THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR COUNSELLING & PSYCHOTHERAPY 1 REGENT PLACE RUGBY CV21 2PJ 020 7794 2838 th To The Editor The Daily Telegraph 12 March 2003 Dear Sir, It is interesting that counselling and psychotherapy are coming under increasing media pressure in this preliminary time of war. No less than seven major press stories have appeared in a week, commencing with pure fiction in the Sunday Times (March nd 2 ) and hopefully terminating with your still somewhat negative assessment today th (Looking for a counsellor…, March 12 ). Both articles mention the highly respected Professor Simon Wessely of the Cochrane Collaboration panel. Neither quoted this from Simon: “I am very strongly in favour of psychological treatments. I believe that evidence-based psychological therapies are the treatments of choice for many mental disorders”. Professor Wessely is one of three Cochrane signatories to a letter to the BMJ deploring the misuse of their research by the Sunday Times. Having LOST last week’s public debate “If you see a psychotherapist you need your head examined”, Dr Raj Persaud now rehearses his well-known anti-counselling opinion in your pages with a selective dip into the research. For instance, he doesn’t mention Professor King’s half a million pound double blind trial (BMJ 2000) showing that counselling is more effective, and cost effective, in treating depression than doctors with drugs in the first 12 months of the illness (which would cover the majority of depressions). Nor does he share with your readers the opinion of the Department of Health in their document “Effectiveness Matters”: “Psychological therapy should be routinely considered as an option when assessing mental health problems” www.doh.gov.uk/mentalhealth/treatmentguideline. As for trauma, the evidence is against single session interventions by poorly qualified enthusiasts but then it always was. Nothing from the tv psychiatrist impugns the validity of serious counselling in general by properly qualified practitioners. Nor does his negative message help our soldiers. “Only” 255 combatants died in the Falklands but over 300 have since killed themselves. Fighting men need better counselling than “pull yourself together”. Yours truly, Phillip Hodson, Fellow, The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
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