I get really passionate when talking about data and using data to direct clinical decisions. Although I’m aware that I am often alone in that passion, it’s worth acknowledging that we all use data to direct all of our decisions. We’re not just guessing in the dark. We may not always directly attend to the data available to us, but I have yet to meet anyone who makes a decision without using some form of information to guide them.
Previously, I wrote about the importance of using assessments to collect data on clients, both for the purpose of diagnosis and evaluating progress. I continue to promote the value of those assessments and want to take one more opportunity to encourage you to use them in your own practice if you are not doing so already. That client data can be tremendously helpful in a variety of ways. This post, however, is meant to discuss a different category of data. One that I would argue is equally important: Therapist data.
For the purposes of this post, therapist data includes any information related to you and the work you do as a therapist. This can range from very generic information to the minute details. Generic data may include things like your knowledge of theories and appropriate application of interventions. More minute data may include details like your daily routine, habits, number and types of clients being seen, and client outcome data.
Collecting and evaluating therapist data allows us the opportunity to develop and progress. As clinicians, therapist data can help ensure that we remain current in our knowledge and effective in our practices. Evaluating therapist data helps to highlight areas of concern within ourselves that, when attended to, can lead to profound personal growth. We all have the potential for that growth, but it takes intentional and sometimes uncomfortable work.
Here are three ways you can start to collect and evaluate therapist data in your practice today:
1. Directly measure your knowledge
Take a test or evaluation on a specific diagnosis, intervention, theory, or other area of practice to ensure current and sufficient knowledge.
2. Evaluate treatment sessions
Record your sessions, and use a supervisor or rater to evaluate those qualities you would like to assess in yourself (use of interventions, competence, noticing and attending to self-of-therapist, etc.).
3. Consolidate the data
Determine correlations between collected client outcome data and therapist data. Comparing these two sets of data helps to determine strategies for effective treatment and areas for improvement. Comparing these data sets for myself helped me to determine that I am most effective when working with clients between the hours of 10am-1pm — after I have had a cup of coffee. This may seem especially specific, but helps to motivate me to ensure that I schedule clients during those hours. It also helps motivate me to identify strategies to extend the hours in which I am most effective.
I know of an increasing number of therapists collecting client outcome data. This speaks to how much we as professionals want to maximize the help we provide our clients. Gathering and using therapist data is the next step. You, after all, are the vehicle for delivering the interventions you use in practice. Knowing yourself in addition to knowing your clients’ progress allows you to reach meaningful and specific conclusions toward a goal we all share: Continually getting better.