Screening is a necessary part of integrating care for your clients. Brief questionnaires or interviews addressing mood, anxiety, substance use, lifestyle, physical health, and much more are the beginning of an ongoing, collaborative conversation about your client’s current challenges and possible areas for intervention and follow-up.

Tips on Screening

  • Continue to use screening tools throughout your work with your clients. 

Not all clients will feel comfortable answering all questions right away. If a physical health complaint, use of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs, or symptoms suggesting impaired mental or emotional functioning are mentioned by a client, follow-up questions or use of an appropriate screening tool are crucial to understanding your client's needs and concerns.

  • A positive screen does not indicate a diagnosis of a mental health or substance use disorder. Instead, a positive screen indicates the need for more information and additional assessment.

A diagnosis can only be given upon further clinical assessment.

  • Regardless of diagnostic categorization, screening can be essential in learning what is most disruptive in your client’s life.

Useful Screening Resources 

National Institue on Drug Abuse
There are many well-studied, validated tools to screen for substance use. For a comprehensive list visit the NIDA website.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
SBIRT is aimed at early detection and intervention for those with substance use disorders or those at risk for developing them.

SAMHSA’s Center for Integrated Health Solutions
Find screening tools spanning mental health, substance use, suicide, and trauma exposure here.