Friday, January 8, 2016

The Effective Professional: The Adoption and Use of a Feedback System in Psychotherapy

Clifton Wood Chamberlain, School of Psychology

Using a “local therapist” sample, a feedback system, the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS), was added to psychotherapy sessions. Unique client-therapist pairs made use of the feedback system and results are compared to a control group where only outcomes were tracked. Therapist attitudes toward evidence-based practices and their decision to adopt the feedback system were also measured. The design was intended to be naturalistic and practice-friendly. The methods used here were chosen, in part, to facilitate the joining of science and practice and to promote effective psychotherapeutic methods. Efforts to close the research-practice gap must include data for the treatment or method as well as dissemination and adoption in an integrated and feasible package. The present study blends empiricism and real-world practice to promote the spread of an empirically supported technique for improving outcomes. Research to date has focused mainly on empiricism with less attention paid to subsequent spread of research findings. This study used a field design for exploring the intention to adopt a specific evidence-based practice, an alliance and outcomes feedback system (PCOMS). The dissemination phase involved recruiting volunteer therapists and providing training materials on the use of the feedback measures. The implementation phase involved an alliance/outcome feedback group versus a treatment as usual group. The adoption phase measured therapists’ likelihood of adoption of these methods into their future practice. The sample of therapists and clients was drawn from the local community to include a variety of the typical providers of psychotherapy (i.e., counselors, psychologists, social workers, and trainees) in a variety of settings. Results showed improved outcomes for the feedback group compared to the control group. The overall feasibility of the measures and the implications of the positive findings are discussed along with study limitations and needs for future research.

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