|"By routinely measuring outcomes over a number of years, a primary care mental health team in Central Lancashire has found that person-centred therapy can provide an effective alternative to CBT in a stepped care model of service delivery"|
In response to Gibbard and Baker’s article regarding person-centred therapy in primary care
Person-centred therapy: marrying ideals to reality
In response to Gibbard and Baker’s article regarding person-centred therapy in primary care (therapy today, October 2008) I would like to offer the following comments. For the past seven years I have worked for a primary care mental health service which is currently in the process of adopting IAPT. Routine measures are a fundamental requisite of IAPT and, like Gibbard and Baker, I tend to take a positive view of this requirement and see it as an opportunity to prove the effectiveness of therapies other than CBT. Certainly, this is a positive start, although asking clients to complete questionnaires during every session does not sit entirely comfortably with my person-centred ethos.
However, whilst there is a wealth of research into person-centred therapy, I would assert that personcentred therapy does a poor job of selling itself. By contrast, CBT and EMDR emphasise their strengths in a language that commissioners of services understand; it is worth remembering that commissioners are often not from therapeutic backgrounds.
CBT began by specialising in depression and anxiety, whilst EMDR made its name working with post-traumatic stress. Is it unrealistic for person-centred therapy to initially concentrate on its core strengths and sell itself in a coherent language? The strength of personcentred therapy lies in the therapist/client relationship, based upon collaboration, which seeks to create conditions that facilitate the client to develop greater autonomy or personal power. This accords closely with current NHS philosophy to empower people to take control of their lives, rather than relying on health professionals for the answers. If person-centred therapy sells itself in this way, it is not, in my view, compromising its ideals, but marrying ideals to reality.
Both within the statutory and voluntary sectors we are dealing with market forces which rely on evidence of effectiveness and statistics as hard currency. Therefore, it is no longer sufficient to state that person-centred therapy is effective just because it has always been so.