Updated: Apr 12
Therapists traditionally hold more power than clients in the therapeutic relationship. Therapists are typically the ones who decide on treatment goals and interventions, and clients may feel pressure to comply with their therapist's recommendations even if they don't feel comfortable with them. Additionally, power dynamics can be further exacerbated by systemic inequalities such as racism, sexism, and homophobia that exist in society and can affect how clients are treated in therapy. FIT seeks to address these power dynamics by involving clients in the treatment process as active participants.
FIT involves routine measurement of client progress and well-being using standardized tools, and this information is used to guide treatment decisions collaboratively between the therapist and client. By involving clients in the treatment decision-making process and using their feedback to guide therapy, FIT can help to reduce power imbalances between therapists and clients. Furthermore, FIT can help to mitigate the impact of societal inequalities on the therapeutic relationship by prioritizing the client's perspective and experiences in shaping the therapeutic approach.
FIT is important for equitable care because it allows clinicians to track and improve client progress based on real-time, client-reported data. This means that clients can have a more active role in their treatment, and their feedback can be used to guide treatment decisions and adjust interventions as needed to better meet their needs and preferences.
FIT helps to reduce power imbalances between clients and therapists by providing a space for open and honest communication. Clients are empowered to share their experiences and perspectives, and therapists are better equipped to recognize and address issues related to cultural competence, power dynamics, and communication. FIT also fosters a culture of accountability and quality improvement in the mental health field. Clinicians who use FIT are more likely to engage in ongoing professional development, track their own progress, and make changes to their practice based on client feedback. This can lead to better treatment outcomes and a more responsive and effective mental health system overall.
Challenges to Achieving Equitable Care Without FIT
Without FIT, there is a risk that providers may not fully understand or consider the unique needs and experiences of individual clients, which is crucial to providing equitable care. Another challenge to achieving equitable care without FIT is the potential for implicit biases to influence treatment decisions and outcomes, particularly for marginalized and underrepresented populations. Without the integration of client feedback in treatment, therapists may rely solely on their own clinical judgment and expertise, which can perpetuate power imbalances and marginalize client voices in the treatment process. Additionally, without feedback from clients, therapists may not be aware of how their own behavior, attitudes, or therapeutic approaches may be contributing to power dynamics in the therapeutic relationship. Furthermore, without using standardized measures to assess treatment outcomes, it may be difficult to ensure that all clients are receiving equitable care and that treatment is effective regardless of individual differences or backgrounds.
Improving Outcomes for Marginalized Communities with FIT
Feedback-Informed Treatment has shown great potential in improving outcomes for marginalized communities. By regularly collecting feedback on a client's progress and experience in therapy, FIT allows therapists to make necessary adjustments to treatment and ensure that it is culturally responsive and relevant to the client's unique needs and experiences.
FIT can also help to reduce power inequities between therapists and clients by giving clients a voice and active role in their treatment. This is especially important for marginalized communities who may have experienced systemic oppression and discrimination within the mental health system. Research has found that FIT can lead to significant improvements in treatment outcomes, particularly for underrepresented and underserved populations. For example, a study Feedback-Informed Treatment with LGBTQ clients: Social justice and evidence-based practice by Chesworth et al (2017), found that those who received FIT had significant improvements in mental health symptoms and overall functioning compared to those who did not receive FIT. Overall, FIT has the potential to help close the gap in mental health disparities for marginalized communities by providing personalized and culturally responsive care that empowers clients to be active participants in their treatment.
Using FIT to Address Disparities in Mental Health Care
Feedback-Informed Treatment (FIT) can be used to address disparities in mental health care by improving treatment outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their demographic or social background. By utilizing FIT, mental health providers can address power imbalances and promote equitable care by creating a more collaborative relationship between clients and therapists. Research has shown that using FIT can lead to significant improvements in treatment outcomes, including reduced dropout rates, increased satisfaction with care, and reduced symptoms of mental health conditions.
To learn more about how to improve treatment outcomes using the feedback from a client's outcome and session ratings to inform and improve care, we have created a new guide, "Improving Mental Health: A guide on how to use Feedback-Informed treatment to improve outcomes in culturally diverse populations."
This is the first in a series of FIT Pro guides to help improve the use of Feedback-Informed Treatment in different populations and settings.
Download the guide and learn more about the research and training that supports the use of FIT in culturally diverse backgrounds.
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