What is the Evidence-Based Treatment Approach? | Definition, Effectiveness, Examples

In recent years, practitioners in the mental health and addiction field have been pushing to implement evidence-based therapy to track their treatment plans’ efficacy. The primary goal is to provide a client with treatment proven to be effective through peer-reviewed evidence. 

Evidence-based treatment is defined as any therapy that’s proven its effectiveness during peer-reviewed scientific experiments. It’s broken down by The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies as “adherence to psychological approaches and techniques based on scientific evidence.”

Evidence-based treatment, during its existence, has been the preferred procedure for treating psychological symptoms. Many who employ the approach also consider it the “best practice.” Most recently, the definition has been expanded to consider a client’s clinical state, actions, and preferences. The expansion is deemed to be significant in the psychotherapy field. However, its effectiveness is determined by the client’s ability to invest in a treatment plan’s efficacy. 


What Are The Goals of Evidence-Based Treatment?

The primary goals of this treatment approach are increasing accountability and increasing the quality of treatment. Meeting the goals increases the likelihood a client’s insurance company will approve treatment, and it increases the chances a client will pay the fees and seek treatment. Evidence-based treatment is the most cost-effective option and contains proof of its success.

Types of Evidence-Based Treatment

For the method to become evidence-based, it requires in-depth academic and scientific research. The effectiveness must be demonstrated in more than one study, and it must integrate medical-based research and client experiences and values of the clinical provider. Evidence-based treatment is used to treat substance abuse and various mental health disorders. A person who enters an evidence-based program will be part of several therapy programs while getting help.

People sitting in a circle discussing evidence based treatment

The most prevalent evidence-based techniques you’ll find in substance abuse and mental health programs include:

  • Exposure Therapy: Considered a psychological approach that was created to help an individual confront their fears. Those who fear something will avoid a situation, and exposure therapy helps break the pattern of avoidance and fear.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is among the most common types of psychotherapies. A client works alongside mental health counselors in a structured environment to become aware of inaccurate or harmful thinking. It allows the client to challenge their viewpoints and respond in a more effective manner. It is one of the most beneficial therapy types today, and it’s routinely used alongside other therapies. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: An evidence-based treatment explicitly used in the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD).
  • Functional Family Therapy: A family-based therapy used to intervene in high-risk youth and address complex issues they might face. 
  • Motivational Interviewing: Stemming from alcohol counseling in the 1980s, motivational interviewing seeks to use internal motivations for change, instead of external pressure. It pushes a heavy emphasis on empathy, optimism, and providing respect for the client’s choice. It’s proven to be beneficial and is a highly sought out treatment for those recovering from drinking. 
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