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Counselling and psychotherapy: media distortion

Rose, Suzanna, Bisson, Jonathan Ian and Wessely, Simon 2003. Counselling and psychotherapy: media distortion. British Journal of Psychiatry 183 (3) , pp. 263-264. 10.1192/bjp.183.3.263-b

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As the authors of the Cochrane Collaboration review on ‘psychological debriefing’ ( Rose et al, 2002) following exposure to a traumatic experience, we were concerned to see our research taken out of context during the recent media debate on counselling and psychotherapy. Our research related to the lack of evidence supporting a ‘one-off’ intervention following trauma. Even its proponents would not regard this intervention as counselling or psychotherapy. Yet journalists have cited this research as new and generalised its findings to the extent of proclaiming that all counselling and psychotherapy is not useless but dangerous. This is unjustified. The research is not new. We first published this as a systematic review in 1998 ( Rose & Bisson, 1998) and it continues to be updated in the normal way. The generalisation of our findings is scientifically unacceptable and, more importantly, potentially harmful. It is clear that counselling and psychotherapy are not beneficial to everyone. However, there is good evidence that many psychological treatment approaches are effective, including multiple-session early intervention following traumatic events for those with acute stress disorder ( Bryant et al, 1999). Mental health problems are stigmatised, yet we now have powerful evidence-based psychological treatments for many common but serious disorders such as depression, phobias, panic disorder and obsessive–compulsive disorder. It would be regrettable if the legitimate debate on the role of counselling for everyday problems and difficulties were to inadvertently prevent people with treatable disorders from accessing helpful psychological therapies.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists
ISSN: 0007-1250
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:59

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