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Evidence Based Practice: Psychology


Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP)is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences. EBPP promotes effective psychological practice and enhances public health by applying empirically supported principles of psychological assessment, case formulation, therapeutic relationship, and intervention to all professional practices.

Read the APA policy statement on EBP to learn more about Evidence Based Practice principles and how they apply in psychology.

The following excerpt from the APA Policy Statement outlines the different research designs that contribute to evidence based practice and the type of questions they can be used to address.

  • Clinical observation (including individual case studies) and basic psychological science are valuable sources of innovations and hypotheses (the context of scientific discovery).
  • Qualitative research can be used to describe the subjective, lived experiences of people, including participants in psychotherapy.
  • Systematic case studies are particularly useful when aggregated (as in the form of practice research network) for comparing individual patients with others with similar characteristics.
  • Single-case experimental designs are particularly useful for establishing causal relationships in the context of an individual.
  • Public health and ethnographic research are especially useful for tracking the availability, utilization, and acceptance of mental health treatments as well as suggesting ways of altering these treatments to maximize their utility in a given social context.
  • Process–outcome studies are especially valuable for identifying mechanisms of change.
  • Studies of interventions as these are delivered in naturalistic settings (effectiveness research) are well suited for assessing the ecological validity of treatments.
  • RCTs [randomised controlled trials] and their logical equivalents (efficacy research) are the standard for drawing causal inferences about the effects of interventions (context of scientific verification).
  • Meta-analysis is a systematic means to synthesize results from multiple studies, test hypotheses, and quantitatively estimate the size of effects.



The following electronic titles can be useful for developing evidence-based psychology practice and policy.


The Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making is a cross disciplinary centre designed to answer questions about behaviour and it's effects on health promotion and disease prevention, psychosocial adjustment of patients and carers, and promoting the use of evidence in health care decision making.

It combines University of Sydney researchers and academics from the School of Psychology, School of Public Health, and Sydney Medical School.

There are a number of different resources available from their website for both practitioners and patients including clinical guidelines, decision aids, and question prompts.


The following resources can be useful for those seeking or developing evidence based practice literature.


Not all evidence is equal! The EBP pyramid provides a clear indication on the quality of evidence that each type of study or filtered resource provides when used to inform evidence based practice.

EBP pyramid