We’re reminding members of guidance for psychological therapists to support clients who are taking or withdrawing from prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The guidance was funded and steered by BACP, the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and, in conjunction with the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence Secretariat (all members of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP)), and the National Survivor User Network (NSUN).

Guidance for Psychological Therapists: Enabling conversations with clients taking or withdrawing from prescribed psychiatric drugs is endorsed by the main non-modality specific professional bodies, including the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society, for use by their members and relevant training organisations.

It comes as the BBC’s Panorama shone the spotlight on antidepressant overprescribing and dependence.

The programme highlighted powerful stories of people who have experienced severe symptoms when they tried to withdraw.


The guidance, facilitated by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence, aims to:

  • support therapists in deepening their knowledge and reflection on working with clients prescribed psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics
  • summarise the main effects, adverse consequences and possible withdrawal reactions for each main class of psychiatric drug
  • invite therapists to familiarise themselves with core issues relating to the role of psychiatric drug use (and withdrawal) and the implications this has for clients in therapy
  • be relevant to therapists from a wide variety of theoretical models
  • provide information for therapists on key questions and concerns relevant to their therapeutic work with clients who are either taking or withdrawing from prescribed drugs in order to enable them to decide whether, and to what extent they will use it in their work
  • potentially reduce the impact of issues associated with taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs on clients

The APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence has welcomed the Panorama investigation.

Support services

It reissued its call for a national 24-hour helpline and funding for withdrawal support services.

In a statement, the APPG said: "It is morally unacceptable that patients who have been harmed by drugs simply taken as prescribed should be unable to access services to help them. 

"We therefore call on the Government urgently to provide funding for these services, including a national 24 hour helpline."

The APPG's chair, Danny Kruger, added: “This powerful Panorama programme highlights the tremendous suffering which can be caused by dependence on antidepressants, which are far too easily prescribed to far too many people. 

Research shows that almost 2m people in the UK are at risk of severe antidepressant withdrawal.

“The Government has a moral obligation to help these people and must therefore urgently implement the key recommendations of its own 2019 review, including funding for local withdrawal services and a national 24-hour helpline.”

Download Guidance for Psychological Therapists: Enabling conversations with clients taking or withdrawing from prescribed psychiatric drugs.