Assessing therapeutic outcome

When it comes to assessing therapeutic outcome Emanuel et al. (2013) are unambiguous about the need for child psychotherapists to find ways of monitoring and describing outcomes for psychotherapy, if child psychotherapy is to remain an integral part of the UK National Health Service. They warn that the UK government’s focus on monitoring outcomes reflects ‘a much wider international consensus’ and is therefore a necessity. Emanuel et al. report on the use of the Goal-Based Outcomes Measure (Law and Jacob, 2015) within a metropolitan hospital-based child and adolescent mental health service. The authors contend that the use of an aim-based measure does not determine the progress of therapy and what must be discussed.

Rather, it creates an opportunity to explore why the patient or family has come into treatment and what they (and the therapist) hope to achieve. Emanuel et al. describe this as a flexible and helpful process that creates a ‘triangulation of information and understanding’. This ‘triangulation of information’ reflects a collaborative endeavour in which information is gathered from the patients as well as from other professionals working within the multi-disciplinary service. The experience of using the outcome measure is also perceived as throwing light in turn, on some of the complexities of the therapeutic process.

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