Evidence based interventions that work (EBI)


Clinical practice that has been researched for efficacy and positive outcomes is not only important as we strive towards quality practice, but delivers tangible improvements in outcome for infants, children and young people experiencing mental health and addiction concerns. 

This resource has been designed to help you, as a busy health practitioner, to quickly establish if a particular intervention has a solid research basis, and whether it is likely to work for the child or young person you are working with and their family/whānau. 

Common presentations come with an information sheet summarising key elements, prevalence and the quality of evidence behind numerous interventions, helping you easily become familiar with a range of evidence bases for various approaches within child and adolescent mental health services.

Evidence-based intervention categories


  • Research-based, or evidence-based interventions (EBIs) have been shown to be more effective than usual care.
  • The strength of the research evidence for particular interventions has been summarised into “gold”, “silver” and “bronze” categories, allowing health professionals to see the evidence at a glance.  


Strongly recommended by all recent effectiveness reviews in the group surveyed.


Moderately recommended, based on the recommendation of several reviews, and/or weaker evidence.


Endorsed as an effective treatment, but with some caveats, or mixed results across studies. 

Not recommended

The intervention was designated as ‘not recommended’ by one or more reviews in the group. 


  • The most effective interventions are usually an integration of the health professional’s expertise and experience, the research evidence, and client preferences, goals and values. 
  • In Aotearoa-New Zealand there is a recognised need for EBIs to be developed by specific cultural groups (Māori and Pacific) in the first instance. As most evidence-based interventions have been developed and tested in North America and only a selection have been formally tested in New Zealand, where it is culturally appropriate partnering with Māori and Pacific people to adapt EBIs for the New Zealand context is required.
  • Therapy is both an art and a science.  It is well known that useful interventions almost always involve therapist intuition, insight, experience and a rich connection with the client and their family (the 'art').  It's also important that the therapy approach chosen is likely to be effective (the 'science').  In a busy working environment, the health practitioner needs to establish quickly and reliably that a particular intervention has a good, solid foundation of research, and is likely to work for this client and their family/whānau at this time. 


American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-V). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Dunnachie, B. (2007). Evidence-based Age-appropriate Interventions – A guide for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Auckland: The Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Workforce Development.

Fonagy, P., Cottrell, D., Phillips, J., Bevington, D., Glaser, D., & Allison, E. (2015). What Works for Whom? A critical review of treatments for children and adolescents (2nd Ed). New York: Guilford.

Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M. C., Gray, J. A. M., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. British Medical Journal 312, 71-72.

Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui (2016). Therapy: A guide to evidence-based talking therapies. Auckland, New Zealand: Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui.

The Matrix (2015). A Guide to Delivering Evidence-based Psychological Therapies in Scotland. Scotland: NES.

Weisz, J. R., Kuppens, S., Eckshtain, D., Ugeto, A. M., Hawley, K. M., & Jensen-Doss, A. (2013). Performance of Evidence-Based Youth Psychotherapies Compared with Usual Clinical Care: A Multilevel Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry 70 (7), 750-761