Why We Need Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Practice Guidelines

William C. Sanderson, PhD


Medscape General Medicine. 2002;4(4) 

In This Article


In this paper, I will present the case in favor of the development of psychotherapy practice guidelines. Practice guidelines are defined as "systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate care for specific clinical circumstances."[1] Typically, practice guidelines are treatment recommendations for specific conditions (eg, diagnoses) that are based primarily upon research findings and/or the consensus of expert clinicians. Ultimately, the goal of practice guidelines is to promote empirical practice, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the practitioner by facilitating the use of the most effective intervention. Evidence-based treatments (EBTs, also referred to as empirically supported treatments [ESTs]) are those treatments with proven efficacy from controlled research trials.[2,3]