Measuring Change in Counseling and Psychotherapy  book cover
1st Edition

Measuring Change in Counseling and Psychotherapy

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ISBN 9781593857202
Published September 1, 2008 by Guilford Press
303 Pages

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Book Description

This book provides researchers, clinicians, and students with a useful overview of measuring client change in clinical practice. It reviews the history, conceptual foundations, and current status of trait- and state-based assessment models and approaches, exploring their strengths and limitations for measuring change across therapy sessions. Meier shows how to effectively interpret and use measurement and assessment data to improve treatment evaluation and clinical care. A series of exercises guides the reader to gather information about particular tests and evaluate their suitability for intended testing purposes.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and Rationale

  Contemporary Psychological Testing

  Contemporary Psychotherapy Research and Practice

  The Implications of Research Stuckness for Clinical Practice

  Summary and Conclusions

2. A History of Traits

  The Seeds of Conflict

  The Desire to Be Scientific

  The Model of Physiology

     Biology and Individual Differences

  The Desire to Be Relevant

  The Need for Classification

  The Consequences of the Adoption of a Trait-Based Measurement Paradigm

     Loss of Experimental Methods Inhibits Recognition of Method Variance

     The Gain of Traits and Loss of Situations

     Handling Error with Classical Test Theory

     Statistics Related to Measurement

     Assessment as a Complement to Measurement

     Deemphasizing Measurement Theory

     Loss of Precision

     The Wisdom and Tyranny of Tradition

     The Success and Failure of the Market

  Summary and Implications

3. Reliability, Validity, and Systematic Errors


  Thinking about Reliability and Validity

     Types of Validity

  Constructs, Theories, and Valid Measurement

     Construct Explication

  Multitrait–Multimethod Matrices: Investigating the Effects of Method Variance on Validity

     Campbell and Fiske

     Criteria for Construct Validity

     An MTMM Example

     Problems with Campbell and Fiske's approach

  The Factor Analytic Approach to Construct Validity

  History of Self-Report and Interview Errors


     Interviews and Observational Methods

  Measurement Error

  Systematic Errors Associated with Self-Reports

     Dissimulation and Malingering

     Social Desirability

  Systematic Errors Associated with Ratings by Others

     Halo Errors

     Leniency and Criticalness Errors

  Causes of Inconsistency

  Cognitive Influences

     Item Comprehension Problems

     Test Cues

     Low Cognitive Ability

  Affective and Motivational Influences

     Test Anxiety

     Negative Emotional States

  Environmental and Cultural Influences


     Stereotype Threat

  Summary and Implications

4. States, Traits, and Validity



  The Controversy of Mischel and Peterson: The Benefits of Conflict

     The Rejection of Traits: Behavioral Assessment

     Reinforcing the Trait Argument

     Person–environment Interactions

     Aptitude-by-Treatment Interactions

     Environmental Assessment

     Moderators of Cross-Situational Consistency

  Summary and Integration

5. Context Effects and Validity


  Understanding Inconsistency: Clues from Psychophysics Measurement

     The Limitations of Psychophysical Measurement

     Conclusions and Implications from Psychophysical Research

  Improving the Principles of Construct Explication

     Test Purpose

     Test Content

     Test Context

     Shared Contexts and Method Variance


     Recommendations Related to Test Purpose

     Recommendations Related to Test Content

     Recommendations Related to Test Contexts

  Summary and Implications

6. Nomothetic Approaches to Measuring Change and Influencing Outcomes

  History and Background

  Examples of Nomothetic Measures

     Beck Depression Inventory

     State–Trait Anxiety Inventory

     Global Assessment of Functioning

     Outcome Questionnaire

  Psychometric Principles and Nomothetic Measures

     Reliability of Nomothetic Measures



     Creating Change-Sensitive Measures

     Psychometric Properties of Aggregate Scales

     Using Change-Sensitive Tests in Program Evaluations

  An Evidence-Based Approach to Supervision

  Summary and Integration

7. Idiographic Approaches to Measuring Change and Influencing Outcomes

  History and Background

  Psychometric Principles and Idiographic Measures

     Reliability of Idiographic Measures

     Validity of Idiographic Measures


     Begin with the Case Conceptualizatio

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Scott T. Meier is Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. His main research and teaching are in the areas of psychological measurement (particularly outcome assessment), research methods (program evaluation), and counseling skills (integration of case conceptualization and assessment with intervention). Dr. Meier is a member of the American Evaluation Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. He is the author or coauthor of four books (including The Elements of Counseling) and has published in American Psychologist, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, and the American Journal of Evaluation.


"This text should have a prominent place in professional psychology training programs. It offers an important and needed perspective on measurement for those preparing for careers in counseling and psychotherapy, and a helpful corrective to the practice of relying on trait measures for the evaluation of clinical change. Meier has done a fine job of tying measurement to practice issues, showing how outcome data can be used for clinical feedback and to inform clinical decision making. He clearly distinguishes how a test that is valid for measuring traits may not be valid for measuring clinical change, and vice versa. At a time when accountability is a driving force in the profession, the measurement and assessment perspectives provided by this book couldn’t be more opportune. This book would be most pertinent to doctoral and master's students in counseling psychology and would make an excellent addition to an assessment sequence--in particular, as a companion text in a personality/psychodiagnostic assessment course."--James W. Lichtenberg, PhD, Professor of Counseling Psychology and Associate Dean, School of Education, University of Kansas

"The strength of this book is that it offers comprehensive and sophisticated coverage of issues related to psychological testing, with a special focus on issues related to counseling and psychotherapy, which makes it unique and valuable. The author does a very good job of explaining terms and concepts and takes the reader deep into the complex and sophisticated world of psychological testing. I would highly recommend it to colleagues interested in psychotherapy research and empirical evaluations of psychotherapy services."--John Suler, PhD, Department of Psychology, Rider University

"A cutting-edge text that highlights the theoretical, methodological, and practical differences between traditional psychological measurement and the measurement of change in counseling/psychotherapy. It is very timely given the current pressures for accountability."--David A. Vermeersch, PhD, Department of Psychology, Loma Linda University

"The approach makes a great deal of sense. It covers important conceptual issues as well as practical matters. When students complete the assignments they will be prepared to go through the same steps in either selecting an outcome measure or in organizing an assessment strategy as well as critically appraising existing practices and their limitations. I would recommend the book to a colleague who wants students to have a good primer for assessing treatment effects."--Michael J. Lambert, PhD, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University