to consider is that these changes aren’t really necessarily requiring that you learn something new. It’s just removing some information that you maybe were including unnecessarily or moving some other information around that you already were putting in the report. So, that might make it a little less intimidating.

The other piece is that nothing is permanent, right? You can do some AB testing. You can try the new report style, see how it works for you, poll your referral sources or check in with the ones who get the new report and see what [00:10:00] their feedback is. If you have some long-term trusted referral sources, you can always try the new report style, tell them that you’re trying a new style, and see what their feedback is.

So these are just a few safety nets to put out there. Nothing is permanent. You don’t have to commit to it. But just try it. I think it’d be tougher if we were going the other direction, and I said, hey, you need to add 10 pages to your report template. That might be a little bit tougher, but we’re cutting things down.

So, short and sweet. Like I said, just a little nudge in the right direction to keep you thinking about revising your reports. If you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to maybe take that step because it will be a domino effect. It will take some time off your plate. It will help you do better clinical work. You’ll be able to focus your cognitive resources on the parts of the report that [00:11:00] matter. And I know for a lot of us, that’s the biggest source of stress in our practices is getting those reports done. So, it benefits everyone, not the least of which is our audience, making sure that they’re getting the best of our work.

All right. If you have other ideas, thoughts, questions, discussions around report writing, feel free to shoot me a message or get into the Facebook group and have some discussion around it.

And if you have not subscribed or followed the podcast, I hope you will do so. I love to keep spreading the word, growing the audience, and bringing great content to you.

All right, that’s it for today. We’ll catch you on Monday.

[00:12:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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