Why Progress Measurement is Important
There has been a growing discussion in the community for practitioners to conduct evidence-based care in their counselling practices. An aspect of this would be including outcome or progress measurement to ensure that any changes in symptomology are collected and measured. The traditional forms of administering assessments were typically conducted by pen and paper, which would take away time from clients in session, and often be a laborious and unengaging process. The benefit of doing so, however, when done correctly, is a greater insight into how client symptoms may change in response to therapeutic intervention and adjusting treatment accordingly.
Progress measurement and evidence-based practice are further emphasized by the recent report published by the Canadian Psychological Association (September 2018). This report highlights the importance and benefits of outcome measurement and provides overall guidance to mental health professionals, policymakers, educators, and funders of psychological interventions. It stipulates that psychologists and all psychotherapy practitioners, whether in private practice or community institutions, should routinely collect data on clients by using psychometrically sound scales to promote evidence-based practice that is relatively free of bias. On the individual level, the information would be utilized to measure and improve treatment outcomes wherein on an organizational level, provides an opportunity for enhanced program evaluation and psychotherapy research.
Greenspace helps to make this process easier by having created a platform where therapists can administer several empirically validated assessments throughout treatment to clients. Clients can then complete these assessments digitally (either in the office or outside of the office using a tablet, phone, or computer), wherein results are plotted on easy-to-read graphs that clients can also access. This not only saves the therapist time in session but also provides both client and therapist access to a wealth of objective data that could then be used to inform treatment practice.
We’ve broken down the benefits of using Greenspace to these main areas:
Improving Patient Engagement: By providing clients access to the results of their assessments, it creates a sense of control and transparency over their course of treatment. This has been shown to reinforce clients’ motivation and commitment to therapy when they can visually see the specific changes that are taking place through treatment. One study demonstrated that outcome measurement increased client motivation and retention as they had noted a decrease in patient cancellation and no-show rates (Bohanske & Franczak, 2010)
Improved communication: Research has demonstrated that measurement has a positive effect on communication (Carlieret al. 2012), which may improve clarity and alignment on treatment goals between therapist and client. By having access to objective data, both client and therapist can discuss relevant changes in symptoms to be able to better target interventions and their effectiveness. As an example, when measuring Therapeutic Alliance (BR-WAI), it may allow the client to express any ruptures or changes to the relationship that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. This allows the therapist to take note of the information and to address it accordingly, fostering greater collaboration and rapport.
Earlier detection of health changes: Research has shown that assessments in the first three sessions are highly predictive of a positive or negative treatment outcome. Ongoing progress measurement can allow the therapist to detect changes in the early stages of therapy and intervene if necessary. Therapists must identify the clients who are at risk of deterioration when implementing a specific treatment plan. For these clients, measurement provides the greatest benefit (Lambert, 2007).
Improving client outcomes: Research on progress measurement has demonstrated a clear impact on improving patient outcomes. In a meta-analysis of patient feedback systems, Lambert and Shimokawa (2011), found that progress measurement with feedback to the therapist was moderately and significantly associated with positive patient outcomes. Notably, the number of patients who deteriorated was reduced by fifty percent by using a progress measurement system.
Greenspace is a platform that helps therapists measure and monitor client progress simply and efficiently: automate assessment delivery, visually display results and increase client engagement. Learn more here.
Carlier, I. V. E., Meuldijk, D., Van Vliet, I. M., Van Fenema, E., Van der Wee, N. J. A., & Zitman, F. G. (2012) Routine outcome monitoring and feedback on physical or mental health status: evidence and theory. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.
Lambert, M. J., Whipple, J. L., Smart, D. W., Vermeersch, D.A., Nielsen, S. L. (2001). The Effects of Providing Therapists with Feedback on Patient Progress During Psychotherapy: Are Outcomes Enhanced? Psychotherapy Research, 11, 1, 49‐68.
Lambert, M.J., (2007). Progress Feedback and the OQ-System: The Past and the Future. Brigham Young University: APA Psychotherapy: 2015, Vol. 52, No. 4, 381–390.