In this issue


BACP Practitioners’ Conference Report
Neville Tomlinson provides highlights of the BACP Practitioners’ Conference, held in April 2016

A troubled legacy: the challenges of counselling in Northern Ireland (free article)
Jane Simms and Michael McGibbon describe the unique challenges faced by counselling providers in Northern Ireland

Psychodynamic psychotherapy in public healthcare 
Chris Athanasiadis makes the case for an increased role for psychodynamic therapy within the NHS

The tyranny of silence: giving sorrow words
Alan Phillips, Vishakha Tripathi and Charlotte Tomlinson explore how genetic counsellors and therapeutic counsellors can work together to support individuals undergoing genetic testing for inheritable diseases

Building resilience by cultivating compassion
Elaine Beaumont explores how counselling and psychotherapy training programmes could help therapists to cultivate self-compassion


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 July 2016

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

From the editor

It is a great privilege to take over the role of editor of BACP’s Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal. Having worked as a counsellor in private practice for the past five years, it is fascinating to now immerse myself in the world of counsellors and psychotherapists working for the NHS and third sector organisations. I look forward to learning from your wealth of experience. I have already had the opportunity to meet a number of you at the BACP Practitioners’ Conference in April. For those of you who were unable to attend, you can read about the highlights of the conference in Neville Tomlinson’s succinct report in this issue.

In my new role, I have the good fortune to work alongside the BACP Healthcare Executive, headed up by the new Chair, Satinder Panesar. Satinder and her team are full of ideas for the BACP Healthcare division and I know they would welcome the input of all members, as Satinder underlines in her first report as Chair.

In her position as Chair, Satinder is very keen to promote the dissemination of best practice from throughout the UK. In line with this, in our lead article Jane Simms and Michael McGibbon provide an excellent overview of community and voluntary-based counselling provision in Northern Ireland. They highlight how, in addition to the challenges of funding cuts and lack of investment faced by service providers throughout the UK, those in Northern Ireland face additional pressures as a result of the sociopolitical landscape in which they operate. Michael and Jane end their article with a number of robust recommendations for improving the counselling sector in Northern Ireland. Rachel Johnston, Deputy Chair of the BACP Healthcare Executive, responds to the points raised in the article.

One of the criticisms often levelled at NHS mental health provision is its intensive focus on cognitive behavioural therapy over and above other forms of therapy. Chris Athanasiadis writes about the role for psychodynamic psychotherapy in public healthcare and raises his concern about the shrinking role for this therapeutic approach within the NHS. He succinctly describes the key concepts of psychodynamic therapy, and argues that studies do not demonstrate any difference in efficacy between CBT and psychodynamic therapy. He therefore contends that the ever-expanding evidence base for psychodynamic therapy underscores the importance of making this type of therapy available through the NHS.

On the subject of less well-known areas of counselling within the NHS, Alan Phillips writes about the fascinating field of genetic counselling. This strand of counselling helps people who are considering undergoing genetic testing for inheritable diseases. Alan explores how genetic counsellors and therapeutic counsellors can work together to help clients make difficult decisions about their futures. He considers how loss and grief are inherent in the decision making process within genetic counselling, with the stress and responsibility of the predictive testing process tapping into unresolved psychological issues from the past.

All of us working in this profession are keenly aware of the importance of being able to show empathy and compassion for our clients. And yet many of us neglect to show that same care for ourselves. Elaine Beaumont highlights how healthcare practitioners, including counsellors and psychotherapists, face unique challenges in taking on the problems of their clients. These challenges can result in anxiety, stress, burnout, shame, self-criticism and even symptoms similar to PTSD. Elaine sets out a range of practical suggestions for addressing this so-called ‘compassion fatigue’ in the training of new counsellors and psychotherapists, helping them to develop self-care strategies that can support them in dealing with the emotional demands of their work.

I would very much value any suggestions for future topics you would like to see covered in the journal. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to contribute an article to the journal or if you are interested in writing book reviews. I look forward very much to hearing from you.

Joanna Benfield