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Letter: Talking cure works

Sir: In her review of counselling ("Unhappy? Why not ditch the analyst", 10 May), Virginia Ironside states that "Depression can not only be helped by drugs but in many cases completely cured by them. Despite the fact that counselling will no more help the problem than it will help diabetes, many counsellors and therapists are still ruthlessly anti-drug." Our research suggests a very different picture.

Our research team have been evaluating the effectiveness of the Dorset Primary Care Counselling Service working from GP surgeries since 1993 and have followed up more than 1,000 people seen by counsellors. We have looked at anxiety and depression, self-esteem, quality of life and clients' satisfaction with counselling.

Nearly everything we cared to measure improved during counselling and the improvement was still present at a two-year follow-up. In a report in 1996, we showed that patients with severe levels of depression responded particularly well to counselling irrespective of whether or not they were receiving anti-depressant medication.


Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Bournemouth University and Dorset HealthCare

NHS Trust