In this issue
Ruby Wax on humour and mental health
The facts are friendly
How research findings can help us be more responsive to our clients
Abortion and mental health
Is abortion counselling up to the job?
Render unto Caesar
Can person-centred relating survive within training institutions?
The joy of not knowing
Introducing students to phenomenological thinking
Have you made a clinical will?
Guidelines for making arrangements before it’s too late
Innovation in therapeutic practice with violent youth
The problem with counselling and psychotherapy research is that it remains largely inaccessible to most of us. Few practitioners are consumers of research, not only because research is often presented in a turgid and impenetrable way but because historically research has not played a big part in counselling and psychotherapy training. Of course attitudes towards research have started to shift dramatically in the current political climate as it has become clear that the very survival of some psychological therapies may depend on evidence of their effectiveness.
In this issue Professor Mick Cooper introduces his new book in which he aims to bring counselling and psychotherapy research alive for the non-researcher. If you’ve always thought that research was nothing to do with you, he demonstrates that it is unethical to ignore research by gently bursting a few bubbles: for instance, he tells us that 90 per cent of therapists put themselves in the top 25 per cent in terms of service delivery; and for those who think they know instinctively what their clients think about their therapy, he cites research that shows how clients have a tendency to withhold negative feedback from their therapists. But the good news is that there is already a vast body of research which supports a range of psychological therapies other than CBT. And whilst there is a lack of controlled trials for non-CBT therapies, Mick points out, greater evidence of effectiveness is not at all the same as evidence of greater effectiveness.
Another article I have found myself reflecting on a good deal is Clive Perraton Mountford’s ‘Render unto Caesar’ which questions the survival of person-centred training in British academic institutions. As a trainer, if you really believe in person-centred values and think that person-centred relating is the best way for people to get on with each other both in and outside the therapy room, Clive argues, how do you keep your integrity in a workplace setting where manipulating people for one’s own ends and ‘politics’ (including deception and dishonesty) are the name of the game? In order to teach person-centred relating to trainees, therapists need to be able to live person-centred relating in which case, Clive says, academia is a high-risk environment for any person-centred trainer: ‘Being a person-centred trainer in Britain promises to be a bit like being an inner-city cop or a teacher in “difficult” schools: expect burn-out within the decade.’ I wonder where that leaves person-centred counsellors currently trying to work within the NHS?