How does homework impact client progress? We know the work done during therapy sessions is integral to improving mental health, managing symptoms, and results in happier and healthier clients. But how do we make sure that in-session progress carries into life outside of the therapy office? Getting clients engaged with therapy during their own time is a great way to keep mental health top of mind, boosting their overall progress. So how can we go about that?
Assigning homework to clients is a great way to reframe thoughts, practice healthy coping tools, and get them in the swing of repeating new skills. While clients have plans to apply what they learnt in therapy to the outside world, they can often fall off the wagon as soon as they leave the counsellors office. Without homework, good intentions might be overridden by old patterns of behaviour. Regular out-of-session homework can build positive habits, leading to better mental health outcomes, and better uptake of therapy effects in the long run.
What does the research say on homework impact?
A meta-analysis of 23 studies looked at the correlation between homework compliance and therapy outcomes. The studies found that overall, greater homework compliance was associated with improved treatment outcomes. When it came to anxiety and depression, homework showed an improvement in client’s overall treatment, and their recovery time.
Another meta-analysis from 2010 looked at 14 studies. It compared the therapy outcomes of patients who completed homework, and those who didn’t do homework at all. They found that those who completed homework in combination with therapy reported better aftereffects than about 70% of those who didn’t engage with homework at all.
To sum it all up: homework works, and it comes with a whole host of positives. Think of it like an accessible form of therapy outside of therapy. It sets clients up for success with healthy routines, it’s a good predictor for better therapy outcomes, and it’s a paper trail you and your client can refer back to if mental health conditions change. Homework can make a real impact.
How to get clients started with homework
Introducing homework doesn’t have to be a huge feat. It’s all about starting small, easing into it, and setting your clients up for success. Homework doesn’t need to be complex either. It can be as simple as journaling once per day, or meditating for 5 minutes every morning. Once you and your client have set a plan and are satisfied with the outcomes, it’ll be easier to increase homework exercise, expand on what you’re already doing, or take it to the next level.
Empower your clients to be an active part of the conversation about homework. When clients understand the benefits of homework, they’re more likely to add it to their mental health journey. They’ll be more inclined to complete it between sessions, communicate their thoughts surrounding exercises, and let you know when they’d like to shift to something different. It’s all about creating the right dynamic.
When it comes to homework compliance, use digital tools and technology to your advantage. A digital homework app like Therachat can help you with a whole host of benefits. Like checking in on client progress, sending daily reminders, the power to track emotions, and do skill-building activities. Over time, this boosts homework compliance — helping your clients reach their goals faster. Clients have access to just about everything on their phones. So adoption is easy, and they’ll appreciate having therapy progress at their fingertips.
Get started today
As the research shows, there are tons of benefits to introducing homework to your clients. Homework solidifies what clients are learning in-session — so they can better adopt patterns of behaviour, healthy coping mechanisms, and develop a deeper understanding of the topics introduced in therapy. Getting clients started on homework doesn’t have to be complicated. With open communication, a shared plan, and a little help from digital tools, it can be a hugely positive experience for you and your clients.
Try Therachat out for yourself. Free for 7 days. Try it out.