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What I'm Reading: Grad school won't make you a better counselor.

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

... formal training has little to no impact on actually improving client outcomes.

Let me briefly point out 4 relevant studies that has surfaced in the last couple of years.

First, one prospective study by Tim Anderson and colleagues noted that a trainee’s interpersonal ability influenced results. However, it was their ability measured prior to receiving any training, that predicted actual client outcomes. The 2 years of doctoral training had no significant effect.

Second, in a recent 2022 study by Chris Edmondstone and colleagues, they took a step further and asked if there were truly differences from the get-go, before training took place?³ Here’s what Edmondstone et al. found:

Differences between therapists exists even before training took place.

Take a look.

Third, David Erekson and colleagues conducted a longitudinal investigation on the impact of psychotherapist training. In essence, there were asking a similar question, “Does training improve client outcome?"

Here’s what Erekson et al. found:

  • Therapists were found to achieve the same amount of change on average in their later stages of training

  • Findings suggest that as therapists progress through formal stages of training, they do not improve in their ability to effect change in their client.

  • Granted, some do improve with training. But in essence, psychotherapy training does not have a universal effect.

Finally, Jesse Owen and colleagues studied if trainees in the US improved in their clients’ therapy outcomes over time, or, if it is “As good as it gets?” Here’s what Owen et al. found:

  • Trainees improved over time, but only with clients who are less distressed.

  • There were no change over time when working with more distressed clients.

Take a look.

Changes in client outcomes over 50 months

Daryl Chow

Formatting mine.


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