Research Bites

To mark National Stress Awareness Day (1 November), this issue’s papers focus on recent research in counselling and psychotherapy with clients presenting with different forms of stress

School-based interventions for adolescent psychological stress

This meta-analysis aimed to determine the impact of school-based intervention programmes on reducing adolescent psychological stress (PS). To be included, studies had to evaluate a school-based psychosocial intervention with at least one PS outcome. The search yielded 54 studies, with interventions including mindfulness and cognitive behavioural techniques. Findings revealed that school-based interventions had a moderate effect on reducing PS, with significant effects only observed in selected student samples and not community samples. Additionally, interventions were found to be particularly effective in reducing school stress, as opposed to social stress. The authors highlight the importance of raising awareness of the availability of school-based stress interventions so schools can implement them into practice.

Read more: van Loon AWG et al. Can schools reduce adolescent psychological stress? A multilevel meta-analysis of the effectiveness of school-based intervention programs

Psychotherapy for CPTSD

A new diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is included in ICD-11, which was adopted by the World Health Organization. The diagnosis may be helpful for trauma survivors with experiences of torture and abuse. This research explored the views of patients with CPTSD on psychotherapy for this condition. Results found that a key factor in recovery was rebuilding relationships based on trust, beginning with the therapist. Groupwork was helpful in promoting relationships with others, as it may result in shame reduction. Involvement in the wider community through peer support groups was also valuable. Patients felt that sufficient time, at least one year of psychotherapy with weekly sessions, was needed.

Read more: Matheson C, Weightman E. A participatory study of patient views on psychotherapy for complex post-traumatic stress disorder, CPTSD

Burnout in newly qualified counsellors and psychotherapists

This cross-cultural literature review explores the factors influencing burnout in newly qualified counsellors and psychotherapists. The authors present several models of burnout and stress before exploring risk factors associated with therapeutic burnout. These include inadequate supervision and mentoring, with racial and cultural transference being revealed as factors particularly likely to hinder the wellbeing of minority ethnic therapists. Burnout was also found to be associated with lack of therapeutic success, vicarious traumatisation and bereavement following the death of a client. The authors recommend that the quality of clinical supervision is monitored to ensure that early career therapists receive enough support. They also emphasise the importance of positive feedback and reinforcement from senior staff, self-care and resilience-building practices in helping to protect against burnout.

Read more: Davies SM et al. Factors influencing ‘burn-out’ in newly qualified counsellors and psychotherapists: a cross-cultural, critical review of the literature