Understanding Clinical Questionnaires (CQs)

Friday, September 22 2023

Being a SonderMind therapist means working to understand how clients are progressing in their mental health journey. That’s why you get access to innovative tools such as clinical questionnaires (CQs) to make it easier to collaborate with clients and track how they’re doing throughout their time in therapy.  

Here, we’ll share the benefits of using CQs in psychotherapy, their purpose, and some of the more common mental health screenings used by mental health professionals. We’ll also share some of the self-assessments that might help individuals determine whether or not they have specific symptoms related to a behavioral health diagnosis.

Why are clinical questionnaires useful in psychotherapy? 

CQs in psychotherapy are useful for a variety of reasons. They allow you and the client to work collaboratively on treatment planning, so clients are empowered to be active participants in their care. CQs also help you:  

  • Identify a client’s issues, symptoms, and problems 
  • Evaluate and diagnose a client 
  • Create a tailored mental health treatment plan for a client’s unique needs 
  • Develop interventions that will be effective over the course of treatment
  • Communicate treatment goals and objectives with both the client and other members of their recovery team
  • Make effective decisions regarding a client’s treatment 
  • Note a client's strengths
  • Promote positive changes
  • Examine progress and measure the achievement of goals 

At SonderMind, clients’ responses to CQs (also called scores) are shared with you and the client, and tracked over time. This helps you and the client identify any patterns or changes in their well-being, and provides a springboard for conversations on how treatment is going. Clinical questionnaires ask about a range of topics like symptoms, day-to-day functioning, and the therapeutic relationship. Responses are a valuable way for you to track progress and to help clients play a key role in their care. 

Learn more about how implementing clinical questionnaires can be beneficial to your therapy practice here

Types of behavioral health clinical questionnaires 

CQs can be formal or informal, self-reported or administered by a clinician, and be completed at any stage of the therapeutic process. At SonderMind, clients will have the opportunity to fill out CQs right in their SonderMind portal before and after a session. 

There are currently five clinical questionnaires available to clients through SonderMind, including: 


The GAD-7 stands for “Generalized Anxiety Disorder - 7-Item.” It is used to assess symptom categories associated with stress or anxiety. The survey asks clients to reflect on the last two weeks and take note of how often they’ve felt bothered, nervous, anxious, worried, or restless, among other symptoms of anxiety.


The PHQ-9 stands for “Patient Health Questionnaire - 9-Item.” It helps screen for symptoms of depression. The survey asks questions about a client’s function and mood, consistent with the diagnostic criteria for a depressive episode.

The Functional Assessment

The Functional Assessment, sent to clients every two weeks, asks clients to reflect on  their day-to-day functioning, and more specifically, how they perceive their improvement — or decline — in treatment.

Therapeutic Alliance

The Therapeutic Alliance assessment measures the quality of the relationship between you and the client. This measure is purely designed for the client to give you feedback on the relationship, and highlight any opportunities to repair ruptures.


The PCL-5  stands for the “PTSD Checklist for DSM-5” and is a valuable tool to help you assess the presence and severity of PTSD symptoms. 

Examples of behavioral health screenings 

Below is a list of additional screenings to help detect behavioral health and/or functional problems: 

Examples of specific symptom/diagnosis-related assessments

Remember that screening is not diagnosing

Clinical questionnaires can support you in making a provisional diagnosis, but should not be used as a stand-alone diagnostic tool. Since clinical questionnaires and screenings rely on client self-report, it’s important to verify clients’ responses and to take into account how well they understood the questionnaire and other relevant information about them before making a diagnosis. Diagnosis should only follow a thorough clinical interview.

Please note that this document is intended for educational purposes only. Please check with your legal counsel or state licensing board for specific requirements.

Help clients get better, faster

Through the data provided by CQs and clinical research, SonderMind providers get access to timely clinical updates and measurement-based support to help them deliver high-quality care and better outcomes for clients. To learn more about SonderMind’s use of clinical questionnaires and our feedback-informed, evidenced-based approach to care, reach out to our team.

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