Treatment maps involve an attempt to help professionals by presenting content in the order needed to deal with practical issues. I first recognized the importance of this sort of presentation when teaching statistics to graduate students at NYU in the 1960’s.
It quickly became clear that students could solve problems if I told them what to do, but they often were lost if confronted with a work-sample that didn’t specify the statistic to be used.
I began to organize my courses around the issue of choosing effective methods for reporting and analyzing data, with the idea that students ought to be able to take any set of data and come up with reasonable ways for dealing with it. I used flow charts to help them keep track of the steps to follow and the questions to ask. I began by lecturing on each of the steps in the flow chart, and pointing out where they could find the details of analysis in the text.
However, I found that much of the critical information on choosing statistics was missing from the text I was using; so I wrote my own text: Introductory Statistics: A Decision Map. It was enthusiastically received by a few instructors and went to a second edition.
Eventually I left teaching for clinical work, and the book was abandoned by both me and The Macmillan Company, which left college texts for other markets.
In the nineties, the idea came up again, this time in relation to clinical work. Two friends and I decided to see whether a similar kind of text could be written for alcohol treatment, one that would help a clinician determine whether a patient has an alcohol problem, and if so, go through a reasonable series of steps to both refine the diagnosis and treat the problem. This was a fortunate collaboration, as I was familiar with organizing information but ignorant of alcohol treatment, and they were both experts on the latter. In addition to private practice, Jerry Bowen, CSW, CASAC, was clinical director of the Oceanside Counseling Center, which focused on alcohol treatment; and Stan Feinberg, MS, CASAC, was at the time working on guidelines for drug and alcohol treatment for the State of New York.
The project seemed very successful to us, at least for demonstrating feasibility. We printed a number of copies in booklet form and made presentations to local therapist organizations. Our work became the basis for the alcohol map on this site.
A second booklet followed, on eating disorders. I did the writing and organizing, with Marie Oppedisano, Ph.D. and Lois Belfiore, Psy.D. providing the expertise. We all formed a group, The Collaborative Project on Treatment Choices in Psychotherapy, and attempted to expand our purview. Two other booklets were started, one on depression with Judith Butt, Ph.D., Amy Hartford, Psy.D. and Cara Donaldson, Ph.D. and one on attention problems in children, with Judith Butt, Ph.D. and Michael Osarchuk, Ph.D.
However, we ran into technical issues that we couldn’t solve at the time. It was hard to promote a product that was so different from what people were used to. We couldn’t find a way to print that would allow for frequent revisions. We didn’t know how to reach people who might share our interests in the mapped approach.
Only recently has technology provided an opportunity to overcome many of the obstacles that stopped us in the nineties. On the Internet, any professional who wants to can find the latest edition of this work. Using bulletin boards for postings, we can ask for help from people who might be willing to provide it. We can revise frequently, even daily, and have the revision immediately available. You can download and print out whatever you want at any time.
I have lost touch with most of the original group but remain hopeful that the maps will appeal to other professionals, and that they will want to help expand and clarify an approach that makes clinical choices and techniques more readily available.
Thad Harshbarger, Ph.D.