Excel At Life logo


PsychArticles button PsychNotes button PsychApps button PsychAudios button PsychTests button About button
Support Excel At Life's Mission!
Help Translate
Spread the Word
Make Contribution
Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!
Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career

Back Button











Sport Psych


Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles

September 14, 2018       

Measuring Progress Creates Progress

Measuring Progress Creates Progress

One of the differences between behavioral therapy and other types of psychotherapy is the concrete measurement of progress. Psychological research has shown repeatedly that people's episodic memories, or memories of past events, are often not very reliable. Such memories are easily influenced, in the case of memories of progress the influence usually is current state of mind or mood.

Frequently, clients would come into my office discouraged: “I just don't feel I'm getting any better. Is all this work worth it?” Now, fortunately for me, as a behavioral therapist I had all kinds of data. For instance, when my clients arrived for their appointment, they completed a short assessment rating symptoms. I could pull out their prior assessments to show how their ratings had improved.

Another way we could assess progress was that assignments were created with ways to measure improvement. For example, a person with depression is often told to try and engage in activities that brought pleasure in the past. Instead of telling someone this and relying on their memory of the past week, I had them write it down with a rating of how enjoyable it was.

What often occurs especially for those with depression is the memory is distorted by the depressed mood. So, if asked about enjoyable events, they say, “Nothing is enjoyable. I always feel the same.” Yet, when they rate an event immediately after it occurs, the rating often shows something different. I could look at the ratings and respond, “No, there is variability in your ratings. You don't always feel the same.”

So why does this matter? When people are discouraged they are more likely to quit trying. The thinking for many of those with mental illness can be distorted by the illness. And without any opposing evidence they become more and more convinced that their thinking is accurate. But with evidence they can be persuaded to challenge the inaccurate thinking. As a result they can feel encouraged to keep making the effort. Another thing that has been shown repeatedly in psychological research is that the more a person tries the more he or she is likely to be successful.

I often found that my job primarily involved motivating my clients. Developing a plan was the easy part but keeping them focused and motivated was the important part. And the best way to do that was by using concrete evidence. Just an aside, but ratings and other evidence also circumvented the common statement made by clients, “You're paid to say nice things to me. Why should I believe you?”

How to create concrete measurable evidence

1) Simple. Almost anything can be measured. Many things can be measured on a 10 point scale. What is your level of anxiety when you engage in a certain behavior? How enjoyable was an event? Other things can be measured on a frequency basis. How many times did you smile or say “hi” to someone today? How many pleasurable activities did you attempt? How many times did you resist a compulsion? A daily log with hash marks or a number next to activities is fairly simple for most people to keep.

2) Positive. If possible, try to make the measurement positive. For instance, when people are trying to lose weight they often keep track of pounds which may not always be encouraging. Instead, keeping track of the number of healthy choices made throughout the day can be more positive and lead to the same goal.

3) Write it down. This may seem obvious but many people try to keep track in their heads. This is not effective because as stated previously, episodic memory is notoriously inaccurate. In addition, seeing something on a piece of paper (or a screen) is more convincing.


Questions and Comments

All comments and questions require approval so you may not see your submission immediately.

Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!