What Does Evidence-Based Mean in Behavioral Healthcare?

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In behavioral health, it is very common to hear the term “evidence-based.” Evidence-based means that an approach is supported with scientific evidence and extensive research. This is more than anecdotal evidence or clinical impressions or observations. Evidence-based goes beyond clinical practice. It can impact social and educational policies as well.

With so many treatment options to evaluate in behavioral health, it’s important to understand what evidence-based treatment (EBT) means and why it should matter to individuals who are seeking treatment.

What Evidence-Based Means

Evidence-based practices incorporate three principles, often referred to as the “three-legged stool”:

  • Best available research across several studies
  • Clinical expertise
  • Clients’ values and personal preferences

What could this look like in practice? Let’s use an example. A person with a substance use disorder and depression is starting treatment. They’ve expressed that they would like to work with a therapist who has experience treating patients with depression. Their therapist is trained and certified in an evidence-based treatment practice known as dual diagnosis treatment. This means the provider is certified to treat co-occurring disorders.

The therapist utilizes the tenets of dual diagnosis treatment, their own clinical experience and knowledge, and the person’s values and preferences to develop a treatment plan.

What are Examples of Evidence-Based Treatment?

In behavioral health, there are many therapeutic interventions that are considered evidence-based. These are usually pharmacologic treatments or behavioral therapies. Examples of evidence-based practices in addiction treatment include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Other types of Medication-Assisted Treatment
  • Family therapy
  • Motivational interviewing

These approaches can be used across many levels of care in addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient settings. Often these therapeutic interventions are used in combination for a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.

Why EBT is Important

There are many treatment options in mental health and addiction. Some of these treatment options may be more effective than others. Understanding what evidence-based means can help clients feel knowledgeable and empowered when choosing a treatment center or provider.

Evidence-based treatment means that it is an intervention that has been well-researched and has proven to be effective. Evidence-based treatment standardizes care, but still accounts for the client’s needs and the clinician’s experience.

Finally, adoption of EBT in communities and treatment settings ensures that individuals have access to effective treatment, ultimately improving outcomes for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.

How to Increase Adoption

While evidence-based approaches have had successful outcomes in research and real-world settings, there is still resistance to adopt some of these practices. Often this is due to stigma that is common in behavioral health. These strategies can help to increase adoption and accessibility of well-researched treatment approaches:

  • Early education and training for clinicians
  • Dissemination of research and literature
  • Funding and grants to make EBT more accessible to clients
  • Telemedicine to increase delivery of EBT

When evaluating addiction treatment centers or behavioral health professionals, ask about evidence-based treatment programming. Pyramid Healthcare offers a full continuum of treatment programs that are evidence-based, including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and dual diagnosis treatment.

For more information on Pyramid’s treatment programs, contact our admissions department.

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