By Ruth Fordyce
Alpha Psychology and the Resilience Centre
At the Resilience Centre, we strive to provide an excellent psychological service for people from all walks of life. We are therefore committed to measuring and assessing whether our services are effective in meeting our clients’ goals.
One way that we do this is by asking clients to complete some brief measures as part of each visit to see their psychologist. The measures we use are called the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) and the Session Rating Scale (SRS). These scales were created by two American researchers, Barry Duncan and Scott Miller, with the aim of finding a brief yet effective method of assessing whether therapy was helping clients to achieve the changes they were looking for. The ORS and SRS can be completed with pen and paper, but more recently we’ve been using a digital version that can be completed on an iPad.
We ask clients to complete the ORS at the beginning of their first session with us. This provides a ‘snapshot’ of how they are doing when we begin working together. The ORS is comprised of four scales – personal wellbeing, close relationships, social wellbeing (including friendships, work and/or school) and overall functioning. Usually clients are asked to complete the ORS at every subsequent visit. Immediately clients are able to review with their psychologist how things are changing and progressing. There is a good body of research indicating the validity of the ORS against other longer questionnaires. This means that an increasing score on the ORS is a reliable and valid indicator that therapy is leading to improvement’s in the client’s wellbeing. The advantage is that the ORS is so simple to complete – it only takes about a minute! Research also indicates that if working with a psychologist is to be effective, there is typically some positive change within the first few sessions. This is why completing the ORS at every session is so useful. It ensures that we are accountable to our clients. If they are not experiencing the positive changes they are looking for, we are happy to discuss trying a different approach, or referring to another psychologist in the practice who may be more suited to the client’s needs.
At the end of the session, we ask our clients to complete the Session Rating Scale (SRS). Again this is very quick and simple to complete. It asks for feedback from the client about their experience of the session and whether they feel the psychologist is addressing their needs and goals. At the Resilience Centre, it is essential to us that clients are able to talk to us honestly about any concerns they have or improvements that need to be made. Each person is unique, and effective psychological work needs to be tailored to the client’s own goals, personality, learning style and so on. The client’s input and feedback is therefore invaluable in creating a really effective partnership with the psychologist.
Since 2011, we have been using My Outcomes, a secure online program, for entry and analysis of our ORS and SRS data. This program allows each practitioner to track the progress of individual clients, but also enables us to generate statistics about our effectiveness as a whole practice. All data is de-identified before being entered online (i.e. a user number rather than the client’s name is entered), which maintains the anonymity and confidentiality of our clients. However, we respect and understand that some people do not want to participate even in this confidential way. When they first come to the Resilience Centre, clients are asked to complete some paperwork, and this includes a question about whether they are willing for their de-identified data to be used in our analysis. Of course, any questions about this process are always welcome.
Many psychologists and therapists around the world are now using the ORS and SRS to ensure that they are providing an effective service that meets their client’s needs. Research indicates that when these measures are used, clients are more likely to achieve their goals and are much more empowered and engaged in the process of change. At the Resilience Centre we have experienced many benefits from using the ORS and SRS with our clients. For example, we work with a lot of children and young people, who are at times reluctant to come and see a psychologist, or nervous about what the process might involve. Using the ORS and SRS shows that we take their opinions seriously and are willing to open up a down-to-earth conversation about what will help them to feel comfortable and involved in the process.
So if you are thinking of seeing a psychologist at the Resilience Centre, please know that your feedback is not only welcomed – it’s essential! We look forward to partnering with our clients and doing our very best to meet their goals and needs.
Websites with further information and articles about the ORS and SRS:
Ruth Fordyce is a Registered Psychologist at Alpha Psychology and The Resilience Centre. Find out more about Ruth by clicking here.