Introducing measurement-informed care to clients

This article emphasizes the importance of explaining Measurement-Informed Care (MIC) to clients in therapy. It provides key concepts for therapists to introduce MIC effectively. These concepts ensure clients understand the purpose and value of MIC, while also addressing any concerns with empathy and understanding. Sample scripts are included to help therapists initiate these conversations with clients.

Why is measurement-informed care valuable?

MIC strengthens the great clinical work you are already doing! Routinely collecting and reviewing client self-reported data on symptoms, risk, and the therapeutic alliance has been shown to enhance client outcomes and increase client engagement. New to MIC? We'll guide you through explaining it to clients!

How to introduce measurement-informed care to clients

Set clear expectations from the beginning. Briefly explain how these regular assessments work and how they benefit the client's treatment journey. Without a clear understanding of the "why," clients may be less invested in completing them consistently.

You can begin using MIC with a client at any time in the therapy process. When introducing MIC to clients, we encourage you to create your own “MIC script” that aligns with you and your personal approach to care. Whatever your style, below are some key things to convey.

Key concepts for introducing MIC to clients

Make MIC a normal part of therapy. Similar to a doctor checking vitals, like blood pressure or body temperature, regular measurement of mental health symptoms and the therapeutic alliance are your tools to understand your client's current treatment needs and clinical progress.

Show confidence in the value of MIC. These assessments are backed by research for use with many different populations and are widely used in therapy. 

Clients might ask "How will completing these surveys help me?" Be prepared to explain:

  • “MIC ensures your voice is heard in therapy.”
  • “It helps you track your symptoms and how they impact you.”
  • “MIC helps me target your treatment so that you can reach your goals faster, just like a doctor uses blood pressure readings to adjust medication.

Be ready to answer client questions about the assessments. Briefly explain what each one measures (e.g., GAD-7 for anxiety symptoms). Communicating this builds trust and shows you're familiar with the tools. 

Make the assessments personal! Help clients see how the assessment questions connect to their individual symptoms and goals for treatment. For example, if your client experiences anxiety, their responses to the GAD-7 might reflect trouble sleeping or racing thoughts. You can then focus on those specific issues in the treatment plan, making the regular tracking of those symptoms even more valuable.

Expect questions! Some clients might be unsure about MIC at first. Stay curious, listen to their concerns, and remind them of the clinical benefits. 

Sample scripts for introducing measurement-informed care to clients

We know styles differ. But if you'd like some inspiration, check out these sample scripts below. They're merely examples of conversation starters, not prescriptive. Introduce MIC in a way that feels natural to you!

Example script #1

In addition to our discussions, we will also use a few brief surveys each session to track your progress, which we call measurement-informed care. These surveys ask about any depression and anxiety symptoms you may be experiencing and if the support I am offering in session is meeting your needs. They take just a few minutes to complete before each appointment, and we can discuss them during the session. Think of it like your doctor taking your blood pressure and temperature before each appointment – it helps ensure you get your care needs met each visit. How does that sound? Any questions?

Example script #2

“It’s really important that as we work together, I always have a strong understanding of your treatment needs, and how they change over time. To do this, I use short surveys, or “measures” that ask about your symptoms and therapy experience. Just like a doctor checking your blood pressure and body temperature at the start of an appointment, you'll complete these before each session (they take just a few minutes!) and we can discuss them together. Do you have any questions about the surveys, or how we will use them together in your treatment?” 

Example script #3

As your therapist, I want to ensure you are getting the best care possible, and that as your treatment needs change, I'm changing right alongside you in order to meet those. To track progress and adjust as needed, we'll use short surveys each session (they take only a few minutes to complete!) about your symptoms and therapy experience. Think of it like driving: you're behind the wheel, and I'm a passenger here to help you reach your destination. Your responses to these surveys help us see if we’re headed in the right direction and make adjustments to our course if needed.

As your symptoms begin to improve, the surveys will reflect that! We'll also create space to discuss any concerns about progress, the treatment focus, or our therapeutic relationship.  My goal is to help you reach your goals, and these surveys help us achieve that. Any questions?

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