Quick Tips for Therapists

How to Measure Progress between Sessions with Children and Adolescents

By Támara Hill, LPC

The joy of being a psychotherapist—especially to children, teens, and families—is having the opportunity to witness the process of growth. But if you do an Internet search on “how to measure progress in therapy,” you will see tons of results around statistics and research methods—tools we sometimes find little value in using with our young clients. In my practice, the goal is to make things “kid- and family friendly” to help them see their own progress in a way that will empower them to continue growing.

Here are three ways to measure progress:

  • “Listen” to what they are not saying: Reading nonverbal communication and changes in intonation or observing eye contact all reveal vital information between sessions about growth. When I see my preteen clients each week, I look for changes in nonverbal communication to help me identify any changes in how they are functioning or responding to me.
  • Use self-report scales often: I review the treatment plan every three months in psychotherapy. During the treatment review process, I administer an evidence-based assessment, a self-harm assessment, and a suicide rating scale, if applicable. I then discuss the high scores with the client (and the parent) and file it away.
  • Rely on short activities/worksheets: Young clients often enjoy activities that can relate to their struggles and are interesting to engage in. There are many activities you can use during and in-between sessions. When I use worksheets in session, I am able to intuitively and clinically evaluate progress based on how my client is processing and completing the activity.

Making an impact on their lives and helping young clients make difficult but lasing changes is what this work is all about.

Támara Hill, LPC, is a licensed clinical child and family therapist, and an internationally/board-certified trauma therapist who specializes in treating children, adolescents, and families who suffer from mood disorders, unresolved trauma, and disruptive behavioral disorders. She also provides international consultations and works with young and older adults struggling with grief and loss or life transitions. Hill strives to help clients to realize and actualize their strengths in their home environments and in their relationships within the community. She is internationally recognized for corresponding literary works, as well as appearances on radio and other media platforms. She is an international and keynote speaker, family consultant, and founder of Anchored Child & Family Counseling in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Quick Tips for Therapists