Evidence-based Practice in the Juvenile Justice System: Balancing Clinical Expertise with Best Available Research and Client Variables

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Advisor

Jennifer Cornish

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Sather


Juvenile justice, Adolescents, Program evaluation, EBPP, EBP, Evidence based


Each year, thousands of adolescents are processed through the juvenile justice system -- a system that is complicated, expensive, and inadequately addressing the needs of the youth in its care. While there is extensive literature available in support of interventions for youthful offenders that are clinically superior to current care and more cost-effective than the existing structure, there is a gap between research and practice that is preventing their implementation. The use of Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology (EBPP) as defined by the American Psychological Association is presented as one method to bridge this gap. This paper identifies and discusses each of five barriers to effective use of EBPP: cost, fragmentation of the mental health system, historical and systemic variables, research methodology, and clinician variables. These barriers are first defined and then illustrated using examples from the author's experience working in the juvenile justice field. Finally, recommendations for the field are presented.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


39 pages

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