Make Providers Provide Options: make Person-centred Psychotherapy as available as CBT

Make Providers Provide Options: make Person-centred Psychotherapy as available as CBT

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Tim Harvard-Sweeting started this petition to Psychiatrists and

If you have benefitted from person-centred psychotherapy/ counselling, or know someone who has, we would love your support to ensure that this unique and life-changing approach is not unfairly side-lined by organisations providing therapy. 

The person-centred approach to psychotherapy, counselling and coaching has been one of the most effective and popular forms of therapy since its development in the mid-twentieth century following extensive research and application by psychologist Carl Rogers and others.  It is in many ways the original 'evidence-based practice'.  

It has proven to be broadly as effective as other types of therapy, yet is very different for a number of reasons.  It is based on the idea of growth, not 'illness', so it is not dependant on medical (psychiatric) diagnoses and has proven effective for all types of condition.  The focus is not medical: it is on how the patient / client feels in relation to their difficulties, rather than on relatively cosmetic factors such as symptoms and behaviours.  This allows the client to find their own way of making sense of their difficulties, with the skilled support of the person-centred practitioner, holistically focusing on whatever is most important to the client: thoughts, emotions, bodily feelings, memories, or behaviours.  In doing so, the therapist will unconditionally respect the autonomy and agency of the client, and empathically adopt the client's frame of reference, rather than pretending to be an expert on the life and inner world of another.  The therapist's emphasis is on the relationship rather than doing X or Y to the client.  Person-centred therapy is non medical and non-ideological.  It is all about the wonderful uniqueness and potential of the individual, liberation from the 'shoulds' and 'oughts' of social forces, and reconnection with the inner self: a reconciling of nature with nurture.  The result is a more comfortable sense of self, greater mindfulness, confidence and authenticity. 

This unique phenomenal and non-directive approach allows the client and therapist to work with information that is far more real ( to the client) than any data or inferences that might be made through the standard approaches of assessment, diagnoses and treatment.  The person-centred approach therefore works from the inside-out, and so is as unique as each client.  As a consequence change is highly likely to be permanent, and can often happen very quickly.   

Unfortunately a shift has been underway for some time which is endangering what many regard as the 'purest' of psychotherapies.   Psychological distress has become regarded as a medical issue, despite the fact that the mind, and the self, are not bodily organs.  Great faith has been misplaced by doctors and politicians in the idea that distress can be categorised in ways that are as valid and reliable as the diagnoses for medical complaints.  

But many patients do not feel that such 'labels' give them an adequate understanding of their own particular difficulties.  Many clients feel distressingly alienated when put through CBT and other standardised, programme-based, 'sausage-machine' approaches.  Distress is an intensely individual thing, but has been medicalised, with the client being regarded as a statistically average person rather than an individual.  And we are told that certain types of therapy are best for 'treating' certain types  of 'disorder'.  Such claims are based on medical-style research such as the 'randomised control trial' which is not well-suited to assess the effectiveness of growth-based therapies in which the emphasis is not, 'am I normal', but 'am I comfortable?'.  Huge amounts of money have been pumped into studies that supposedly demonstrate the superiority of CBT, but the results of such research often fall apart under adequate scrutiny.  

Patients and clients are being deprived of a potentially valuable option.  At present the NHS only offers person-centred therapy for the most difficult of cases, those who cannot be helped by CBT and other medicalised therapies.  If a new counselling service is set up, it is most likely to favour CBT, and to promote the medical model.   If there is a job opening for a psychotherapist, it is likely to explicitly favour those therapists providing CBT, despite the lack of any sound justification for this. 

Amid all this CBT-mania we need to keep person-centred therapy in the picture.  Will you help by signing this petition?  

 

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