It’s clear that today’s treatment landscape is saturated with an alphabet-soup of evidence-based practices that everyone seems to be an expert on. Just go online and look at the description of mental health treatment facilities in your area. Chances are the services provided include at least one three-letter acronym denoting some evidence-based practice - and for good reason. These practices have been shown through research to be the most effective way to promote positive change for the patients that we work with. A quick look to our past reminds us that, prior to evidence-based practice, treatment modalities were only as good as their charismatic leaders, with little to no empirical emphasis on outcomes (…does anyone remember primal scream therapy?…). However, in the vast sea of current therapists who identify with a particular evidence-based practice, what separates the good ones from the great?
Contemporary research suggests that measurement, when used for therapist self-evaluation, is at the core of this difference. It’s not enough to simply know what skills and techniques should be used to promote lasting change in our patients. Rather, true mastery comes with knowing how to deliver these skills and techniques in a way that resonates with each patient that walks through our door. In order to become a Super Therapist, true mastery comes by taking time outside of each therapy session to reflect on the actual impact that your intervention has made on your patient’s lived experience, and being humble enough to learn from your shortcomings. By using measurement to better understand exactly how effective your interventions are, you can begin to connect your own behavior in session with patient responses and learn week-by-week the personal qualities and subtle changes in approach that make you the best possible therapist. In fact, a number of research studies support this claim, finding that therapist self-evaluation, curiosity about each patient’s unique responses to treatment, and obtaining patient feedback are some of the strongest behavioral predictors of therapists who produce outstanding outcomes.
So…are you feeling ready for some self-evaluation? At Blueprint, we make the process easy! Just follow these four easy steps and start becoming a Super Therapist today:
Step 1: Select the outcome measure(s). Make sure to select an outcome measure that is directly linked to your treatment modality or desired outcome on a patient-by-patient basis. Most evidence based treatments have corresponding process measures that are ideal for tracking response to treatment and sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in your approach.
Step 2: Provide an intervention. Here’s where you get to do what you do best! When possible, try to stick to one particular type of intervention or approach at each session. This will make it easier to evaluate exactly what worked (or didn’t work) as treatment progresses.
Step 3: Measure patient response. Although measuring outcomes on a monthly (or longer) interval can certainly add value to your practice, obtaining feedback on a week-by-week basis is the best way to directly evaluate the effectiveness of your interventions.
Step 4: Evaluate your performance. Didn’t see the change you were expecting? That’s okay, it happens to the best of us. As the saying goes - if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got. Simply go back to step 2 and try something new!
Through using this iterative process of self-evaluation, I sincerely hope that Blueprint helps you become a better therapist!