THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR COUNSELLING & PSYCHOTHERAPY
1 REGENT PLACE
RUGBY CV21 2PJ
020 7794 2838
To The Editor The Daily Telegraph 12 March 2003
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
2 ) and hopefully terminating with your still somewhat negative assessment today
(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”
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”.
Phillip Hodson, Fellow, The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.