What Works For Whom In High Intensity Talking Therapies?

It doesn’t matter if the person has high intensity CBT or high intensity counselling or if they have had low intensity CBT beforehand, according to a study by Barkham and Saxon (2018) https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12888-018-1899-0, of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. This raises important questions:

  1. What has been the value of low intensity CBT for those who have high intensity treatment?  
  2. NICE recommends CBT for depression and the anxiety disorders, with different protocols for different disorders and not counselling, have IAPT proved them wrong? 
  3. Given that IAPT provides no evidence of the setting and monitoring of homework, a hallmark of CBT, can there be any certainty that CBT was actually delivered?
  4. What is the evidence that the stepped care model employed by IAPT works?
  5. Why has the British Government just given an extra £38 million to IAPT?
  6. On what basis does NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, Claire Murdoch claim proclaim our ‘world-leading talking therapies’?
  7. Are there conflicts of interest between being a Department of Health Adviser and playing a leading role in IAPT? 
  8. Why has IAPT been allowed to mark its’ own homework? In similar vein ‘why has there been no independent audit ion IAPT using ‘gold standard’, standardised diagnostic interviews?’.

In the 3 years since the publication of the Barkham and Saxon (2018) study there has been a deafening silence from IAPT in answering questions 1-4. The Government is likely to be similarly mute in answering questions 5-8, fearing that it would have to admit to having wasted about £5 billion on IAPT.

There is a clear need for a public inquiry to ask the above questions. The Government likes to portray itself as ‘progressive, waving the mental health banner’,  the last thing Labour wants is to appear otherwise. The unspoken mantra is don’t ask the consumers of mental health services about whether they have had their lives restored, ‘let us get on with being politically correct’.

 

Dr Mike Scott

It’s not you it is us – anecdotal evidence and observation from 7 years clinical practice and leadership in IAPT

I am not averse to IAPT, as a mental health nurse and, therefore, an ambassador for mental health (amongst other things) I’m working in IAPT because I want to help people and because I care.

I’m writing from the very front line of this so when I ask my patients what they want or what their ‘goals of therapy’ are they understandably look at me somewhat quizzically and say something along the lines of ‘I just want to feel better / someone to talk too’ – this is hardly a good starting point for a treatment that is so rigid in its ‘fidelity to the model’ that therapists are subjected to strict supervision which can result in performance management or even disciplinary measures if they do not adhere to the draconian protocols.

This creates a dichotomy for therapists (Mason & Reeves 2018), do we give the patient what they want or what the service tells us to give the patients? – this then leads to confusion for patients and disruption in the therapeutic relationship. 

Therapeutic relationship did I hear you say? That most important feature of any talking therapy and predictor of a successful outcome (Knox 2015, Rogers 1951)?

I was once told by a clinical lead that the therapeutic relationship is not important, especially at low intensity where there is only 6-8 thirty-minute appointments (you can only imagine my sense of despondency).

The science says that CBT alone works, the science is convincing and backed up by NICE guidelines and academic research at an institutional and political level (Wakefield et al 2020), I’m looking at you School of Psychology University of Sheffield.  If you look closely though, people can see through the bias, dubious points of reference and blatant nepotism (Scott 2018, 2021, Kellet 2020).  I would argue if it is really that good anybody, even a robot could deliver it, and here the science fails because guess what, most people want to talk about their struggles of the human experience with another human, they want genuineness, unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence, sound familiar? Just ask Carl Rogers.

When my supervisees come to me with the common struggles of working in IAPT, burnout and the dichotomy of care, I look at them knowingly and refer them to the best intervention I know in psychotherapy, I tell them to ask Carl and remember that genuineness, empathy, and unconditional positive regard is an intervention in itself,  the rest comes down to getting to know the patient and wanting to work together for whatever the person needs, so long as it’s within the step two interventions of course…

 

 My problem is the system, the Industrialisation of Care (Jackson & Rizq 2019) thanks in no small part to the neo liberal austerity politics creating an influential marriage with the science (Dalal 2018). 

Don’t get me wrong I wanted an alternative to the over prescribed anti-depressants (Whitaker 2010) and lack of access to talking therapy but what we have created is a data eating, CBT advocating monster which offers patients no alternative talking therapy in most cases (Jackson & Rizq 2019) and is almost entirely unsuitable for people from areas of social deprivation who are therefore overprescribed anti-depressant medication (Destress 2019).  This is a crime of health inequality where inscription of deficits-based thinking sees distressed people who are living in poverty as somehow deficient and in need of ‘correction’ through medical or therapeutic intervention (Destress 2019).  But enough of the politics, don’t get me started on that, but if you are interested in more on this read the Destress Project report ‘Poverty, Pills and Pathology’ or Managerialism, Politics and the Corruptions of Science by Farhad Dalal.

Author: Name withheld for protection – how has it come to this (MS)?

References

Dalal (2018) CBT: The Cognitive Behavioural Tsunami: Managerialism, Politics and the Corruptions of Science. Published by Routledge, Abingdon, UK.

Destress Project (2019) Poverty, Pills and Pathology, final report. Available at: http://destressproject.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Final-report-8-May-2019-FT.pdf (Accessed: 7th April 2021).

Jackson & Rizq (2019) The Industrialisation of Care: Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Impact of IAPT. Published by PCCS Books, Monmouth, UK.

Kellett, S. et al. (2021) ‘The costs and benefits of practice-based evidence: Correcting some misunderstandings about the 10-year meta-analysis of IAPT studies’, The British journal of clinical psychology, 60(1), pp. 42–47. doi: 10.1111/bjc.12268.

Knox, R. and Cooper, M. (2015) The therapeutic relationship in counselling & psychotherapy. SAGE (Essential issues in counselling and psychotherapy). Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=cat06100a&AN=btc.9781446282908&site=eds-live (Accessed: 7 April 2021).

Mason, R. and Reeves, A. (2018) ‘An exploration of how working in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme might affect the personal and professional development of counsellors: an analytical autoethnographic study’, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 46(6), pp. 669–678. doi: 10.1080/03069885.2018.1516860.

Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client centered therapy. Constable. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=cat06100a&AN=btc.0094539901&site=eds-live (Accessed: 7 April 2021).

Scott, M.J. (2018). Improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) – the need for radical reform.Journal of Health Psychology, 23, 1136–1147. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318755264

Scott, M. J. (2021) ‘Ensuring that the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme does what it says on the tin’, The British journal of clinical psychology, 60(1), pp. 38–41. doi: 10.1111/bjc.12264.

Wakefield, S. et al. (2021) ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) in the United Kingdom: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 10-years of practice-based evidence’, The British journal of clinical psychology, 60(1), pp. 1–37. doi: 10.1111/bjc.12259.

Whitaker, R. (2010) Anatomy of an epidemic: magic bullets, psychiatric drugs, and the astonishing rise of mental illness in America. Broadway. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=cat06100a&AN=btc.9780307452429&site=eds-live (Accessed: 7 April 2021).

A Pandemic of ‘Alleged CBT’

Homework is the missing hallmark of CBT In routine practice. Inspection of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) records provides scant evidence of agreed homework assignments. Rarely do they specify the behaviours  that the client is to engage in, the coping strategy to be employed and the monitoring strategies. But given that client’s commonly have impaired concentration written specification is a must and helps to ensure compliance with homework [Cox 1988 Cox, D. J., Tisdelle, D. A., & Culbert, J. P. Increasing adherence to behavioral homework assignments. Journal of behavioral medicine, 11(5), 519–522. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00844844].

Beck [Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press] suggested that homework should be a) clear and specific b) include a cogent rationale c) client reactions should be elicited to troubleshoot difficulties and d) progress should be summarised when reviewing homework. Homework provides a link between sessions. Meeting criteria a) to d) in a low intensity intervention is a tall ask and in the absence of written evidence to the contrary, it must be assumed that this active ingredient in CBT treatment is missing [Kazantzis, N., Whittington, C. J., & Dattilio, F. M. (2010). Meta-analysis of homework effects in cognitive and behavioral therapy: A replication and extension. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 17, 144–156]. Whilst it is likely the case that the skilful assignment of homework will relate to outcome Kazantis (2021) [ Introduction to the Special Issue on Homework in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: New Clinical Psychological Science. Cogn Ther Res 45, 205–208 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-021-10213-9], such considerations are of little consequence if routine therapy is constructed in such a way that homework has difficulty thriving.

It is interesting to ponder that if a Civil Court Case was mounted on the basis that a supposed CBT treatment had not in fact happened, leaving ongoing debility, would a claim for compensation succeed? As an Expert Witness I would ask to see the treatment records and in over 25 years in this capacity I can think of few cases were I could be sure, on the balance of probability, that the said treatment had been delivered. Part of this evidence would be no evidence of homework assignment. IAPT has tried to keep out of the legal domain by asserting that its’ therapists do not make diagnosis. But a Judge might ask where is the accountability in this matter. A Nurse may be called to task for not following an evidence based medical procedure even though overall responsibility may rest with a Consultant. There can be no certainty that IAPT would not find itself in the dock. Its’ defence would likely be that its’ practitioners were only doing, say what most BABCP members do, but this would be skating on thin ice.

Dr Mike Scott

 

 

Government Gives £38 million Extra To A Mental Health Service That Has Already Crashed With Real Life Clients

the typical client presenting at the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, 58%, are suffering from three or more disorders , with 14% suffering from two disorders [Hepgul et al 2016 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-016-0736-6]. The interventions delivered by IAPT are most commonly minimalist, little contact with a therapist other than to supervise the client’s use of computerised CBT. Strategies on offer in IAPTs low intensity intervention can be found in any CBT self-help book. It can reasonably anticipated that its’ treatments are destined for failure. 

The complexity of IAPT’s target population is highlighted further by a) the study of Zimmerman et al (2005) https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.162.10.1911 which suggests that a third of IAPT clients likely have a personality disorder b) Hepgul et al’s (2016) finding that 21% reported moderate or severe sexual abuse and 16% moderate or severe physical abuse and c) Hepgul et al’s (2016) finding that 18% had alcohol dependence and 7% substance dependence. The IAPT manual (2019) claims  that its’ therapists provide treatment according National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, but the latter recommend treatments for single disorders.  Further IAPT provides no evidence of fidelity to any particular protocol. The NICE recommended treatments are based on randomised controlled trials (rcts) of CBT for single depression and anxiety disorders with limited concessions to  comorbidity, not for the range of complexity encountered in routine practice. Thus whilst it is the the case that on average 50% of those in the rcts for depression and the anxiety disorders are in remission at the end of treatment, it is most unlikely that this could be achieved with the IAPT population, yet the service claims exactly this success rate!  

New IAPT staff are like army recruits in the 1st World War, full of optimism, ill prepared for what they find at the front e.g one in four with alcohol/substance dependence. The IAPT practitioners at the front line have little understanding of the prevalences, multiplicity and complexity  of disorders they will find. Training is insufficient to allow them  to distinguish PTSD from a specific phobia, situational bound panic attacks from panic disorder. This is legitimated by the IAPT Manual that claims the Organisation doesn’t make diagnosis, making treatment like playing roulette. No wonder IAPT therapists are burnt out. 

Unsurprisingly I found that when I examined 90 IAPT clients independently using a standardised semi-structured interview the recovery rate was just 10% Scott (2018) https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318755264 . The Government has never independently audited any of the services that it is spending £500 million on. The Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dories  has said £2.5 million is to be spent on ‘new approaches to support children who have experienced complex trauma’ she appears not to know that the whole notion of ‘complex trauma’ is a matter of considerable debate. Doubtless many have been stressed by the pandemic, but it would make more sense to wait for the storm to pass and assess the storm damage before throwing money at it. There is a danger in pathologising normal responses to an abnormal  situation and not being guided by evidence based interventions.

Dr Mike Scott

On What Basis Are Talking Therapies Out Of Bounds To The Care Quality Commission?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has just called the Government to task for blanket Do Not Resuscitates (DNRs) applied at the start of the pandemic. But the CQC is not allowed to investigate the quality of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services for those with mental health difficulties. Could there be a more glaring example of the disparity between physical and mental health services?

 

The IAPT service has had a decade of going under the radar of independent public scrutiny, despite Government expenditure of over £4billion. Strangely the National Audit Office (NAO) has no intention of mounting an audit (see recent post), citing preoccupation with Covid and its’ earlier preoccupations with the collapse of Carrillion and the provision of generic medicines. IAPT is responsible to NHS England but staff at the Department of Health also have key positions in IAPT. NHS England are likely to claim that they are ‘too busy’ to address trivial matters like conflicts of interest, reacting like the NAO. The Government will likewise claim preoccupation to avoid addressing sensitive matters.

The CQC can investigate whether the needs of those in Care Homes are being served and can champion the plight of residents, who is to champion the needs of those with mental health difficulties. Organisations such as Mind often have funding arrangements with IAPT. The  British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (BABCP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) regularly give pride of place to IAPT luminaries with rare opportunities for opposing views to be expressed.  The result is a groupthink within these organisations. 

Dr Mike Scott

 

IAPT Is Efficacious For What and By What Psychological Mechanism?

IAPT claims to be efficacious but there is no specification of for what. No treatment is universally effective, an evidence supported treatment (EST) has by definition a clearly defined focus either a disorder or a particular syndrome. There is no EST for IAPT’s fuzzy construct of ‘anxiety/depression’,  for which it claims a 50% recovery rate. IAPT’s therapists pluck an ICD-10 (World Health Organisation) code out of thin air to describe a clients functioning, but paradoxically claims that the agency does not make a diagnosis (IAPT Manual)! This process gives respectability without accountability.

A psychological therapy must work via a recognised psychological pathway, it is not sufficient that the intended target is a psychological problem/disorder (however fuzzily defined).  In not one of the 100+ missives from IAPT staff to GPs that I have seen has the mechanism of client change been clearly indicated. Rather a collection of keywords from the CBT literature is offered up, favourites in this fruit salad include, ‘reprocessing the trauma’, ‘behavioural activation’, ‘cognitive restructuring’ never is there specificity, for example ‘reversed the negative alterations in cognitions about self, others and world that led to client no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD’. Fake psychological therapies rule.

Little wonder that clients and GPs are bewildered by the IAPT process – a home for the bemused/befuddled awaits, maybe a high PHQ9 score will be the entry ticket, with promised teletherapy with an IAPT worker! 

Dr Mike Scott

National Audit Office Offers No Evidence That The £0.5 Billion, Per Year, Spent on Talking Therapies Is Value For Money

The £4 billion plus spent on the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme over the last decade could have been better spent improving the lot of Nurses. On March 6th 2021, I received a reply from the National Audit Office (NAO), ironically from the Director of the Health value for money Team, saying that it had no intention of mounting an investigation into UK Government’s, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. The Director adds ‘but you raise important issues – around data quality, levels of performance, outcome measurement, and what has been achieved for the spend – that would be important to cover in any report we consider on mental health services’.  

The Director informed me they have been preoccupied with the effects of Covid!  In 2017 the NAO  initiated an investigation into IAPT  but a year later it was discontinued because of ‘Brexit, the collapse of Carillion and concerns about spending on generic medicines’. The NAO never published their findings.  It seems that the NAO will always have an excuse to kick a focus on IAPT into the long grass. But in 2016 it had asked the Department of Health  to investigate why  IAPT was exempt from Care Quality Commission scrutiny.  The DOH made no response – friends in high places?

There appears to be an implicit assumption that just throwing money at mental health must be good. The NAO has signally failed to manage the public purse. At a time when this purse is near empty, and there are clearly pressing needs amongst Care and Nursing staff, this is appalling. 

Dr Mike Scott

 

Beware of Claims for Teletherapy

there is insufficient evidence that teletherapy (FaceTime, Zoom, Whats App) is superior to telephone assisted therapy,  that is the take home message from a just published review by Markowitz et al (2021) in this months American Journal of Psychiatry Am J Psychiatry 2021; 178:240–246; doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20050557. Interestingly the preference of some clients with social anxiety disorder and PTSD is for telephone assisted therapy.  Markowitz et al (2021) also regard the claim that Teletherapy is as good as in person therapy as not proven. They voice a fear that remote therapy could become the new norm because of cost and convenience than because of evidence of equivalence with in-person therapy. Whilst there is undoubtedly a convenience value to teletherapy for clients and therapists with availability problems, there are also disadvantages such as managing a client who has become suicidal, missing non-verbal cues because of ‘talking heads’ together with technical problems, such as a poor internet connection, freezing screens etc. Further the poor and the elderly may not be able to afford the cost.

Markowitz et al (2021) opine that for the duration of the pandemic teletherapy may be very important but long term it should become, like telephone assisted therapy a useful option. I would hope so. But looking at the way in which IAPT has dominated the field with its low intensity (low cost) interventions bereft of a credible evidence base, I suspect teletherapy will continue to be a mainstay despite the jury being out on its’ efficacy. 

 

Dr Mike Scott

IAPT – Suicidal and Given Online CBT

 I recently came across a former IAPT client that the Organisation’s own documentation described as considering two different means of suicide. He had been bullied at school and engaged in a lot of self-harm. This depressed young man was given computer assisted CBT by IAPT and dropped out after 4 sessions. He told me that it did not teach him anything he did not already know. IAPT’s decision making is based on exigencies rather than clinical need.

Oftentimes a client with thoughts that they would be ‘better off dead’ are passed back to their GP. The GP is then obliged to contact the patient to discover that the ‘suicidal thoughts’ are most often passive and without any active intent or planning. In such instances IAPT had not taken the time to discover whether there was any active planning of suicide. The reaction of the Organisation is that ‘we do not want egg on our face’, so bounce it back to the GP. Unfortunately GP’s don’t complain to their Clinical Commissioning Groups about IAPT, content that they get a break from these ‘non-medical’ cases whilst they are being seen by IAPT, albeit that it is a revolving door.

Dr Mike Scott

IAPT Fails To Rebut Charge Of a Tip Of The Iceberg Rate Of Recovery

In the March Issue of the British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 3 academics admit their links to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Service, having failed to do so on an earlier occasion.  Their attempted rebuttal of my paper ‘Ensuring IAPT Does What It Says On The Tin’, published in the same issue of the Journal is a Donald Trump like expose. The British Government is looking at the matter of making NHS England accountable, to date the latter has allowed IAPT to mark its’ homework, with no involvement of the Care Quality Commission. Having spent over £4billion on IAPT the time for change is long overdue. Below is my response to Kellett et al (2021).

Practice-based evidence has been termed a three-legged stool comprising best research evidence, the clinician’s expertise and patient preferences [Spring (2007)]. Wakefield et al., (2021) published a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 years of practice-based evidence generated by the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services which is clearly pertinent to the research evidence leg of this stool. In response to this paper I wrote a critical commentary ‘Ensuring IAPT does what it says on the tin’ [ Scott (2021)].  In turn Kellett et al., (2021) have responded with their own commentary ‘The costs and benefits of practice-based evidence: Correcting some misunderstandings about the 10-year meta-analysis of IAPT studies’ accepting some of my points and dismissing others. Their rebuttal exposes an even greater depth of conflicts of interest in IAPT than originally thought. The evidence supplied by Wakefield et al (2021), renders the research evidence leg of the stool unstable and it collapses under the weight of IAPT.

 

Transparency and Independent Evaluation

 

Kellett et al (2021) in their rebuttal head their first paragraph ‘The need for transparency and independent evaluation of psychological services’. But these authors claimed no conflict of interest in their original paper, despite the corresponding author’s role as an IAPT Programme Director.  In their rebuttal Kellet et al., (2021) concede ‘Three of us are educators, clinicians and/or clinical supervisors whose work directly or partially focuses on IAPT services’. This stokes rather that allays fears that publication bias may be an issue.

There has been a deafening silence from Kellett et al., (2021) that in none of the IAPT studies, has there been an independent evaluator, using a standardised semi-structured diagnostic interview to assess diagnostic status at the beginning, end of treatment and follow up. It has to be determined that any recovery is not just a flash in the pan. Loss of diagnostic status is a minimum condition for determining whether a client is back to their old selves (or best functioning) post treatment. Studies that have allowed reliable determination of diagnostic status have formed the basis for the NICE recommended treatments for depression and the anxiety disorders.  As such they speak much more to the real world of a client than IAPT’s metric of single point assessments on psychometric test completed in a diagnostic vacuum.

 

The Dissolution of Evidence-Based Practice

The research evidence leg of IAPT’s evidence-based practice stool is clearly flawed. Kellet et al., (2021) seek to put a ‘wedge’ under this leg by asserting that the randomised controlled trials are in any case of doubtful clinical value because their focus is on carefully selected clients i.e they have poor external validity. But they provide no evidence of this. Contrary to their belief randomised controlled trials (rcts) admit client with a limited range of comorbidity. A study by Stirman et al., (2005) showed that the needs of 80% of clients could be accommodated by reference to a set 100 rcts. Further Stirman et al., (2005) found that clients in routine practice were no more complex than those in the rcts.. Kellett et al., (2021) cannot have it both ways on the one hand praise IAPT for attempting to observe National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance and then pull the rug on the rcts which are the basis for the guidelines. Their own offering as to what constitutes research evidence leads to the collapse of the evidence-based practice stool. It provides a justification for IAPT clinicians to continue to base their clinical judgements on their expertise ignoring what has traditionally been taken to be research evidence, so that treatments are not based on reliable diagnoses. The shortcomings of basing treatment on ‘expertise’ have been detailed by Stewart, Chambless & Stirman (2018), these authors comment on ‘The importance of an accurate diagnosis is an implicit prerequisite of engaging in EBP, in which treatments are largely organized by specific disorders’.

‘Let IAPT Mark It’s Own Homework, Don’t Put It to The Test’

 

Kellett et al (2021) claim that it would be too expensive to have a high quality, ‘gold standard’ effectiveness study with independent blind assessors using a standardised semi-structured diagnostic interview. But set against the £4billion already spent on the service over the last decade the cost would be trivial. It is perfectly feasible to take a representative sample of IAPT clients and conduct independent blind assessments of outcome that mirror the initial assessment. Indeed the first steps in this direction have already been taken in an evaluation of internet CBT [ Richards et al (2020)] in which IAPT Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners used the MINI [ Sheehan et al (1998)] semi-structured interview to evaluate outcome, albeit that they were not independent evaluators and there could be no certainty that they had not used the interview as a symptom checklist rather than in the way it is intended. Further the authors of Richards et al (2020) were employees of the owners of the software package or worked for IAPT. Tolin et al (2015) have pointed out that for a treatment to be regarded as evidence-supported there must be at least two studies demonstrating effectiveness in real world settings by researchers not involved in the original development and evaluation of the protocol and without allegiance to the protocol. Kellet et al (2020) have failed to explain why IAPT should not be subject to independent rigorous scrutiny and their claim that their own work should suffice is difficult to understand.

 

The Misuse of Effect Size and Intention to Treat

Kellet at al (2021) rightly caution that comparing effect sizes (the post-test mean subtracted from the pre-test mean divided by the pooled standard deviation) across studies is a hazardous endeavour. But they fail to acknowledge my central point that the IAPT effect sizes are no better than those found in studies that pre-date the establishment of IAPT, that is they do not demonstrate an added value.  Kellet et al (2021) rightly draw attention to the importance of intention to treat analysis and attempt to rescue the IAPT studies on the basis that many performed such an analysis. Whilst an intention to treat analysis is appropriate in a randomised controlled trial in which less than a fifth of those in the different treatment arms default, it makes no sense in the IAPT context in which 40% of clients are nonstarters (i.e complete only the assessment) and 42% dropout after only one treatment session [ Davis et al (2020)]. In this context it is not surprising that Delgadillo et al (2020) failed to demonstrate any significant association between treatment competence measures and clinical outcomes, a point in fairness acknowledged by the latter author. But such a finding was predictable from the Competence Engine [Scott (2017)] which posits a reciprocal interaction between diagnosis specific, stage specific and generic competences.

 

Kellett et al (2020) Get Deeper in The Mud Attacking Scott (2018)

 

Kellett et al (2021) rightly underline my comment that my own study of 90 IAPT clients Scott (2018) was hardly definitive, as all had gone through litigation. But they omit to mention that I was wholly independent in assessing them, my duty was solely to the Court as an Expert Witness.  Despite this they make the extraordinary claim that my study had a ‘high risk of bias’, which casts serious doubts on their measuring instruments. They failed to understand that in assessing a litigant one is of necessity assessing current and past functioning. In my study I included used of the current and lifetime versions of a standardised semi-structured interview the SCID [ First et al (1996)].  This made it possible to assess the impact of IAPT interventions whether delivered pre or post the trauma that led to their claim. Whatever was the timing of the IAPT intervention the overall picture was that only the tip of the iceberg (9.2%) lost their diagnostic status as a result of these ministrations. Nevertheless, as I suggested, there is a clear need for a further publicly funded study of the effectiveness of IAPT with a representative sample of the latter.

 

References

 

Davis, A., Smith, T., Talbot, J., Eldridge, C., & Bretts, D. (2020). Predicting patient engagement in IAPT services: a statistical analysis of electronic health records. Evidence Based Mental Health, 23:8-14  doi:10.1136/ebmental-2019-300133.

Delgadillo, J., Branson, A., Kellett, S., Myles-Hooton, P., Hardy, G. E., & Shafran, R. (2020). Therapist personality traits as predictors of psychological treatment outcomes. Psychotherapy Research, 30(7), 857–870. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2020.1731927.

First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1996). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV axis I disorders, clinician version (SCID-CV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Kellett, S., Wakefield, S., Simmonds‐Buckley, M. and Delgadillo, J. (2021), The costs and benefits of practice‐based evidence: Correcting some misunderstandings about the 10‐year meta‐analysis of IAPT studies. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60: 42-47. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjc.12268

 

Richards, D., Enrique, A., Ellert, N., Franklin, M., Palacios, J., Duffy, D., Earley, C., Chapman, J., Jell, G., Siollesse, S., & Timulak, L. (2020) A pragmatic randomized waitlist-controlled effectiveness and  cost-effectiveness trial of digital interventions for depression and anxiety npj Digital Medicine (2020)3:85 ; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-020-0293-8.

Scott, M.J (2017) Towards a Mental Health System That Works. London: Routledge.

Scott, M.J. (2018). Improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) – the need for radical reform. Journal of Health Psychology, 23, 1136-1147. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318755264.

Scott, M.J. (2021), Ensuring that the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme does what it says on the tin. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60: 38-41. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjc.12264

 

Sheehan, D. V. et al. The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.): the development and validation of a structured diagnostic psychiatric inter- view for DSM-IV and ICD-10. J. Clin. Psychiatry 59(Suppl 2), 22–33 (1998). quiz 34-57.

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