CEUnits Blog

Fighting the Mental Health Pandemic with Feedback Informed Therapy and Deliberate Practice

November 14th, 2021

By Libby Waite.

We are facing a new pandemic. This pandemic is difficult to spot, hard to diagnose, and harder to treat. If you are a mental health practitioner or social worker, then you know this. You are on the front line of this new pandemic. You are holding the wave of collective trauma, grief, and depression that is sweeping the world in the wake of Covid.

Whilst the mental health pandemic that we are all dealing with is overwhelming, it can also be a moment to pause and reflect. If you are a therapist, a counselor, or a social worker, then this is a good time to ask yourself: why do you do this work?

Time To Reflect: How Can You Best Serve Your Clients

In times of great desperation like this, it can seem easy to cling to things we know. But actually, it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring in new practices. Effective healing means responding to people’s unique needs, insights, and emotions. Feedback Informed Therapy, developed by Scott D. Miller, can help you to meet your clients where they’re at.

Feedback Informed Therapy: Centering Clients’ Needs

Feedback Informed Therapy places clients at the center of the therapeutic journey. It allows them to feedback on the progress of their treatment at the start of every session. Sometimes this will mean understanding what’s working, sometimes it will help to determine what’s not. It also empowers clients by making them feel understood and heard. Studies have shown that clients are more likely to stay in therapy when they’re engaged in their treatment. They show a 50% reduction in deterioration rates. And, 25% improvement in outcomes following treatment. Feedback Informed Therapy provides you with a reliable assessment of your clinical practice. It will enable you to better understand how to serve your clients and also refine your own methods.

Defining and Refining: Deliberate Practices for Growth

Data from Feedback Informed Treatment can help define areas for growth through Deliberate Practice. This specialized method pushes people to higher levels of personal capacity, capability and achievement. Deliberate Practice works by establishing clear goals, providing ongoing feedback, and nurturing improvement through repetition. Practitioners who adopt both Feedback Informed Treatment and Deliberate Practice find that their clients improve up to 10 times faster.

How to Handle the Mental Health Pandemic: ‘Whatever Works’

As we find ways to deal with the mental health pandemic, we must remain curious. Scott D. Miller emphasizes the importance of utilizing ‘whatever works’, as long as it’s ethical and meaningful. This is more important than sticking to any particular training or therapeutic process that restricts what is needed in the moment. Your clients have distinct needs, and you have distinct means to meet them. Utilizing ‘whatever works’ enables you to stay in relationship with your client, every session. The more tools you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to slip in line with their needs. Feedback Informed Therapy and Deliberate Practice are two great tools to help you do just this. Finding different ways to work with your clients and facilitate healing is essential. This is how, together, we can heal the mental health pandemic.


Miller, S.D., Hubble, M.A., & Chow, D. (2020). Better Results: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Therapeutic Effectiveness. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Miller, S.D., Duncan, B.L., Brown, G.S., Sorrell, R., & Chalk, M.B. (2006). “Using formal client feedback to improve retention and outcome: Making ongoing, real-time assessment feasible”. Journal of Brief Therapy. 5 (1): 5–22.


About the author

Libby Waite is a research psychologist specializing in the intersection of Western Psychotherapy and Eastern Spirituality. She is a bodyworker and yoga therapist who combines Body-Mind Centering, Somatics, and Jungian psychology. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Jungian Studies.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life: Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity

November 14th, 2021

By Libby Waite.

The shape of your mind is defined by what you think at every moment. Your everyday thoughts are crucial in determining the structure of your brain and your behaviors. Studies with mindfulness meditators have shown greater brain density in areas dedicated to attention, learning, and compassion. This is the effect of sustained mindfulness. What you practice grows stronger.

When Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science

Mindfulness is not a buzzword. It’s the evolution of centuries-old wisdom. A tool for self-development and meaning-making that sits at the heart of Buddhist teachings. Today, mindfulness has been adopted by therapeutic modalities, corporate think tanks, and wellness apps. This reflects a growing recognition of its potency for change. But how, and why, does mindfulness work?

Developments in fMRI have shown that every time we learn something new, we change the structure of our brains. This is neuroplasticity. When we engage in a new task or learn new information, there are changes in the chemical reactions between neurons in our brain, helping us to store things in our short-term memory. But, if we practice mindfulness whilst we learn, we change the physical connections between the neurons. This alters the structure of the brain and enables us to retain information in our long-term memory. Mindfulness develops our capacity to learn, grow, and transform.

Being Mindful of the Moment, in the Moment

Mindfulness involves drawing on the present moment to reflect on the true nature of things. It means stepping back from obsessing about past events or worrying about future problems.

As meditators practice cultivating awareness, gratitude, and compassion, they grow their brain capacity. New neuronal pathways connect different parts of the brain. This is how mindfulness and neuroplasticity work; it’s not only what we pay attention to, but how we pay attention.

Expanding our Capacity for Growth

When we are stressed, overworked, and exhausted, our nervous systems move into a space of hyperarousal. This increases the grey matter in the amygdala and stimulates the release of norepinephrine and cortisol. These flood our system and shut our learning centers down as we move into survival pathways. Our potential for neuroplasticity and self-development becomes limited.

When we practice mindfulness, the opposite happens. The grey matter in the amygdala decreases. We increase our capacity in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. These areas of the brain relate to emotional regulation, decision-making, and memory. Dopamine releases into the system and facilitates learning. So, when we practice mindfulness, we are not only experiencing more peace in that moment. We are also expanding our capacity to return to this peaceful state again and again, as we create new neuronal pathways.

Mindfulness is recognizing these changes in our state. When we become aware of all the stages of our moment-by-moment experience, we better understand how to regulate our systems. Direct experience of our mental habits through mindful tracking helps us become aware of our experience before we act.

How to Cultivate Meaningful Change

If you want to create new pathways for growth, then ask yourself: what will you fill your mind with? What do you want to grow? Mindfulness not only changes the shape of our brains. It changes who we are and how we move through the world. It’s an essential tool for therapists, clinicians, and social workers who want to help their clients make meaningful changes to their lives.


About the author

Libby Waite is a research psychologist specializing in the intersection of Western Psychotherapy and Eastern Spirituality. She is a bodyworker and yoga therapist who combines Body-Mind Centering, Somatics, and Jungian psychology. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Jungian Studies.