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The Influence of Outcome Measures on Student Clinician Judgment in Assessing Client Change and Treatment Decisions

14 May 2012


Little is known about the relationship between the clinical judgment of licensed professionals and student clinicians. Understanding the clinical practice of psychologists in training is important as they are forming the habits which will guide their future practice. This study examined the habits of psychology graduate students with respect to measuring treatment outcome. Graduate students in doctoral programs pursuing degrees in clinical, counseling, school, or combined-type psychology (N = 397) responded to an online survey that presented a vignette of a clinical case. Participants were randomly assigned to one of nine vignette conditions where varying information about outcome measurement and client self-report was presented. Participants rated the progress of the hypothesized client and made treatment recommendations. The results from this study were compared to a previous study involving licensed psychologists; statistically significant differences were found in the progress ratings of the two samples, and the treatment decisions were related with a weak effect size. The researchers make recommendations for students, supervisors, and educators, including the importance of regularly using outcome tracking measures.


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