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Development of a randomised controlled trial of counselling for depression

Cooper, Mick (2011) Development of a randomised controlled trial of counselling for depression. Working paper. British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, Lutterworth. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Many members of the UK counselling community feel that their profession and practice is under threat, particularly within NHS settings. This can be attributed, primarily, to the near-complete absence of recommendations for counselling in clinical guidelines, as a consequence of the relative lack of randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence in support of this therapy. Expert opinion suggests that this need for RCT evidence is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. In recent years, BACP has led the development of Counselling for Depression (CfD), a systematic, person-centred experiential treatment for depression, based on evidenced humanistic competences. The development of this intervention and its roll out into some Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services gives the counselling community one of its best opportunities, yet, to develop a body of RCT evidence in support of counselling. Expert opinion leans towards two specific strategies for trialling CfD: first, a relatively short-term comparison of CfD against waiting list in IAPT settings; second, a more extended trial comparing the effectiveness of CfD against CBT. It is recommended that BACP set up a CfD RCT Task Force to take forward these projects, possibly through the development of pilot trials; and to look at ways of developing a more RCT-friendly culture within the counselling community.