The goal of therapy is to have a positive outcome, but how should practitioners determine when a positive outcome occurs? Diverse methods of studying and defining treatment outcomes have been developed; however, research suggests the different methods do not measure the same construct. Numerous psychometrically sound tools for assessing treatment outcomes have been developed, but many clinicians do not administer such tools, and research suggests that many clinicians who do administer outcome tracking measures do not utilize the results. This study compared therapist judgment regarding outcome to client self-reported scores on an outcome measure. Clients of a psychological training clinic in the Pacific Northwest were administered the standardized outcome measure at the beginning and end of treatment; changes in scores were evaluated with the criteria of reliable change and clinically significant change. These scores were then compared to therapist judgment regarding the success of clients. Reliable change was found to be significantly related therapist description of treatment outcome, with a low level of agreement (Φ = .321). This finding has specific implications for the training of future psychologists as defining treatment outcomes is an important part of assessing treatment effectiveness and a critical part of improving treatment. Suggestions are made for maximizing the accuracy and practicality of client outcome assessment.
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