On Becoming a Better Therapist Evidence-Based Practice One Client at a Time


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How can therapists become better at doing what they love, avoid burnout, and prevent client dropout? Respected therapist, trainer, and researcher Barry Duncan asserts that getting better at this work requires therapists to dedicate themselves to two key tasks: obtaining systematic client feedback and taking charge of their own development as a therapist. This book describes his ‘Partners for Change Outcome Management System’ (PCOMS), which provides systematic feedback from clients, thereby enabling therapists to identify and target clients who aren’t responding to traditional treatment before they drop out. Duncan examines the common factors inherent to all successful therapies and details the importance of the therapeutic alliance as the foundation of effective therapy. He encourages therapists to expand their theoretical breadth, think deeply about the lessons they learn from their clients, and integrate these lessons into their performance. Scholarly yet deeply personal, with lively case examples and unfailing good humor, Duncan’s work is essential reading for anyone who seeks to rediscover purpose in their work. New to this edition are two chapters, one demonstrating PCOMS with couples, families, and youth and the other presenting how to implement PCOMS on an organizational scale. This book also integrates the author’s responses to many thoughtful questions raised by trainees and readers of the last edition.


  • Foreword to the First Edition – Michael J. Lambert
  • Foreword to the Second Edition – David N. Elkins
  • Preface 
  • So You Want to Be a Better Therapist
  • Becoming a Better Therapist With PCOMS
  • How Being Bad Can Make You Better
  • Getting Better With Couples, Families, and Youth
  • Using PCOMS to Accelerate Your Development
  • The Heart and Soul of Change
  • Wizards, Humbugs, or Witches
  • Becoming a Better Agency
  • For the Love of the Work
  • References
  • Index
  •  About the Author

Author Bio:

Barry L. Duncan, PsyD, a therapist, trainer, and researcher with 17,000 hours of clinical experience, is director of the Heart and Soul of Change Project. 

Dr. Duncan has published, as author or coauthor, more than 100 articles in various publications, as well as 16 books, addressing client feedback, consumer rights and involvement, the power of relationship, and a risk/benefit analysis of psychotropic medications. Because of his self-help books (the latest is What’s Right With You), he has appeared on Oprah and several other national TV programs.