A debate rages in psychology, but it is not one of the usual kind, dwelling on a specific aspect of the mind or a new drug, but a controversy dealing with the very foundations of psychology. The main issue is in determining what treatments for patients are valid. Some feel that they must be empirically- supported treatments, treatments backed by hard data and scientifically supported. Others feel that this standard for treatments is much too confining for the complex field of psychology. The American Psychological Association President Task Force on Evidence-Based Treatment came out with a plan for psychology that effectively maintains a high scientific standard but allows for a variety of research designs to be used in determining how to treat a patient. This plan of evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is good because it allows patients to receive personalized science-backed treatment.
EBPP “is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences” (book essay 1). The first major facet of EBPP is the use of the best available research. Opponents have argued that randomized clinical trials are too narrow a type of study for psychology. A very valid point, this had been addressed in the new EBPP standard. Multiple types of research are included, ranging from public health and ethnographic research, to systematic case studies, to qualitative research, to meta-analyses (book 1). Using research-backed treatments cuts down on bias in treatment. Some psychologists argue that their experience is enough to know what works (Kendall 1998). Unfortunately, a human can be biased on incorrect without any knowledge of it. Data-backed treatments help to eliminate error on the part of the clinician.
Backing psychology with scientific studies also benefits psychology itself. P. C. Kendall (1998) asks what would happen if this did not happen. “To what category would the professional practice of clinical psychology be assigned: to philosophy, psychic reader, advisor?” Patients who need psychological treatment want to go to a psychologist who they know will help them. In fact, to stay relevant in the modern health care climate, “evidence-based clinical practice will become essential” (Sanderson 2003). Empirically supported treatments provide a higher standard of care for patients.
Opponents of EPBB argue, though, that this data-backed plan removes the psychologist from the process of treating the patient. Mahrer (2005) argues that “[t]here is almost no wiggle room left for psychotherapists who try to cling to their own preferred ways of doing psychotherapy. The good old days are over.” Perhaps to Maher, unsupported...