The Board of Directors of NATSAP has long realized that our profession has the responsibility of providing data that examines the impact and effectiveness of our programs. To this end NATSAP has sponsored an outcome research project in collaboration with Dr. Michael Gass at the University of New Hampshire for the past decade. This work has resulted in a permanent data base and led to numerous conference presentations, and scholarly articles aimed at documenting the effectiveness of NATSAP programs. However, the database has relied in large part on a handful of programs who have contributed the majority of data to this effort.

The Board has decided it is now time to push our efforts to the next level and make clear to consumers that not all programs are alike, and those who honestly examine their work, and contribute to the scholarly, professional, and practical understanding of the effects of our interventions deserve to be set apart and receive the proper recognition for their efforts. To this end the Board of NATSAP has established the new status of Research Designated Program to be given to programs that apply and demonstrate they are involved in supplying data that is aimed at evaluating NATSAP program effectiveness and increasing the understanding of our programs impact on youth and their families.

We strongly encourage all NATSAP programs to begin a systematic examination of their work, and join those programs who already are engaged in such efforts. The status of NATSAP RESEARCH DESIGNATED PROGRAM (RDP) was introduced at the NATSAP annual conference in 2016 and was described at the as follows:

The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) recognizes the need and responsibility to conduct appropriate research on its professional practices. In this vein, NATSAP has undertaken a major initiative to encourage all members to demonstrate that they examine their practice in a meaningful way. Programs that demonstrate this commitment are invited to apply, and receive upon examination by the NATSAP Research Committee, the status of a NATSAP RESEARCH DESIGNATED PROGRAM (RDP).

RDP programs will be given a special page on the NATSAP website and in the NATSAP Directory. They will also be able to include the term “RESEARCH DESIGNATED PROGRAM” and add the research designation logo (to be designed) in their marketing.

Programs can achieve the status of a NATSAP RDP in one of two ways. The first way to achieve this status is by joining the ongoing NATSAP Outcome Research Project. This project requires data to be submitted to the NATSAP Database housed at the University of New Hampshire and managed by Dr. Michael Gass. This submission is most easily accomplished by using Outcome Tools - a user-friendly, versatile, and intuitive addition to the BestNotes client record management system. The data collected include: demographic information at admission to the program; the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ), Parent Outcome Questionnaire (OQ), at enrollment, discharge, and one-year post discharge. In addition the Research Committee is encouraging data collection at six months post discharge, and the use of the Family Assessment Device (FAD).

The second way to achieve the status of a NATSAP RDP is to demonstrate commitment and engagement in research using tools and methods other than those prescribed by the NATSAP Outcome Research Project. Programs choosing this option are required to utilize at least one standardized client outcome-oriented evaluation instrument (not simply a satisfaction survey). They must submit an application to the Research Committee describing their research protocol and tools. Programs must also demonstrate that their process has been approved through an appropriate Ethics Review Board.

Programs who demonstrate collection of 70% of their enrollment data for a minimum of 6 months will, upon application to the Research Committee, become a NATSAP RDP. In order to maintain RDP status they will have to submit an annual report to the research Committee verifying ongoing collection of 70% of their enrollment data, and 50% of their discharge data. Post discharge data is more difficult to obtain but the committee has set a target goal of collecting 20-50% of post discharge data. Programs who fall short of the target range for post discharge data may maintain their RDP status by submitting a review of their data collection efforts and a plan to increase the quality and sustainability of their research culture.

Programs wishing to receive the status of NATSAP RESEARCH DESIGNATED PROGRAM are required to fill out an initial application.

How to apply?

1. Complete the application at this link:

2. If qualified you will be contacted via email with the appropriate seal that you can use in promotional materials and on your website. 

3. You will be listed as an RDP member in the NATSAP directory that is published annually.