Referral is the process through which the counselor helps the client find available support systems and community resources to meet the needs identified in the clinical evaluation and treatment planning. As competent counselors, we must be familiar with the mission, function, resources, and quality of services of:
- civic groups, community groups, and neighborhood organizations
- health and allied healthcare systems (managed care)
- employment and vocational services
- cultural enhancement organizations
- faith-based organizations
- governmental entities
- criminal justice systems
- child welfare agencies
- housing administrations
- childcare facilities
- crisis intervention programs
- abused persons programs
- self-help groups
- advocacy groups
We must be familiar with the criteria to be eligible to receive community services, including fee and funding structures; how to access community agencies and service providers; and community resources for both affected children and other members of the family.
Since some of the resources in the community might end or be closed down, we need to continuously evaluate the available resources and make sure they are appropriate for our client. We also need to evaluate the motivation and ability of our client to make use of the referrals.
Remember, it is not enough with being a counselor and making the referral; how we do it, is also very important. The skills we need in this area, are:
- Professional oral and written communication for successful referrals
- Use of appropriate technology to access, collect, and deliver necessary documentation
- Document the referral process accurately
Just as with everything mentioned in previous topics, we want to explain to our client, in clear and specific language, the necessity for referral and process of it. If our client understands this step, there is an increased likelihood the she/he will follow through.
Finally, we want to evaluate the outcome of the referral. We must know the methods and procedures used to assess the client’s progress toward treatment goals.