Finian Fallon, Doctoral Candidate, DCU

The Future of Psychotherapy in Ireland. A Delphi
 What is my research interest?
 The Vision for Change document
 The available (non) Data
 Issues in treatment
 What is a Delphi study?
 Why use it for this piece of research?
 The method for this research
 The statements and questions being considered
 Feedback
Research Interest and Motivation
 Accredited psychotherapist working in private practice
 Business background
 Reflecting on the future of psychotherapy
 It is administered professionally but is it a profession?
 Viability of psychotherapy as a profession
 Pre-eminence of GPs at entry into primary care
 I would like my research to inform practice and policy
The Vision for Change document
 (Terms such as psychotherapist and counsellor are not
legally protected – the industry is self-regulated)
 2006 policy document produced by the Irish
Government in order to provide a framework for future
mental health services in the state
 Much of the data used is UK originating data
 There is little exploration of a rationale for the current
structures or for the proposed structures
Vision for Change (contd.)
 “mental health problems are indicated in as many as
one in four primary care consultations (Goldberg 1991,
p. 62) making mental health second only to
consultations for respiratory infection (McCormick,
Fleming and Charlton 1995, p. 62). “
 “Nine out of ten mental health problems are dealt with
in primary care without referral to a specialist mental
health service.”
 Mental health presentations are important and are
often retained in GP care
Vision for Change (contd.)
 While Vision for Change claims to being supportive of
a biopsychosocial model (p. 18) on reading the
document it is clear that in practice this is not the case
 GPs are the most powerful group in mental health
primary care and will remain so
The available data
 The Vision for Change document acknowledges a lack
of Irish data
 How can we make policy decisions without domestic
 I have made some tentative attempts at some numbers
related to the field in Ireland
 We have one of the highest ratios of accredited
therapists per head of population in the world
Issues in treatment
 Medication
 Medical diagnosis and labelling
 Statutory regulation
 Training of psychotherapists and professional
 Low cost counselling and impact on profession
What is a Delphi study?
 Dalkey (1969): the Delphi approach was derived
through experimentation at the RAND Corporation
 He recommends the use of this kind of study “in areas
of broad or long-range policy formulation” including
“social development.” (p. iii)
 Used in health policy development
What is a Delphi study?
 A panel of experts is established
 They participate confidentially and anonymously
(problems with focus groups)
 The process involves “controlled feedback” through
feeding back information to participants through a
series of rounds after each of which information from
the process is collated, analysed and issued to
participants for the next round until completion (p. 16)
 Contributions are weighted by the contributors
Why use it for this research?
 I focus on narrative in my work
 I have a qualitative world view
 However categorisation and formal frameworks are
useful and sometimes necessary
 The Delphi can bridge between a qualitative
perspective and a practical response
The Delphi in my research
 It is envisaged that my research will be done via email
 It is important to review and feedback to participants
Delphi statements and questions
Position 1
There are a number of different accrediting and representative bodies for
psychotherapy and counselling practitioners in Ireland. Many of these have
different theoretical approaches, academic requirements and practice hour
obligations for membership and or practice. The use of the title counsellor or
psychotherapist is not protected in law and in effect anyone can use the term.
Currently it is envisaged that many of the self-regulating bodies in the mental
health field will ultimately be brought under a statutory umbrella and terms like
“Psychological Therapist – Psychotherapist” will be legally protected.
1.1 What is your expectation around how the statutory regulation might evolve?
1.2 How would you like to see this process evolving?
1.3 What kind of training standards and accreditation requirements would you
see as important and why?
Delphi statements and questions
Position 2
Up to 30% of presentations in General Practice (i.e. presentations
to medical doctors in general practice) are for mental distress.
From these a small percentage of referrals to mental health
practitioners (such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists
or counsellors for example) are made.
2.1 How do you see the role of GPs in primary care for mental
health issues in Ireland evolving?
2.2 How would you like to see this role evolving?
2.3 In your experience of counsellors and psychotherapist in
Ireland what are your observations in relation to the standards of
their practice and how you envisage this could evolve?
Delphi statements and questions
Position 3
In the USA the use by psychiatry of psychotropic medicine in response to
mental distress presentations has increased at the same time that the use
of psychotherapy in psychiatry has declined. There is an increasing
reliance on psychotropic medication in primary care worldwide and many
GPs are uncomfortable with the prevalence of primarily medication based
interventions. Arguably research is suggesting that a combination of
medication and psychotherapy is effective. Other research is emerging
suggesting that some psychotropic medications are not as effective as it
has been claimed and in separate research that adherence is poor.
3.1 How do you see the use of medication relative to psychotherapy
evolving in Ireland?
3.2 If you could envisage the possibility of an alternative but realistic
change or changes in this context, what would these be?
Feedback and Questions
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