PWP’s Floundering – Problem Descriptors Are Unreliable

whilst they may describe to a greater or lesser extent the psycho-social context in which the client is operating, different therapist would disagree about the relative importance of the psychosocial stressors and have a different collection of them.  One may emphasise the clients current relationship another a harsh/ ? abusive childhood another poverty. 

At a recent workshop I gave a PWP (Psychological Wellbewing Practitioner)defended reliance on the use of problem descriptors on the basis that they could be complemented by the therapists intuition. But this was precisely the therapeutic task centred approach adopted by social work in the 1970’s, it failed to demonstrate effectiveness  and by the 1990’s social work had become confined to largely a policing role, replete to this day with meaningless checklists. I speak as a former social worker, consumer of social services for over three decades and as a psychologist.

With my psychologist hat on I am very aware of the the work of Daniel Kahneman on the use of rules of thumb (heuristics) in decision making, for example the use of the availability heuristic – the vividness of a description giving a mistaken impression of its’ likelihood, so that a therapist hearing the horrific details of a trauma assumes it must be PTSD. Loretta whom I saw recently simply had a specific phobia about driving/travelling as a passenger in a car as a result of very serious rta. Nevertheless the PWP directed her to a 6 week stabilisation group that did nothing at all for her  difficulties. But the stepping up procedure offered no protection, she attended 3 individual sessions in which she was asked to talk about and write about the trauma, she dropped out because she found the procedure too toxic.   Loretta’s difficulties in driving and travelling as a passenger were not addressed at all. I broke the good news that her problems could be simply addressed.

The PWPs were totally unaware that Beck’s first paper was on the unreliability of the standard interview. This led to the inclusion of standardised diagnostic interviews in CBT outcome studies. In my view the PWP training however quick and simple is not fit for purpose.

 

Dr Mike Scott

Ps Do listen to Radio 4 on Tuesday Sept 24th at 8.0pm  for its’ investigation into ‘The Therapy Business’

IAPT Problem Descriptors Lead To Treatment Chaos

IAPT base treatment on problem descriptors not standardised diagnosis, resulting in a gross failure to identify appropriate treatment targets. A recent study by Thomlison et al (2017) indicated 4 out of 5 PTSD cases were missed.    There is no evidence that identification of other disorders is any more reliable Scott (2018) see earlier post (link below)

In the Thomlinson et al study (2017) three quarters of IAPT clients were in low intensity groups, conducted without reference to any explicit evidence based protocol. This looks like playing a numbers game with groups.

Thomlinson et al (2017) Comorbidity between PTSD and anxiety and depression: Implications for IAPT Services. Archives of Depression and Anxiety

Scott, M.J (2018) IAPT – The Need for Radical Reform Journal of Health Psychology https://connection.sagepub.com/blog/psychology/2018/02/07/on-sage-insight-improving-access-to-psychological-therapies-iapt-the-need-for-radical-reform/.

 

 

 

Dr Mike Scott