Redefining Outcome Measurement: A Model for Brief Psychotherapy Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • CONTEXT: The zeitgeist for short-term psychotherapy efficacy has fundamentally shifted away from evidence-based practices to include evidence-informed practices, resulting in an equally important paradigm shift in outcome measurement designed to reflect change in this short-term modality. OBJECTIVE: The present article delineates a short-term psychotherapy structure which defines four fundamental stages that all brief therapies may have in common, and are represented through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Emotion-Focused Therapy. METHOD: These four theoretical approaches were analyzed via a selected literature review through comparing and contrasting specific and common tasks as they relate to the process of psychotherapy and change. Once commonalities were identified within session, they were categorized or grouped into themes or general stages of change within the parameters of a four to six session model of short-term therapy. Commonalities in therapeutic stages of change may more accurately and uniformly measure outcome in short-term work, unlike the symptom-specific psychometric instruments of longer-term psychotherapy. RESULTS: A systematic framework for evaluating the client and clinician adherence to 20 specific tasks for these four short-term therapies is presented through the newly proposed, Brief Task Acquisition Scale (BTAS). It is further proposed that the client-clinicians' adherence to these tasks will track and ultimately increase treatment integrity. CONCLUSION: Thus, when the client-clinician relationship tracks and evaluates the three pillars of (1) stage/process change, (2) task acquisition, and (3) treatment integrity, the culmination of these efforts presents a new way of more sensitively measuring outcome in short-term psychotherapy. Data collection is suggested as a first step to empirically evaluate the testable hypotheses suggested within this current model. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Key Practitioner Message The clinician practitioner will note that the proposed Brief Services model removes the subjectivity of client satisfaction as a reliable outcome measure, and relies upon client and therapist adherence to specific tasks and stages of change within and across short-term psychotherapy. The clinical significance of the BTAS for the practitioner is three fold. The psychometric instrument (1) tracks stage or process change, (2) guides task acquisition, and (3) incorporates greater treatment integrity unlike other outcome measures. The BTAS present a new way of conceptualizing change in short-term psychotherapy regardless of modality or presenting issue, making it a more flexible and usable instrument for the clinician. The BTAS may measure outcome more sensitively and accurately, thus offering the client, therapist and client-therapist more information regarding change at each stage and at the end of short-term psychotherapy.


  • McGuinty, Everett
  • Nelson, John
  • Carlson, Alain
  • Crowther, Eric
  • Bednar, Drew
  • Foroughe, Mirisse

publication date

  • May 2016