The Treatment of PTSD Has Been Destabilised……

by the advent of stabilisation groups and overvaluing trauma focussed CBT. In the wake of an extreme trauma IAPT clients can be referred to stabilisation groups. Such groups will often meet weekly for 6 weeks and participants are encouraged not to talk about the trauma but rather about its effects. However there is no empirical evidence that such groups make a real world difference. In support of such groups the work of Judith Herman  [ Group Trauma Treatment in Early Recovery (2019) Guilford Press] is often cited, her groups are for those in ‘early recovery’ but there is no specification of what is meant by ‘early’ or from what the person is recovering. IAPT’s assessment process is as vague as Judith Herman’s.

 

Sienna, a Civil Servant had a horrendous rta and after an IAPT telephone assessment was referred to a stabilisation group, she assumed it was for PTSD. The group made no difference to her functioning, nor did the 3 individual sessions of trauma focusssed cbt afterwards. Sienna dropped out of the TFCBT because it was too painful but she never did have PTSD!

 

But the problems in the treatment of PTSD are not confined to IAPT. Although trauma focussed CBT (TFCBT) is the NICE recommended treatment for PTSD, inspection of the randomised controlled trials reveals that on average only one in two people recover. NICE’s guidance can be overvalued, with clinicians continuing to pursue TFCBT when it is clearly not working. With a parallel insistence that they confront the scene of their trauma. Client’s are often more pragmatic thinking that they could get by without re-exposure to the scene, but with the therapist urging the client not to be ‘defeated’. Given the power imbalance the client is unlikely to be able to effectively voice their opinion. There is a pressing need for creative solutions when TFCBT doesn’t work and for a re-examination of the theory on which the latter rests.

I am proposing to run a ‘Getting Back To Me’ workshop next year.

 

Dr Mike Scott 

‘CBT: The Cognitive Behavioural Tsunami:…’ engulfing IAPT

this is the title of a just published book by Farhad Dalal, [ London, Routledge] it is a scathing critique of IAPT and its’ ‘managerialism’. Staff too afraid to speak out publicly, a concern primarily for operational matters: numbers and waiting lists. The author reviews randomised controlled trials to try and ascertain the proportion of people who actually get better. Dalal rightly sees IAPT’s claim to a 50% recovery rate as preposterous and its’ criterion for treatment attending at least 2 sessions as unbelievable.

Curiously, Dalal appears not to have heard of my study that showed a recovery rate of just 10%.:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/flvxtq2jyhmn6i1/IAPT%20The%20Need%20for%20Radical%20Reform.pdf?dl=0

It was possible for me to invalidate IAPT’s claims precisely because I used the DSM criteria that Dalal decries. Unfortunately Dalal, as a group analyst would create a psychological therapy service without any evidence base.

In 2014 Ehlers, Clark et al published a ‘gold standard’ randomised controlled trial of the treatment of PTSD

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yqq5v94iiaobyoe/PTSD%20EHlers%202014%203%20out%20of%204%20recover%20cbt%202%20out%20of%204%20emotin-focussed%20support.pdf?dl=0

what makes it ‘gold standard’ was that a) assessment was conducted using a standardised semi-structured interview of high reliability b) outcome was assessed independently of treating clinician using the standardised initial interview, making it possible to specify what proportion of people were no longer suffering from the disorder c) there was a follow up to determine if treatment gains were maintained d) there was a credible attention control condition, so that it was possible to determine whether there was something specific in the treatment that made a difference.

Set against this ‘gold standard’ there is to my knowledge no study of any low intensity therapy that has met the above criterion. Quite simply low intensity interventions do not have a reliable evidence base. Further routine practice can also be assessed using criteria a) b) and c) but this has never been done in relation to IAPT except by myself in a limited context.

This ‘Tsunami’ may destroy everything in its’ path, but we have to know what would constitute the building of an evidence based mental health system see Towards a Mental Health System That Works (2017) Scott London: Routledg: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Towards-Mental-Health-System-Works/dp/1138932965/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550698217&sr=8-2&keywords=Towards+a+Mental

BBC News Video critique of IAPT here: https://vimeo.com/316124732

Dr Mike Scott

The Cost of IAPT Is At Least Five Times Greater Than Claimed

The British Medical Journal has just published the following letter of mine online with the above title:

‘Six years ago a News headline in the BMJ proclaimed ‘Increasing access to psychological therapies will cost NHS nothing’ BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4250, citing a report of Lord Layard  of the Mental Health Policy Group of the Centre for Economic Performance http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/research/mentalhealth/default.asp, that claimed ‘after an average of 10 sessions half the people with anxiety conditions will recover, most of them permanently, and half the patients with depression will recover’ .  Far from being substantiated an independent assessment by Scott (2018), http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1359105318755264, using a standardised diagnostic interview, suggest a 10% recovery rate. This represents a five-fold increase of the cost of treatment per cured person.

The progenitors of IAPT, Clark and Layard in their book Thrive (2015) claim that the cost of treatment in IAPT is £650 per person, for people having attended 2 or more treatment sessions.  This leaves out of account the 40% of its clients who attend only one treatment session [IAPT (2018)] and the costs of the initial assessments which totalled £92 million in 2016-2017, with total costs of £367,219,192 in that period.  This means that the true cost of IAPT is at least 5 times greater than alleged, all without any government funded independent audit. Further average session attendance for those ‘treated’ in IAPT is 6.6 [IAPT (2018)] not the average of 10 sessions that Lord Layard deemed necessary, so that the average patient in fact receives a sub-therapeutic  dose of treatment.

In 2012 Lord Layard claimed ‘the average improvement in physical symptoms is so great that the resulting savings on NHS physical care outweigh the cost of the psychological therapy’. This claim remains unproven and what limited evidence is available points in the opposite direction. How do Clinical Commissioning Groups justify paying such inflated sums? how can they be sure another agency could not achieve the same for less? how do they know that GPs simply tracking clients with depression and anxiety disorders would not achieve the same outcomes? NHS England should surely advise CCG’s to ask searching questions and organise a long overdue government funded independent audit of IAPT focusing on real world outcomes, such as loss of diagnostic status..

BMJ (2012) ;344:e4250 Increasing access to psychological therapies will cost NHS nothing, says report

Clark, D.M and Layard, R (2015) Thrive: The Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies London: Penguin.

IAPT (2018) Psychological Therapies: Annual report on the use of IAPT services England, 2016-17 Data Tables. NHS Digital: Community and Mental Health Team.

Mental  Health Policy Group of the Centre for Economic Performance (2012) How mental health loses out in the NHS.   http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/research/mentalhealth/default.asp.

Scott, M.J (2018) IAPT: The Need for Radical Reform. The Journal of Health Psychology, 23, 1136-1147.

 

Dr Mike Scott

The Annihilation of The Therapeutic Relationship

The therapeutic relationship has withered under the blistering sun of IAPT. The latest IAPT annual report (2018) shows that 40% of clients attend only one treatment session, with the average client attending just 6 sessions. The therapeutic relationship needs the space of at least 10 sessions to flower according to NICE guidelines.  For assessed only referrals 43% were deemed suitable but declined treatment , 23% were deemed not suitable  and only 9% discharged by mutual agreement (IAPT 2018).

 

 

 

I’ve just edited the proofs of my contribution to ‘The Therapeutic Relationship In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ by Stirling Moorey and Anna Lavender to be published by Sage. The contributors cover all the  disorders and contexts (my own chapter is ‘CBT Delivered in Groups’ written with Graeme Whitfield). Most of the authors are well known and agree on the importance of the therapeutic  relationship. The approach taken in the book contrasts sharply with the practices in IAPT.

 

Dr Mike Scott

Transforming Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

The three commentaries on my paper ‘IAPT – The Need for Radical Reform’ are agreed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies cannot be regarded as the ‘gold standard’ for the delivery of psychological therapy services. Furthermore, they agreed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies should not continue to mark its ‘own homework’ and should be subjected to rigorous independent evaluation scrutiny. It is a matter for a public enquiry to ascertain why £1 billion has been spent on Improving Access to Psychological Therapies without any such an independent evaluation. What is interesting is that nocommentary has been forthcoming from the UK Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service nor have they shared a platform to discuss these issues. It is regrettable that the UK Government’s National Audit Office has chosen, to date, not to publish its own investigation into the integrity of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies data. Openness would be an excellent starting point for the necessary transformation of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Dr Mike Scott

IAPT Is a Car Crash – Transforming IAPT

IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is a car crash, funded by the taxpayer to the tune of £1bn, but without any insurance for the public. Staff are stressed out and there is a 10% recovery rate for clients. The National Audit Office (NAO) recently investigated IAPT but have chosen not to make its’ findings  public. I pursued a Freedom of Information Request but the NAO’s response has shed no light on their decision making. These findings are contained in my just published paper ‘Transforming IAPT’ in the Journal of Health Psychology:

 

 

the abstract reads:

The three commentaries on my paper ‘IAPT – The Need for Radical Reform’ are agreed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies cannot be regarded as the ‘gold standard’ for the delivery of psychological therapy services. Furthermore, they agreed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies should not continue to mark its ‘own homework’ and should be subjected to rigorous independent evaluation scrutiny. It is a matter for a public enquiry to ascertain why £1 billion has been spent on Improving Access to Psychological Therapies without any such an independent evaluation. What is interesting is that no commentary has been forthcoming from the UK Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service nor have they shared a platform to discuss these issues. It is regrettable that the UK Government’s National Audit Office has chosen, to date, not to publish its own investigation into the integrity of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies data. Openness would be an excellent starting point for the necessary transformation of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

 

Dr Mike Scott