Proof in Numbers: Not All Therapists Perform Equally

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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Donovan P

    Donovan P

    July 9th, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Just like in any other profession,the competency differs from person to person but the difference here is that the level of competency becomes extremely important for the client and hence the job becomes a more responsible one.

  • Hal

    Hal

    July 10th, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    Obviously patients can tell the difference between therapists who really want to help them and those who care more about themselves than the patients that they are supposed to be helping recover. And yes I completely agree that there is certain to be a varying range of success among therapists because even though someone may have chosen this career path that does not necessraily mean that they are well suited to do that job. That is true in every career sector out there. There are some people who are naturally good at what they do and some who are not. The important thing is to gravitate toward those who are and make the most out of those relationships that you forge.

  • KJP

    KJP

    July 12th, 2010 at 4:27 AM

    Of course not every therapist performs equally. That would be like saying that every teacher does an awesome job or that every engineer does the best job. That is not the reality of any work force and then even includes the sectors that are supposed to be helping others. Some may have chosen the profession for the wrong reasons or others may have simply become bored with the wok involved, Whatever the case it is up to you to find a therapist who can help you with your needs and if that means trying a few until you get the right fit then there is nothing wrong with that.

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