What is Feedback Informed Treatment?

Have you ever left a therapy session a little discouraged or disappointed because you didn’t feel like the therapist was asking questions or using exercises that were helping you get down to the root of the issue? Have you ever decided not to pursue therapy for anxiety or OCD because you doubt that it will be effective for you?

If so, you might want to look into feedback informed treatment.

How does it work?

Feedback informed treatment allows you to participate in the process of customizing your treatment by letting the therapist know what is working or not working for you, which will help them make adjustments from session to session to make your therapy more effective. Some practices use paper questionnaires, and some use technological tools such as apps or the My Outcomes program, but the purpose is the same: to gauge how you feel your therapist is doing and how you feel you are doing.

Two of the most common areas of feedback are outcomes and sessions, measured by the Outcomes Rating Scale and the Sessions Rating Scale. From session to session, you are given the opportunity to provide any relevant feedback about your own wellbeing and perception of progress as well as your chemistry with your therapist, aspects of your sessions that are particularly beneficial, and aspects that you do not benefit from as much.

What are the benefits?

Over the past 30 years since feedback informed treatment was introduced, therapists who have used this method have reported increased participant engagement and willingness to share openly during sessions, more consistent attendance, and overall better outcomes. When individuals realize that they have a say in their sessions and treatment plan, they feel empowered, which is something that their addiction or anxiety had previously taken from them.

Additionally, this practice of providing honest feedback establishes a mindset of honesty and openness in the individual’s relationships outside of the therapy setting as well. Whereas their lives before treatment and recovery may have been characterized by secrecy, shame, and guilt, they have now learned a pattern of healthy and helpful feedback instead. They can communicate more easily with their loved ones about what is working and what isn’t, how they might need some extra help or support, or changes they would like to make in their lifestyle. This healthy communication cycle can get relationships back on the right track.

Is feedback informed treatment right for me?

One could make the argument that feedback informed treatment is for everyone. Increased honesty and communication in all of life, but especially in the therapy setting, is mutually beneficial, and it certainly can’t hurt to inquire about feedback informed treatment.