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A study of university counseling center effectiveness

14 December 2001


In response to decreased funding of higher education, college counseling centers are being asked to do what managed care has asked of private practice; to provide research showing the effectiveness and utility of the services they provide. Outcome research showing the contribution made by counseling centers to the academic mission of the university is one way of doing this. In this study, a review of the history and evolution of outcome research highlights current issues and trends. The Outcome Questionnaire (OQ45.2; Lambert, Lunnen, Umphress, Hansen, & Burlingame, 1994), an empirically validated instrument for evaluating therapeutic outcome, was used to track, session by session, the effects of counseling in three specific domain areas of functioning: 1) intrapersonal; 2) interpersonal; and 3) social role performance. It was hypothesized that the proportions of participants who recovered, improved, 'or remained unchanged would be similar to those reported in the literature. Rate of recovery was expected to be rapid during earlier sessions; slowing thereafter. Nature of presenting problem, degree of presenting distress, and therapist experience were expected to affect outtome status. Results showed that therapy was effective for approximately 46% of the participants in the study. Though the percentage of participants showing some degree of improvement was lower than expected, improvement tended to occur earlier treatment. Recovery rates
differed for participants with various presenting problems. Degree of presenting distress and therapist experience did not appear to affect participant outcome status. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research were discussed.


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