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Counseling Psychology News

Research of UW’s Goldberg noted in Atlantic report about ‘Big Data’s’ ability to transform mental health treatment

March 21, 2017

The work of UW-Madison’s Simon Goldberg is highlighted in an April 2017 report in The Atlantic that’s headlined, “What Your Therapist Doesn’t Know.”

The deck headline reads: “Big Data has transformed everything from sports to politics to education. It could transform mental-health treatment, too — if only psychologists would stop ignoring it.”

Goldberg is a Ph.D. student with UW-Madison’s Department of Counseling Psychology. He is in the final year of the doctoral program and is completing his pre-doctoral internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle.

The Atlantic report by Tony Rousmaniere examines the use of data to improve effectiveness in clinical settings.  And the article prominently cites a paper published last year by Goldberg demonstrating the benefits of using “metrics” in improving psychotherapy outcomes.

The report noted how the Calgary Counseling Centre (CCC) in western Canada has been on the leading edge of looking for ways to use metrics to improve outcomes.

As The Atlantic reports: “Simon Goldberg of the University of Wisconsin at Madison recently examined data from the CCC (I was one of eight co-authors on the study, but Goldberg did the vast majority of the work) and found a tiny but steady improvement in clinical effectiveness every year for seven years. As far as I can tell, this is only the second time year-over-year improvement in therapist effectiveness — measured by improved client outcomes — has been empirically demonstrated in psychotherapy research. (Other studies do show improvement in therapists’ ‘competence’ in using models or ‘adherence’ to those models — but a meta-analysis of 36 studies showed that ‘therapist adherence and competence play little role in determining symptom change.’)”

The report continues: “Despite these impressive results, adjusting to the use of data remains difficult for many.”

To learn much more about this complex, nuanced topic, make sure and check out the entire report on this TheAtlantic.com web page.

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