Most people who are thinking about getting therapy, have more questions than answers (for example, is my therapist any good?). Seldom do people ask a professional about the methods they use or why, even though the law entitles patients to such information. What people want to know is this: are the outcomes really, really good?
There’s no doubt that the value of an intervention can be determined based upon it’s successes. As more people experience healing and wholeness the easier it is to presume that the treatment method is good. But anecdotal stories show effectiveness in case by case examples, but may not have the same results in the larger community.
The measure of success in a treatment method can be determined by more than anecdotal case by case examples however—research often exists to support (or refute) certain methods. So what happens if a “really good method” fails? One idea is to contact a Clinical Social Worker—who is trained to look at clinical interventions from the person in environment perspective.
The key issue to consider is that interventions dealing with the human condition (particularly mental illness and mental health) need to be adaptive to the uniqueness of each person. Likely if an intervention fails, it is because the professional using it overlooked the needs and goals of the client. In other words, the method may not be the problem, even if it appears to be failing.
It is important for you to choose a therapist who employs known effective treatment methods-that you are comfortable with. You should understand the “preferred” treatment method, while also knowing of its credibility and reliability. Assessment tools are an important consideration when deciding to begin therapy. Sometimes instruments are recommended by the therapist to rule out or diagnose a more severe mental illness. Clients have a right to refuse a request for assessment instruments— sometime they are costly, and instruments (tests, questionnaires, computer based modules, etc. etc.) are often not covered by health insurance.
After the method has been explained to you, and you have had an opportunity to ask questions, a key determination of your treatment success will depend upon whether or not you agree with the treatment method that the professional suggests to you.
The next question that often comes up for clients is this: How will I know that the treatment of choice is working or failing? Many professionals in the field rely “practice wisdom” to “determine” success. From experience success is, to some degree, presumed at the point a method is chosen. Practice wisdom is likely a very good source to rely upon in treatment method selection—but it is less likely to be fair in determining success or failure.
“Evidenced-based practice” is a method of assessing treatment effectiveness by using tests, questionnaires, evaluations, and other instruments. If a practitioner is engaged in evidenced-based practice, then symptoms are tracked prior to treatment, during treatment and after treatment. The pre and post assessments indicate improvements (and or lack of improvements).
You have the right as a patient to ask mental health providers what method is being chosen to treat you, to agree or disagree with it, and then to ask how the method will be assessed for effectiveness before you begin any kind of mental health counseling. Most professionals have access to psychometrically strong assessment tools and they can easily be incorporated into your treatment program.
On this page you will find a list of common treatment methods and common assessment tools that are used by mental health professionals, such as Clinical Social Workers. Some of these methods and instruments are supported significantly in the literature while others are supported by single case research; one instrument listed below is recommended by a manufacturer of medication, thus it is often used as a collaborative assessment tool (meaning more than one instrument is used to compare findings). Neither list is exhaustive.
Hopefully you will find the information helpful in your pursuit of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment efforts. If you have questions about any of the treatment methods listed, or need information on assessing outcomes please contact us anytime.
Examples of commonly used Treatment Methods:
___Brief Treatment (6-10 session limit; helps to keep treatment focused and short)
___Anger Management (6 sessions)
___Addictions / Recovery (both methods focus on chemical dependency; one is disease based and the other is strengths based—can be used in common)
___Batterer Intervention Program (responsibility of perpetrator and sensitivity toward victims)
___Psychoanalysis (sessions not limited; looks at underlying causes for behavior)
___Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (how a persons thinking impacts behavior)
___Behavioral Therapy (how a persons behavior is changed, often regardless of causes)
___Cognitive Restructuring (assists in the development of new thinking schemata—views)
___Grief & Loss (assists to resolve impact of losses in a persons life)
___EAP (Employee Assistance Programs; employer funded—limited to assessment usually)
___Social Skill Development (builds on existing skill sets of interaction to improve future social encounters with others)
___Role Play / Role Reversal (practices playing roles of helpful/harmful persons of influence)
___Modeling (method where professional exhibits behaviors/tasks that clients are asked to try)
___Solutions Focused (applies past successes to current problems)
___Reconstruction / Sculpting (posturing people of influence in a group setting to create a current support system while addressing historical hurts / traumas)
___Sensitization / Desensitization Exposure Therapy (increases / decreases anxious & phobic reactions; also can be used in the treatment of PTSD)
Examples of only a few common Assessment Tools:
___ Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI)
___Beck Codependence Assessment Scale (BCAS)
___Beliefs Associated with Childhood Sexual Abuse (BACSA)
___Brief Depression Rating Scale (BDRS)
___Caregiver Strain Index (CSI)
___Clinical Anxiety Scale (CAS)
___Client Motivation for Therapy Scales (CMOTS)
___Compulsiveness Inventory (CI)
___Depressive Personality Disorder Inventory (DPDI)
___Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES)
___Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)
___Folstein Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE)
___Index of Alcohol Involvement (IAI)
___Index of Marital Satisfaction (IMS)
___Inventory to Diagnose Depression (IDD)
___Kansas Marital Conflict Scale (KMCS)
___Maudsley Obsessional-Compulsive Inventory (MOC)
___Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST)
___Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI)
___Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (RF) MMPI-2
___Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (OCI)
___Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SSIS-3)
___Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ)
___Vanderbilt Assessment Scale – ADHD (McNeil) ___Parent ___Teacher ___Other