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Truly excellent therapists have "grace under interpersonal pressure" - Fascinating new research

Hemingway wrote "Courage is grace under pressure".  New research underlines that "grace under interpersonal pressure" is a key ability of truly excellent therapists.  Study after study has shown that psychotherapists vary considerably in how helpful they are for their clients.  The slide below shows a typical set of findings:

                                       (downloadable as a Powerpoint slide and as a PDF file)

Sessional client feedback: a launch pad for improving outcomes

Counselling & psychotherapy are often helpful.  In fact they are more effective than, for example, many interventions in cardiology or ...  .  Worryingly though ... despite a wealth of emerging research ... there has been little improvement in the outcomes we achieve.  The same, of course, could be said about pharmacological approaches to mental health problems.  Training, qualifications & years of experience make surprisingly little difference to the results therapists achieve.  Yet there is considerable variation in the success rates of different therapists ... although therapists themselves are poor judges of their own effectiveness.  In this situation, methodical, skilful use of feedback on client progress holds arguably more promise than any other way of improving therapist success rates. 

More to follow.

Achieving Clinical Excellence meeting in Amsterdam: second day (2nd post)

Yesterday was my second full day here in Amsterdam at the "Achieving Clinical Excellence" conference put on by the International Center for Clinical Excellence.  The first full day had been a workshop with Scott Miller on "Feedback informed treatment: pushing your clinical effectiveness to the next level".  This second day was the start of the conference proper and was entitled "Excellence: what do we know and what can we learn?".   I walked in from my hotel thinking that I'd be hard pushed to come up with a day of lectures that would interest me more than this exploration of what makes for clinical excellence.

Achieving Clinical Excellence meeting in Amsterdam: first day workshop (1st post)

On Wednesday evening I flew into Amsterdam Schiphol airport for three days of workshop & conference on feedback systems & the development of excellence in psychotherapy.  What a fascinating subject area to explore.  What a treat.  From the airport I caught a train to Amsterdam Zuid and then walked up through the sunny streets to my hotel.  They were short of rooms and upgraded me to the 6th floor ... two walls of windows and a view to die for.  A good start!

Some suggestions for giving and receiving helpful feedback

                      (this blog post is freely downloadable as a Word doc and as a PDF file)

"Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor."      Dr. Alexis Carrel

"It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away."     Robert Pirsig

"There are people who live their whole lives on the default settings, never realizing you can customize."        Robert Brault

Lessons from a personal multi-source feedback project

"A friend is someone who sees the potential in you and helps you to live it."     W. B. Yeats (adapted)

"Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger."    Franklin Jones

A few months ago now, I initiated a personal feedback project.  It was triggered by a number of factors.  I was soon to start the third part of an Emotion-Focused Therapy training and was interested in possibly using myself as "a case study" for the course; I had received some quite surprising & confronting feedback from a friend and I wondered how idiosyncratic or widespread his viewpoint might be; I had been encouraging feedback in groups that I run and I wanted to explore this more deeply; and finally I'm in a very good position to ask for & receive honest, thoughtful feedback from a broad social circle.

Five recent research studies on the worrying variability both in psychotherapist effectiveness and also in willingness to change

Update on website traffic: my own favourite top 15 (6-10) - therapist feedback, relationships, conflict, group work, & walking

Last month I used Google Analytics to identify the most read pages on this website and I wrote the post "Update on website traffic: the ten most popular blog posts". This got me thinking - "What are my own personal favourites?" I quickly realised that the posts that I've written that have had the most impact on me and my practice as a therapist are nearly always made up of sequences of blog posts rather than just individual items.  I said that glancing back over the last year or so, themes that stood out included mindfulness, therapist feedback, self-control, conflict, embodied cognition and positive psychology.

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