The initiative, ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) developed by University of Oxford’s Prof David Clark has been profiled in an article in the NY Times.
Featuring case studies from the Oxfordshire region, the article puts a spotlight on the success of IAPT, delivered via the NHS, helping thousands of people across England access talking therapies.
Extract from the NY Times:
‘In 2005 David Clark, a professor of psychology at Oxford University, and the economist Richard Layard, a member of the House of Lords, concluded that providing therapy to people like Oliver made economic sense.
“We made the case that, just on lost work alone, the program would pay for itself,” Dr. Layard said in an interview in his office at the London School of Economics.
Dr. Clark, in his university office, said: “If someone has a broken leg, he or she immediately gets treatment. If the person has a broken soul, they usually do not.”
The program began three years later, in 2008, with $40 million from Gordon Brown’s Labour government. It set up 35 clinics covering about a fifth of England and trained 1,000 working therapists, social workers, graduates in psychology and others. The program has continued to expand through three governments, both ideologically left and right leaning, with a current budget of about $500 million that is expected to double over the coming few years.’
Expanding the reach
As the article continues, one issue emerges: that of demand outstripping supply:
‘John Pimm, the psychologist who directs the Buckinghamshire center, found in 2013 that he could strikingly raise recovery rates by having his therapists give some patients two or three extra sessions; and by extending call times for phone therapy, working more carefully at the critical junctures, when people begin, or end, therapy.
“We have created this program, and now we are playing catch-up,” Dr. Pimm said in an interview in his office in High Wycombe. “We cannot train therapists fast enough, and the low-intensity phone therapists turn over pretty quickly. We have to figure out how to keep them in the job longer.”
This is where the online therapy software programs, still relatively new, may play a crucial role. Young men in particular, who can be difficult to bring in for face-to-face therapy, are often willing to work diligently on the computer and by phone. “The online and low-intensity options have been absolutely crucial for us,” said Judith Chapman, who runs the Berkshire service. “And we have gotten good recovery rates with them.”’
Scaling up therapeutic treatments by delivering them digitally is one area of research that is promising to help thousands more within the UK, and millions more across the globe.