Efficacy and Effectiveness of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy

Research paper by John R. Weisz, Peter S. Jensen

Indexed on: 01 Sep '99Published on: 01 Sep '99Published in: Mental Health Services Research


Decades of intervention research have produced a rich body of evidence on the effects of psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies with children and adolescents. Here we summarize and critique that evidence. We review findings bearing on the efficacy of psychosocial treatments and medications under controlled experimental conditions. We also report evidence, where available, on the effectiveness of both classes of treatment with clinically referred youth treated in real-world clinical contexts. In general, the large body of evidence on efficacy contrasts sharply with the small base of evidence on effectiveness. Addressing this gap through an enriched research agenda could contribute importantly to linking scientific inquiry and clinical practice—to the benefit of both ventures. This is one element of a multifaceted agenda for future research and for synthesis of research, which will require the interplay of multiple disciplines related to child and adolescent mental health.