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Evidence-based therapy is the gold standard in mental health care, yet most providers still rely on approaches that may be ineffective, and even harmful. In the workplace, this means that many companies are paying for mental health benefits that don’t achieve the desired goals, and employees continue to suffer.
Investing in a comprehensive mental health benefit can result in lower turnover, more engagement, higher profitability, and lower absenteeism, but how can employers know if it’s actually working? Here’s a look at one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a mental health solution: evidence-based practice.
Evidence-based practice applies research-based treatments that are tailored to meet people’s needs, preferences, and cultural expectations. Evidence-based treatments have been rigorously tested in randomized, controlled trials or a series of case studies, and have been proven to have effective outcomes.
With evidence-based care, the mental health provider considers three criteria to decide what therapeutic techniques to use:
These three factors comprise what is called the “three-legged stool” of evidence-based mental health care. If one of the “legs” is missing, the client doesn’t get the best outcome.
Some examples of evidence-based treatments include:
Through randomized, controlled trials and analyses of multiple combined studies, these treatments have been shown to repeatedly yield similar results, much like trials for any type of medication, surgery, or medical device.
When searching for mental health benefits, many companies focus on access: Can employees get care quickly at an affordable price? Access is important, but so are outcomes—or knowing the care they receive is actually improving their symptoms. Some of the main goals of evidence-based practice are increasing the quality of treatment and accountability for positive results.
Here are a few benefits of evidence-based practice counseling:
Rather than relying solely on personal opinion, evidence-based practice therapy gives mental health providers a framework for care based on research. This reduces the chances that bias or subjective experience will over-influence treatment. Evidence-based practice in mental health blends the best of both worlds, merging clinical data with professional judgment and experience.
A core tenet of evidence-based practice is measuring results. Research shows evidence-based therapies are effective at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life, with results that can be maintained long term. Many evidence-based treatments are time-limited, promoting symptom relief in about 12 sessions.
Because they are time-limited and proven effective, evidence-based therapies can be less costly than other treatments. Research has shown that psychotherapy can pay for itself in terms of medical-cost offset, increased productivity, and life satisfaction.
There are evidence-based treatments for most types of mental health disorders, including substance use, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. People of all ages can receive this type of care in counseling centers, hospitals, clinics, schools, rehabilitation centers, and a variety of other settings.
Evidence-based therapies are flexible, giving providers the ability to individualize treatment to each client’s needs, values, goals, and preferences. As a collaborative process, clients have a voice in their care. This type of person-centered, goal-oriented care is empowering for both providers and clients.
Anyone who sees a doctor for a physical health condition expects a proven treatment and an estimated timeline for relief from symptoms. For mental health, there hasn’t been the same basic expectation. That’s led to a breadth of treatment options, and not all of them have been tested for efficacy and expected outcome.
While many mental health benefits claim to provide evidence-based treatments (EBTs), that may not always be the case. There are many mental health therapies available, but only 20 percent are proven to work, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). In addition, some providers may have been trained in evidence-based treatments but don’t always practice them as intended. This is known as therapeutic drift, and it’s relatively common in mental health care.
When evaluating a mental health benefit, it can be helpful to ask:
Lyra Health has built an exclusive global network of high-quality providers who use only evidence-based therapies. As part of our commitment to evidence-based practice in mental health, we publish peer-reviewed research on whether members in care with Lyra see symptom reduction or recovery. Some key research findings include:
To learn more about choosing an evidence-based workforce mental health solution, download our guide Not All Mental Health Benefits Are Created Equal.