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CBT not enough when computerised says Governing Body

posted 24 Apr 2012, 02:36 by Christine Schneider   [ updated 24 Apr 2012, 02:46 ]
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has issued a press statement warning over the sole use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) when used in its computerised form.

Online counselling and psychotherapy has become more easily available over the past few years, and there are several well trained and qualified therapists available offering online therapy in accordance with the BACP’s Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy. These therapists usually offer a variety of options based on one to one therapy with a qualified practitioner. Recently however there has also been an increase in new websites offering computerised CBT. With computerised CBT, clients may still receive some form of input from an actual practitioner through written feedback; the majority of work however, is done by clients going through a set of online exercises. Unsurprisingly, in the March issue of their journal for counselling and psychotherapy professionals, the BACP have voiced their concerns over the use of computerised CBT as a sole therapy. In this statement Tina Campbell, chair of the BACP Healthcare Division states that: “Many of the people we see have complex psychological needs. It is not possible to address the underlying causes of their distress though a computer programme.” The press statement further explains that computerised CBT should be seen as “guided self-help” rather than actual therapy.

What does this mean for anyone considering online counselling? As mentioned above, there are several qualified and competent online therapists available on the web. The most important task for anyone looking for online counselling is to establish that the service is actually offering a one to one counselling programme that involves a qualified therapist engaging directly with the clients, whether that is via email, text based, voice or video chat.

Does it mean that online counselling should not include CBT? No, it doesn’t mean that. Even though the uses of CBT are restricted as it is not suitable for all clients and for all issues you may want to bring to counselling, your online therapist may still apply CBT methods, as long as these are used in the context of actual one to one therapy and not through an automated computerised programme. If you would like to learn a little more about what CBT can and can’t achieve, you can have a look at this article explaining what you might expect from CBT. You can also find some more information on online counselling in general here.