In this issue ...


Couple therapy for depression: The IAPT service for couples working with the relational factors in a diagnosis of depression (free article)
Kate Thompson describes the much-underused IAPT therapy for couples and argues for its expansion

Psychosexual counselling in an NHS setting
Sue Burridge reflects upon the important work of the psychosexual counsellor within the NHS

The path of mindfulness: an NHS case example
Robert Marx and Fergal Jones showcase the way in which innovative mindfulness programmes can enhance mental
healthcare provision within the NHS

Keeping it relevant: using evolutionary psychology to engage and treat clients in an NHS inpatient group setting
Peter Klein explores the role of evolutionary psychology in groupwork with clients with differing diagnoses


Chair’s report – BACP Healthcare
Satinder Panesar

Healthcare update
Judy Stafford

Counselling in primary care
Elaine Davies

Third sector perspective
Michael Lilley

Cover of Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal April 2017

A pdf version of this issue is available from the Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal archive

From the editor

Last year, in its review of the availability of NICE-recommended therapies for depression in IAPT services,1 BACP highlighted the paucity of non-CBT offerings. The next few issues of the journal will showcase the other IAPT therapies for depression, in the hope of raising awareness of the full range of options available. We begin in this issue with couple therapy for depression, an IAPT therapy aimed at working with couples, where the relationship dynamics are contributing to depression in one of the partners. This type of therapy is also suggested in cases where it is deemed that working with the relationship can help a person to recover from depression. Kate Thompson highlights the paradox that, despite the high success rates of this treatment, it has only been made available in half the IAPT services in the UK.

When couples come for therapy, one of the issues which often raises its head is sexuality. Many therapists may feel uncomfortable exploring this aspect of their clients’ personal lives, not least because most training courses do not equip them to address it. Psychosexual therapists, who have undergone specialist training in this area, have an extremely important role to play in helping clients to address sexual issues. Sue Burridge outlines the work of Bedfordshire Psychosexual Service and describes her own personal journal to becoming a psychosexual therapist in the NHS. It is imperative that other mental health professionals in NHS-funded services are aware of the important work of psychosexual teams, so that they are able to make appropriate referrals and ensure that this important aspect of their clients’ personal lives is not overlooked.

Another form of intervention that has been approved for NHS use, but is perhaps still vastly underutilised, is mindfulness. Robert Marx and Fergal Jones’ article demonstrates how this can help clients by teaching them to focus on the present, rather than ruminating on the past or making predictions about the future. The practice of mindfulness involves just noticing thoughts, feelings and sensations, without trying to change them, in contrast to CBT. Mindfulness has been shown to help alleviate stress, prevent depressive relapse and increase wellbeing, through helping clients to disengage from worry and rumination, and through the development of greater self-compassion. This article provides an overview of the history of mindfulness and explores how mindfulness interventions are used in NHS services.

CBT clearly plays a significant and an invaluable role in NHS mental health provision, in both individual and group therapy. However, it can sometimes prove ill-equipped to address some client needs. Peter Klein explores how evolutionary psychology can be used in group therapy, by assisting clients in understanding the role of their mental health issues in evolutionary terms. He provides a rich range of examples of how anxiety, low self-esteem and other mental health issues all have a role to play from an evolutionary perspective. Helping clients to understand this can assist them in normalising their problems and finding strategies to overcome them.

In this journal, we hope to showcase the diverse range of innovative therapies within NHS mental health services throughout the UK. In the next issue, we will explore dynamic interpersonal therapy, a short-term form of psychodynamic therapy, and we will look at counselling for depression later in the year. If you have views on the provision of these services, or perhaps some examples of best practice, then please do let us know. Equally, if there are other topics that you would like to see addressed in this journal, or if you would like to contribute an article yourself, then do contact us.

Joanna Benfield, editor


1 BACP. Choice of therapies in IAPT: an overview of the availability and client profile of step 3 therapies. [Online.] Lutterworth: BACP; 2016. (accessed 2 March 2017).