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Other talking cures ‘as good as CBT’

Other talking therapies are just as effective in treating mental health problems as the cognitive behaviour therapy being pushed by the Government, a study on GP patients shows.

But mental health experts said the shortage of funding for therapies in the UK made it crucial to focus on introducing CBT before trying to add other treatments.

The study, published early online in Psychological Medicine, examined data from 5,613 adults who received cognitive-behavioural, person-centred and psychodynamic therapies (CBT, PCT and PDT) at 32 NHS primary care centres.

All the patients began treatment with equivalent clinical scores and all achieved ‘very substantial gains'.

Lead author Professor William Stiles of Miami University, Ohio, US, said: ‘Despite equivalent outcomes across many treatments, CBT still has greater credibility than the other approaches.'

Dr Chris Manning, chief executive of Primary Care Mental Health and Education, said: ‘There is evidence for other therapies and patients want them. But as a political tactic we need to get CBT into the room and then the others will follow.'

Professor Stiles warned the study was limited because there was no independent check on how therapists delivered treatments or what they comprised.

Dr Declan Fox, a GP in Northern Ireland who has a special interest in mental health, stressed that CBT was the best studied talking therapy in primary care.

If not CBT: other talking therapies

• Person-centred therapy (PCT) is less formal and structured than CBT, and aims to allow people to ‘grow' and realise they can help themselves. It is the model for much general ‘counselling'.

• Psychodynamic therapy (PDT) aims to bring hidden feelings thought to be causing mental distress and pain to the surface so that people can understand them and work through them.

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