Measuring Change in Counseling and Psychotherapy

Scott T. Meier

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
July 30, 2008
ISBN 9781593857202
Price: $55.00 $41.25
303 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
November 18, 2013
Price: $55.00 $41.25
303 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (PDF) ?
Price: $110.00 $60.50
303 Pages

This book provides researchers, clinicians, and students with a useful overview of measuring client change in clinical practice. It reviews the history, conceptual foundations, and current status of trait- and state-based assessment models and approaches, exploring their strengths and limitations for measuring change across therapy sessions. Meier shows how to effectively interpret and use measurement and assessment data to improve treatment evaluation and clinical care. A series of exercises guides the reader to gather information about particular tests and evaluate their suitability for intended testing purposes.

“This text should have a prominent place in professional psychology training programs. It offers an important and needed perspective on measurement for those preparing for careers in counseling and psychotherapy, and a helpful corrective to the practice of relying on trait measures for the evaluation of clinical change. Meier has done a fine job of tying measurement to practice issues, showing how outcome data can be used for clinical feedback and to inform clinical decision making. He clearly distinguishes how a test that is valid for measuring traits may not be valid for measuring clinical change, and vice versa. At a time when accountability is a driving force in the profession, the measurement and assessment perspectives provided by this book couldn’t be more opportune. This book would be most pertinent to doctoral and master's students in counseling psychology and would make an excellent addition to an assessment sequence—in particular, as a companion text in a personality/psychodiagnostic assessment course.”

—James W. Lichtenberg, PhD, Professor of Counseling Psychology and Associate Dean, School of Education, University of Kansas

“The strength of this book is that it offers comprehensive and sophisticated coverage of issues related to psychological testing, with a special focus on issues related to counseling and psychotherapy, which makes it unique and valuable. The author does a very good job of explaining terms and concepts and takes the reader deep into the complex and sophisticated world of psychological testing. I would highly recommend it to colleagues interested in psychotherapy research and empirical evaluations of psychotherapy services.”

—John Suler, PhD, Department of Psychology, Rider University

“A cutting-edge text that highlights the theoretical, methodological, and practical differences between traditional psychological measurement and the measurement of change in counseling/psychotherapy. It is very timely given the current pressures for accountability.”

—David A. Vermeersch, PhD, Department of Psychology, Loma Linda University

“The approach makes a great deal of sense. It covers important conceptual issues as well as practical matters. When students complete the assignments they will be prepared to go through the same steps in either selecting an outcome measure or in organizing an assessment strategy as well as critically appraising existing practices and their limitations. I would recommend the book to a colleague who wants students to have a good primer for assessing treatment effects.”

—Michael J. Lambert, PhD, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and Rationale

Contemporary Psychological Testing

Contemporary Psychotherapy Research and Practice

The Implications of Research Stuckness for Clinical Practice

Summary and Conclusions

2. A History of Traits

The Seeds of Conflict

The Desire to Be Scientific

The Model of Physiology

Biology and Individual Differences

The Desire to Be Relevant

The Need for Classification

The Consequences of the Adoption of a Trait-Based Measurement Paradigm

Loss of Experimental Methods Inhibits Recognition of Method Variance

The Gain of Traits and Loss of Situations

Handling Error with Classical Test Theory

Statistics Related to Measurement

Assessment as a Complement to Measurement

Deemphasizing Measurement Theory

Loss of Precision

The Wisdom and Tyranny of Tradition

The Success and Failure of the Market

Summary and Implications

3. Reliability, Validity, and Systematic Errors


Thinking about Reliability and Validity

Types of Validity

Constructs, Theories, and Valid Measurement

Construct Explication

Multitrait–Multimethod Matrices: Investigating the Effects of Method Variance on Validity

Campbell and Fiske

Criteria for Construct Validity

An MTMM Example

Problems with Campbell and Fiske's approach

The Factor Analytic Approach to Construct Validity

History of Self-Report and Interview Errors


Interviews and Observational Methods

Measurement Error

Systematic Errors Associated with Self-Reports

Dissimulation and Malingering

Social Desirability

Systematic Errors Associated with Ratings by Others

Halo Errors

Leniency and Criticalness Errors

Causes of Inconsistency

Cognitive Influences

Item Comprehension Problems

Test Cues

Low Cognitive Ability

Affective and Motivational Influences

Test Anxiety

Negative Emotional States

Environmental and Cultural Influences


Stereotype Threat

Summary and Implications

4. States, Traits, and Validity



The Controversy of Mischel and Peterson: The Benefits of Conflict

The Rejection of Traits: Behavioral Assessment

Reinforcing the Trait Argument

Person–environment Interactions

Aptitude-by-Treatment Interactions

Environmental Assessment

Moderators of Cross-Situational Consistency

Summary and Integration

5. Context Effects and Validity


Understanding Inconsistency: Clues from Psychophysics Measurement

The Limitations of Psychophysical Measurement

Conclusions and Implications from Psychophysical Research

Improving the Principles of Construct Explication

Test Purpose

Test Content

Test Context

Shared Contexts and Method Variance


Recommendations Related to Test Purpose

Recommendations Related to Test Content

Recommendations Related to Test Contexts

Summary and Implications

6. Nomothetic Approaches to Measuring Change and Influencing Outcomes

History and Background

Examples of Nomothetic Measures

Beck Depression Inventory

State–Trait Anxiety Inventory

Global Assessment of Functioning

Outcome Questionnaire

Psychometric Principles and Nomothetic Measures

Reliability of Nomothetic Measures



Creating Change-Sensitive Measures

Psychometric Properties of Aggregate Scales

Using Change-Sensitive Tests in Program Evaluations

An Evidence-Based Approach to Supervision

Summary and Integration

7. Idiographic Approaches to Measuring Change and Influencing Outcomes

History and Background

Psychometric Principles and Idiographic Measures

Reliability of Idiographic Measures

Validity of Idiographic Measures


Begin with the Case Conceptualization

About the Author

Scott T. Meier is Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. His main research and teaching are in the areas of psychological measurement (particularly outcome assessment), research methods (program evaluation), and counseling skills (integration of case conceptualization and assessment with intervention). Dr. Meier is a member of the American Evaluation Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. He is the author or coauthor of four books (including The Elements of Counseling) and has published in American Psychologist, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, and the American Journal of Evaluation.


Researchers, clinicians, and graduate students in clinical psychology, counseling, educational psychology, and related mental health fields.

Course Use

Will serve as a text in masters'- or doctoral-level courses such as Counseling/Psychotherapy Practicum, Clinical Psychology, School Psychology, Personality Assessment, or Psychodiagnostic Assessment and Measurement.