Let me give you an example of a written treatment plan, just to show you how easy they are to create (if you know what you’re doing… i.e., competent).
I’m going to give you a partial treatment plan for forensic psychology.
Long-Term Goal 1: End emotional abuse of targeted parents by forensic psychology.
Long-Term Goal 2: Increase forensic psychology’s identification of all forms of child abuse to 100%.
Short-Term Goal 1: Establish standards of practice for knowledge (trauma, attachment, personality pathology, family systems therapy)
Short-Term Goal 2: Establish standards of practice for treatment (complete assessments, DSM diagnosis, written treatment plan)
Dr. Childress Comment: We start a written treatment plan by identifying the long-term and short-term goals of treatment. We will get to measurable outcomes later in the treatment plan, so we want to define our goals so that they will form measurable outcomes later in the treatment plan.
Dr. Childress Comment: Also, all of the interventions listed should be linked directly to a goal, and all of the goals should have at least one intervention identified for it.
L-T Goal 1- Intervention 1: Increase education in forensic psychology on ethical obligations for treating clients with respect, for informed consent, for protecting all clients and the general population (extended family) from harm, and for maintaining standards for professional knowledge.
Dr. Childress Comment: At this point I might identify three or four sub-points about HOW forensic psychology will become educated about their professional obligations to clients. Specific, we want treatment plans to be as specific as possible regarding how.
L-T Goal 2 – Intervention 1: Provide education training seminars in identification of child psychological abuse, assessment methods, and diagnostic considerations.
L-T Goal 2 – Intervention 2: Increase awareness in forensic psychology of their ethical and legal obligations under their duty to protect requiring properly informed professional assessment of child abuse factors when applicable.
ST Goal 1 – Intervention 1: Use standards of practice from clinical psychology as a baseline expectation for professional standards of practice.
ST Goal 1 – Intervention 1 – Sub-point 1: Allow (require) forensic psychology to provide arguments that they are exempt from basic standards of practice for clinical psychology.
ST Goal 2 – Intervention 1: Teach parents their rights regarding standards of professional practice and procedures for appropriate (expected) professional assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
Dr. Childress Comment: In an actual treatment plan for forensic psychology, I’d probably have a page and a half of goals and interventions identified. Then we identify the anticipated time frames for achieving each of the long-term and short-term goals.
Time Frame LT Goal 1: As soon as possible – 18 months based on resistance from forensic psychology and the APA (resistance shifts this from a short-term to a long-term goal because of resistance factors)
Time Frame for LT Goal 2: 18-24 months (resistance in forensic psychology is the primary limiting factor on achieving this goal, again shifting this from a short-term goal to a longer term goal)
Time Frame for ST Goal 1: Immediately. Establish immediate expectation that all psychologists meet basic standards of practice for clinical psychology (irrespective of “forensic psychology” self-identification by the psychologist).
Time Frame for ST Goal 2: 18-24 months based on resistance in forensic psychology and non-support from the APA.
Dr. Childress Comment: The final section is to identify the measures for monitoring treatment progress and outcome. For a forensic psychology treatment plan, I’d probably measure about four or five things, but I’ll give you one example:
Outcome Measures: LT Goal 2; ST Goal 1. Provide Curriculum Knowledge Checklist to all mental heath providers involved with targeted families to establish baseline for current knowledge. Re-administer at six months and one year to measure progress in curriculum knowledge goal.
Measurable Goal: Increase number of items read by two for each six-month period.
Review treatment plan in six months: date.
See how easy that is. I just sat down at my computer and knocked out a written treatment plan. It is exactly the same thing for a child’s treatment, or for an adult’s treatment, or for family treatment.
Pretty straightforward, goals, interventions, time frames, measurable outcomes. Each goal has at least one intervention, and all interventions are linked to a goal. Easy peasy… if you’re competent as a psychotherapist.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, on the other hand… then you won’t identify coherent goals, you won’t be able to identify the interventions leading to those goals, you won’t identify time frames for achieving those goals, and you won’t have any measurable outcomes to assess treatment progress… because you don’t know what you’re doing.
That’s why written treatment plans are considered standard of practice in clinical psychology… it ensures the therapist knows what their doing. It’s considered part of the informed consent process, the treatment plan is explained to the client (informed) and the client agrees with the treatment plan (consent).
If the therapist doesn’t know what their doing, the client will see this reflected in a wacky or illogical treatment plan (informed), and the client will not agree with the treatment plan (not consent).
If the client doesn’t know what treatment entails (is not informed), how can the client possible make an… informed… decision regarding their… consent to treatment?
See how that works. In clinical psychology, it’s called standards of practice for informed consent to treatment. Written treatment plans are kind of… central to the process of the “informed” part of informed consent.
The absence of basic standards of practice in forensic psychology makes my head explode. I typically expect a written treatment plan from an intern. From an intern.
We want written treatment plans for all your families. They are not going to want to do that. Guess why.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857