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How to Write Complete BIRP Notes

PUBLISHED ON: 06.26.2024
Doctor sitting at desk and writing a prescription for her patient

In the field of mental health, precise and comprehensive documentation is vital. It not only ensures continuity of care but also enhances the quality of patient outcomes. One of the most structured and widely used formats for clinical documentation in mental health is the BIRP note. These notes stand out for their structured approach, facilitating comprehensive and coherent recording of therapy sessions. 

What are BIRP Notes?

BIRP notes are a structured format mental health professionals use to document patient interactions and progress during therapy sessions. The acronym BIRP stands for Behavior, Intervention, Response, and Plan, representing the core components that should be included in each note.

birp notes acronym

Breakdown of the BIRP Acronym

  • Behavior: This section documents the client’s observed behavior during the session, including both subjective and objective observations.
  • Intervention: Here, the therapist records the actions taken during the session, including techniques and strategies used.
  • Response: This section captures the client’s reaction to the interventions, noting any changes in behavior or mood.
  • Plan: The final section outlines the next steps in the treatment plan, including follow-up actions or homework assignments.

By adhering to the BIRP format, therapists can ensure their notes are thorough and systematic.

Why Should Mental Health Professionals Use BIRP Notes?

Importance of Structured Documentation

A structured document like BIRP notes in therapy sessions ensures that all relevant information is captured accurately and consistently. This improves the quality of patient care and supports effective communication among healthcare providers.

Benefits of BIRP Notes

  • Enhances Clarity and Consistency: BIRP notes provide a clear and consistent framework for documenting therapy sessions and clinical information, making it easier to track client progress over time.
  • Facilitates Clear Communication: They improve communication among healthcare providers by ensuring that essential information is easily accessible.
  • Improves Patient Care and Outcomes: By providing a detailed record of each session, BIRP notes help therapists tailor their interventions to meet the specific needs of their clients, ultimately improving treatment outcomes.
  • Ensures Compliance: BIRP notes help mental health professionals comply with legal and regulatory standards, which is crucial for both ethical practice and insurance purposes.

Detailed Breakdown of Each Component


The Behavior section documents the client’s observed behavior during the session. This includes both subjective observations (what the client reports) and objective observations (what the therapist observes).

What to Include:

  • Subjective Information: These are the client’s self-reported feelings, thoughts, and experiences. 
  • Objective Information: These are the therapist’s observations of the client’s physical appearance, emotional state, and behavior.

Example: “During the session, the patient appeared anxious, frequently tapping their foot and avoiding eye contact. They reported feeling overwhelmed by work and unable to sleep.”


The Intervention section records the actions taken by the therapist during the session. This includes the techniques and strategies used to address the client’s issues.

What to Include:

  • Actions Taken: Document the specific interventions used, such as cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness exercises, or supportive counseling.
  • Therapeutic Approach: Mention the theoretical framework guiding the interventions.

Example: “The therapist employed deep breathing exercises to help the patient manage anxiety.”


The Response section records the client’s reaction to the interventions. This includes any changes in behavior, mood, or insights gained during the session.

What to Include:

  • Client’s Reaction: Note how the client responded to the interventions, whether positively or negatively.
  • Behavioral Changes: Document any observable changes in the client’s behavior or mood as a result of the interventions.

Example: “The patient reported feeling more relaxed and showed decreased foot tapping after the breathing exercises.”


The plan section outlines the next steps in the patient’s treatment plan. This includes follow-up actions, homework assignments, and goals for the next session.

What to Include:

  • Next Steps: Detail the actions to be taken before the next session, such as homework assignments or new techniques to be practiced.
  • Future Goals: Outline the long-term objectives and any changes to the treatment plan based on the session’s outcomes.

Example: “The patient was assigned to practice deep breathing exercises daily and to journal any instances of anxiety.”

birp notes tips infographic

Tips for Writing Effective BIRP Notes

  • Be Concise and Specific: Avoid unnecessary details and focus on the most important aspects of the session.
  • Use Objective Language: Avoid subjective opinions and focus on observable facts.
  • Ensure Timeliness: Complete notes soon after the session to ensure accuracy.
  • Focus on Relevant Information: Include only information pertinent to the patient’s treatment and progress.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Use professional language and avoid jargon that might not be understood by others reviewing the notes.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Being Too Vague or General: Ensure the notes are specific and detailed.
  • Including Subjective Opinions Without Evidence: Stick to objective observations and avoid personal opinions.
  • Omitting Key Information: Make sure all critical aspects of the session are documented.
  • Delayed Documentation: Avoid waiting too long to write the notes, which can lead to inaccuracies.

How PIMSY EHR Supports BIRP Note Generation

BIRP notes are integral to effective mental health practice. To streamline this process, PIMSY offers features that facilitate the generation and management of BIRP notes and many other types of structured notes, such as therapy progress notes, clinical notes, DAP notes, and SOAP notes.

Benefits of Using PIMSY for Mental Health Professionals

  • Structured Documentation: PIMSY provides templates and tools that help create structured and comprehensive BIRP notes.
  • Enhanced Communication: It improves communication among healthcare providers through easily accessible records.
  • Compliance and Legal Support: Helps ensure that documentation meets legal and regulatory standards.
  • Improved Patient Care: PIMSY streamlines the documentation process, allowing therapists to focus more on patient care.

Explore more about how PIMSY can enhance your practice and help you track your client’s progress.

By adopting structured documentation practices like BIRP notes and utilizing tools in the PIMSY solution toolbox, mental and behavioral healthcare professionals can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of their patient care.

Jayne Kay
Author: Jayne Kay

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