November 19, 2021

Clinical Questionnaires FAQ: Measuring Treatment Progress

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For various reasons, it can be challenging for a client to have an honest conversation about how treatment is going with you. They might feel uncomfortable, scared, or nervous to speak up.

With SonderMind, you get access to innovative tools to better understand how your clients are progressing on their mental health journey. One of these tools, clinical questionnaires, allows  your clients to improve their communication with you. 

When a client completes  these brief self-assessments before a session — especially the first session — it can help you better understand their background. Studies have found that participating in this type of open communication (known as feedback-informed care at SonderMind) is extraordinarily effective at providing positive changes early in treatment. 

Later in treatment, clinical questionnaires can help you better understand if you are meeting their goals, their treatment is on track, or if changes to their treatment plan need to be made. Ultimately, clinical questionnaires help measure and improve outcomes for clients. 

The following frequently asked questions will help you learn more about how implementing clinical questionnaires can be beneficial to your therapy practice.  

What is a clinical questionnaire? 

Before and after a session, your clients will have the opportunity to answer questions about their mental well-being through clinical questionnaires. These self-assessments are a quick, easy, and important way for your clients to share how they’re really doing with you.

Several types of responses (also called scores) are tracked over time so you and your client can identify any behavior patterns or opportunities to reflect on changes in their well-being. Clinical questionnaires ask about a range of topics like symptoms, day-to-day functioning, and the therapeutic relationship. Responses are a valuable way for you to track progress and for clients to be as involved as possible with their care.

How can clinical questionnaires be used to inform a client’s treatment plan?

Clinical questionnaires can be used for a variety of reasons such as: 

  • Clinical decision making during diagnosis and evaluation
  • Developing more effective interventions 
  • Identifying a client’s underlying issues or symptoms
  • Identifying a client’s strengths and promoting positive changes 
  • Measuring the achievement of goals and examining progress 

Which clinical questionnaires are distributed to clients through SonderMind?

Currently, there are four clinical questionnaires available to clients through SonderMind.

GAD-7: the GAD-7 stands for ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder.’ It is used to assess symptom categories associated with stress or anxiety. The survey asks your client to reflect on the last two weeks and take note of how often they’ve felt bothered, nervous, anxious, worried, or restless, among other symptoms of anxiety.

PHQ-9: the PHQ-9 stands for ‘Patient Health Questionnaire.’ It helps screen for symptoms of depression. The survey asks questions about your client’s function and mood.

Functional: The functional assessment, sent to clients every two weeks, looks at how clients perceive their day-to-day functioning, and more specifically, how they perceive their improvement — or decline — in treatment.

Therapeutic alliance: The therapeutic alliance assessment measures the quality of the relationship between you and your client.

How were the clinical questionnaires selected?

The GAD-7 and PHQ-9 are two of the most frequently used measurement tools in mental health. They can be used for screening, aiding diagnosis, and tracking symptoms and severity. Both have been extensively researched and validated.

SonderMind developed the functional and therapeutic alliance questionnaires to round out the clinical snapshot of how clients are doing while in your care. These clinical questionnaires go beyond symptom measurement to gauge improvement in your client’s day-to-day functioning, and give you feedback on how connected and on track your client feels. 

If you are a SonderMind provider looking for technical support with your clinical questionnaires, check out this resource for a detailed FAQ on implementation.

Get access to more resources

SonderMind’s evidence-based approach to care gives you the additional tools you need to provide the best possible support to even more people in need. When you join SonderMind, you have access to free tools (like clinical questionnaires), plus free or discounted CEs, case consultation, and an exclusive online forum for SonderMind therapists. See all continuing education and training opportunities available to SonderMind providers here

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Brown J.,  Chalk M. B., Duncan B. L., Miller, S., Sorrel R. (2006). Using Formal Client Feedback to Improve Retention and Outcome: Making Ongoing, Real-time Assessment Feasible. Journal of Brief Therapy, 5–22.

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