Most youth psychotherapy research involves conditions quite unlike the clinical practice it is designed to strengthen. Most studies have not tested interventions with clinically referred youths and practicing clinicians in clinical care settings, nor have they tested whether new treatments produce better outcomes than usual practice. Limited exposure to real-world conditions and questions may partially explain why empirically supported treatments show such modest effects when tested under more representative conditions, against usual care. Our deployment-focused model calls for intervention development and testing with the kinds of participants (e.g., clients and clinicians) and in the contexts (e.g., clinics) for which the interventions are ultimately intended, and for randomized comparisons to usual clinical care. Research with the Child STEPs (system and treatment enhancement projects) treatment approach illustrates the methods and potential benefits of the deployment-focused model. Findings supporting Child STEPs are but one part of a rich research matrix needed to shrink the gap between intervention research and clinical practice.


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