Reconciling evidence-based practice and cultural competence in mental health services: introduction to a special issue

Transcult Psychiatry. 2015 Apr;52(2):139-49. doi: 10.1177/1363461514568239.


The calls for evidence-based practice (EBP) and cultural competence (CC) represent two increasingly influential mandates within the mental health professions. Advocates of EBP seek to standardize clinical practice by ensuring that only treatment techniques that have demonstrated therapeutic outcomes under scientifically controlled conditions would be adopted and promoted in mental health services. Advocates of CC seek to diversify clinical practice by ensuring that treatment approaches are designed and refined for a multicultural clientele that reflects a wide variety of psychological orientations and life experiences. As these two powerful mandates collide, the fundamental challenge becomes how to accommodate substantive cultural divergences in psychosocial experience using narrowly prescriptive clinical practices and approaches, without trivializing either professional knowledge or cultural difference. In this Introduction to a special issue of Transcultural Psychiatry, the virtue of an interdisciplinary conversation between and among anthropologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social work researchers in addressing these tensions is extolled.

Keywords: cultural competence; evidence based practice; interdisciplinary dialogue; mental health services.

Publication types

  • Introductory Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Ethnopsychology / trends
  • Evidence-Based Practice / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Mental Health Services*