Background: This study looks at the effect of immediate session-by-session feedback using short questionnaires for evaluating outcome of and alliance in the therapy. Research data strongly suggests that using this feedback informed treatment improves the outcome of therapy. However, until now, this method of Miller and Duncan has only been examined in clients (generally students) with mild problems and in partner counselling. The question addressed by this study is whether immediate feedback is also effective when applied during crisis intervention and subsequent brief therapy in a psychiatric patient population in emergency situations. It also looks at whether 'feedback-informed treatment' affects the quality of the alliance.Method/Design: To test the hypotheses, all patients seeking help from the Crisis Intervention & Brief Therapy Team over a two-year period will be followed throughout their treatment up to a maximum of six months and a follow-up period of three months after ending the treatment. Patients are randomly assigned to two conditions: treatment without feedback and treatment with immediate feedback for each session. The therapists all operate in both conditions and so they deliver both treatments. An estimated total of 180 patients, aged 18 years and over, will be included in the study.Discussion: The aim of this study is to make clear whether, and to what extent, systematic feedback from the patient in this target group during therapy determines the course and outcomes of therapy. We also look at whether, and to what extent, the quality of the alliance and the motivation of the person delivering treatment with respect to the instruments play a role.Trial registration: NTR3168. © 2013 van Oenen et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.