When Science and Evidence-based Practice Lead to Harm and not Harm Reduction (Intermediate/Advanced; Clinical, Research to Practice/Ethics/Best Practices)_ AT CAPACITY

When is good care not really good care? How do we know when the “evidence” and data is actually good “evidence” and data? Connecting research results to translations into clinical practice is often informed by an evidence base that applied practitioners can be less comfortable assessing. Our work assumes that once a treatment approach or practice has been given the “green-light” through advances in academic research, there is little cause to challenge these practices until there is vast evidence of individual harms or ineffectiveness at the practice level. What do we do when a theory, concept or clinical approach that was “debunked” in the past come back around with a new shiny title or slight twist, but it is still not a good thing in practice for our clients? In this training we will explore the disconnect between research and application. How scientific and evidence informed recommendations can lead to harms in practice. And discuss how even the best intended policies and recommendations can do harm. We will end by identifying three ways we can address the concerns above for the betterment of ourselves, our treatment, and our clients.

Training Objectives:

  • Discuss the research to application and implementation process and ways to evaluate the evidence
  • Explore ways this drives practice and policies
  • Identify when science, practice and policies may not be good and what we can do to reduce harm


Martha Thompson, PsyD, CAADC

Dr. Thompson is the founder and lead clinician at Empower the Mind LLC in Central Pennsylvania. She provides outpatient mental health, SUD treatment, clinical trainings, and consultation for professionals in the field.  Since starting her company in 2012 she has helped to grow, develop, and coordinate several community-based prevention programs such as Connected Together – a community violence prevention program providing free mobile trauma therapy to those in need, Breaking the Cycle, Changing the Future – a SUD peer recovery support program for pregnant and postpartum women which includes consultation for the professionals working with this special population, and Lebanon County Student Assistance Program which provides services to six school districts, the career and technology center and runs a free summer camp for county youth.  In 2016 Dr. Thompson was elected to join the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB).  Through her involvement with the board, she has helped to develop and implement statewide best practice trainings for peers and professionals credentialled by the PCB and working in programs licensed by the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).  Over the last several years she has taught at Harrisburg Area Community College, Alvernia University and Lebanon Valley College.  Her passion to help other learn, grow and be well is illustrated through her work daily!