Evidence-based treatment (EBT) is using scientific evidence-supported practices for mental health or addiction treatment. There are many models of therapy, counseling, and treatment but for effective results, EBT is a sure way to find the best therapies for patients. EBT has not always been the primary way medical systems operate, but they have increased greatly over the past several decades.

The Surge Towards Evidence-Based Treatment in Psychology

Over the past ten years or so, the term evidence-based therapy (EBT) has become not only a useful practice but also a strategic marketing tool. The original concept for these types of treatment plans comes from the medical field in the form of evidence-based medical care. There may be other reasons why the use of evidence-based treatment has become the “gold standard.” The need for critical thinking is the common denominator.  

No Longer the “Norm”

Before evidence became standard in science, most forms of psychological treatment and other forms of mental health treatments were based on a simple concept. The concept in question was “Why should we look for treatment plans when we’ve always done things this way?” In the medical field, the use of EBT gained popularity during the last decade of the 20th Century. The “We’ve always done it this way” thought process was no longer considered to be an acceptable or practical norm.

Despite early successes with using EBT in developing effective treatment plans, the American Psychological Association (APA) was not quite ready to accept the concept. They felt that treatment based on evidence and scientific research needed more testing and research before it could be applied. By the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century, the APA finally came on board.

two chairs in a therapist office

Evidence-Based Therapy Unraveled

One of the driving forces behind the switch to evidence-based therapy is to standardize treatments. These include the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The only way to accomplish this is to use scientific research and clinical trials to test theories in a controlled environment. According to a statement published by the American Psychological Association, “the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences.”

As the use of evidence-based therapy has become more widespread, many insurance companies have begun to demand this form of treatment for a wide range of mental health treatments. Yet not everyone is in agreement. Many psychologists feel that treatment based on scientific evidence has its place. Others adhere to the fact that some mental health treatments that fail to meet EBT criteria are still effective in certain cases.

There are those who say that while evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT has been proven effective, it may be less effective in the long run. Why? Simply put, the “Old Guard” is still mired in the concept of “talk therapy.” This form of psychological treatment might work better for adults, but EBT has been proven more effective in the treatment of children and adolescents.

Today’s youth face a new world in which eating disorders, mental and physical abuse, and substance abuse have become all too common. In many cases, traditional “Talk Therapy” will not be the only thing to uncover the underlying issues. The use of scientific research and studies generated by clinical trials and studies has been found to be far more effective.

man in therapy for addiction treatment

Evidence-Based Treatment Comes In Many Forms

Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind is that evidence-based treatments can be used in the treatment of a number of disorders, including but not limited to:

  • Exposure therapy for PTSD, anxiety, and phobias.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is useful for many disorders, including addiction.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy is for those suffering from multiple disorders.
  • Functional family therapy for adolescents dealing with problems like substance abuse.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been found to be effective in reducing relapse rates of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

One of the biggest reasons why evidence-based practices are being used in the field of psychology is that they tend to be more cost-effective. In this instance, insurance companies will only pay for EBT mental health treatments proven effective. Yet critics say that one should not be looking for “cheap” treatments. One should also be looking for those that have been clinically effective. A successful treatment plan must be able to meet both of these requirements rather than one or the other.

man and woman in an evidence based therapy session

How EBT Can Be Successful

In the end, it is believed that science or evidence-based treatment has its place in the treatment of a wide range of mental health issues. It is up to each psychologist to determine which form of evidence-based psychological treatment is likely to be most effective. Each patient must be treated based on an individual assessment. This is the only way to provide the patient with mental health treatments that are most likely to be successful.

According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, EBP is at best a way in which to deliver mental health services to the patient. However, it must be done with plenty of open communication between psychologist and patient in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Success depends entirely on full collaboration between the practitioner, the patient, healthcare managers, and researchers.

The success of evidence-based therapy can be measured in many ways. These include the relief of the patient’s symptoms and the elimination of symptomatic episodes. It can also be measured in the patient’s quality of life, their ability to function both at work and within their family unit. Plus, their ability to make good life choices and positive changes in their personalities Evidence based therapy can also improve their ability to reach certain goals established between the patient and practitioner.

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