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  • Writer's pictureWil Librizzi

Maximizing your Counseling Sessions

Client-focused research has endeavored to improve psychotherapy outcomes, maximize the benefits and share this information to clinicians so as to better guide ongoing treatment.

Methods and clinical support tools have been developed to monitor progress and enhance the outcome for those receiving treatment, effectively bridging the gap between research and clinical practice (Lambert, 2001). So, how can we go about maximizing the benefits of psychotherapy?

Client Feedback

Client feedback serves as a method of monitoring progress during the therapeutic practice. Incorporating feedback may help to enhance practitioners’ decision‐making and allow for the adaptation of treatment plans. Feedback of this nature is especially useful in helping to identify potential deficiencies in ongoing treatment (Lambert, 2001).

Client feedback has demonstrated reductions in premature withdrawal from psychotherapy and improved outcomes. Results from a randomized clinical trial indicated that individuals in client feedback conditions demonstrated significantly more improvement compared to those receiving no feedback and that improvement occurred more rapidly (Reese, Toland, Slone, & Norsworthy, 2010).

The Therapeutic Working Alliance

The therapeutic alliance is more than the relationship between therapist and client. The quality of the client-therapist alliance is a reliable predictor of positive clinical outcome independent of psychotherapeutic approaches and outcome measures (Ardito & Rabellino, 2011).

Optimal therapeutic alliance is achieved when the client and clinician have a relationship of confidence and high regard. A client must believe in the abilities of the practitioner and the practitioner must be confident in the commitment of clients to achieving agreed objectives.

Bordin (1979) suggested that the alliance influences outcomes, not because it is healing in its own right, but as an element that enables the client to accept and believe in the treatment.

Goal Setting

Goal setting within psychotherapy will vary from client to client. At the onset of treatment, it is essential for the client to have a good understanding of what they are working towards and what to expect throughout the process (Fenn & Byrne, 2013).

A goal for a client with obsessive-compulsive disorder may be to reduce the time spent washing their hands from 5 hours per day to 1 hour per day by the end of three weeks of therapy. The practitioner can then help the client to prioritize these goals by breaking down a problem and creating a hierarchy of smaller goals (Fenn & Byrne, 2013).

Latham & Locke (1991) suggested that successful goal setting should adhere to key principles; these can also be applied to a therapeutic setting.

  • Both client and practitioner should be committed to attaining the goal

  • The goal should be specific

  • The goal should be challenging yet attainable

  • Feedback should be immediate and unambiguous

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