Evidence Based Practice

Evidence-based Practice (EBP) is based on three pillars: “looking for the best available research, relying on clinical expertise, and taking into consideration the client’s characteristics and preferences.”  (Corey, Schneider-Corey, & Callanan, 2007, p. 446)  The suggestion is that we, as practitioners, should strive to provide minimum amount of treatment that gives maximum benefit in the least amount of time… as supported by the managed health care system that has been “the driving force in promoting empirically supported treatments (EST).”  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 443)

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Where the EST system falls short is the fact that there can be a wide variation in presentations within one specific categorical diagnosis.  I agree with the premise that “this approach is mechanistic and does not take into full consideration the relational dimensions of the psychotherapy process.”  (Corey et al., 2007, p. 443)  What if, for example, the recommended treatment modality is obviously not sufficient to effectively treat an individual client?  What if, at the close of the 5th or the 6th session, the client has made little or no progress as a result of the ESTs?  Despite the focus on “best available research,” there is no single identified treatment method that works for everyone.  When EST fails, is the system flexible enough to recognize its shortcomings?

The concept of EBP and EST are in fact theory laden, but I question whether ever practicing clinician subscribes to that theory.  It is generally acknowledged that a practicing clinician should anchor his or her methodology to a theory… but if that theory differs from the 3rd party payer, I suspect that the clinician would be better off working outside of the managed care system.  My question is this… is that even possible today?  Can you effectively run a private practice and not accept EAP or managed care as a 3rd party payer?  If we choose not to accept those types of clients, isn’t that discrimination in its own right?

I am in support of the general underlying premise of EBP and EST, lowering costs and raising the quality of care should be something we should all aspire to.  However, I fail to see how force feeding a theoretical system on practitioners is in any way conducive to raising the quality of care… it would appear that it is 100% focused on lowering costs.  After all, lower costs are quantifiable (measured in $), and the relative quality of care is subjective.

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Corey, G., Schneider-Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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