Partners encourages its providers to use ACORN (A Collaborative Outcomes Resource Network) to measure consumer outcomes throughout treatment.

What is ACORN?

ACORN is a tool used in the evidence-based practice of “Outcomes Informed Care,” which consists of the routine use of consumer self-reporting, therapeutic alliance questionnaires and feedback to clinicians, for improved outcomes from the consumers’ perspective. Partners and providers within its network use ACORN to collect outcomes data and measures.

Why would I, a provider, want to use ACORN?

Are you any good as a therapist? Overall, therapists seem to be quite a confident group. A study by Walfish, McAllister, O’Donnell, and Lambert (2012) asked 129 therapists to compare their psychotherapy results to those of their peers. They found that 25 percent of the therapists estimated that their results were in the upper 10 percent of all therapists, and not a single one estimated that their results were below average. Obviously, these are statistical impossibilities, suggesting that therapists are generally overconfident. The December 2015 issue of Psychotherapy was a special issue devoted to progress monitoring and feedback in mental health care. As Wampold (2015) reiterated, Clement (1994) asked therapists, “Are you any good?” Clement suggested that therapists had a professional and ethical obligation to systematically evaluate their own outcomes. To his credit, Clement followed his own suggestion—he evaluated himself over his entire career (683 cases).

To assess a therapist’s effectiveness, it is necessary to have a well-developed methodology that addresses multiple measurement challenges such as use of different questionnaires, differences in case mix, and small sample sizes. The ACORN team and its collaborators have attempted to address these over the years using data from thousands of therapists, culminating in a series of articles (e.g., Minami, Wampold, Serlin, Kircher, & Brown, 2007; Minami, Serlin, Wampold, Kircher, & Brown, 2008a; Minami et al., 2008b; Minami et al., 2009; Minami, Brown, McCulloch, & Bolstrom, 2012; Brown, Simon, Cameron, & Minami, 2015).

It goes without saying that benchmarking performance is not an exact science, and thus there are an infinite number of reasons why therapists’ performances differ. In addition, the results cannot provide sufficient explanation for any particular therapist with a particular set of clients. Regardless, we believe that the results provide unwavering confidence that measuring performance, albeit with imperfections, is better than not measuring performance.

Check out this video to learn more about ACORN:

Getting Started with ACORN

Ready to get started with ACORN? Follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Toolkit Registration and submit the completed registration to Roanna Newton at rnewton@partnersbhm.org.
  2. Once your toolkit registration is confirmed, you will receive your ACORN password and login from Clinical Informatics, the creators of ACORN.
  3. You will also be required to complete a contract agreement for use of ACORN.
  4. Check out ACORN’s “How to Get Started” Videos: https://acorncollaboration.org/clinicians/

Did you know?

  • Clinicians and agencies that consistently collect ACORN data and who look at their data tend to have better client outcomes than those who collect data inconsistently and do not look at their data.
  • Clinical supervisors are important in ensuring clinicians collect data regularly and look at their results. If the supervisor uses ACORN and talks about it frequently, clinicians will use it and talk about it, improving client outcomes.
  • Regular feedback from customers has a strong positive effect on individual performance.

If you have more questions about ACORN, please contact Lisa Jordan at ljordan@partnersbhm.org.

ACORN Partners Presentation