Retrospective Mood Charting

One of the most powerful tools we have ever found to help people who have not found help from many past therapists and psychiatrists is retrospective mood charting.

A retrospective mood chart is a distillation of information from many sources into a graphical representation of a person’s mood, functioning, and anxiety over time. Simultaneously, information about treatments and events is recorded on the graph and the result allows the clinician and the patient to jointly make the best decisions possible in terms of treatment.

There are several questions that often come up when the issue of doing a retrospective mood chart comes up:

  • Many people feel that they already have a very clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t (often they feel that nothing works). All we can say in response is that we have never found that to be the case when we actually sit down to do a chart.
  • Many people feel that the process will be overwhelming. They don’t recall what has been tried, or they can’t remember how they have felt. We have developed techniques for getting information that are almost always successful. We use multiple sources of information: past records, pharmacy records, interviews with family and friends (with permission, of course), etcetera.
  • Many people feel that they are in too much distress to wait for an answer. We understand that feeling, but we also know that a process that will greatly increase the likelihood of finding a solution to a problem that has been a burden for months or years can be extraordinarily valuable.
One of the clients who went through this process had this to say:

“the importance of the Retrospective Mood Chart is significant and profound. Like many good things, conceptually it is really quite simple and elegant. In essence, the Chart encapsulates in a single comprehensive document the mental, physical, and emotional state of an individual on a monthly basis over a significant time horizon. It also obviates the need for future healthcare providers to amass and weigh through a morass of medical charts.I am deeply moved by and appreciative of our collaborative effort.”

For more information click here to read the National Institute for Mental Health Retrospective Mood Charting Manual.