Power of face to face couple therapy revealed by new Government results

Patients who receive couple therapy for depression and other non-CBT psychological therapies are much more likely to recover than if they receive CBT, according to new official statistics.

In the first move of its kind where the Government has released recovery data by therapy type, it has been shown that patients do better when they can access a range of other types of psychological therapy rather than just receiving CBT.

Tavistock Relationships (TR) issued a statement this week highlighting the figures which show 52 per cent of people who receive couple therapy for depression recover from their condition as opposed to 44 per cent who were treated using cognitive behavioural therapy - the therapy type which the Government's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) provides to most people accessing the service.

TCCR says: "In fact, all of the face to face therapies available in IAPT - interpersonal therapy, brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, counselling, and couple therapy for depression - achieved better recovery rates than CBT."

It adds: "Despite this, over 1.2 million sesssions of CBT were delivered in the year 2014-15, as opposed to a mere 12,000 sessions of couple therapy for depression (and 39,000 of interpersonal therapy, 14,500 of brief psychodynamic psychotherapy and 415,000 of counselling).

Susanna Abse, chief executive of TCCR - which trains practitioners in couple therapy for depression - said the data backs up what the centre has always suspected to be a 'continuing scandal that so many millions has been invested in training up a predominantly CBT workforce when patients do better when they can access a range of other types of psychological therapy, such as couple therapy for depression".

She added that the data - both relating to couple therapy for depression and interpersonal therapy, which is also relational in approach - shows that people's relationships and their mental health are very much "entwined, and that helping people who are experiencing relationship distress should be a key way in which we address mental ill health".

Ms Abse called on the Government to ensure that Health Education England - the body responsible for training the IAPT workforce - trained sufficient numbers of therapists in non-CBT psychological therapies so that those who wanted to receive them could do so.

Read the Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services, England, 2014/15 here