Bridging the gap between laboratory and clinic in child and adolescent psychotherapy

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995 Oct;63(5):688-701. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.63.5.688.


Meta-analyses of laboratory outcome studies reveal beneficial effects of psychotherapy with children and adolescents. However, the research therapy in most of those lab studies differs from everyday clinic therapy in several ways, and the 9 studies of clinic therapy the authors have found show markedly poorer outcomes than research therapy studies. These findings suggest a need to bridge the long-standing gap between outcome researchers and clinicians. Three kinds of bridging research are proposed and illustrated: (a) enriching the research data base on treatment effects by practitioners in clinical settings--including private practice and health maintenance organizations, (b) identifying features of research therapy that account for positive outcomes and applying those features to clinical practice, and (c) exporting lab-tested treatments to clinics and assessing their effects with referred youths. If these bridging strategies were widely adopted, despite the numerous obstacles described herein, real progress might be made toward more effective treatment in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Private Practice
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Research
  • Social Environment*
  • Treatment Outcome