Clinical Outcomes Assessment
Children and families typically seek mental health services because they are looking for a change. For example, they may wish for their family to get along better, or for their child to reduce problem behaviors. Mental health providers and families can work together to monitor this change, measure how much the services are helping, and quickly make changes to the treatment if progress stalls or begins to get off track.
How are outcomes measured?
An assessment typically takes place at the beginning of services to identify needs, strengths, and goals. Results of the assessment may be simplified into a number or series of numbers, which can change over time. Periodically, providers of mental health services will 'check in' to make sure children and families are making progress and reaching their goals.
How are outcomes used?
Outcomes can be used to measure progress and celebrate change! It is motivating and encouraging for families to see objective evidence of their progress (see Chart 1). Also, if outcomes aren't improving, or have stayed the same for too long (see Chart 2), families and mental health providers will know it is time to change the treatment plan and try something new.