Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The CPA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice of Psychological Treatments

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The CPA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice of Psychological Treatments

Article excerpt

In 2011, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) launched the Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice of Psychological Treatments to support and guide practice as well as to inform stakeholders. This article describes the work of this task force, outlining its raison d'être, providing a comprehensive definition of evidence-based practice (EBP), and advancing a hierarchy of evidence that is respectful of diverse research methodologies, palatable to different groups, and yet comprehensive and compelling. The primary objective was to present an overarching methodology or approach to thinking about EBP so that psychologists can provide and implement the best possible psychological treatments. To this end, our intention for this document was to provide a set of guidelines and standards that will foster interest, encourage development, and promote effectiveness in EBP.

Keywords: evidence-based practice, evidence-based treatment, empirically supported treatment, psychotherapy, psychological treatment

As part of the 2011-2012 Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) President's mandate (see Dozois, 2012, 2013), the Board of Directors voted in favor of a motion (March 2011) that the CPA establish a task force on the evidence-based practice (EBP) of psychological treatments that would generate a set of criteria and develop a position statement regarding the optimal integration of research evidence into practice. The board members believed that it was important for the CPA to develop a position on EBP in psychology to support and guide practice as well as to inform stakeholders. Psychological health and psychological disorders are clearly a priority for many of Canada's stakeholder groups (e.g., the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Treasury Board, Public Health Agency of Canada), and effective psychological treatment is also an important priority for CPA.


Important objectives in professional psychology include the generation of treatment-relevant scientific knowledge and the ap- plication of this knowledge to the development of efficacious and effective interventions for mental and behavioral health problems (Baker, McFall, & Shoham, 2009; Kazdin, 2008; Lilienfeld, 2010; Treat, Bootzin, & Baker, 2012). Such objectives arise from a growing recognition in the field that the practice of psychological treatments should be based on valid evidence regarding which approaches to intervention are most likely to be successful. Al- though there is controversy regarding what constitutes "evidence," most psychologists believe in the utility of research for informing clinical practice and view EBP positively (Lilienfeld, Ritschel, Lynn, Cautin, & Latzman, 2013).

In 1995, the American Psychological Association's (APA) So- ciety of Clinical Psychology Task Force on Promotion and Dis- semination of Psychological Procedures published its initial report, which listed treatments considered to be well-established or prob- ably efficacious according to a standard set of criteria (e.g., Chambless & Ollendick, 2001; Chambless et al., 1996). These criteria were subsequently adopted by the CPA Section on Clinical Psychology in their task force report, Empirically Supported Treat- ments in Psychology: Implications for Canadian Professional Psy- chology (Hunsley, Dobson, Johnston, & Mikail, 1999a, 1999b).

Although many researchers and practitioners were enthusiastic about these efforts to promote empirically supported treatments, the criteria used to designate such treatments elicited considerable controversy. Concerns with the focus on empirically supported treatments have done little to narrow the gap between research and practice and to alter many clinicians' utilization of scientific liter- ature (see Hunsley, 2007a; Kazdin, 2008; Lilienfeld et al., 2013, for reviews of some of the challenges and solutions). For example, some psychologists have argued that the type of research deemed necessary to produce supportive evidence for a treatment is in- compatible with schools of psychotherapy outside of the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) framework (e. …

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