Recording therapy sessions: an evaluation of patient and therapist reported behaviours, attitudes and preferences

Behav Cogn Psychother. 2009 Mar;37(2):141-50. doi: 10.1017/S1352465809005190.


Background: Audio recording of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions has been recommended but not yet widely adopted. It is believed to have positive effects on later recall and reflection by the patient and on supervisory quality and accuracy for therapists.

Aims: To evaluate self-reported attitudes and behaviour regarding audio recording of therapy sessions in both patients and therapists in a setting where such recording is routinely carried out.

Method: In a centre specializing in CBT for anxiety disorders, 72 patients completed a questionnaire at the start of therapy and 31 patients completed a questionnaire at the end of therapy. Fifteen therapists also completed a similar questionnaire.

Results: Ninety percent of patients reported listening to recordings between therapy sessions to some extent. The majority reported discussing the recordings with their therapist. Patients typically planned to keep the recordings after therapy ended. Most patients and therapists endorsed positive attitudes towards the use of recordings. Similar advantages (e.g. improving memory for sessions) and disadvantages (e.g. practical issues and feeling self-conscious) of recordings were generated by patients and therapists. Therapists were more likely than patients to express concern about recordings being distressing for patients to listen to. Both patients and therapists regarded the use of recordings for therapist peer supervision purposes favourably.

Conclusion: The use of audio recording of sessions as an adjunct to therapy (where patients listen to recordings between sessions) and for therapist supervision is rated as both highly acceptable and useful by both therapists and patients.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Attitude*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Panic Disorder / therapy*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tape Recording*