Perceptions of counselling people with dementia

BACP member Lynsey Judge-Porter explored counsellors’ perceptions of counselling for people with dementia as part of her person-centred counselling and psychotherapy course.

She interviewed practitioners who all agreed that if the core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence were offered, then counselling could be positively achieved. However, the findings suggested that, due to the complexities of people lacking capacity, it was sometimes difficult to establish psychological contact which meant counselling could not take place. The counsellors generally agreed that they lacked confidence in the area and had questions about how beneficial counselling could be.

Lynsey told us: "I believe all counsellors should undertake research to enable both practitioners and clients to promote effective, informed, ethical ways of working that demonstrate how counselling changes lives. I hope counsellors who engage in research can inspire others to do the same - the more we engage the more open we are to accessing new information and ways of working in practice.”

Lynsey found her experience of research to be really valuable to her as a practitioner: "I not only gained knowledge around the subject area, I also challenged my preconceived thoughts and ideas around counselling people with dementia – which has resulted in my personal growth as a counsellor. I believe this is very valuable in my ongoing practice.”

We'd love to hear about your experiences of or thoughts on the role of research in practice. Please share these with us by emailing

Research for psychotherapists

A team of international psychotherapists have created a YouTube channel to highlight psychotherapy research that is relevant to clinicians. Watch their first vlog about differences in therapist effectiveness. New content appears on the last Friday of every month.

Recent research

A comparison between face to face and telephone psychotherapy

This systematic review of 15 studies focused on the differences in quality of interactions between face to face and telephone psychotherapy. The studies found little difference in terms of therapeutic alliance, disclosure, empathy, attentiveness or participation, but telephone sessions were generally shorter.

There's little evidence to suggest that using the telephone is detrimental to interactions during therapy - the challenge is to change practitioner and client attitudes. We need to understand and address the reasons for ambivalence surrounding telephone psychotherapy.

From Journal of Affective Disorders, 15 March 2020

Ethical issues in online psychotherapy

This review of 249 studies from around the world aimed to determine the main ethical arguments for and against online and technology-assisted counselling.

The top three ethical arguments in favour of online psychotherapy were:

  • increased access to psychotherapy and service flexibility
  • similar efficiency and therapy outcomes as traditional face-to-face therapy
  • advantages related to specific client characteristics - for example those living in remote locations

The top three ethical arguments against were:

  • privacy, confidentiality, and security concerns
  • therapist competence and need for special training
  • communication issues specific to technology, for example the lack of nonverbal cues in the therapeutic interaction

These findings may be helpful for practitioners deciding whether or not to engage in online therapy, as well as for those looking for ways to communicate the risks and benefits to their clients.

From The BMJ, 26 March 2020

Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during covid-19 pandemic

When dealing with the challenges of coronavirus, healthcare staff are at increased risk of moral injury (psychological distress that arises from actions, or the lack of action, which violate someone’s personal moral or ethical code) and mental health problems such as PTSD. Once the crisis begins to recede, staff must be actively monitored, supported and, where necessary, provided with evidence based psychological treatments.

The authors recommend that therapists working with healthcare staff should be aware of the potential to avoid speaking about guilt and shame and focusing on other stressors during therapy. Evidence suggests that this can often lead to poorer outcomes.

From Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11 February 2020

BACP research resources

Good practice

Take a look at the Good Practice in Action (GPiA) resources we've put together to aid your research. These cover both practical aspects like writing research proposals and case studies or doing literature searches, to specific topics like supervision or digital technology.


The June 2020 issue of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research (CPR) includes research into harmful supervision practices, practitioners’ understanding of PTSD as it relates to domestic abuse and the effects of a mindfulness intervention on university students’ academic performance.  It's free to access with your membership log in.

All seven of our specialist divisional journals are now free online for all members, so take a look at these for perspectives on working with different client groups.

Research noticeboard

Are you interested in participating in research?  

Our research noticeboard features current research projects by BACP members who are looking for participants. You can also post your own project.

Views expressed in these articles are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.