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BPS News

New guidance for therapists with clients taking prescribed drugs

04 December 2019

New guidance from the BPS and its partners, published today, gives psychological therapists the information they need to help clients struggling with side effects and withdrawal issues which have resulted from an increase in the prescription of psychiatric drugs.

Guidance for Psychological Therapists: Enabling conversations with clients taking or withdrawing from prescribed psychiatric drugs was produced following Public Health England’s acknowledgment of the growing problem of prescribed drug dependency and withdrawal in its recent ground-breaking report.

The guidance means clients will be better supported to understand the difference between emotional distress, relapse and the side and withdrawal effects of psychiatric drugs.

A 2019 survey of psychological therapists revealed that most work with clients who have taken, or are taking, psychiatric drugs. Fewer than one in ten felt their training equipped them to deal adequately with client’s questions on this topic.

Our chief executive Sarb Bajwa said:

“We strongly recommend this guidance to psychological therapists.

Our members have continually told us they need more support to work confidently with clients taking or withdrawing from prescribed drugs.

The evidence reviewed in this guidance provides an up-to-date summary of the main effects, adverse consequences and possible withdrawal reactions of psychiatric drugs.”

The guidance, facilitated by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence in the last parliament, has been steered and endorsed by the four psychological therapy organisations that represent 80,000 of the UK’s psychological therapists, and by senior clinicians and researchers in the field.

These are:

  • the British Psychological Society
  • the UK Council for Psychotherapy
  • the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • the National Counselling Society

The National Survivor User Network has also endorsed the guidance.

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