Realizing the Mass Public Benefit of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies: The IAPT Program

Summary of recent research by David M. Clark

Summary:

Evidence-based practices have become increasingly valued in healthcare, due to their cost and time-effectiveness. Unfortunately, most people do not have access to, nor know of, these effective methods of care. The English Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program has been working to close the gap between quality care and individuals needing effective treatment through their research and training initiative.

IAPT plans to train over 10,500 therapists in empirically-supported modalities, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), by 2021. Training is at the core of IAPT’s model so that therapists can competently and successfully deliver appropriate treatments. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have collaborated in reviewing current research and creating clinical guidelines for evidence-based interventions. Using those guidelines, IAPT developed a multifaceted curriculum, which includes: teaching trainees general CBT assessment and intervention strategies, assessing their therapy sessions using the Cognitive Therapy Scale (CTS-R), and evaluating their written conceptualizations and case reports.

The program requires therapists and mental health organizations to record measurable outcomes of their delivered mental health treatments. Previously, only 38% of patients were assessed pre- and post-treatment. Now, at the beginning of each session, patients are requested to complete brief depression and anxiety measures so that therapists can use this data for treatment planning and posttreatment outcome data. IAPT’s session-by-session monitoring has allowed for outcome data on nearly 99% of patients.

IAPT has found promising outcomes early into their program. Results found that 51% of people met criteria for recovery and 66% showed reliable improvement. Further research and implementation of programs like IAPT’s can help organizations optimally diffuse quality, evidence-based practices worldwide. In doing so, the reach of treatment will extend to significantly more people in a shorter period of time.

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