Hokey Pokey Therapy



This is a rant. You’ve been warned.

As a clinician in the field of early intervention, I am often amazed at the myriad of options available to parents of children with special needs. At first glance, your first thought might be...”SWEET! More is always good, right?!”

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. For a parent navigating the world of early intervention there are 2 categories of therapies available: evidence based, and non evidence based.

Evidence based means, to simplify to some extent, validated by science and clinical expertise—supported by a vast body of research which is scientifically sound. From a clinician’s perspective, this is the gold standard.

Non evidence based doesn’t mean the therapy doesn’t work, it simply means that scientifically speaking the therapy has not been evaluated by a large enough number of studies, and/or the outcomes have not been conclusive enough to yield a clear analysis. Essentially, the opposite of evidence based.

I think we can all agree on what has been stated so far, it’s a simple matter of definitions. If you’re confused, go here for more details: http://guides.mclibrary.duke.edu/c.php?g=158201&p=1036021

Here’s where things get tricky.

I have a bone to pick with practitioners who use their position, which implies knowledge and expertise, to advocate for therapies that aren’t evidence based—without explicitly saying so in their wording.

More and more Colleges and regulatory bodies are emerging in order to regulate professionals, and ensure ethical practice. Unfortunately, those professionals currently unaffiliated with a regulatory body are not working within any guidelines which prevent unethical practice. It goes without saying that there are unregulated professionals who have strict ethical guidelines—heck, I was one for many years prior to registering. My issue is with those who are, probably unintentionally, breaching best practice ethical standards by not clearly stating their particular therapies are NOT evidence based.

As a parent, you have a right to know, and then decide fully informed.