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21 Empirically Supported Treatments, Evidence-Based Treatments, and Evidence-Based Practice

Clinical Psychology


  1. Barry L. Duncan PsyD1,
  2. Robert J. Reese PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop208021

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Duncan, B. L. and Reese, R. J. 2012. Empirically Supported Treatments, Evidence-Based Treatments, and Evidence-Based Practice. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 8:II:21.

Author Information

  1. 1

    The Heart and Soul of Change Project, Jensen Beach, FL, USA

  2. 2

    University of Kentucky, Department of Educational, School,& Counseling Psychology, Lexington, KY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Accountability via the application of research to practice is the raison d'être of the empirically supported treatment (EST), evidence-based treatment (EBT), and evidence-based practice (EBP) movements. Although basing practice on empirical findings seems only reasonable, application becomes complex when unfurled in the various social, political, economic, and other ideological contexts that influence the delivery of mental health services (Norcross, Beutler, & Levant, 2006). This chapter describes two different approaches to defining and disseminating evidence (Littell, 2010)—one that seeks to improve clinical practice via the dissemination of treatments meeting a minimum standard of empirical support (EBT) and another that describes a process of research application to practice that includes clinical judgment and client preferences (EBP). We unfold the controversy by addressing the nature of evidence, how it is transported to real-world settings, and ultimately, whether such evidence improves client outcomes. To further inform the debate surrounding the two approaches, this chapter also discusses the randomized clinical trial (RCT), its specificity assumption, and the connection of the RCT to a medical model way of understanding psychotherapy. Finally, we strike at the heart of the controversy by tackling the thorny question of whether EBTs should be mandated.


  • evidence-based treatments;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • dodo verdict;
  • common factors