STONY BROOK, N.Y., – Psychotherapy practitioners and researchers often carry out their work in separate worlds, and there exists a great need to close the gap between them, so that each can benefit from the work of the other, according to Marvin R. Goldfried, Ph.D., Stony Brook University Professor of Psychology, who will address the topic at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in San Diego, California, on August 13.
Dr. Goldfried, a distinguished professor of clinical psychology, who functions as both a clinician and a researcher, has come up with a new way close this gap between clinical practice and research. As President of the Society of Clinical Psychology, Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Goldfried is heading an effort open a line of communication between practice and research, through which practitioners would have a means to provide feedback to researchers on their practical results with evidence-based treatments.
Psychotherapists have been practicing for over 100 years. For many years, the decision of whether therapy worked was left to the opinion of the practitioner and the patient. However, there has been the growing recognition that research studies were needed to independently demonstrate if and how the treatment worked. Using a research approach to provide evidence that therapy worked—clinical trials– researchers have compiled a list of empirically supported treatments that have fared well. Although these findings have been very important, practicing clinicians have raised the concern that the conditions of practice in the real world are not the same as those in clinical trials.
Believing that both researchers and clinicians have important information about the workings of therapy, Goldfried has announced a program that the Society of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association has established a way to build a “two-way bridge” between research and practice.
As observed by Goldfried, “Our medical colleagues, whose practice is informed by clinical trials, has such a bridge. When a drug has been approved by the FDA on the basis on randomized clinical trials, and is subsequently used for treatment, a mechanism exists for providing feedback about how well it fares in the real clinical setting. Thus practitioners can file incident reports to the FDA when they encounter problems in the use of any given drug in clinical practice. Within the field of psychotherapy, the practitioner can readily provide similar feedback to researchers.”
The demonstration of the feasibility of the two-way bridge has begun with a survey of practitioners who use cognitive behavior therapy to treat panic disorder, a clinical problem that has received favorable research evidence and one that occurs frequently in clinical practice.
“Despite the fact that there has been extensive research on the treatment of panic, we believe that there is still much that can be learned from the clinicians treating such patients,” he says.
“Although all therapists who have experience with this clinical problem would have much to offer, we decided to focus on the use of an intervention that has received empirical support– cognitive-behavior therapy. There is a promising psychodynamic treatment for panic currently under investigation, but it has yet to have achieved empirically supported status.”
Dr. Goldfried said that building a bridge between clinician and researchers will have practical implications as the federal government becomes more involved in quality assurance for Medicare and Medicaid. “They must do what people agree is appropriate, or what works,” he said. “The public implication is that patients will receive better treatment if what they are undergoing is both informed by research and clinical experience.”
Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. In the 50+ years since its founding, the University has grown tremendously, now with nearly 24,700 students and 2,200 faculty and is recognized as one of the nation’s important centers of learning and scholarship. It is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, and ranks among the top 100 national universities in America and among the top 50 public national universities in the country according to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report survey. Considered one of the “flagship” campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook University co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining an elite group of universities, including Berkeley, University of Chicago, Cornell, MIT, and Princeton that run federal research and development laboratories. SBU is a driving force of the Long Island economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4% of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.