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Keywords:

  • empirical;
  • evidence;
  • experimental analysis;
  • treatment efficacy

[Clin Psychol Sci Prac 18: 100–104, 2011]

Dissemination of empirically supported treatments was formalized by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the mid-1990s. Specific criteria were established by which named treatments could be identified. A Presidential Task Force of the APA subsequently broadened the descriptive criteria in defining evidence-based treatments. The result has been the conflation and confusion of the two terms, the identification of named treatments, and the dissemination of such treatments. Conceptual issues include the theory of the disorder, the theory of treatment, the content of treatment, and the specificity of the treatment effects. The evaluative framework provided by David and Montgomery (2011) is an improvement on the previous attempts to identify such treatments and the rationales for doing so. The evaluative framework can be improved by identifying specific treatments based on the empirical substance of the theory of the treatments and the rigor of the experimental analysis of efficacy. Doing so will facilitate the dissemination of efficacious and cost-effective treatments and will help identify inert or harmful treatments. It may also facilitate the identification of empirically supported principles of treatment rather than the identification of named treatment techniques.