What Is Feedback Informed Treatment?

As of 2022, there are 21 million Americans that are addicted to prescription drugs. The massive quantity of suffering Americans does not account for the abuse of alcohol or other substances. At least 37% of the U.S. population abuses drugs, but only 10% of this population seeks help. Less than half of those suffering seek help or stick to the support they receive.

This harrowing number shows the urgent need for an approachable, efficient, and effective treatment to aid the distressed masses. We need this help to be fast and long-lasting with as little chance of relapse as possible. 

Feedback-informed treatment has proved to be a method of care that not only promotes individualized care plans but has an effect that leads to higher rates of long-term recovery. 

Below we will discuss what Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) is and why it’s essential for the future of addiction recovery.

Feedback Informed Treatment: What It Is and How Can It Help

FIT is an evidence-based practice therapists use to pinpoint what is and is not working for a client. It empowers the client as a primary collaborator in their treatment. Overall, FIT is stepping outside conventional therapeutic methods with its value and patient-based focus.

FIT works by counting therapeutic progress by what is reported by the patient. The client reports to their doctor the improvements they have in the social and interpersonal aspects of their life. FIT works because of the adapted relationship between patient and therapist.

Over time, clinicians have noticed that with patient feedback, there is a greater opportunity for successful treatment. This isn’t to say that feedback-informed treatment is a new approach to therapy because it is not. Variations of FIT have been practiced since the 1980s. The difference is clinicians’ modernized approach based on these years of experience.

Today, practitioners scale patient outcomes through the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS). ORS is a direct measurement of a client’s perception of the change they have experienced through their treatment. This measurement is an unprecedented change from how the practice started.

In practice, therapists can acquire information that they would not have had if they did not consult with the patient regarding their care.

Classically, therapists are in charge of a therapeutic session’s clinical direction and framework of the session. With FIT, this remains the case, but involving the patient allows less trial and error. Patient involvement means patients heal more quickly and efficiently than they would without their feedback being considered.

Why the Incorporation of FIT into Addiction and Recovery Models

FIT is used in addiction recovery to increase the patient’s chance of successful rehabilitation. In addition, FIT is used to maintain recovery after a treatment period. Recovery requires more than doing well in therapy. The patient must be able to handle and maintain the healing in their personal lives.

Patients often find it challenging to sustain sobriety without the suitable groundwork laid during the first phase of their recovery program. Between 40% and 60% of people diagnosed with drug disorders will experience a relapse after discontinuing treatment. Continued patient-led care is changing this.

This harrowing statistic leaves those specializing in addiction and recovery with the difficult task of combatting the problems patients face after discharge from a recovery program. In addition, it leaves the open-ended question of how to aid patients’ success and continuing development.

With three out of every four people that suffer from drug addiction and substance abuse eventually recovering, the goal is to advance that ratio. FIT has been an addition to the recovery process that has been shown to improve patient results.

FIT gained popularity because it allows therapists to gather data in real-time and personable input directly from patients.

Involving the Patient and Why This Works

This recovery process intends to allow the client to express to their therapist what they feel is or is not working for them. The patient also shares the internal process that brought them to this conclusion. Instead of pushing clients through cookie-cutter treatment programs, therapists adjust their treatment plan to fit what the patient feels is giving them the best results.

Patients can share with their clinician what is giving them the best success in their recovery. With that information, the therapist can build upon the improvement. A significant factor of successful recovery is informative decision-making, which will come from open and thorough communication between patient and therapist.

Unfortunately, one of the main issues of addiction recovery today is the failure of long-term sobriety. There are an incredible amount of variables with individuals when it comes to getting sober. Patients use a variety of drugs in a variety of ways. No one patient’s journey is alike, so it is fair to assume that their treatment plans should reflect the unique journey they took to get here.

If the primary focus is the client’s needs rather than just sticking to a standard method, the chances of a successful recovery are higher. That is the goal of FIT.

How Feedback-Informed Treatment Works

As Dr. Scott Miller points out, mental health professionals often fail to identify failing patient cases. FIT is a method that can help to combat this problem. It allows you to “do more with less.” FIT is used in inpatient, outpatient, and case management-based addiction settings.

The method is also not restricted to one group of patients. It’s used on youth and adults and in various cases. As a result, FIT can help reduce dropout rates and even the rate of hospitalizations or shorten the length of hospital stays if admitted.

The Benefits of Feedback-Informed Treatment

FIT prioritizes patient involvement and allows them to be transparent about their experience in therapy. This is beneficial to all levels of care: PHP, IOP, OP, and Sober Living or transitional housing. Having the patient actively involved in their care gives another layer of feedback to the therapist and allows for the most tailormade treatment plans.

FIT gives therapists access to measurable levels of performance. This type of collaborative therapy allows for a fully-customizable and easily adaptable treatment method. This level of honest communication between client and provider creates the most reliable line of recovery.

Some of the most notable benefits of FIT are:

  • Decrease inpatient deterioration
  • Reduction in care costs
  • Reduction in hospitalization rates
  • Enhances the chances of successful treatment 
  • Provides patients with levels of reliability
  • Decreases rates of patient dropouts
  • Optimizes the ability to make informed choices
  • Allows for more efficient use of resources

Growth in FIT Popularity

One of the main reasons FIT is so popular is its contribution to individualized care and treatment plans. FIT prioritizes the values and life circumstances of the patient. As a result, FIT gives patients an equal say in their healing mechanism.

Participating in FIT in an outpatient rehab setting can significantly benefit those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. FIT increases patients’ chances of sticking to their treatment plan because they are collaborators in the process. Not only is the client’s information essential to the practice of feedback-informed treatment, but it gives them a sense of control in what could otherwise feel like a helpless situation

The value of individualized care supported by FIT is bar none. Once direct feedback was integrated into patient care, the culture of treatment changed significantly for the better. Having the patient as an essential collaborator in their recovery has increased the overall efficacy of the treatment itself.

Reaching Success With This Model

The success of rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol is subject to several factors. One of those is the habits the afflicted individual developed in their dependence. It is not only the drug that the patient has become addicted to but also the routine surrounding it. Although there are many similarities between addicts, there are just as many unique factors. Feedback-informed therapy is based on the patient’s experience, which is why recovery is more likely to be achieved with its approach.

Overall, patients benefit from therapy with regard to addiction. They will experience an improved quality of life and see all levels of their health and wellness enhanced. FIT is the most effective type of therapy as it is streamlined to a patient’s exact needs.

In the 1990s, Scott Miller, along with other researchers, created a variety of comprehensive measures to use throughout recovery sessions. FIT was designed to find the best methods to help each patient, catering to their self-described level of need.

Direct Feedback Increases Success Rates

It has been observed that standardized therapy is less effective than collaborative therapy based on feedback from the patient. Addiction therapy aims for long-lasting results, not only short-term success, which means limiting relapse chances is essential.

One of the best tools to limit relapse is to improve the patient’s confidence, which happens when their voice is heard concerning their treatment. Additionally, comprehensive therapeutic education and a patient’s comfort with the type of therapy being utilized is so highly effective.

Often people want feedback from their therapist. However, less often do they realize that their own feedback can be a significant driver in their healing. When you combine the therapist’s professional suggestions and the patient’s personal observation, you create a new level of understanding, healing, and strength when it comes to fighting addiction.

When therapists can understand their client’s more subjective experiences associated with their treatment, they are better equipped to make data-informed decisions.

What's Used to Measure Effectiveness?

Two systems of measurement are used to rate the effectiveness of feedback-informed treatment. These two methods help measure the patient’s progress from the program’s start to where they currently stand. Below we will discuss those two systems, why they are effective, and how they are used.

Outcome Rating Scale

First is the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS). It is used as a method of measurement for three domains of the patient’s life, which are:

  • Individual
  • Interpersonal
  • Social

This structure gives the client clear means to reflect and express how they feel with respect to the changes they see in their daily lives while receiving therapy.

ORS teaches patients the language and ability to assess their interpersonal relationships. Patients will also learn how to evaluate the status of their well-being.

After each domain of a patient’s life is reviewed, the therapist and client will discuss the results. This essential information will give therapists guidance on how to adjust or maintain a client’s treatment plan.

The information gathered acts as a gauge to measure the therapy’s effectiveness. Dr. Scott Miller has shown that the work patients and clinicians put forth with the ORS provides a high level of internal consistency for the client leading to a greater chance of long-term recovery.

Session Rating Scale 

The session rating scale consists of four levels of measurement. These assessments consider how clients feel about their progress, goals, and relationship with their therapist. This scale also considers the client’s perspective on where they are on their therapeutic healing journey.

The clinician will take the data provided and come to an overall result by adding the marks the client made on their assessment. The information collected will be added to each of the four levels of the scale.

The SRS only allows for a score of up to 40. If the client scores below 36, the therapist must reevaluate the patient’s program and reassess how to support their progress better.

Overcoming Addiction with the Right Type of Help

Overcoming any addiction can be difficult. However, you can increase your chance of successful recovery with the proper support and the most effective and efficient treatments.

Sunshine Care Centers are proud to provide feedback-informed therapy as the ultimate therapeutic program toward a successful, long-term recovery from mental health struggles and addiction.

Find out more about our offerings of FIT and other programs through our admissions process today!