Times Are Always Changing – Therapy Outcomes

| November 20, 2012

Times are always changing, and professions with them. One of the most persistent and pervasive of recent developments in the world of work has been the trend toward implementing meaningful measurements. As budgets shrink and competition grows, organizations of all kinds are asking: “How do we know we’re being effective? And who in our organization is performing and who’s not?”

Such questions are almost impossible to answer without the use of measurement systems. These are designed to collect, organize and interpret critical feedback data in a way that cuts through confusion to reveal relevant insights about performance and overall effectiveness.

Accountability, in the form of measuring and reporting, is now the norm in virtually all sectors, especially those that receive public funds. For instance, schools throughout North America have begun using in-depth measurement systems to gauge teacher effectiveness and performance.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is even in on the act, having initiated the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project. MET supports independent education researchers in partnership with school districts, principals, teachers, and unions to develop objective and reliable measures of effective teaching. As the foundation notes, “There is no widely agreed upon measure for teacher effectiveness that exists today, and that is precisely why we are undertaking this work. The results of this project and what we learn will help districts across the country identify effective teaching in order to improve student achievement and help teachers ensure excellence in their profession.”

At the core of teaching measurement is student feedback. Until recently, aside from archaic student surveys and final marks, teachers had to rely on their gut instincts to know if they were “getting through” to students. So now many states and provinces are stepping up teacher evaluations and employing more sophisticated forms of standardized student feedback and outcome measurements to help teachers become better at what they do.

Therapy is essentially in the same boat as the education system. How many times has a therapist gazed into the face of a client and wondered if they’re making any progress: “Is this working, or do we need to take a different tack?”

And while some therapists believe they can discern how well their work with clients is going, numerous studies have repeatedly shown that they just can’t predict with any kind of accuracy who is benefiting and who is about to drop out. Part of the problem is that therapists tend to be overly optimistic about their effectiveness. In 2005, researchers asked 143 clinicians to rate their job performance from an A+ to an F. Two-thirds considered themselves A or better, and 90 percent considered themselves in the top 25 percent! Not one therapist rated him or herself as below average. If you know anything about the Bell Curve, you know this can't an accurate representation of reality.

Therapists need to know how effective they are, and agency administrators need to have an accurate picture of therapy outcomes as well. Having some form of proven client-feedback measurement is the most crucial tool to help therapists become more effective. In fact, a recent study conducted in Norway found the client feedback improved the outcomes of nine out of 10 therapists.

That's what MyOutomes is all about: helping therapists become better at what they do through client feedback. To learn more, check out our introductory video.



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Category: Therapy Outcome Measures

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