In this issue

BACP Healthcare seminar 2011
Healthcare in transition: strengthening our professional identity

Ignore, append or integrate: how do you use yours?
Nic Streatfield considers differing therapist attitudes to outcome measures, and argues that their active use can greatly benefit clients

The testing DIET
Tina Thomas shares her knowledge of best practice and guidance in testing procedures

Recognising depression and distress
How well can clinicians diagnose depression using their day-to-day clinical skills? Research by Alex Mitchell and colleagues examines diagnostic capabilities without the use of screening tools

Electronic patient records: the impact on the therapeutic relationship
Brian Rock and Helen Brindley look at confidentiality issues arising from the use of electronic records, adding a consideration of the subject from a psychoanalytic perspective

Celebrating 25 years of transforming lives in Southwark
The continuing success of the Southwark Primary Care Counselling and Psychotherapy Service is due to the counsellors themselves, and the ability to demonstrate their worth to commissioners and GPs, says Peter Thomas

Understanding Asperger syndrome
Maxine Aston guides readers through the ability to recognise and work with this form of autism

Journeys in primary care
Ewan Davidson walks through the same landscapes as his clients...

GP viewpoint
What’s not to like about outcome measures? asks John Hague

A brief guide to… 
…outcome measures

Employment matters
Pat Seber, consultant to BACP on workforce issues and service development, updates us on her work, and answers work-related queries

On the receiving end
Maureen Downton’s quest to find a cure for the physical effects of stress on her body led her on a journey through many types of therapy

Just qualified …
The journey towards a paid counselling job is a long road, but Karen Barker isn’t giving up

Web resources: Asperger syndrome
Key websites for further information

BACP Healthcare update
Chair Tina Campbell and BACP healthcare development manager, Louise Robinson, write about the latest initiatives

Cover of HCPJ July 2011

All articles from this issue are not yet available online. Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf from the Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal archive.


Asking clients to complete outcome measures is an everyday occurrence for most practitioners working in healthcare. As the requirement to provide evidence of therapy’s quality, effectiveness and efficiency grows, collecting outcome measures is increasingly a service requirement. When I began as a practitioner, I asked clients to complete measures at the beginning, middle and end of therapy; now it is every session, and, on top of the minimum requirements, I can also choose from a range of disorder-specific questionnaires.

It is increasingly necessary to use outcome measures, so how can we make them work for us and, more importantly, for our clients? Nic Streatfield’s article asks – how do you use yours? He takes us through the three broad  categories we can fall into – ignore (pretend they don’t exist and don’t use them), append (tag them on to the beginning or end of the session) or integrate (use them actively and collaboratively to aid therapy). Nic puts forward a persuasive case to us all to try the latter, showing us how measures can enhance the work we do and sharing his own personal journey from being someone who gave in nameless statistics to the administrator to someone who uses measures for, as he puts it, ‘the dialogical possibilities they contain’ If, spurred on by Nic’s article, you want to breathe life into your testing procedures, and ensure you keep within recommended benchmarks and competencies, Tina Thomas outlines how.

Elsewhere on the subject, Alex Mitchell’s research group asks whether clinical skills in diagnosis are adequate without screening questionnaires; outcome measures find a supporter in GP John Hague; and our brief guide takes you through some of the most widely used outcome measures for depression and anxiety.

On a service-related, but different subject, Brian Rock and Helen Brindley examine the impact of record-keeping on the therapeutic relationship, particularly in light of the increasing use of electronic patient records (EPRs). Adding a consideration of the issues from a psychoanalytic perspective, this thought-provoking article recounts some of the clinical dilemmas that arise in the context of the continuing implementation of systems.

Collecting data is integral to continued commissioning of services, and non-IAPT counselling and psychotherapy services are increasingly seeing the value in proving their worth to commissioners by proving their effectiveness. Southwark Counselling and Psychotherapy Services (PCCPS) is a superb example of good practice in this area. As Peter Thomas outlines, by valuing the practitioners, collecting outcome data, and celebrating their work publicly, the PCCPS has secured its place in psychological services in Southwark.

Away from service issues, Maxine Aston provides valuable guidance in approaching work with people with Asperger syndrome. Depression, as Maxine writes, has a high incidence in this section of the population, so it’s likely that many of you will have seen people with AS. In a further anecdote to a service-based issue, Ewan Davidson takes us on a personal journey through the patch where he lives and works, giving words to experiences which will resonate with many of us.

As ever, we welcome contributions from readers, whether through correspondence, or ideas for articles. Perhaps you have a personal practitioner’s perspective to share? Or are engaged in work or study-based research which could be of interest to others? Please do get in touch with me at the email below if you’d like to submit a letter or idea.

Sarah Hovington