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Am Psychol. 1995 Jul;50(7):522-32.

Client as colleague. Therapeutic contracting with the seriously mentally ill.

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Life Skills Partial Hospitalization Program, Chestnut Lodge Hospital, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


This article introduces the therapeutic contracting program as a comprehensive treatment system for persons with serious mental illness. Therapeutic contracting offers a promising framework for integrating medical, psychological, and social therapies in a manner that fosters clients' active involvement in treatment. This article outlines a multistage therapy program that mobilizes clients' adaptational resources through experimental interventions, structured goal-setting exercises, and skills-building experiences. Data illustrate the effectiveness of therapeutic contracting for (a) securing clients' treatment compliance, (b) promoting positive clinical outcomes, (c) reducing overall treatment costs. The therapeutic contracting model is discussed as a potential vehicle for expanding the professional role of psychologists in psychiatric settings, particularly in areas of clinical and administrative decision making.

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