On 16 October 2015, our Director, Dr. Marcella Finnerty, presented a Key Note Address at the inaugural IACP Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Strengthening Therapeutic Relationships and Marcella spoke to the need to demonstrate that we do as therapists is effective. Evidence tells us that, above all else, the therapeutic alliance is positively correlated with good client outcome.
The focus of her address was on gathering systematic feedback that enables practitioners and their clients to engage in meaningful and therapeutic conversation about the process of therapy and the strength of the alliance that exists in any given session. She explained that, using the Session Rating Scale (SRS), a simple, four-question measure, mental health professionals can gather immediate, useful information about clients’ perceptions of the degree to which their needs in the therapeutic relationship were met in a single session. Marcella spoke of the decline in psychotherapy in the USA (Gaudiano & Miller, 2013; APA, 2012) and encouraged us to address this issue now, by engaging in research activity that highlights the power of therapy.
Delivered with her usual dynamism, passion and abundant knowledge of counselling and psychotherapy research, Marcella offered a keynote with a difference. Research is not, nor should it be, a dry and inaccessible subject, explored only in the ivory towers of academia. Therapists gather a huge dataset in their practice that, if tapped into, offers deep and abiding insight into the work that is done with our clients. Marcella’s passion for the subject, and her ability to relate research to the day-to-day work we do in our therapy rooms, made for a very interesting and innovative keynote address.