There is a lot more to being a good therapist than simply having the appropriate degree and certification. A new study from Ohio State University looks at the competence of individual therapists and compares those levels with patient recovery in both the short and long term. Specifically, they looked at patients suffering from depression. The idea is simple: most would agree that the competence of a medical doctor’s treatment has a direct relation to how well his or her patients recover physically. Cognitive behavioral therapists, then, are likely to have similar results, with better therapists helping patients reach better outcomes. This is precisely the study’s conclusion.
Researchers recorded and observed six therapists treating sixty adults with moderate to severe depression, rating their competence according to the Cognitive Therapy Scale (the same scale that the Academy of Cognitive Therapy uses in its accreditation progress). They looked for how well therapists interacted with patients, and how they utilized specific techniques recommended for helping patients who suffer from depression. They also gave patients a survey to fill out at each recorded session in order to measure the short term impact of the therapy on their symptoms.
The results, which were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, indicate that competence does have a significant impact on patient outcome, both short and long term. In addition, some patients benefited more significantly from having better therapists: specifically, people who also had anxiety or who had struggled with depression since an early age. Understanding the significance of a quality therapist with appropriate methodology and good interpersonal connection is beneficial to both patients and to practitioners. In a multi-therapist clinic setting, patients and therapists can be paired according to the most beneficial outcome for the patient. The study also encourages further look at assessing the competence of therapists to ensure that patients are getting the best treatment possible.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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