Navigating Slow Client Progress on Measurement-Informed Care Surveys

This article provides strategies and tips for addressing a slower rate of improvement than expected for symptom severity on measurement-informed care (MIC) surveys. 

Strategies and tips for addressing a slower rate of improvement than expected

Slow progress can be a powerful learning opportunity. When symptom severity stagnates, we should pause our current approach and explore what's working and what might need adjustment. Remember, each client is unique in their needs and responses to treatment. Our role is to experiment collaboratively until we find the best fit. Stay curious and non-judgmental throughout the process.

Validate the client experience. Acknowledge that it can feel really difficult when depression or anxiety symptoms are not “getting better.” Normalize these feelings and explain that therapy progress is not always linear. Reassure them of your commitment to helping them achieve their treatment goals. Sometimes, your observed clinical progress as the therapist might differ from their self-assessment. While validating their perspective, discuss the positive changes you observe and broaden the conversation on how we measure progress.

Adjust the plan like a GPS reroutes around obstacles. Let your client know you are willing to shift course to meet their needs better. Together, you can explore new approaches and interventions or even update treatment goals and objectives. Are they clear, achievable, and measurable? How will we track progress and what will success look and feel like? This may also include referrals for psychiatric medication management or a higher level of care to provide the best support.

Key Takeaway

Progress in therapy isn't always linear. Instead of seeing minimal score change on measures as a sign that therapy isn’t “working,” use it as an opportunity to explore new strategies and adjust the treatment plan to help the client build stronger treatment momentum. 


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