In this issue


Holding and being held (free article)
Sculpting workshops can reach the loneliness that is often at the root of people’s depression, argues Madeleine Böcker.

Counselling in the community
Pippa Reynolds describes how she applies her counselling skills in her day-to-day work in the community as an auxiliaire de vie sociale in rural France.

Measuring the immeasurable
Elizabeth Freire, Robert Elliott and Graham Westwell have developed a scale to measure competence in person-centred and experiential therapies.

Group therapy for addiction
Rachel Young explains how 12-step group therapy can help people with addictions establish the foundations for recovery


News feature
Raising our game

Talking point
Jon Brown: Too much, much too young

In training
Marc Brammer: Just as annoying as ever

In the client's chair
Caitin Wishart: Unhappy returns

Breaking up is hard to do

Day in the life
Michael Boyle

Terry Lynch




From the chair
Amanda Hawkins: Some small rays of sunshine

Additional online content

In conversation
Colin Feltham interviews Madeleine Böcker about loneliness and why therapists should take it more seriously

Cover of Therapy Today, May 2012

A pdf of this issue is available in the Therapy Today archive


There has been much talk about loneliness in recent months: the ‘curse of the modern age’ and the ‘loneliness epidemic’. One news report that caught my attention said loneliness was more damaging to our health than smoking and, indeed, there is research to show that stronger social relationships are linked with increased life expectancy.

Of course, loneliness and being alone are very different things. There has been a vast increase in the number of people who live alone, not just in the UK where apparently 34 per cent of us live on our own, but in many other countries where people can afford this option. An interesting article in The Guardian addressed this rise in solo living and concluded that what matters is not whether we live alone but whether we feel alone; it’s the quality not the quantity of social interactions that predicts loneliness. Interviewed for the article, author Colm Tóibín said: ‘No one told me that I would be most happy in my life when I modelled myself on a nun who runs her own cloister and is alone in it.’

In this issue of Therapy Today, BACP member Madeleine Böcker argues that loneliness often goes unrecognised by GPs or is mistaken for depression and treated with antidepressants. Sometimes this is because people are too ashamed to admit to feeling lonely. In her experience, the roots of loneliness go far deeper than social isolation. They arise from a lack of secure and loving attachments in childhood. She says that her groupwork approach can be very effective where clients experience emotional loneliness even when surrounded by people. In the group environment, she argues, people can experiment with forming relationships and secure attachments, often for the first time.

We also report on BACP’s plans to reform its register and become an early adopter of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence’s (CHRE) voluntary register scheme. Harry Cayton, CEO of the CHRE, explains why voluntary registration is ‘shared regulation’ between professionals and the public in the interests of society as a whole.

Sarah Browne