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Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) in special education professions (pilot study)

Background and aims

How can the effectiveness of special education work be improved? Does the ability to adapt its methods and interventions individually to the person supported play a prominent role in different areas of special education work, as it also does in psychotherapy? Recent findings in psychotherapy research provide ample evidence that formalized feedback from the client to the therapist significantly improves the therapy outcome. It must be assumed that under certain framework conditions, the same mechanisms are at work also in special education and therapeutic special education professions.

The FIT pilot study is conceived as a preliminary study prior to a controlled efficacy study. As a feasibility study, the aim is to sound out and evaluate the use of the FIT feedback method in various application areas and settings, paying special attention to the integration of FIT in the world of practice.


The pilot study should reveal under what conditions the FIT feedback method can be implemented in special education work, particularly in school-level special education and in psychomotor therapy. Here, factors such as setting and area of support but also age and cognitive and social abilities of the children or adolescents play an important role. As different versions of the feedback questionnaire can be used, the study also aims to clarify the question of the fit between the instruments used and the institutional and individual framework conditions. All research questions will be answered under the aspect of practicability from the perspective of the participating practitioners.


The study will be conducted in three phases. In the preparation phase, practitioners and experts are recruited and trained. At the same time, the different areas of work are chosen and the versions of the questionnaire to be used defined and adapted. In the main phase, the practitioners use the two scales Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) and Session Rating Scale (SRS) in their daily practice over a period of 8 weeks. These scales give them continuous feedback on the effect of their intervention on the children’s or adolescents’ general well-being as well as on the quality of the current session. For both scales, critical values are defined that indicate that the therapist/special education professional should clarify with the child or adolescent the meaning of the feedback and possibly change their approach. To support this formalized clarification process, all participating practitioners have access to experts in their fields whom they can contact when needed. An evaluation phase follows the main phase. The experiences of the practitioners concerning effectiveness and practicability are recorded by means of guided interviews and evaluated through content analysis.


The results should show whether it makes sense to use the FIT procedure also in fields of special education work. With a positive outcome, the basis for a subsequent controlled efficacy study would be given.



Project Management

Dr. phil.  Müller



Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe