Generals and Psychotherapists: Brethren in Arms

| November 14, 2014
myoutcomes feedback informed, positive outcomes in therapy

Planning to Achieve Positive Outcomes in Therapy

A while back, it was argued that one of the more negative consequences of young people smoking marijuana was the development of amotivational syndrome. It had been observed that pot smoking young people seemed to be apathetic and lackadaisical towards activities we consider to be important e.g. going to school, working at jobs, and participating in other “constructive” social activities. This view started gaining ground until it was pointed out that, under certain conditions, these same kids were clearly motivated and capable of carrying through a number of activities. For example, they were able to put together the money, transportation, and itinerary needed to successfully spend the summer following the Grateful Dead as they played at concerts around the United States. Clearly, these kids didn't lack motivation. They appeared, instead, to be selectively motivated. More importantly, however, was that they clearly saw the need to develop and carry out a plan.

Planning is part and parcel of so many aspects of our lives. Successful businesses obviously make plans. What government or other governing entity would move forward on an idea without first developing a plan? On a more mundane level, we develop plans on how to carry out our Saturday morning errands before we even set foot outside our homes. At some level, we embrace the words of Benjamin Franklin when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

It takes planning to organize a successful attempt to achieve a goal. Planning helps us to use our resources more effectively and efficiently. Planning helps us to clarify our goal as well as the path that will bring us to our goal. This clarification is necessary for us to make the right decisions needed to have successful outcomes.

Of course, although plans reduce the risks, having a plan doesn't guarantee success. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Of course, he was referring in his own way to the so-called fog of war. Just like any activity, there are elements in war that can not be anticipated and dealt with during the initial planning. These elements hide in the shadows, or fog, and surprise us when we come upon them. A good general, though, does not simply knee-jerk react to these surprises. Instead, the general readjusts and adapts the plan to the new circumstances. In short, the general is always engaged in planning until the desired outcome has been achieved.

Although, at first glance, psychotherapists and generals would seem to have little in common with each other, they are very similar. For either to be successful, they need to clearly identify their goals, the obstacles to those goals, and the steps necessary to overcome those goals. Most importantly, they need to plan on being continually engaged in the planning process so that they will be ready to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.

When psychotherapists and their clients first begin to work together, they identify the problem, the goals, and, to the best of their ability, the obstacles to achieving those goals. Good psychotherapists are well aware that as they progress, unseen issues may arise. These issues have the ability to undermine the therapeutic process. Good psychotherapists, who want to be successful, are also aware that they need to be able to detect when these issues rear their ugly heads. Otherwise, how can they adequately respond?

MyOutcomes, the automated, web-based application of Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS), is the perfect tool for psychotherapists who want to stop negative outcomes from occurring. By using the Outcome Rating Scale, or ORS, the therapist can keep track of the progress of their client. By using the Session Rating Scale, or SRS, the therapist can keep track of the therapeutic alliance. If unforeseen circumstances should arise that negatively impact either the client's progress or the relationship between the client and the therapist, the therapist can immediately address the issue, thereby reducing the chance of negative outcomes and achieving positive outcomes in therapy.

Of course, therapy may simply progress as planned with no surprises. However, as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit: “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

So, what are you waiting for? Would you rather hope the dragon remains asleep or would you prefer to be prepared for the dragon showing up? If the latter, MyOutcomes is the ally that you need.

MyOutcomes is the only registered, SAMHSA approved web-based tool that utilizes PCOMS evidence-based, trans-theoretical scales for monitoring the quality and outcome of behavioural healthcare services and has been successfully implemented in a wide variety of service settings, with diverse clinical populations, all over the world.



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Category: Outcomes Software

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