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Monica Pignotti: Empirically Supported Therapy Recommendations

September 13, 2010

Since I am often asked what types of therapy I recommend for children, given that I have been highly critical of certain other approaches, this posting is designed to answer that question. Please note that this posting is in no way intended to be a recommendation for any specific individual. I provide this information to answer the question about what therapeutic approaches I approve of. Recently I posted a link to a podcast where Dr. Marolyn Morford, who criticized various forms of so-called attachment therapies. discussed behavioral interventions that have a high degree of research support. This podcast contains a wealth of information on evidence-based therapies for children from a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with children who have serious behavior problems.

Note: Dr. Marolyn Morford is a licensed clinical psychologist who practices in Pennsylvania. To set the record straight regarding some odd anonymous postings alleging that I am a “paid shill” for Dr. Morford or that she and I were in some way working together, the fact is I have no business relationship whatsoever with Dr. Morford and have never even met her. It is my impression that Dr. Morford already has a successful clinical practice she has had for many years and has no need to pay people to say they approve of her work. I posted the link to her podcast for informational purposes in response to repeated questions by supporters of certain therapists I criticized, asking me what therapies I do approve of. Now the smear campaign against me, it would seem, has been extended to include Dr. Morford.

Here is another website (the practice of clinical psychologist Robert Montgomery) that provides examples of safe, effective practices for children (I also have no business relationship with Dr. Montgomery).

Additionally, I recommend the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse website which includes a number of well tested interventions such as Parent Child Interaction Therapy that have strong research support and is written in a consumer-friendly lay person’s language.

If you are a parent who has been told by a therapist that his or her radical methods are better than existing empirically supported methods which they claim do not work, I would urge you to do your own research and ask for evidence that this is the case. Testimonials on websites are not a substitute for evidence because it such testimonials are easy to find for just about any therapy, no matter how unvalidated. There is nothing wrong with having testimonials but if there is no research evidence, the testimonials need to be taken with a grain of salt. Think of it this way: would you give your child a medication that had only testimonials to support claims and no published research?

The kind of evidence is needed are controlled studies that have been independently evaluated (peer reviewed) by people who do not have a vested interest in the therapy. The above-referenced website makes an excellent starting point for parents who are seeking evidence-based treatments for their children. Given that I have written a great deal on therapies that I have been highly critical of, which in my opinion should be avoided (e.g. Thought Field Therapy, coercive restraint therapies, “attachment” therapies, holding therapy) I wanted to offer my readers some positive alternatives.

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2 Comments
  1. I like what Montgomery had to say about a well-written psychological report:

    What is a well-written psychological report? It is not for other psychologists, but for parents and students

    And the Clearinghouse is the one for controlled studies resources?

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  1. Monica Pignotti Responds to Adoptive Parent’s Comments « Potentially Harmful and Other Questionable Therapies

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