VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
The Scientific Truth Continuum: A New Model for Determining Best Practices in Counseling
Thomas A. Field
Counseling exists in the age of accountability. Over the past 15 years, research into counseling and psychotherapy has sought to identify the most effective approaches and to delineate best practices based upon supposed objective truths. Unfortunately, one of the most common goals of research into counseling and psychotherapy outcomes has consistently been to claim superiority for one specific approach. This competition between schools of counseling and psychotherapy culminated in a 1995 Task Force of the American Psychological Association (APA) creating a list of evidence-based treatments (EBTs), also known as “empirically validated” and “empirically supported” treatments. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) now requires that trainee counselors in Addictions Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling demonstrate knowledge of “evidence-based treatments” (CACREP, 2009, Standard I.3). In recent years, efforts have been made to broaden the scope of what is considered a best practice in counseling and psychotherapy. The field is moving toward a paradigm of evaluating best practices based upon three specific elements: research evidence, clinical expertise, and client context (APA, 2006). The latter element includes the client’s “characteristics, culture, values, and preferences” (p. 276).