As more health care systems embrace personal preferences, a new study published in BMC Psychiatry suggests this move could have positive effects on people who seek psychotherapy. Researchers found that assessments designed to help providers meet the desires of people in therapy could improve outcomes in psychotherapy.
Why Personal Choice Matters in Psychotherapy
A team led by Mike Crawford from the Imperial College of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists College Centre for Quality Improvement pulled data from the National Audit of Psychological Therapies for Anxiety and Depression. This data, collected between July 2012 and January 2013, explored the effectiveness of a range of psychological therapies in England and Wales. The audit included data on 14,587 respondents who received therapy in 184 of the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS).
Because the National Health Service covers mental health treatment in these regions, those seeking therapy submit their preferences to the NHS, and they may or may not have those preferences met.
Participants answered questions about their psychotherapy preferences in five domains: time of day, location, gender of therapist, language in which therapy was offered, and type of therapy. Each participant answered questions about the extent to which their preferences were met. Participants also used a 5-point scale to assess how effective therapy was at assisting them.
The majority (86%) of participants had a preference in at least one of the five domains, with the most common preference being for a specific time of day. More than a third (36.7%) said they were not given adequate choices. Just 40.5% of those who expressed a gender preference said their preference was met.
Overall, those who either had no preferences in therapy or felt they were given adequate choices were more likely to report a positive therapeutic outcome. Eighty percent of those in this group said therapy helped them.
Offering People in Therapy More Choicespeople seeking therapy choose their own therapists, though insurance regulations may limit their choices. Nevertheless, this research suggests giving people in therapy more control over the experience of therapy can improve outcomes. The study’s authors emphasize the importance of continually assessing personal preferences and working to meet those preferences.
- Clark, A. (2016, January 15). Patient preferences: Does what you want affect what you get out of psychological treatment? Retrieved from http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcseriesblog/2016/01/15/patient-preferences-want-affect-get-psychological-treatment/
- Williams, R., Farquharson, L., Palmer, L., Bassett, P., Clarke, J., Clark, D. M., & Crawford, M. J. (2016). Patient preference in psychological treatment and associations with self-reported outcome: National cross-sectional survey in England and Wales. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0702-8
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