CBT superiority is a myth

What does the Government know about counselling? Is it through ignorance that it considers only one theoretical approach to be effective or are there other reasons?
Joint Statement Issued by Professors Mick Cooper and Robert Elliott (both Unicersity of Strathclyde), William B.Styles (Miami Uniiversity) and Art Bohart (Saybrook Graduate School)

CBT superiority is a myth
The government, the public and even many health officials have been sold a version of the scientific evidence that is not based in fact, but is instead based on a logical error. This is how it works: 1) More academic researchers subscribe to a CBT approach than any other. 2) These researchers get more research grants and publish more studies on the effectiveness of CBT. 3) This greater number of studies is used to imply that CBT is more effective.
This is a classic example of the logical fallacy known as ‘argument from ignorance’, i.e. the absence of evidence is taken as evidence of absence.
Although CBT advocates rarely make this claim so boldly, their continual emphasis on the amount of evidence is misunderstood by the public, other health care workers, and government officials, a misunderstanding that they allow to stand without correction. The result is a widespread belief that no one takes responsibility for; in other words, a myth.

Research points to three facts
This situation has direct negative consequences for other well-developed psychotherapies, such as person-centred and psychodynamic, which have smaller evidence bases than CBT. These approaches are themselves supported by substantial, although smaller, bodies of research. The accumulated scientific evidence clearly points to three facts: 1) People show large changes over the course of psychotherapy, changes that are generally maintained after the end of therapy. 2) People who get therapy show substantially more change than people who don’t get therapy, regardless of the type of therapy they get. 3) When established therapies are compared to one another in scientifically valid studies, the most common result is that both therapies are equally effective. A case in point is person centred and related therapies (PCTs): in a meta analysis of more than 80 studies, to be presented by Robert Elliott and Beth Freire at the Norwich conference, PCTs were shown to be as effective as other forms of psychotherapy, including CBT.

In view of these and other data, it is scientifically irresponsible to continue to imply and act as though CBTs are more effective, as has been done in justifying the expenditure of £173m to train CBT therapists throughout England. Such claims harm the public by restricting patient choice and discourage some psychologically distressed people from seeking treatment.

We urge our CBT colleagues and government officials to refrain from acting on this harmful myth and to broaden the scope of the Improving Access to Psychological Treatments (IAPT) project to include other effective forms of psychotherapy and counselling.

Issued at the Conference of the World Association for Person-Centered Psychotherapies and Counseling held at the University of East Anglia, UK, from 6-10 July 2008.

New Year Resolutions

Have you broken any of your New Year resolutions yet? I haven’t! Ner ner ni ner ner! I used to make them but it became so depressing. First there were so many I could make and then there were the shoulds, musts, oughts and got tos which are so parental and non-pc (Person-centred) which went along with them. So they were doomed to failure from the start. Nowadays I’m aware of the behaviour patterns which I would like to change in my life (there are probably a few more that others wish I would change) and it is up to me if I make them. So, I know I have a choice. I could choose to make a change or I could choose not to. The question is “What’s in my best interest?” If I think it is in my best interest to change I’ll endeavour to do so but, being human it’s not certain that I will. But, if I don’t make a change, at least I won’t have the guilt of having failed because I will have chosen not to change.

Feeling Low?

This poem was “previously published as a Poetry on Loan postcard”. “Poetry on Loan is an Arts Council funded organisation whose purpose is to promote contemporary poetry through public libraries in the West Midlands.”

Feeling Low?

Breathe in. Create a snapshot; visualise
the faces of those people who have said
Chin up, it could be worse. Include in shot
the Cheer up! It might never happen lot,

those who know exactly what you need and,
of course, the pull yourself together team.
Bring into frame the smiling kindly crew
who mention people far worse off than you.

Zoom out to show all heads impaled on spikes
(a little way outside the city walls).
Add crows to peck at eyes – should people doubt
the depth and darkness of your mood. Now smile.
Breathe out.

Emma Purshouse 2011

You might also choose to see a counsellor!
Emma is a very good friend and obviously a very talented poet.