How Do Counselors Assess the Effectiveness of their Interventions?

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    Counselor Brief

    How Do Counselors Assess the Effectiveness of their Interventions?

    In the nuanced field of counseling, assessing the effectiveness of interventions is crucial. We've gathered insights from an expert panel of counselors on their methods, from administering patient self-evaluations to tracking skills application outside-of-session. Explore the strategies these professionals use to measure the success of their counseling interventions.

    • Regularly Administer Self-Evaluations
    • Create a Framework With SMART Goals
    • Observe Behavioral Improvements and Resilience
    • Track Application of Skills Outside of Session

    Regularly Administer Self-Evaluations

    In the past, I was a school psychologist, and assessing the effectiveness of the treatment was done with every student by measuring how well they knew the CBT-based program and how they rated themselves emotionally. In private practice, it's much trickier. In my practice, as part of the intake, the patient rates themselves, and they're reevaluated every six months, including a rating of their therapist. It sounds like it's difficult to manage, but everything is done electronically, so it's not too bad.

    Gary Daily
    Gary DailyLicensed Professional Counselor, Stronger Oregon

    Create a Framework With SMART Goals

    Assessing the effectiveness of counseling interventions is essential for ensuring progress and providing tailored support to each individual. One method I utilize is through regular outcome assessments, which may involve standardized measures to track changes in symptoms and functioning over time. Collaboratively setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals with clients helps to provide a clear framework for assessing progress and celebrating successes along the way.

    Additionally, I regularly solicit feedback from clients regarding their subjective experience of therapy, allowing them to voice any concerns or areas of improvement. An example of measuring success could be tracking changes in a client's depressive symptoms using a validated depression inventory at the beginning, middle, and end of therapy sessions.

    Moreover, I pay close attention to observable changes in behavior and functioning outside of the therapy office, such as improvements in relationships, work performance, or engagement in meaningful activities. Ultimately, success in therapy is multifaceted and may vary for each individual, so maintaining flexibility and adaptability in assessment methods is crucial.

    Jolene Hegarty
    Jolene HegartyLicensed Professional Counselor, Wellness Therapy Services, LLC

    Observe Behavioral Improvements and Resilience

    Once a colleague of mine asked what I was working on, and I showed him my list. He said, 'You have a lot of irons in the fire.' And I replied, 'A lot of fires. But I love it.' Counselors wear so many hats; we have a number of things to keep tabs on and measure effectiveness for. So, hopefully, if we are working with a student who is struggling with attendance, we can see their attendance improve. If we are seeing a student struggling with grades, we see their grades improve. And if we are working with a student who is struggling to connect with classmates, we see them making some friends.

    But most importantly, my hope is that we do two things for them: help them make a well-informed decision about their next step, and equip them with the tools they need to be successful in their decision. Whether it's going to college, entering the military, or going straight into the workforce, as long as they are happy, we did a good job. And the second is making sure they are equipped to handle many of the things that the next step presents them with. Can they operate within their budget? Are they dependable? Are they trustworthy? Are they good at doing hard work? Are they continuing to grow? And most importantly, are they showing others in this world the Light of Christ?

    Josh PierceSchool Counselor, Kearney Catholic High School

    Track Application of Skills Outside of Session

    Use multiple data points to assess the intervention. First, I get verbal client feedback after the intervention and in subsequent sessions. I work with children and teens, so I will also get feedback from parents and teachers regarding their use of skills or concepts taught in the intervention. I will also have families keep track of the 'skill' or use of the intervention outside of session. Having kids/teens rehearse when they will use the skill or intervention gives me an idea of their concept understanding and the effectiveness of the intervention. Typically, if a child or teen can apply the intervention to something in their life outside of session, it is an indication of the effectiveness of the intervention. My supervisor once told me that if the client could apply or do the work outside of session, I was giving the wrong work/intervention. Finally, I will use measures such as the BASC-3, SCARED anxiety scale, PHQ-9, and other questions before and after multiple interventions.

    Ian MurrayCounselor