Evidence-based practice at a crossroads: The timely emergence of common elements and common factors

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Social work is increasingly embracing evidence-based practice (EBP) as a decision-making process that incorporates the best available evidence about effective treatments given client values and preferences, in addition to social worker expertise. Yet, social work practitioners have typically encountered challenges with the application of manualized evidence-supported treatments. For social work, the path to implementing the delivery of science-informed practice remains at a crossroads. This article describes two emergent strategies that offer a plausible means by which many social workers can integrate an EBP model into their service delivery-common factors and common elements. Each strategy will be presented, and related evidence provided. Tools to implement a common elements approach and to incorporate client feedback consistent with a common factors perspective will also be described. These strategies will be placed in the broader context of the EBP framework to suggest possible advances in social work practice and research. © SAGE Publications 2012.

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Research on Social Work Practice