The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is recognised by legislators and national and international organisations, as the leading professional body and the voice of counselling and psychotherapy in the United Kingdom, with over 41,000 members working to the highest professional standards in a range of settings, such as schools, the National Health Service, third sector organisations and independent practitioners. BACP sets high practice standards for it members, undertakes and commissions research to encourage informed practice and to demonstrate the effectiveness of counselling and psychotherapy, and promotes counselling and psychotherapy among key stakeholders and policy makers. BACP conducts its work as a prime partner in projects with national and local organisations, bodies and groups.
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How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
BACP contributes to reducing the number of suicides and improving support for those affected by suicide by advocating for sufficient, high quality provision of counselling and psychotherapy for this group. As demonstrated by Counselling and psychotherapy for the prevention of suicide: a systematic review of the evidence (Winter et al, 2009), psychological therapies are an effective intervention for those at risk of suicide. In addition, NHS England recommends counselling and psychotherapy as an intervention for those bereaved by suicide (Help is at Hand, 2008). BACP achieves this through either undertaking and commissioning research to demonstrate the effectiveness of psychological therapies, such as for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are bereaved due to suicide (for example Winter et al, 2009), to inform the general public, consumers, service purchasers, and members of allied professions. BACP recommends that psychological therapy services, which may be accessed by those who are suicidal or are bereaved due to suicide, are delivered by BACP members who are trained and deliver services to the highest standard, who practice under BACP’s Ethical Framework and utilise BACP’s Good Practice Guidance and Competency Frameworks. In addition, BACP lobbies the Government and external stakeholders, for the provision of sufficient and high quality provision of psychological therapy services for all. BACP also acts as a vehicle to signpost those contemplating suicide and bereaved families of suicide to services through its directory, Find a Therapist. BACP promotes psychological therapy services for a range of population groups, such as children and young people, in a number of settings, such as the criminal justice system, so that all groups who are suicidal or are bereaved by suicide can access appropriate counselling and psychotherapy services.
What are your current priorities?
Mental ill health in older people is prevalent throughout the United Kingdom, with depression affecting one in five older people living in the community and two in five living in care homes. (Psychiatry in the Elderly, Oxford University Press, 2002). BACP aims to explore how psychological therapies and BACP can support older people with mental ill health, which would include those affected by suicide or with suicidal thoughts.
In August, BACP concluded a six month consultation period Psychological Therapies and Parity of Esteem: from commitment to reality, which consisted of a seminar and call for evidence for external stakeholders, and consulting BACP’s membership and service users. A report will be published in autumn 2014, with recommendations at national and local levels to assist in the creation parity of esteem between mental and physical health. Improving parity between physical and mental health is essential in the call for support for those who are suicidal or who have been affected by suicide.
For over a decade BACP has campaigned for school based counselling, a service which supports children and young people, such as those who are bereaved by suicide or have suicidal thoughts. In Wales, BACP with the University of Newcastle, won a tender to undertake research for the Welsh Government to complete a study into the counselling services available to children and young people in Wales. This work was completed in 2007 and resulted in the creation of the Welsh Assembly Government’s School-based Counselling Services in Wales: a National Strategy, which was implemented by local authorities. Through the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 local authorities now have a duty to provide an independent counselling service in respect of health, emotional and social needs for children and young people in their area. BACP regularly meets with politicians across the four nations and across the major parties, and will continue to highlight the effectiveness of school based counselling as an early intervention and to promote its implementation over the next twelve months.
What challenges are you currently facing?
The current challenges for BACP to deliver these outcomes include the limited provision of psychological therapy in the NHS for those with anxiety and depression and the ad hoc provision of counselling in schools, for children and young people.