Information deemed important enough to record in the computer is put into categories, depending on the type of information.
Any item of information considered to be extremely important by the therapist or the client is entered into the computer. Because of the organizatonal systems of the program, this information can be easily found at any future time. Thus important insights, events, feelings, etc. are all recorded in a way that doesn't trust to either memory or the therapist's note taking skills.
Because the item of information entered into the computer has to be written down in a narrative form, and is seen simultaneously by the therapist and client, there is much less chance for any misunderstanding. The client and therapist can each be fairly sure that the other understands what they are saying. The act of formulating a statement clearly enough to write it down is extremely effective in making the statement clear and understandable. Also, other optional information recorded along with the narrative statement can be very clarifying. For example, there are places to (optionally) record the importance of an entry, and to record the certainty of both the therapist and the client that the entry is true.
Looking through recorded EmpiricalData and/or Historical Data makes patterns of behavior or thought obvious. Even if these patterns may have already been obvious to the therapist, through experience, this is a very effective way to make the patterns obvious to the client. These patterns may then be recorded as Generalizations.
Patterns of behavior may be explained by psychological causes, biological causes, practical causes, etc. Just considering psychological causes, there often is more than one possibility. Alternate possible explanations of patterns in the client's life may be entered into the computer as Hypotheses. The act of formulating Alternate Hypotheses clearly enough to enter them into the computer forces the therapist and the client to examine various possibilities thoroughly. It also improves the client's understanding of the forces at work in his or her life, and improves the communication between the client and therapist.
In this program, Goals are derived from the patterns we previously entered as Generalizations. Because these patterns have been carefully derived, the Goals will be much more carefully thought out and realistic than if they were just listed intuitively. As the client makes a list of their goals, PsyData allows the goals to be rated according to importance. This illustrates the relative importance of various goals, and also shows conflicts between goals. In addition, it forces the client and therapist to keep in mind all goals, even when working on one specific goal. Again, stating goals clearly enough to enter them in the computer helps clarify them.
PsyData has a system for developing plans of actions to accomplish goals. This system is a little too complex to give a good description of it here. It involves combining previously entered Hypotheses and Goals to create alternate possible Action Plans, which are then rated by the computer, the therapist, and the client, as to their relative likelihood of success of accomplishing the goal. These Action Plans are also rated in importance relative to each other, so the client has a better idea of possible actions they can do in their life, the relative importance of these actions, and the conflicts among the actions.
In addition to being fun to use, PsyData is empowering to the client in the following ways:
PsyData can be used constantly during a session, intermittantly, or not at all. It can be used merely to record a single important piece of information during a session, or it can be used to structure an entire session or series of sessions. It has even been used successfully as an adjunct to psychoanalysis to help evaluate alternate hypotheses and to add a practical problem-solving aspect to the analysis. PsyData would probably not be suitable for therapies that are based on exact systems, such as Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy.