Evidence-based therapies supported

The British Psychological Society is committed to ensuring the availability of effective psychological therapies for a range of mental health problems through the promotion of high quality clinical outcome research and practice of evidence-based psychological therapies.

A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice has proposed an approach to commissioning psychological therapies based not on best available research evidence but rather funding any psychological approach, regardless of evidence of effectiveness, but only if a service user recovers.

The British Psychological Society believes this proposal to be fundamentally flawed. The 'evidence-blind' approach, proposed in the report, discounts decades of high quality psychological therapies research which has led to the development and refinement of effective psychological therapies for a number of mental health problems.

These therapies have become much more widely available over recent years because of recent significant investment made by both the current and previous governments. Thus an 'evidence-blind' approach would serve service-users very poorly and would be inconceivable in other areas of healthcare. It would also undo much of the good work that has been done in the past 50 years to reduce the disparity between the quality of mental health and physical healthcare.

The Society does, however, recognise that the evidence-base is more extensive for some psychological therapies than others and that absence of evidence in no way equates to evidence of ineffectiveness.

Indeed, in a joint statement with other psychological therapy organizations we have recommended that future research addresses gaps in the evidence base through the use of well-conducted randomised clinical trials of both novel and under-researched psychological therapies to establish their efficacy. We also recommended innovative methods for analysing evidence from a range of studies to consider in conjunction with the evidence obtained from efficacy studies.

The Society is committed to providing service users with a choice of psychological therapies that have been demonstrated to be both clinically and cost effective with a particular clinical presentation based on the scientific methods which demonstrate an open, fair, robust, and rigorous use of the best available research evidence.