What does an Intake Counselor do?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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An intake counselor is someone who takes information from a patient or client before treatment or services are administered. Intake counselors typically work for a social services agency, a hospital, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center or a mental health facility. Generally, they are responsible for creating and maintaining files and paperwork as well as evaluating clients who are seeking services.

One of the main duties of an intake counselor is filling out client paperwork and making sure it is legible, complete and accurate. This information is then placed in a file and kept in a secure area. The information taken is typically held in strict confidence because it often involves medical information.

An intake counselor also can be responsible for assessing clients and placing them into the most appropriate program. The assessment is performed in part using a questionnaire or other form that is filled out by the client. It also likely involves an interview with the client. An assessment often involves providing internal services and those offered by outside agencies. The scope of services provided can address legal, medical and social issues.

Intake counselors often are responsible for dealing with or linking clients to outside programs and services. For example, if clients are financially strained, a referral might be made to a food bank or other service. Additionally, a counselor might be responsible for fielding general questions from the public about the kind of services that are offered.


Depending on the agency, an intake counselor’s involvement with a client might end after the assessment and placement process is completed. In some situations, the counselor’s interaction with the client might be longer or span the entire length of the client’s participation in a program. For example, at a drug rehabilitation center, an intake counselor might work to stabilize a client before treatment begins. This initial phase might last 30 days or more.

Intake counselors often deal with clients who are ill or are facing some sort of life crisis. For that reason, the job can be both stressful and rewarding. The reward comes from seeing people’s lives changed for the better. Stress from the job can be caused from people who are irate or who cannot seem to overcome their problems and obstacles.

The educational requirements for being an intake counselor can range from a certification to a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the setting and the level of expertise required, an intake counselor might also be a volunteer. Professional positions likely will require a bachelor’s degree.


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Post 3

How does someone become certified as an intake counselor without getting a degree? My son is very interested in working with people who have struggled with alcohol addiction but doesn't have a college degree.

Post 2

My daughter has a degree in social services and has an intake counselor job at a hospital. Even though there is a lot of paperwork involved with what she does, there are also both challenges and rewards when it comes to working with the people.

She has found that some of her psychology classes have come in very handy as she has worked with some of her patients. There really is a mix of challenges and rewards that go along with this job.

When she feels like she has made a positive difference, she feels like she has done a good job. It is when she is met with an attitude of indifference that she feels like she has the most challenges.

Post 1

I am not a professional intake counselor but do some worke as a volunteer at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Part of my duties involve finding outside resources and programs that may be a good fit for our clients.

Most of the time in situations like this, people are not aware of all the resources that are available to them. There are usually several different options available for someone if they are willing to take advantage of them.

My involvement with the clients is not nearly as close as those who work as paid intake counselors, but it is rewarding to be a part of the whole process. It is interesting to observe the interaction between the clients and the intake counselors.

Some people are open to receiving this type of help, and with others it is like pulling teeth to get any kind of cooperation from them.

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