The overwhelming consensus among industry leaders is that tracking, measuring, and reporting psychotherapy outcomes will be the norm, and even standardized, in the future. The health and wellness industry is all about results. Medical patients now routinely ask about the track records and success rates of those treating them and, over time, the clients of those seeking therapy will undoubtedly ask the the same of their prospective therapists too.
Nonetheless, many therapists bristle at the thought of their “results” being tabulated, recorded, and analyzed. Isn’t therapy just too personal, too intangible to ever be summed up with ratings and scores? Some even consider the trend toward standardized measuring a step backward, not forward.
However, just as therapy has “evolved” over the years, so has the process of measuring therapy outcomes. The science is proven, the research is extensive, and the application and interface connecting this data to therapist/client progress is improving all the time.
But while the benefits of measuring outcomes for clients seems clear enough, what’s in it for therapists? In a 2011 article, Tony Rousmaniere, PsyD, provides some answers to this question, suggesting that the upside of measuring outcomes for therapists far outweighs the downside. Among the advantages Dr. Rousmaniere cites are these:
- Quite simply, measuring client outcomes will help make therapists better.Research has shown that most therapists assume they’re getting better over time. But when asked how they know this, most are hard-pressed to give a good answer. In fact it's very difficult for a therapist to know if they’re improving or not. They may have anecdotal indication through sporadic feedback from a few clients, but generally therapists are quite limited in their understanding of how effective their therapy is with each client they see. They need help in getting a picture of their effectiveness. Collecting and interpreting client feedback through outcomes systems can provide this to the therapist. With this knowledge comes the power and ability to make changes to become even more effective.
- If therapists can get out in front of this movement they can have a stronger hand in designing it. It’s important to understand that this trend towards measurements is not unique to the psychotherapy. In fact many other professions are much further along in the process. In each case where there has been early acceptance and uptake, the transition has been optimal for those being measured. The reason for this is quite straightforward — if therapists adopt measurements early they end up being the experts, and the experts are the ones called on to provide further input, refinement, and design features that reflect the interests of not only the client but also of the therapist. Resistance to measurements does not lead to avoiding its implementation, but rather implementation and design proceeds and is carried out by those who do not understand the nuances of the profession.
For more information about an evidence based outcomes measurement system that has proven to be beneficial and effective for both client and therapist, check out our introductory video.