Psychological counseling, social work interventions and other disciplines in the “helping field” have lately turned to an approach called Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice, or EBP. Interventions founded in the EBPs are called Evidence Based Therapies. The government and other regulatory agencies concerned with the “helping professions” have become increasingly focused on accountability. Because working with people in areas that cannot be examined under microscopes can result in subjective approaches, professionals in therapy, in social work and in other areas have turned to EBP to give them a sound background and reasoning for their interventions.
What EBP Is
According to Effective Child Therapy.net, EBP is employing therapeutic treatments based on scientific research. What works with one person in treating a disorder like substance abuse or depression may not work with another. Treatments can become “shots-in-the-dark” without some type of data that tells which approach works with the most people within the study area. The same is true of assessing the best educational interventions for people with certain types of developmental disabilities, or in determining if teenagers would do better in school if there was a later starting time.
How the Best Practice is Determined
Before scientific researchers can say something is the best practice or the best therapy; they must examine evidence from several studies. Participants who have the same problem, such as teen addictions, are randomly assigned different approaches and the method that results in the best outcome is the one that is designated the Best Practice. Promising Practices.net says that one of the problems with deciding upon which intervention to use has always been that there has been no clear set of standards by which to evaluate a therapeutic program or intervention. In medicine, drug companies have stressed their testing protocols and have determined that pharmaceuticals pose the best course of action in some cases. Today’s research methods, however, have become increasingly rigorous. There are “control groups”and repeatable conclusions. Science terms the resulting data the “current best evidence.”
Determining best Practices is More Difficult in Helping Professions
In social work and other helping professions, the current best evidence is harder to identify. Ethical concerns and the need for privacy restrict which individuals can be assigned to random testing. Plus, it is easier to quantify which drug was given to a group, or whether a therapist used a certain type of therapy than to assess how a social worker approached a problem, for instance. It is difficult to frame the exact approach into words and to exactly replicate it. Standards for the helping professions are different, but social work and education still benefit from the evidence based information. The government has approved a clearing house of evidence-based interventions and programs in education called “The What Works Clearing House.” Other organizations have been collecting and cataloging data from research projects as well. In addition, there is a set of “standards” defining acceptable EBP research. These include topical focus; research design; statistical significance; practical significance; attrition; quality of outcome measures; publication requirements and replication.
Applying scientific research methods is not new to medical treatments. It is, however, to helping professions that are dependent upon the variables of human interactions. Still, Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice is allowing professionals to utilize tested and proven techniques in working to alleviate human problems.
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