Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just how good is your therapist?

It's hard to find the right therapist, and therapists routinely overestimate how well they're doing with their patients. According to an article in the New York Times,

[P]sychologists at Brigham Young University gave psychotherapy patients a questionnaire about how they were feeling and functioning. They randomly gave feedback from the questionnaires to half the patients’ therapists; the other half received strengthened feedback, which included patient self-assessment plus specific information about how the patients viewed their therapists and their social supports. These two groups were compared with a control group of patients whose therapists received no feedback.

The researchers found that giving feedback to therapists clearly improved treatment outcome: When therapists received no feedback, 21 percent of their patients deteriorated. With therapists who received regular feedback, 13 percent of patients deteriorated; with strengthened feedback, 7 percent of patients deteriorated.

The clear implication is that therapists are not always the best judge of how their patients are doing, perhaps because they are blinded by their own optimism and determination to succeed.

Ouch. I hope that after I get my clinical degree and license, I can find people to give me that kind of honest feedback. Dr. Incompetent certainly could have used some.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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