What Does Evidence-Based Recovery Model Really Mean

“Evidence-based model” has become such a popular buzzword in the mental health community that it is often thrown around without any explanation as to what it means. While the name provides a clue, the details get often lost or go unexplained to the general community.

Read on to learn about the history and components of common evidence-based treatment models.


Evidence-based treatment practices originated long ago in the medical field but did not gain popularity until the term became widely used in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, the development of treatment models based on evidence from scientific research expanded to many different fields, including mental health and substance abuse.

Generally, evidence-based practices incorporate

  • Evidence from research
  • Clinical expertise
  • The patient’s individual needs and preferences

This decision-making process provides a framework for clinicians to determine the best possible treatment model for each patient by conducting clinical assessments, referencing research and collaborating with the patient.

Evidence-Based Models in Practice

Evidence-based treatment models address such disorders as PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse as well as co-occurring disorders. They are usually short-term interventions that run for a specified number of sessions or weeks.

Treatment can be done with individuals, families or groups, depending on the model. They can occur in different settings, such as an outpatient clinic, residential treatment facility, rehab or a patient’s home. Many can be used throughout the life span, while some need to be adapted for certain age groups.

Some common evidence-based models used with adults include

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Motivational Interviewing

Most evidence-based models require extensive training to properly implement specific interventions using different steps and tools. This allows practitioners to guide interventions in a consistent, systematic manner.

Common Components of Evidence-Based Models

While all models vary, there are core components that can be found in many. Because they are time-limited, the models are designed to equip patients with the necessary skills to manage their wellness over time.


Clinicians present information relevant to the patients’ health issues, which allows for insight into triggers, warning signs and symptoms. The intent is for patients to gain self-awareness, identify their needs and address problem areas.

Skills Training

Patients learn how to manage their symptoms using appropriate coping mechanisms and distress-tolerance skills. They practice these skills on a consistent basis during calm periods in order to be better prepared in the presence of triggers.

Maintenance and Relapse-Prevention

Once patients demonstrate consistent alleviation from symptoms, they prepare for termination. Patients at this time should have the skills to independently manage their symptoms over time.


While evidence-based models are backed by research, not every treatment method is going to work for everyone. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment, but there are many options available, especially as more models emerge. Therefore, it is important to consult a professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist who provides clinical services.

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