It Takes Three to Tango: The Client, the Therapist and MyOutcomes

| January 15, 2014
improve outcomes software, measurable outcomes, fedback informed treatment, feedback informed therapy

Feedback Informed Therapy tools make therapy more successful

Therapeutic sessions are a complex combination of singular psyches, social interactions and situational factors. Some of these are essential to the process of psychotherapy, whereas, with varying degrees, others are less so.

Obviously, the most critical element in psychotherapy is the client. Without the client, there is no purpose. It is some pain-inducing dysfunction in the client’s psychological, emotional and/or social world that is the beginning point and the end point of the psycho-therapeutic process. The clients enter psychotherapy to rid themselves of the pain, while they leave psychotherapy when the pain is gone. At least, that is the ideal sequence. Sometimes, clients remain in therapy long after the need is gone. Sometimes, clients leave therapy long before the pain is healed.

Another key part of psychotherapy is the psychotherapist. It is, after all, the psychotherapist to whom the client is turning to in their time of need. It is the psychotherapist that holds the promise of finding a solution or, bar that, a means for coping. Psychotherapists bring to the session their education, training and experience. Most importantly, the psychotherapist brings their desire to help. Using all of these assets as a framework, the therapist and the client explore what has motivated the client to seek help. The process of the therapist’s personal thoughts, self-communication and analysis is recorded in the psychotherapy notes.

The third critical element of psychotherapy is the therapeutic context. The context consists of those things that are essential in the therapeutic process but largely remain in the background or superficially seem to play only an incidental role. Take for example the environment that therapy takes place in. It is, for the most part, a stage reflecting the image the therapist wants clients to see. This stage may be comprised of a mixture of therapist idiosyncrasies, theoretical leanings and traditional stereotypes.  In most cases, the environment is meant to assure the client of the competency of the therapist and help the client relax.

The therapeutic context also consists of diagnostic tools, clinical tests, medication, and, if the therapist has an evidence-based practice, possibly tools capable of measuring progress. Without such tools as those that measure progress, of course, one only has one’s gut feelings (a tremendously unreliable measure) to determine if progress is being made, let alone if success has been achieved. All of the data from these various tools and other forms of objective, measurable aspects of treatment comprise the progress notes. Writing progress notes can take up a large chunk of the therapist’s valuable time.  Time, it should be added, that the therapist could be devoting directly to their clients.

Consider for a moment the issue of the client’s progress. Unless a clinician has adopted an evidence-based practice, it will be difficult, if not outright impossible, for the clinician to accurately and objectively measure progress. It is in these situations where you are likely to find clients remaining in therapy long after they have achieved their therapeutic goals or, even worse, there is a failure to see that the client isn’t making any meaningful progress and, therefore, might benefit from an adjustment in the therapeutic approach.

On the other hand, a psychotherapist, who has developed an evidence-based practice, may have already incorporated the feedback-informed approach into therapy sessions. Such a therapist may be using the paper and pencil versions of the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS), an ultra-brief tool that actually measures the client’s progress and the Session Rating Scale (SRS), an ultra-brief tool that measures the strength of the therapist-client alliance.

Although the pencil and paper versions of the ORS and the SRS can be effective in improving the therapist’s ability to help their clients achieve successful outcomes, the pencil and paper versions can prove to be time consuming. The therapist has to create, or at least print out, the scales, administer the scales, score the scales, calculate the client’s score, and create and maintain some record of all of this activity as part of the progress notes. Although using the scales themselves can take less than a couple of minutes, the clinician’s involvement is much lengthier. Unless…

There is a solution for the psychotherapist who wants to expend their energy and time helping their clients. MyOutcomes is the automated, web-based application for the ORS and SRS. Once the therapist has created a client’s file, it can take less than a minute to administer the ORS or SRS, obtain the scores and have a graphical representation of the client’s session-by-session scores, while at the same time be able to compare the client’s performance to the scores derived from the average of a large database of individuals who began therapy at a comparable level of psycho-emotional adjustment.

Because MyOutcomes keeps the records of the client’s progress, all the therapist needs to do is click a link to view that progress or click another link to print out a hard copy of that progress.  Not only are the progress notes for an individual therapist’s clients kept, but, if you are an agency, the progress notes for all of your therapists and their clients are stored for easy access. And, for those funding applications or those funding justification reports, MyOutcomes can produce an easy to follow aggregate stats report that is readily integrated into any report.

The truth of the matter is that MyOutcomes not only helps therapists be more successful in helping their clients achieve their therapeutic goals in less time, but MyOutcomes can help take care of the paperwork. This means more time for the therapist do what they do best: help their clients.

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Category: Agencies, Feedback, Feedback Informed Treatment, MyOutcomes, ORS / SRS, Outcome Rating Scale, Private Practice, Session Rating Scale

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