An Incredible New Assessment Tool for Addiction Professionals and Programs

When you have a busy addiction practice, one thing becomes increasingly valuable as you acquire more clients: your time. The more clients you have, the harder it becomes to complete thorough assessment summaries and maintain proper documentation. Unfortunately, electronic health records (EHR) for the medical and mental health professions have rapidly evolved into very effective tools for everyone except addiction professionals. The bio-psycho-social history and summary is something traditional EHRs have failed at—until now.

The Herdman Assessment Form (HAF) solves these problems for addiction professionals and other mental health professionals. The HAF allows you to email a link to your clients; the client completes a comprehensive bio-psycho-social, and then the HAF's artificial intelligence creates a professional history narrative. Simply press a button, add a diagnosis, summarize your findings and rationale, make any appropriate recommendations, and presto, you've got a complete substance abuse assessment ready for the patient's file or sending to the Court, Probation, or other third party. This process can easily take up 15 to 45 minutes of my time, but with the HAF I can complete it in less than 15 minutes.

The HAF was created by Dr. John Herdman of Herdman Health and author of Global Criteria: The 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor. As a psychologist and licensed alcohol and drug counselor, Dr. Herdman truly understands the importance and requirements of a thorough bio-psycho-social history. The simple and efficient HAF sets the standard for an EHR bio-psycho-social assessment.

One of the main benefits of using the HAF in my practice has been increased efficiency throughout the intake and assessment process. Since a comprehensive bio-psycho-social has been completed prior to my first meeting with a client, I can easily focus on problem areas and spend more time on them instead of needing to collect all of the data in the session. We truly hit the ground running and can emerge from the assessment session with a complete recovery plan in place.

What have my clients said about completing the HAF prior to their first session? They love it! Completing the HAF online is a simple process, and even the least technically savvy clients (and clinicians) can complete it quickly. Clients seem to really appreciate the fact that I've reviewed this data and have a good understanding of their situation at the start of our first session. The HAF uses HIPAA compliant security encryption so clients don't have to worry about their data falling into the wrong hands.

Dr. Herdman is a thought leader and expert in our field. His work has truly defined the functions of a substance abuse counselor, and the HAF is a major step forward for our profession. I asked what inspired him to create this tool and what he hoped to accomplish with it, and he responded: "My goal when I wrote Global Criteria: The 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor was to assist young counselors in showing their competence as substance abuse counselors. I developed the Herdman Assessment Form (HAF) to assist all counselors. The HAF makes the job of being a substance abuse counselor easier; it saves time (and perhaps increases revenue); consistently reports the history of the client; and generates a professional quality report. The counselor has more information from the client in order to make a diagnosis and a level of care recommendation. My goal is to 'raise the bar' of substance abuse assessments while reducing the reports and recordkeeping stress inherent in the assessment process."

Right now, you can sign up for the HAF for FREE and receive 4 FREE credits for assessments. I highly recommend you give this tool a try and incorporate it into your intake and assessment process. This tool can also add incredible value to both outpatient and inpatient drug treatment programs. If a program has a high volume of intakes, imagine what shaving off 30 minutes to an hour per intake could achieve for your program. Clients could complete the HAF prior to arriving for intake and save your organization hundreds or thousands of hours per month. It also ensures you collect all of the pertinent data which can sometimes be forgotten by new or inexperienced staff members.

Herdman Health reached out to me approximately four months ago to evaluate this tool and provide them with feedback. They did this with other addiction professionals as well because they care about making this tool effective and efficient for our profession. I have received no compensation for this blog article. I wrote it to spread the word and help APN members and my colleagues throughout the industry. If you are interested in giving the HAF a test-drive, register at

Author: Michael O’Brien, CADC II, SAP, NCAC I

Michael O’Brien, CADC II, SAP, NCAC I, is the founder of the Addiction Professionals Network, Inc., and the author of Addiction Private Practice: The Definitive Guide for Addiction Counselors and Therapists.

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