Why Be Wary of so-called 'Success Rates' in Therapy (Part 2)

  • Posted on: 1 September 2015
  • By: Dr Emma

If you read the first part of this Blog, ' Why Be Wary of So-called 'Success Rates in Therapy Part 1', which you can read herehttp://goo.gl/gblMBx, you'll remember why its so important to be skeptical and very probing about the personal success rates you may find the odd therapist publishing in their marketing.

These figures are very rarely what they seem, in my experience. Remember, if things sound too good to be true, they probably are! Its very easy to get statistics to say what practitioners want them to say, and without any validation of these figures by an external impartial source, I would certainly suggest ignoring them as they are quoted as persuasive tactics.

So what figures or statistics can therapists ethically use to promote their services?

Of course, quoting results and using date from research studies published in sound and peer-reviewed journals into hypnotherapy and psychological therapies is ethical and appropriate. This data is rigorously vetted to ensure its arrived at by legitimate and sound method, and any weaknesses in the study are noted.

Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires can be okayish, I suppose, although I wouldn't use them myself, if they are clearly stating they are only dealing with the customer’s evaluation with the client service and experience. But you need to be aware again, this is not research, it’s just a quiz. These results often overestimate client satisfaction because of inherent bias in the therapists favour. I know such surveys are wide spread in other industries, but in healthcare, we have to be much more careful I believe, to ensure we don't even unintentionally mislead.

Therapists Evaluation of their Own Practice

Of course, all therapists should keep their own effectiveness figures and evaluate their own practice. This is vitally important part of being a reflective and ever developing practitioner. Having these figures for the continuing development and learning within your own practice as a therapist is one thing, publishing them as demonstrating effectiveness is quite another.

If therapists do feel they have legitimate research evidence based on their own client work that demonstrates effectiveness in a certain area of hypnotherapy, or their own method, then of course I fully applaud this and want to know more. Please get it published so it can add to the evidence base of research that’s so desperately needed in hypnotherapy and complementary health care.

If you must use unpublished, invalidated figures from anything less than a RCT in your marketing, which is against ASA Code of Practice, at the very least, please clearly and fully explain all your methodology so that anyone with or without a scientific background seeing those figures in your advertising can make their own interpretation as to whether you're interpretations are valid.

When it comes to seeing personal 'Success Rates' in complementary practitioners websites,  I hope I've opened your eyes, even a little as to how carefully those need to be scrutinised, as most often they are highly misleading and, I believe, unethical.