by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
The AMHF grant to Astor Services for Children—to identify and evaluate interventions that help adolescents at risk for suicide and psychosis, and to create scientifically supported guidelines—supports the exact kind of empirical investigation recommended by American Psychological Association President Suzanne Bennett Johnson.
In the President’s Column of the July August 2012 APA Monitor (American Psychological Association), Johnson urged psychologists to work toward greater scientific definition and efficacy of psychological care and treatment.
“In the 1970s,” she writes, “medicine woke up to the fact that the ‘art of medicine’ or ‘clinical judgment’ did not necessarily result in positive patient health outcomes.”
Beginning in the 1980s, medical groups worked to create scientific protocols of treatment. The American College of Physicians began its Clinical Efficacy Assessment Project in 1981, and in 1987 the Council of Medical Specialty Societies convened a national meeting to promote treatment guidelines. Soon after this, the American Medical Association (AMA) brought together numerous professional societies to help coordinate Evidence-based Guidelines (EBG). In the 1990s, the field of medicine often required that guidelines of treatment should be based on evidence treatments.
“In my view,” Johnson stated, it is important that APA join the EBG movement if it is to be an effective player in the larger health-care arena. EBGs are already a central part of medical care and will be part of the integrated health-care delivery systems of the future. Psychologists have important scientific expertise to offer and can play a critical role in assuring that psychological interventions are part of the EBG movement; patients should have access to effective psychological interventions and not be limited to drugs and other biologic interventions.”
The National Institute of Mental Health has identified a need for creating scientific protocols identifying and treating adolescents who are potentially schizophrenic and psychotic. The AMHF partnership with Astor Service for Children will be an important step in this area.