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Review of "Handbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and Adolescents"

By Ric G. Steele (Editor), T. David Elkin, Michael C. Roberts (Editors)
Springer, 2007
Review by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D. on Jul 14th 2008
Handbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and Adolescents

The Handbook for evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents: Bridging science and practice is a 32-chapter edited book on psychotherapies that "have adequate evidence for their effectiveness" (p. 5).  The purpose of the book is "to provide a comprehensive review of evidence-based therapies across numerous disorders and conditions affecting children and adolescents" (p.4).  It is refreshing to read that evidence-based therapies do extend beyond cognitive-behavioral methods. 

The book consists of three sections:  Establishing the Need and Criteria for Evidence-Based Therapies, Evidence-Based Therapies for Specific Disorders or Conditions, and Implementation Issues. 

Section I, Establishing the Need and Criteria for Evidence-Based Therapies, consists of four chapters: problems and prospects, empirically supported treatments and evidence based-practice, methodological issues in evaluation, and translating research into practice. 

Section II, Evidence-Based Therapies for Specific Disorders or Conditions, contains a total of twenty chapters.  There are four chapters on anxiety disorders, three chapters on mood disorders, four chapters on disruptive behavior disorders, five chapters on pediatric and medically related disorders, such as pain management in children, and four chapters on other disorders, such as autism and substance use. 

Section III, Implementation Issues, consists of eight chapters, including chapters on treating diverse client populations, use of evidence-based treatments in community settings, graduate training, and emerging issues in evidence-based treatments. 

In Chapter 11, Evidence-Based Therapies for Adolescent Suicidal Behavior, the authors address an important point -- "adolescents who attempt suicide vary greatly in terms of treatment attendance" (Spirito & Esposito-Smythers, 2008, p. 177).  The authors discuss the reasons for this variation in attendance, including families' level of stress.  The authors emphasize the importance of examining obstacles to treatment completion and creating a strong alliance with the family.

Chapter 12, Evidence-Based Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Hoza, Kaiser, & Hurt, 2008), is a literature review which addresses two important points -- first, due to its proven efficacy, stimulant medication is "the treatment to which other therapies should be compared" (p. 197), and "combined treatment using both behavior therapy and medication management is considered the treatment of choice for functional problems extending beyond core ADHD symptoms" (p. 197). 

In Chapter 17, Evidence-Based Treatments for Children with Chronic Illnesses (Elkin & Stoppelbein, 2008), the authors state that many therapies for children with chronic illnesses were originally treatments for non-chronically ill children.  The chapter addresses evidence-based treatments for diabetes, cancer, and sickle cell disease.  The authors present the prevalence and epidemiology for each disorder.

Chapter 21, Evidence-Based Therapies for Autistic Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Campbell, Herzinger, & James, 2008) begins with an interesting synopsis of the history of the autism diagnosis.  The authors state that "children with PDDs are widely heterogeneous" (p. 374), an important consideration for clinicians.  The authors then go on to describe the range of behaviors and impairments found in the Pervasive Developmental Disorder population.  It would have been beneficial for the authors to clarify that only a small percentage of those with PDD have savant behaviors.  The authors did an excellent job of narrowing down the myriad interventions to applied behavior analysis, focal interventions, and a brief synopsis of three other treatments.  The section on applied behavior analysis was presented in a clear and unbiased fashion. 

In chapter 28, "Evidence-Based Therapy and Ethical Practice", the authors (Rae & Fournier, 2008), discuss the criteria for determining treatment efficacy.  The clinician must first examine the methodology and appropriateness of the research, then decide if that treatment should be used with a particular client, and finally, the clinical use consider the usefulness of the therapy.  The authors had an thought-provoking comment on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: "The DSM-IV diagnostic categories do not indicate a specific etiology, but rather just report on a constellation of grouped symptoms that make up the disorder." (p. 515). 

This book is particularly recommended for any agency or program coordinators who are required to determine the most beneficial and cost-effective treatment for their client population.  The book is also recommended to any behavioral science professors, as the dissemination of this information is crucial to future clinicians.  Clinicians who tend to be more empirically focused would also appreciate this book. 

© 2008 Stephanie Moulton Sarkis

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD is the author of the books "10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD: How to Overcome Chronic Distraction and Accomplish Your Goals"  and "Making the Grade with ADD: A Student's Guide to Succeeding in College with Attention Deficit Disorder". Dr. Sarkis is a national certified counselor and licensed mental health counselor in Gainesville, Florida who specializes in ADD counseling and coaching.  She is also the director of assessments and evaluations at Sarkis Family Psychiatry and Sarkis Clinical Trials and an assistant adjust professor at the University of Florida.  She has been featured on national and regional TV and radio, including CNN, Fox News, and ABC News.  She can be found at  ww.stephaniesarkis.com or stephanie@stephaniesarkis.com.