In this issue


Eating disorders: is inaction tantamount to negligence? (free article)
Kel O’Neill argues that counsellors and psychotherapists need to do more to recognise and address eating disorders

Supervision and training supervisors for IAPT: are we getting the balance right?
Michael Worrell explores whether the provision of supervision for IAPT CBT practitioners is adequate and fit for purpose

Tending the growing edge: counselling women following breast cancer
Carol Morgan explores the role of counselling in facilitating post-traumatic growth

Hyperemesis gravidarum: who cares? (free article)
Michelle Nicholson reflects on the experiences of women who have suffered the psychological effects of severe pregnancy sickness


Chair’s report – BACP Healthcare
Satinder Panesar

Healthcare update
Judy Stafford

Counselling in primary care
Elaine Davies

Cover of Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy journal, January 2018 issue

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

From the editor

One of the key focal points of healthcare policy in recent years has been the need to bridge the gap between physical and mental health. The NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health1 emphasised the need for a greater focus on the psychological aspects of physical illness. In keeping with this, three of the articles in this issue focus on the intersection of physical and mental health, exploring the psychological impacts of eating disorders, severe morning sickness and breast cancer.

Although many of us will have no formal training in working with eating disorders, we may find ourselves with patients presenting with other issues, who also suffer from anorexia nervosa, bulimia or related disorders. In a frank exploration of this topic, eating disorder specialist, Kel O’Neill, challenges us to consider how we work with these clients. Huge increases in the diagnosis of these disorders have led to long waiting times for specialist services, which may increase the likelihood that these patients end up in the consulting rooms of those of us who are not specialists. Kel highlights that, when working with these clients, we will often be working with life and death scenarios, and that we cannot afford complacency. Her article certainly challenged me to consider how I might improve my understanding of the psychological impact of these disorders.

One of the key ways in which we might challenge our work in this area is by bringing it to supervision. At its best, supervision gives us the opportunity to explore our blind spots and identify areas of growth. Michael Worrell considers whether the supervision provided to IAPT CBT practitioners is fit for purpose and supports their needs. His reflections are not only relevant to practitioners of that modality, however. He highlights how good supervision provides the supervisee with a safe space to explore the emotional complexities of working as a therapist. Having recently completed my own training as a supervisor, I found his reflections helpful and pertinent to my future work in this area.

Returning to the interplay between physical and mental health, Carol Morgan presents a case study of her work with a woman who has suffered from breast cancer. She focuses on the positive personal growth in the women she has worked with through the charity Breast Cancer Haven. This organisation seems to provide an excellent example of responding to the needs of the whole person, adopting a holistic and individualised approach, and offering complementary therapies alongside counselling.

This need to respond to the whole person is also evident in Michelle Nicholson’s article on the psychological impact of severe morning sickness. Michelle’s first-hand experience of this issue led her to conduct research into how other women had coped and been supported through their physical and mental distress. Michelle and the women she interviewed shared the experience that, while healthcare professionals took care of their physical needs during their pregnancies, measuring bumps and blood pressure, they were not asked about their emotional needs. Michelle sensitively captures the experiences of the 10 women she interviewed. These are useful reflections to bear in mind, should we find ourselves working with clients suffering from this condition.

It is important to us that we ensure that this journal reflects your needs and interests. If you have any ideas for different types of content that you would like to see in the journal, such as interviews with therapists, or discussions of ethical dilemmas, then do please let me know.

Joanna Benfield


1 Independent Mental Health Task Force to the NHS in England. Five year forward view for mental health. [Online.] 2016. (accessed 29 November 2017).