NICE guidance agrees that counselling is effective for depression
The latest draft guidance published by NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) accepts that counselling is effective as a treatment for depression in adults, and that it should be included as part of a wider range of possible treatment options. CBT, however, continues to be the first-line treatment to be offered. BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) have welcomed the new guidelines, agreeing with NICE’s recommendation that counselling for depression should be provided within a framework that includes assessment of need, development of a treatment plan, routine outcomes monitoring and follow-up.
BACP have been working with NICE to make the case for counselling. The research they have collated shows comparable outcomes between counselling and CBT in treating depression. However, routine clinical data collected from IAPT services provides even stronger evidence in favour of counselling, showing better outcomes, with fewer sessions. Dr Andrew Reeves, the Chair of BACP, has urged NICE to make more extensive use of IAPT as a source of information on clinical outcomes which provide evidence of the effectiveness of treatments in practice: Up to now, NICE has relied mainly on research evidence from randomised control trials when developing treatment guidelines.
BACP recently commissioned an independent survey of public attitudes to counselling amongst 2000 adults in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 98% of the people surveyed who expressed a preference said that counselling for depression should be available on the NHS, with 86% stating that they expected counselling to be available.