605 Cherry St. Suite 320, Belton, MO 64012
(816) 226-4678

Does Your Therapist do This?

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Does your therapist use Feedback-Informed Therapy (FIT)? You might be asking, “What’s that?”

Feedback-Informed Therapy is therapy that uses your feedback as the yardstick for how well therapy is going. This doesn’t mean if your therapist asks, “Do you feel like we’re making progress?” that you are doing FIT. There are multiple versions of FIT, but all are based on careful scientific research which ensures that what they are measuring correlates to your progress as a client. Some forms of FIT have 45 questions that the client is asked to answer each session. The form I use takes less than a minute. I ask you to answer three questions before we start the session and another three at the end of the session. The first three questions are asking you about various aspects of the issue you are working on in therapy and how your life is doing. Are you showing signs of improvement or are you showing no improvement? This is important information! The last three questions I ask you to answer are about me. Did you feel that I was listening and understanding you? Did we work on the issue you wanted to work on? All six questions are answered by circling the answer you feel represents it, from zero to 10. If I did a good job listening to you, for example, you might circle a 9 or a 10.

So why does this matter? This matters because research has repeatedly shown that when therapists use Feedback-Informed Therapy like this, you get a better result from your therapy. Therapy simply works better for you. Imagine if you were working with a personal trainer. How would you know if your efforts were paying off? You might be able to lift more weight, lift weights longer, stretch more flexibly, or do cardio for longer. Each of those outcomes is measurable. Would it make sense to do the work without observing if you were benefiting from it?

Decades of research has shown that one of the biggest components of therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Do you feel safe? Do you feel listened to? Are you working on the issue that important to you rather than what the therapist thinks is important? If you mark a “6” on one of the three questions about how I did in that session, that’s really important information! This tells me I could have done a lot better. It’s not likely, though, that without using this quick feedback tool that you would have said, “Hey, Alicia, I really didn’t feel like you were understanding me today.” Most likely, you would have left, somewhat irritated with me, or sad or disappointed and I would never have known. You might not want to come back. By using FIT, however, I now know right at the time that I need to do something differently or better and I can ask you about that before you leave the session. This means I’m becoming a better therapist for you.

The first three questions at the beginning of the session are also important. If we don’t track how you are doing in life and whether or not you are making progress on your issue, how will we know if what we are doing is helpful, or if we’re just wasting your time and money? And speaking of your time and your money, research has shown that when FIT is used, people were able to end therapy sooner with just as good of results as those who didn’t use FIT and had therapy for a longer time.

So to summarize: using Feedback-Informed Therapy greatly increases the chances that you will benefit significantly from your therapy. FIT means you are likely to benefit more from therapy and to a greater extent than you would in therapy that doesn’t use FIT. And it means you are likely to successfully end therapy sooner. I would say that I don’t know why all therapists aren’t using FIT, but I think I do. Some therapists simply haven’t heard about FIT. But others have chosen to not use it. Using FIT can be scary for therapists because it shows in black-and-white if what we’re doing is working and it makes us vulnerable. When I ask you to tell me how I’m doing, I really want to know. And that means I have to be willing to accept when the answer is that I could be doing better. Some therapists, I think, would rather not know if they aren’t doing well.

If you worked with a trainer at a gym for 6 weeks and weren’t able to lift heavier weights, or lift weights more times, or show that you were stronger or more fit than you were six weeks ago, would you want to keep working with that trainer? Why should working with a therapist be any different? If you choose to work with me, you will know each week if what we are doing is working.

If you would like to measure your progress each week, and if you would like a therapist who uses your feedback as a key to the work we do together, then I invite you to schedule an appointment with me:

By phone/text (816) 226-4678

By email: alicia.polk@polklarson.com

By secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging through the client portal

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