Quality Psychotherapy Services in the NHS

Valued psychotherapy and counselling services are currently facing closure, threats of closure or various forms of downgrading. Some of these are psychoanalytically-based but the cuts are being experienced across the board.

A survey of over 800 members of the Psychoanalytic Council and the UK Council for Psychotherapy working in the NHS found that in the last year there has been: 

Increased negative outcomes for clients:

  • 77% of therapists reported negative outcomes for clients as a result of cuts to psychotherapy services such as longer waiting lists, premature ending of treatment and reduced choices around therapy types.
  • Therapists reported that waiting too long for therapy or getting the wrong type of therapy or not enough of the right type could lead to increases in clinical symptoms.

Greater need but fewer services:

  • Over two thirds (68%) reported that they are being relied upon to deal with increasingly complex cases.
  • But at the same time there is an increasing pressure to use much shorter term (CBT informed) interventions that are not suitable for all clients.
  • Fewer psychotherapy services are being commissioned (48% noted decreases in the number of psychotherapy services commissioned, with only 5% reporting increases). 63% of therapists reported decreases in the number of psychotherapy posts.

Clients seeing less experienced therapists:

  • 47% of therapists noted a decrease in the clinical experience of those providing psychotherapy, with only 8% reporting increases.
  • 39% of therapists noted decreases in the qualifications of those providing psychotherapy with only 10% seeing increases.
  • 97% of members reported issues such as downgrading of posts/introduction of junior posts (43%), frozen posts/redundancies/temporary contracts (21%) and payband decreases (34%).