Bridging the Gap between Explicative and Treatment Research: A Model and Practical Implications

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Abstract

The recent move toward the recognition of empirically supported treatments (ESTs) within numerous facets of the field of clinical psychology has been met with general enthusiasm. The EST movement would not have been possible without the efforts of earlier treatment researchers. Paradoxically, this is also a time when some of the leaders in clinical psychology are recognizing that there is a paucity of experimental treatment research being conducted today relative to the high volume of correlationally based, explicative research, which examines the associations among variables. In this paper we present numerous reasons for the relative excess of explicative research and the paucity of treatment outcome research. Clinical practice is used to exemplify how assessment-oriented, explicative activities and the design of treatment can be integrated. A research-based example in which explicative research is used directly to inform the design of the intervention in treatment outcome research is presented as one model for emulation. Specific recommendations are made to help guide professionals and students entering the field who wish to conduct treatment research. An expansion on some of the themes highlighted in this paper can be found in the chapter from which it was in part derived (Blount, Bunke, & Zaff, 1999).