New Evidence Questions Long Term Benefit of CBT

Mr Oliver James, a leading psychologist, has warned that people with mental health problems are being misled about the long terms benefit of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which he says does not have a lasting benefit beyond the short term.

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CBT is the most popular therapy offered on the NHS and the treatment aims to help people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave in order to overcome any negative thought processes.

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CBT is frequently recommended for people with problems ranging from anxiety, depression, eating disorders and symptoms of work related stress.

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Mr James cites statistics that only 40% of those who complete a course of CBT make a recovery in the short term but, in the long term, those treated with CBT are no more likely to have recovered than those who had no treatment 2 years on.

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Mr James says research shows CBT is no more effective than placebo in treating anxiety or depression.

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He said: “As a treatment, rafts of studies have shown it to be ineffective in delivering long-term therapeutic benefits to patients with anxiety and depression.

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While studies show that in the short term – 6 to 12 months – patients who have received CBT are more likely to report themselves as ‘recovered’ compared to those who have received no treatment, these results are not sustained in the long-term.

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CBT is largely ineffective for the majority of patients [and] fails to address the root cause of many people’s problems, which often stem from traumatic experiences during their childhood.”

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Mr James, along with other chartered psychologists at the Limbus Critical Psychotherapy Conference in Devon this weekend, are calling on the Government and policymakers to refocus funding into alternative talking treatments, such as psychodynamic therapy which focuses on addressing the root cause of people’s cognitive problems.

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The barrier for most patients is that more extensive treatment such as psychodynamic therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (“EMDR”) is expensive and rarely available on the NHS. Where the treatment is available, there are frequently long waiting lists.

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The cost of private therapy sessions varies, but it is usually £40 – £100 a session. The cost of CBT is cheaper but in light of Mr James’ opinion may not be as effective.

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Those suffering with mental health problems are therefore faced with either proceeding with CBT on the NHS or facing the expense of a more extensive treatment.

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Those suffering with work related stress may be able to claim the cost of such treatment on a private paying basis from their employer.

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The legal position for those who have suffered or who are suffering with stress at work is complex. Michael Lewin Solicitors are specialists in these types of claims and are able to advise and assist you in respect of a claim.

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If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe you may have a claim against your employer, please call us on 0844 499 9302.

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