This study is a phenomenological investigation of psychotherapists' experience receiving quantitative and evaluative feedback on job performance. Participants were licensed psychologists working at a university counseling center. They were given feedback reports that compared their clients' psychotherapy outcomes with the outcomes of their colleagues' clients. Psychotherapy outcomes were measured using the Outcome-Questionnaire 45 (OQ-45), a self-report outcome instrument designed for tracking client progress through repeated measurement. Feedback reports included data about where psychotherapists' outcomes ranked (in quartiles) in comparison to the rest of the counseling center. Interviews were conducted with participants to gain a deeper understanding of their experience receiving quantitative and evaluative feedback. Interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed in accordance with the phenomenological method as explained by Wertz (2005) and the descriptive psychological phenomenological method as explained by Giorgi (2003). Content of interviews was grouped into four emergent themes: Ego Responses, Interpretation, Credibility, and Application. Responses indicated that participants felt both threatened and reassured by their feedback. Those who reported feeling reassured were more inclined to see this as a validation of their approach to psychotherapy while those who felt threatened were more inclined to see the feedback as an assessment of identity. Many indicated that they struggled to understand terminology on the feedback reports as well as the statistical methodology used to analyze the data. Those who struggled to interpret the feedback reports were more likely to distrust or dismiss the results. While very few participants were dismissive of the notion that the feedback reports were valid measures of therapist efficacy, many were ambivalent about this question. Participants did not indicate making concrete behavioral changes as a result of receiving the feedback, although a few reported that the feedback induced introspection about "what is good psychotherapy," as well as dialogues with colleagues.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





feedback, performance assessment, qualitative, psychotherapy outcomes