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A drop in the ocean: couple therapy for depression in IAPT

Report from an investigation carried out by the Tavistock Relationships on the availability of couple therapy for depression in IAPT services.

During October 2013 the Tavistock Relationships submitted a Freedom of Information request to all clinical commissioning groups and mental health trusts, and carried out a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise with 20 IAPT services, in order to find out the availability of couple therapy for depression in IAPT services. The results of this investigation make for concerning reading .

Indeed, the data presented in A drop in the ocean: couple therapy for depression in IAPT ­­ shows that only 0.62% of all therapy sessions delivered at the high intensity (Step 3) level in IAPT services were couple therapy. This equates to just one in every 161 sessions delivered, a figure which Tavistock Relationships believes to be significantly lower than the actual need for such an intervention.

Furthermore, the ‘mystery shopping’ exercise of 20 IAPT services across the country – in which an agency played the role of a relative of a woman who is feeling depressed, has been made redundant and who is having a lot of rows with their partner – found worrying low levels of appropriate knowledge among IAPT staff about couple treatment which is supposed to be part of the range of NICE-recommended therapies. The exercise also indicated there was inappropriate sign-posting by IAPT services to other agencies.

Read the full report here: (Download the PDF File)