Workforce Development for Evidence-Based Practices

Connecticut is gaining increasing recognition for its creative strategy to improve the service delivery system by preparing the workforce for evidence-based practice.

Not only is there ample model-specific training for therapists employed in evidence-based and promising practice programs, but since 2009 there has been a growing pool of masters-level clinicians with pre-service foundational training in evidence-based practice and in the different in-home family treatment programs that are being offered throughout the state.

These clinicians received training through a course in their masters programs of social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling or psychology on the array of empirically supported in-home family treatment models and their shared core competencies. These professionals enter the workforce with a Certificate of Completion, and readiness to do the kind of work that Connecticut has invested in to promote better outcomes for youth.

A better trained workforce means better outcomes for those served.

What does “Evidence-Based Practice” refer to?

The term “Evidence-Based Practice” or “EBP,” is actually used in a couple of different ways. The term was first coined in the medical field to indicate an approach to make decisions about what treatments should be provided to patients. In this context, EBP refers to “…the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients…” (Sackett et al., 1997). Subsequently, other healthcare disciplines have expanded upon the definition for the process of EBP.

“Evidence-Based Practices” (EBPs) or “Evidence-Based Treatments” (EBTs) refer to specific treatment models that meet several fundamental criteria. With this use of the term, EBPs are defined as:

Specific interventions that:

      • Have manualized, replicable practice parameters
      • Strong research basis of support (the "gold standard" being at least two randomized control-group studies)
      • Well-defined target population
      • Often with quality assurance mechanisms to ensure model fidelity

Other Empirically Supported Treatments

“Promising practices” is a term that refers to treatment models that have a strong research basis of support, but which have not yet obtained the level of research support to be considered an EBP. These are models that may have one random control-group study, and/or may have strong outcome data, but not yet meet a level of research support to be considered an “EBP” or “EBT.”

Connecticut is Strongly Invested in Empirically Supported Treatment Choices for Children and Their Families

Connecticut stakeholders have embraced a vision for CT’s children and families that offers a comprehensive array of services to meet their diverse behavioral health needs. For some families requiring an intensive level of intervention to help maintain youth in their homes and communities rather than being placed out of their home through inpatient hospitalization, residential treatment or incarceration, there is a range of evidence-based and promising practice models of in-home family treatment. Currently there are over eleven empirically supported models of in-home treatment for children and families in Connecticut.


In Connecticut, there are more than 500 jobs in EBPs or promising practice models of in-home treatment across the state! With so many positions statewide, Connecticut has invested in developing clinicians for Evidence-Based Practices through innovative partnership between providers and higher education.


In the literature and in discussions among providers, it is often lamented that universities do not necessarily keep pace with the changes and innovations in the practice. For example, findings from a survey of 589 North American senior managers and supervisors within the behavioral health service system for children and youth, indicate that from the perspective of provider organizations, only 38% felt that clinicians entering the workforce were moderately prepared for evidence-based practice and fewer than 3% felt those entering the workforce were very prepared (Barwick, 2011).

In 2008, Connecticut decided to do something about this divide through a mental health transformation grant, partnering with Wheeler Clinic to develop the Current Trends curriculum and faculty fellowship.

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