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TheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsReview - TheraScribe 3.0 for Windows
(Computer software: 4 disks and a 134 page manual)
by Arthur E. Jongsma, Mark Peterson, and William McInnis
John Wiley & Sons, 1997
Review by Kelly Lemmon-Kishi
Sep 9th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 36)

Fast easy treatment planning

If you are in clinical practice and DON'T have these tools at your disposal, you probably … well … ought to see a therapist! You will save time on treatment planning and other documentation, be far better organized, and will be able to quickly produce an impressive array of outcome statistics. TheraScribe 3.0 is a software program for treatment planning that can be integrated with TheraBiller and TheraScheduler (for another $600 or so - I have not tested these) to make a completely integrated computerized package. While there are some important ethical considerations (very easy to assign same treatment plan to different clients without individualizing; lazy people will have even less incentive to be creative; perhaps promoting excessively standardized treatment), these tools are valuable and tremendously useful - and have significant advantages over some less expensive treatment planning software.

Each can be used separately, but you will get maximum benefit from buying the core component (TheraScribe 3.0) and each PracticePlanner (book and disk) module that addresses the specific treatment planning needs for client populations you work with frequently. Currently PracticePlanners are available for Chemical Dependence, Child and Adolescent, Continuum of Care, Pastoral Counseling, EAP, and Older Adult populations in addition to the two reviewed here. PracticePlanners for Group Therapy and Behavioral Medicine are in the works.

TheraScribe 3.0 system requirements are minimal - probably far less than the browser you're currently viewing this review with. It is simple to install and straightforward to use. The learning curve is gentle and short. I had my first treatment plan completed in less than 2 hours after opening the package- without reading the manual and with adding 2 new categories to the treatment components library. The second took a fraction of the time. Once I was more familiar with the program, I could have a treatment plan and initial session notes ready to print in 20 to 30 minutes - less when using a "clinical pathway" (typical treatment plan for a presenting problem designed by the therapist - still needs to be individualized for the client). Well designed, TheraScribe is easy and intuitive.

The manual itself is worth skimming to pick up the few tricks that aren't obvious (but are VERY useful); it is well written (as far as software manuals go) and thorough. If the manual can't answer your questions, you can consult an online help program anytime or a real person by phone during business hours.

TheraScribe walks you through the entire treatment planning process - patient data, patient strengths, assessment data (including detailed forms with drop down lists for mental status exam components and risk assessment), insurance information, and presenting problems. Presenting problems then lead the program to suggest treatment plan components (behavioral definitions, goals, objectives, and interventions) and possible DSM 4 Axis 1 and Axis 2 diagnoses (you can add in the other axes without the benefit of any suggestions). The content of each step is fully customizable (the forms themselves are not).

The whole process is based on "libraries" that can be updated by buying PracticePlanners (with disks!) specific to the population/s you work with. You can also create your own library to suit your frequently seen presenting issues or therapeutic technology from presenting problems all the way through; this takes some time, but then it becomes a permanent part of the library so you never have to type it again. The existing libraries are wide-ranging, but largely tend towards cognitive-behavioral, brief therapy, and insight-oriented techniques. TheraScribe comes with basic adult and child treatment planning libraries.

Once your treatment plan is in place, you can specify a prognosis (with a rationale) and discharge plans and criteria. Your session notes can be semi-automated by selecting themes, symptoms, or interventions covered in a particular session from those in the treatment plan. Of course there is also a text box for whatever else you want to record. The resulting session notes tend to be rather long, but they take so little time …

There are many features that increase usability and utility (such as warning when insurance covered sessions are running out), but the Outcome Analysis feature is particularly nice. Once you have been using TheraScribe long enough to have a substantial number of discharged clients, it is easy to run analyses of session progress ratings, days in treatment, GAF scores, or the test results of your choice for a single client or groups of clients then print the results in several formats. Makes it easy to impress the boss or the HMO rep or just make your point!

TheraScribe data is password protected. Each therapist has their own password and can only see their own clients' files. The "Administrator" alone can view all files, delete certain types of data, and change other people's passwords.

What clearly separates this program from the others advertised at a lower cost (which I have NOT evaluated) are the specific population PracticePlanners. Let someone else do most of the customizing for your population FOR you. As all the libraries are updatable, the core software should remain useful for a long time. As of the time of writing this review (9/4/99), I have not actually received the disks to up try adding new libraries to TheraScribe. Hopefully there will be an addendum to this review after I get to play with the new libraries.

As a social worker in private practice, all I can say is I hope I am never without this program again! I'm hooked!!


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