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?
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?