Animation: 'How can Practice Elements help you build better, evidence-informed programs?'

This explainer animation helps to share one of CEI's core approaches: using 'common elements' or 'practice elements' as the building blocks for intervention and program design. It asks what are practice elements exactly? And how do we design programs with good implementation in mind from the start, all the while maintaining a commitment to building the evidence through robust evaluation?

Practice elements are discrete techniques found within a broad range of programs and interventions that are effective in enabling change; they are the common building blocks of programs that have been shown to work to bring about better outcomes.

Example practice elements might include building family communication skills, enhancing problem-solving skills, or goal-setting – all common techniques within parenting programs. These discrete practices can be used flexibly according to client need.

The emerging evidence base highlights that the practice elements approach is implementable and effective. Randomised controlled trials have demonstrated that utilising a flexible, modular practice elements approach:

  • has more sustained positive outcomes than standard treatment designs (Chorpita et al., 2013);
  • results in faster improvement on outcomes relative to usual care (Chorpita et al., 2017);
  • is perceived more positively by practitioners relative to less flexible approaches (Borntrager, Chorpita, Higa-McMillan, & Weisz, 2009), and
  • can be delivered effectively and with fidelity by non-specialist therapists/practitioners (Bolton et al., 2014; Murray et al., 2018; Weiss et al., 2015).

CEI has led a range of projects using implementation science to enhance uptake, use and sustainment of the practice elements approach in diverse contexts across Australia, Singapore, Europe and the UK.

Make contact with us to learn more about how CEI can support you to build, implement and evaluate better programs using practice elements in your setting.



Borntrager, C. F., Chorpita, B. F., Higa-McMillan, C., & Weisz, J. R. (2009). Provider attitudes toward evidence-based practices: are the concerns with the evidence or with the manuals? Psychiatric Services, 60(5), 677-681.

Chorpita, B. F., Daleiden, E. L., Park, A. L., Ward, A. M., Levy, M. C., Cromley, T., et al. (2017). Child STEPs in California: A cluster randomized effectiveness trial comparing modular treatment with community implemented treatment for youth with anxiety, depression, conduct problems, or traumatic stress. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 85(1), 13.

Chorpita, B. F., Weisz, J. R., Daleiden, E. L., Schoenwald, S. K., Palinkas, L. A., Miranda, J., et al. (2013). Long-term Outcomes for the Child STEPs Randomized Effectiveness Trial: A Comparison of Modular and Standard Treatment Designs With Usual Care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(6), 999.

Weiss, W. M., Murray, L. K., Zangana, G. A. S., Mahmooth, Z., Kaysen, D., Dorsey, S., et al. (2015). Community-based mental health treatments for survivors of torture and militant attacks in Southern Iraq: A randomized control trial. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1), 249.