Clinical Errors That Can Occur in the Treatment Decision-Making Process in Psychotherapy

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Clinical errors occur in the psychotherapy decision-making process whenever a less-than-optimal treatment or approach is chosen when working with clients. A less-than-optimal approach may be one that a client is unwilling to try or fully invest in based on his/her expectations and preferences, or one that may have little chance of success based on contraindications and/or limited research support. The doctor knows best and the independent choice models are two decision-making models that are frequently used within psychology, but both are associated with an increased likelihood of errors in the treatment decision-making process. In particular, these models fail to integrate all three components of the definition of evidence-based practice in psychology (American Psychological Association, 2006). In this article we describe both models and provide examples of clinical errors that can occur in each. We then introduce the shared decision-making model as an alternative that is less prone to clinical errors.

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