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Evidence-Informed Practice Statement

Purpose of this statement
This statement has been developed to support the professionalism of PACFA, by positioning the organisation and its members in the contemporary paradigm of professional practice that is underpinned by evidence. It informs potential funders and employers about PACFA’s position with respect to evidence use amongst psychotherapists and counsellors, and advises members of PACFA’s recommendations for their practice. 

Definition of Evidence-Informed Practice
PACFA defines Evidence-Informed Practice as an approach to practising psychotherapy and counselling that is informed by current theory, empirical research evidence and expertise from clinical practice, which reflects the impact of client characteristics, including culture, life experience and preferences, on treatment outcomes.

PACFA’s commitment to Evidence-Informed Practice
PACFA is committed to advancing evidence about the effectiveness of psychotherapy and counselling and its use in professional practice. Through its diverse activities, from Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to publication of the peer-reviewed journal PACJA, and other research publications including systematic reviews, PACFA seeks to promote evidence-informed practice.  PACFA also strongly encourages all of its members to prioritise evidence-informed practice, both organisations and individuals who offer training or CPD, and practitioners. PACFA recommends the use of appropriate standardised outcome measures by practitioners, to ensure that they receive systematic feedback on the effectiveness of their services, and the systematic use of this feedback to improve practice.

Background to this statement
Evidence-Informed Practice is a term increasingly applied to approaches that draw from evidence from both scientific research and quality reflective practice (Dodd & Savage, 2016). While development of the evidence base for psychotherapy and counselling has earlier been influenced by the science-practitioner model of clinical psychology, more recently, Common Factors (CF) research has altered the landscape in supporting the integration of the science-practitioner with reflective-practitioner models (Day, 2015).  These Common Factors can be categorized broadly as client factors and extra therapeutic events, relationship factors, expectancy and placebo effects and technique/model factors, with the latter contributing only 15% of impact (Asay & Lambert, 1999; Wampold, 2015). 

PACFA acknowledges that a current lack of empirical evidence for any specific psychotherapy and counselling approach or intervention does not mean that it is necessarily ineffective or inappropriate. The increasing evidence on Common Factors overrides past reliance on technique or modality as major factors in therapeutic effectiveness. Rather, the evidence showing equivalence of effect justifies an assumption of effectiveness for “bona-fide” approaches (Wampold, 1997) as a starting point. PACFA has chosen to use the term Evidence-Informed Practice for these reasons and because it is considered to be more compatible with the full breadth of research approaches that are valued in our field, including Indigenous methodologies, inclusive research approaches and case study research.

References

Asay, T. P., & Lambert, M. J. (1999). The empirical case for the common factors in therapy: Quantitative findings. In M. A. Hubble, B. L. Duncan, & S. D. Miller (Eds.), The heart and soul of change: What works in therapy (pp. 23-55). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/11132-001.

Day, E. (2015). Psychotherapy and counselling in Australia: Profiling our philosophical heritage for therapeutic effectiveness. PACJA, 3(1). ISSN: 2201-7089.

Dodd, S. & Savage, A. (2016). Ethics and Values, Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Social Work Profession. DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.91.

Lambert, M. (2015). The therapeutic alliance: An evidence-based guide to practice. Psychotherapy Research, 26(2):1-2. DOI:  10.1080/10503307.2015.1031200.Sackett D et al. 2000, ‘Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach’ EBM, 2nd edition. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, p. 1

Wampold, B.  (1997). A Meta-Analysis of Outcome Studies Comparing Bona Fide Psychotherapies: Empirically, “All Must Have Prizes”. Psychological Bulletin, 122(3):203-215. DOI: 10.1037//0033-2909.122.3.203.

Wampold, B. (2015). How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An update. World Psychiatry, 4(3), 270-277. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20238.

Chair, Dr Kim Dunphy, Research Fellow, Creative Arts and Music Therapy Research Unit, University of Melbourne, Victoria
Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi, Lecturer, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia
Dr Elizabeth Day, Senior Lecturer, Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Australian College of Applied Psychology, and Senior Lecturer, Master of Psychotherapy, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Dr Angela Mornane, Lecturer, Master of Counselling and Offshore Student Advisor & Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria
Gina O’Neill, Registered Psychotherapist, Supervisor, Educator, NSW
Dr Tristan Snell, Lecturer, Master of Counselling, Monash University, Victoria