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Therapist competence matters -- and more for some patients than others
Date:7/6/2010

ears in a recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

In this study, two researchers examined videotapes of therapy sessions involving 60 adults with moderate to severe depression and their six therapists. The researchers rated competence using the Cognitive Therapy Scale, which is also used by the accrediting organization for cognitive therapists (The Academy of Cognitive Therapy). The scale rates therapists on a variety of skills, including their interpersonal relations and their use of specific techniques thought to help patients facing depression.

The researchers rated the therapists' competence during the first four sessions with each of the 60 patients.

In addition, patients completed a questionnaire at each session that measured their depression levels.

Strunk and his colleagues then compared how competence scores given to the therapists for each session related to change in patients' depression levels from session to session.

The researchers rated competence levels without knowing how the patients were progressing and whether their symptoms were improving, Strunk said. This way, the researchers could later tell whether there was an association between competence and subsequent patient improvement.

Strunk said the strongest results came when they looked at how therapist competence was related to improvement in patients with specific characteristics. That is where they found that patients with high anxiety and early onset depression benefitted most from the highly rated therapy sessions.

In addition to looking at how therapist competence interacted with patient characteristics, the researchers also examined how competence, measured for each individual session, was related to patient improvement from one session to the next. Results showed that higher levels of therapist competence were related to more symptom improvement during the first four sessions.

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Contact: Daniel Strunk
Strunk.20@osu.edu
614-688-4891
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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