F-DAR, or focus charting, are a client-oriented approach to documentation that focuses on a client’s specific problem, concern, or event. This documentation format uses three columns of information.

  • The left column contains the date and time session or event began and the time the client’s response was measured and recorded.
  • The middle column features the focus or purpose of the session.
  • The right column contains client data collected by the therapist (subjective and objective), the action taken by the therapist, and the client’s response.

F-DAR is designed to be used in private practice settings, spa settings, and clinical settings where client records may be used by service providers from different disciplines (nursing, occupational therapy, dietary, etc.). Focus notes are intentionally brief, which makes them easy to read and write, which saves time. F-DAR stands for:

F: Focus
D: Data
A: Action
R: Response

FOCUS is the client’s problem, concern, or reason for seeking massage services such as pain or stress. Focus can also be an event such as client consultation or home care education.

DATA is both subjective data (information obtained from the client and based on or influenced by his or her opinions, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs) and objective data (assessment based information that can be measurable and verifiable). Information in the data section provides the rationale or reasons why the therapist performed specific actions, which is the next section of the chart.

ACTION is what was done to address the client’s focus. This section includes all interventions used such as massage, heat, ice, home care education, or referral to the client’s health care provider or other service provider.

RESPONSE is how the client responded to the action performed by the therapist. Response documentation may include post-treatment ratings from visual, numeric, or verbal descriptor scales used to measure pre-treatment pain or stress levels. This section may also include client statements about how he or she felt after the session. If the home care education or referral were actions performed by the therapist, the response section may include supporting statements such as the client demonstrated the home care activity (e.g., stretching), or received the referral.


View this video to learn more (it’s for nurses, but very applicable to other professions).

Picture Credits:



Salvo, Susan G. (2019). Massage Therapy Principles and Practice (6th Edition). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier


Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice 6th Edition (Elsevier)

Mosby’s Pathology For Massage Therapist 4th Edition (Elsevier)

cropped-susansalvo41.jpg  Dr. Susan Salvo is a massage therapist, author, educator, researcher, explorer, and perpetual student. To learn more, check out the “About Susan” tab. You can contact Susan at susansalvo@hotmail.com.