King, B. R., & Boswell, J. F. (2021). Therapist and client attitudes toward client independent review of psychotherapy sessions. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Advanced Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23122
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Many therapists choose to record their sessions for record keeping purposes or to facilitate supervision in training settings. While reviewing recordings may be helpful for therapists and supervisors to facilitate growth and development, could they also be useful for clients? In a recent study, King and Boswell (2021) asked this question by surveying a sample of clients and therapists to identify their opinions about clients independently reviewing session recordings.
In this study, clients (275 individuals recruited through MTurk), trainee therapists (85 students enrolled in APA-accredited training programs recruited through emails sent to training directors), and Master’s/Doctoral level therapists (89 professionals recruited through study announcements posted on organizational listservs) were asked to complete an online survey that included questions assessing attitudes toward allowing clients to independently review recordings of their past sessions. King and Boswell (2021) found that nearly 62% of the participating clients had previously been offered the opportunity to review their sessions in some capacity. For those who had never received that offer, about half said they would like that opportunity, a quarter said they were unsure, and another quarter said they would not be interested (some of their concerns are mentioned below). Interestingly, most of the trainees (75%) and about half of the Master’s/doctoral-level therapists (52%) reported that they had never considered offering their session recordings to their clients. All three types of participants indicated that they would prefer to use video and or audio recordings rather than transcripts. Finally, participants preferred using a secure online portal or a secure physical device as opposed to a smart phone app.
Several positives and concerns where noted by the participants when considering allowing clients to review the sessions. Overall, clients expressed that reviewing sessions could be an effective memory aid for session topics, facilitate deeper processing of session discussions, and improve awareness of behavior and problems. Therapists saw these same benefits, and also thought that allowing clients to review the recordings would allow them to review emotionally charged material while in a neutral state. Additional concerns were also raised by all three samples. For clients, the biggest concerns were with privacy and confidentiality and being anxious about seeing or hearing oneself in the videos. Therapists also expressed concerns about privacy and confidentiality, but were also concerned with the logistical difficulties of recording and sharing the sessions. Clients and therapists were also asked to do separate numerical ratings of potential helpfulness and harmfulness of allowing clients to review session recordings. Interestingly, clients rated the both the potential helpfulness and the potential harm as higher than the therapists groups, thus suggested some mixed feelings in the sample of clients about this practice.
Overall, the results from King and Boswell (2021) suggest that both client and therapist viewed sharing recordings as potentially helpful with a number of possible benefits being noted. Further, the concerns that were shared were largely logistical and could be addressed by ensuring the confidentiality of the session material. This practice may even be occurring more often now given the increase in telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., on many platforms or with most computing equipment, clients can record their telehealth sessions on their own without their therapists even knowing about it). Future research is needed to empirically test whether there is an outcome benefit of allowing clients to review session recordings as well as to gain a better understanding of the best methods for incorporating this practice into treatment.
Cite This Article
Jensen, M., & Swift, J.K., (2021, April) Is sharing recordings of sessions with clients a good or bad idea? [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.societyforpsychotherapy.org/is-sharing-recordings-of-sessions-with-clients-a-good-or-bad-idea
King, B. R., & Boswell, J. F. (2021). Therapist and client attitudes toward client independent review of psychotherapy sessions. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Advanced Online Publication.