As Shalem’s psychotherapy clinic continues to grow in breadth, we keep looking for ways to grow in depth. One way this is expressing itself is in our venture into measurement. In 2018, we introduced Greenspace at the Hamilton Clinic.
Greenspace is an online software tool developed in Toronto that allows clients sign up and complete mental health questionnaires at regular intervals from their home, at their leisure. Connected to their work at Shalem, it allows our clients and their therapists to track their progress over the course of their sessions.
This resource is purely voluntary—free to the client to opt in if they feel it would be a good addition to their work. We recommend it to clients because it is very helpful on two fronts. First, it allows us see how well we are doing as professionals and as an agency in delivering service. If we are off track, it helps the therapist catch it and address it quickly. Second, it also provides clients with feedback on how they are progressing in therapy. Most find it motivating and helpful. Research has given strong indications that clients who measure their progress regularly get more out of sessions and have better outcomes.
Through Family Service Ontario (FSO), we are joining with many other agencies in measuring our outcomes. FSO started a project last year of gathering outcome information with the goal of being better able to communicate its high level of care. With FSO, we are engaging with the provincial government in coming months and years about the impact of our services, with the hope of positioning ourselves to participate in proposed new programs like ‘structured psychotherapy’ which may become offered through the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as part of the Ministry’s new initiatives in mental health.
This project has been both a daunting and exciting one for our team, stimulating great conversations and growth in the clinic. We are motivated to participate because it is designed to be a benefit both to clinicians, as we learn more about how to be most effective in our work, but also to clients, who we hope will find this tool to be a great catalyst in their in their therapy journey.
Jennifer Bowen, M.Div., RMFT, is the Clinical Director of Shalem Mental Health Network’s Counselling Services.