So the last blog post was in October 2015? I think it’s safe to say that much in the world has changed since then, for us, for you, and for those in working in counselling and psychotherapy. Back in August 2015, we had just heard about the replication crisis in psychological research and were trying to figure out what it meant for the field as a whole. Today, we hear things to suggest that the effectiveness of psychotherapy may have been overestimated, or even be in decline. So what are we to make of it, and what can be done next?

Current context

Some of these themes were touched upon at the recent New Savoy 10th Annual Conference which took place in London on the 15th-16th March 2017 – you can access some of the slides and talks here.

Talks across the two days appeared to signal the support for change. The dominant narrative about specific ingredients in therapy is not supported by the evidence. What does seem to account for most change during a therapeutic encounter is the client, the practitioner and their relationship. Given that the practitioner is in a crucial position to enable change in a client, what can be done to improve their skill-set and expertise? The answer? Practice, Practice, Practice. And not just experiential practice but deliberate practice, seeking feedback, using outcomes data, and working on and discussing their failures as much as their successes.

Another interesting development comes from the BACP and their Audit Consultation process. This indicated that for those on the BACP register, the organisation was considering the use of ‘practice inspections’ and ‘mystery shoppers’ in a bid for ‘both safeguarding the public and protecting the reputation of the profession’. The BACP has since backtracked a little on this stating that they only intended to ‘gather opinion and inspire debate’ and had no intention of blindly implementing these steps. Some have since criticised the short time frame and the mainly tick-box platform given for consultation process.

So, are we in a state of change? How can services and their practitioners better respond to these developments? Can we generate a learning community of services dedicated to improving and evidencing their outcomes, ultimately to support and secure the values and future of counselling and psychotherapy? We at SILC are beginning to make strides in the area of practice management for counselling and psychotherapy services. This, we believe, will help support service innovation and organisational change that will develop the area of practice-based techniques and service quality improvement.

What have we been up to?

In the time since we have been away, we have grown our team, reflected on the aims and methodology of the project and commenced on its first stages. We now have 6 Beneficent members on board to take part in the service development process. These 6 services have each donated their CORE PC data which has been analysed for any interesting patterns and is currently in the process of being fed back to services.

The SILC Team have been busy working away on the data analysis that will inform the ongoing development of the project.

The analysis has focused on the service’s current rates of Data Quality, Session Non-Attendance, Early Dropout and Improvement and Recovery. A complimentary full-service report profile has also been generated. Using these, our coaches will be meeting with each of the services to discuss their development plans. What’s more, each service has scheduled a training date to use and install CORE Net and will now be able to use all its features.

So what next?

With the development plans in place, the SILC project team will be meeting or contacting the service’s regularly to listen and support each of them as they progress in implementing organisational change and development. We have scheduled in the first of our residentials, due to take place in August 2017. Here services will be able to meet and share their stories and experiences about how they have been developing to support learning collaboratively.

We are now committed to updating this blog regularly. The rate at which these are posted will very much depend on the ongoing developments of the project, as well as reacting to any notable changes in policy and practice more generally. Much of it will also hinge on the feedback from yourselves so if you have any views or interesting sources that have not been mentioned, please do let us know by leaving a comment below.


-Scott Steen, SILC Research Lead


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