Challenges and Opportunities When Measuring Meaningful Therapeutic Change

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Structured discussion with contributors:
Jan R. Boehnke, Organizer and moderator
Katie Aafjes-van Doorn (Yeshiva University, USA)
Andrew A. McAleavey (Helse Førde, Norway)
Femke L. Truijens (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Investigating how, when, and why people change during psychotherapy requires operationalizations of (meaningful) change. Its pivotal role leads to continued innovation in how 'change' is conceptualized. Such innovation requires refinement of the philosophical and methodological foundations of psychotherapy research and this discussion addresses four critical areas. The first panelist proposes, based on the example of the therapeutic relationship, that we need to consider a variety of data sources when assessing change in the dynamic interaction between therapist and patient, such as self-reports, observer-rated systems, computerized text-analytic methods, vocal tone, speech, physiological responses, and movement analyses. The second panelist focuses on philosophical and statistical concerns and proposes that change indices do not live up to the epistemological goals that are pursued with them, leading to substantial contradictions when triangulating results from different levels of analysis (e.g., nomothetic vs. ideographic). The third panelist proposes that it is clinically vital to understand the idiosyncratic meaning-making involved when respondents interpret and respond to psychometric instruments rather than dismissing it as
an unimportant individual factor. The fourth panelist proposes that such idiosyncratic processes are at work when people fill out psychometric instruments, but that these are likely to make within-person analysis simpler and future approaches should focus more on leveraging this strength. While addressing closely interlinked areas, the perspectives and solutions presented by the panelists differ substantially and conflict in several points. The panelists encourage critical reflection and invite the audience to explore what they believe are vital philosophical and methodological assumptions for data-informed psychotherapy.
Period9 Jul 2022
Event title53rd International Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research: How, when, and why do people change: The rise of data-informed psychotherapy
Event typeConference


  • Practice-training-research networks
  • Quantitative & qualitative method
  • Routine Outcome Monitoring
  • Treatment process and outcome