Dr. Judith Beck (President of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy) addressed this topic in a recent article.  She noted: “In many cases, it's difficult for clients to know whether they're making progress because therapists do not necessarily state the goals and desired outcomes of therapy sessions. Clients may need to rely on their own global impressions”.  

Research shows that people have better outcomes when both therapists and clients receive feedback on progress (Lambert, et al., 2002). I work with my clients to regularly assess progress at each and every session.  We do this in a number of different ways:

  1. At the beginning of each session I ask clients to fill out a measure specifically designed to quantify symptoms specific to his/her problem (e.g. depression, anxiety).  This gives us a numerical way to measure progress over time.  
  2. Clients learn how to self-monitor and evaluate their own symptoms.
  3. At the outset we specifically define goals for therapy. As therapy progresses, we can measure our progress towards these specific goals.
  4. Based upon the goals defined, we will specify target behaviours, this way we can measure their occurrence throughout the course of therapy.

How can you tell if your therapy is working? Dr. Beck recommends asking yourself:

  1. How is my anxiety/mood in between sessions?
  2. Are the symptoms that brought me to therapy improving?
  3. Are my problematic behaviours decreasing in frequency?
  4. Am I working towards meeting my goals?

If you answered yes, therapy is working!


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