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What is Evidence-Based Therapy?
Evidence Based Therapy (EBT) is any treatment that has been proven effective in studies that have undergone peer review.1 In other words, specific treatment has been thoroughly researched and studied, is based on scientific evidence, and is effective.2
Goals of Evidence-Based Psychotherapy
EBT therapy aims to reduce the use of unproven, potentially dangerous treatments while promoting the use of treatments that are effective, safe, and likely to produce desired outcomes. The American Psychological Association also states that giving patients the most effective alternative treatment options is part of EBT goals.3
In addition, evidence-based counseling goals include:
- Improving treatment standards
- Greater accountability
- Ensuring patients only invest in and receive therapies that have been proven to be clinically effective
Examples of Evidence-Based Treatments
The following are examples of evidence-based therapy treatments. They all use methods grounded in research to comprehend and address various behavioral and mental health issues:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): According to the principles of respondent and operant conditioning, ABA uses research-based techniques to change socially significant behavior, including social skills, communication, reading, and academics, as well as adaptive learning abilities, including fine motor dexterity, sanitation, grooming, and work preparedness.4
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is an empirically supported intervention that combines commitment and behavior-change techniques with acceptance and mindfulness techniques to promote psychological flexibility.
- Behavior therapy: Behavior therapy refers to several forms of treatment used to address mental health conditions. This form of care tries to identify and support modifying potentially risky or unhealthy behaviors. It is based on the idea that all behaviors can be taught and changed.5
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is systematic, goal-oriented talk therapy. You can unlearn harmful behaviors and beliefs through CBT, learn to think more positively, and develop productive cognitive patterns.6
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT is a form of CBT typically administered over 12 sessions and teaches patients how to challenge and modify unhelpful beliefs about experienced trauma.
- Family therapy: This form of psychotherapy can assist family members in enhancing communication and resolving conflicts.7
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is a form of talk therapy for those who feel emotions intensely. DBT focuses on assisting clients in learning to improve their lives, including their unhelpful behaviors, and accepting the truth and reality of their lives and actions.8
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR therapy encourages the patient to momentarily concentrate on the traumatic memory while simultaneously undergoing bilateral stimulation (usually eye movements). This is linked to a decrease in the vividness and intensity of the traumatic memories.9
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT): IPT aims to improve interpersonal functioning and reduce mental health symptoms. Rather than focusing on childhood or developmental concerns, it deals with current issues and relationships.10
- Organizational Skills Training: Organizational skills training aims to help children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) overcome their organizational challenges. This program teaches children and adolescents how to plan, organize, and manage their time.11
Pros & Cons of Evidence-Based Treatments
Evidence based psychotherapies have benefits for practitioners, clinical teams, and patients. Providers use research-driven evidence rather than just their own judgment by incorporating it into clinical practice.12 Recalling only “successes” decreases the opinion-based bias when empirical evidence is used.
When appropriately applied, EBT can support clinical judgment when making decisions. The incorporation of research inevitably creates recommendations, databases, and other therapeutic tools. These can assist clinicians in evidence-based therapy clinics in making crucial treatment decisions, particularly in community-based settings.
As long as the evidence is evaluated and used responsibly in therapeutic decision-making, it can come from several approaches to support the wide range of psychotherapies currently accessible.13 Practitioners that actively use evidence-based therapy should be able to save time, money, and resources by eliminating treatments for their patients that are ineffective or dubious.
Furthermore, evidence-based psychotherapy is linked to improved public health and well-being, greater standards of quality, and more accountability. Increased client participation and collaboration, which are important indicators of successful treatment results, are made more likely by EBT therapy’s emphasis on informed consent and considering each client’s particular experiences and preferences.14
Evidence based therapy has numerous benefits, but some drawbacks must be considered. For example, given that the conditions and characteristics of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and actual clinical practice differ significantly, questions have been raised about the generalization of the research findings.15
The research approaches and treatment evaluation models, particularly the efficacy vs. effectiveness paradigm, have been the subject of intense debate. Efficacy models often depict meticulously planned studies with time restrictions and random treatment assignments, frequently in lab settings. RCTs evaluate effectiveness.
In addition, research samples frequently underrepresent minority patients or those with associated illnesses. The conclusion is that patients with complex multimorbidities or those from sociodemographic groups for which the intervention has not been studied frequently do not benefit from evidence-based therapy.16
Furthermore, while many seek psychotherapy to help them deal with life’s issues and find more meaning in their lives, EBT therapy frequently focuses on treating symptoms or diseases. Additionally, psychotherapies often emphasize empowering patients and assisting them in reaching their own treatment objectives. In contrast, evidence-based strategies risk failing to recognize patients as agents of change or self-healers.
Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.
Effectiveness & Success of Evidence-Based Therapies
You might not always feel better after a therapy session. Deep emotional labor might occasionally be the exact thing that leaves you feeling worn out, teary-eyed, and depleted afterward. Still, it can also be the thing that produces long-lasting effects.
There are ways to track your progress in therapy. Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you are making the type of change and advancement you desire:17
- Do I have a sense of hope?
- If yes, the gloom is dissipating.
- Between appointments, do I hear my therapist’s voice? Do I often wonder, “What would my therapist do or say here?” and have a response in mind?
- If yes, sessions are valuable and memorable.
- Am I having fresh ideas or approaching things differently?
- If yes, you’re picking up tools and coping strategies.
- Am I taking any new risks?
- If yes, you’re implementing new ways of being.
- Are my relationships improving?
- If yes, you’re living a better life.
- Do I believe my therapist is giving me more than simply a sympathetic ear or a “yes”?
- If yes, you and your therapist are a good fit.
- Are the tools and resources my therapist gives me to use outside of therapy being used by me?
- If yes, you’re exhibiting trust, commitment, and development with a qualified psychologist.
- Do I now possess greater resiliency and the capacity to recover from difficult circumstances?
- If yes, that’s an effective environment for making healthy, necessary changes.
According to research, most patients who receive evidence-based therapy report symptom alleviation and improved life function. When patients begin psychotherapy, about 75% experience some benefit. EBT therapy has been shown to improve the emotions and actions connected to positive changes in the brain and body.
There are also fewer sick days, fewer disability claims, fewer health problems, and more job satisfaction, along with the above benefits. Moreover, according to other studies, on average, people who participate in evidence based treatment end up better off than 80% of those who receive no treatment.18
Below are a few examples of the success rates of various EBT therapy treatment types:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)19 frequently responds well to CBT (often in conjunction with SSRI medication). Likewise, uncomplicated post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently responds well to CBT, CPT, and EMDR,20 as well as other exposure-based treatments. In addition, phobias respond particularly well to exposure-based therapies.
- According to a recent meta-analysis of 39 RCTs, frequently referred to as the “gold standard” for assessing clinical effectiveness, ACT was found to be more effective than placebo or “treatment as usual,” or the usual course of treatment for conditions like anxiety disorders, addiction, and depression.
- DBT has successfully reduced symptoms and increased outcomes for patients with trichotillomania (a condition marked by persistent, uncontrollable impulses to remove body hair),21 borderline personality disorder (BPD), and substance use disorder.22
- Selva, Joaquín Bc. S. “What Is Evidence-Based Therapy: 3 EBT Interventions.” PositivePsychology.com, 27 July 2022, positivepsychology.com/evidence-based-therapy.
- “Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT).” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog, 1 Apr. 2016, www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/evidence-based-treatment.
- APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice. “Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology.” American Psychological Association (APA.org), June 2006, www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/evidence-based-statement.pdf.
- “Applied Behavior Analysis.” Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/applied-behavior-analysis. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
- Gotter, Ana. “Behavioral Therapy.” Healthline, 29 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/behavioral-therapy.
- “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): What It Is and Techniques.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21208-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-cbt. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
- “Family Therapy.” Mayo Clinic. 19 June 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/family-therapy/about/pac-20385237.
- “Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): What It Is and Purpose.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22838-dialectical-behavior-therapy-dbt. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
- EMDR International Association. “About EMDR Therapy.” EMDR International Association, 27 July 2022, www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy.
- “Interpersonal Psychotherapy IPT.” CAMH, www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/interpersonal-psychotherapy. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
- “Organizational Skills Training.” Effective Child Therapy, 5 Aug. 2017, effectivechildtherapy.org/therapies/organizational-skills-training.
- Cook, Sarah C et al. “Evidence-Based Psychotherapy: Advantages and Challenges.” Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 14,3 (2017): 537-545. doi:10.1007/s13311-017-0549-4
- Rousseau, Denise M, and Brian C Gunia. “Evidence-Based Practice: The Psychology of EBP Implementation.” Annual review of psychology vol. 67 (2016): 667-92. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033336
- “Best Practices in Psychology Portal: Benefits.” McGill University, Sept. 2020, www.mcgill.ca/psy/evidence-based-practice/benefits.
- Kazdin, Alan E. “Evidence-based treatment and practice: new opportunities to bridge clinical research and practice, enhance the knowledge base, and improve patient care.” The American psychologist vol. 63,3 (2008): 146-59. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.3.146
- Greenhalgh, Trisha et al. “Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?.” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 348 g3725. 13 Jun. 2014, doi:10.1136/bmj.g3725
- Nelson, Jennifer. “How Do You Know if Therapy Is Working?” PSYCOM, 14 May 2021, www.psycom.net/is-therapy-working.
- “Understanding Psychotherapy and How It Works.” American Psychological Association (APA.org), 1 Nov. 2012, www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding.
- Veale, D., and A. Roberts. “Obsessive-compulsive Disorder.” BMJ, vol. 348, no. apr07 6, BMJ, Apr. 2014, pp. g2183–g2183. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2183.
- Miller, Kenneth PhD. “A Strange Cure: EMDR and the Healing of Trauma.” Psychology Today, 6 July 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-refugee-experience/202007/strange-cure-emdr-and-the-healing-trauma.
- Keuthen, Nancy J et al. “DBT-enhanced cognitive-behavioral treatment for trichotillomania: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of behavioral addictions vol. 1,3 (2012): 106-14. doi:10.1556/JBA.1.2012.003
- M. Linehan, Henry Schmidt, Linda A., Marsha. “Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder and Drug-Dependence.” American Journal on Addictions, vol. 8, no. 4, Wiley, Jan. 1999, pp. 279–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/105504999305686.
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