The original key aims of those who developed IAPT were “to provide NICE approved, evidence-based therapies for people with depression and anxiety disorders. The other aim was not only to improve the quantity of the therapy but the quality of the therapy, and to ensure that psychological therapy was freely available throughout the NHS. Also to measure the outcomes for people who had gone through treatment so that we could learn from our mistakes and what we had done well”.
Layard and Clark’s work in obtaining the much needed increased funding for mental health with the objective of improving the both the quantity and quality of psychological therapies was rightly lauded. Unfortunately, the implementation of IAPT has fallen far short of its objectives to the point of now being unfit for purpose (Sidhu, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies: an idea that has failed to deliver, BMJ Opinion, October 21, 2019: Binnie, Do you want therapy with that? A critical account of working within IAPT, 2015,Mental Health Review Journal: Binnie and Spada, Let’s put the T back into CBT, 2018, Mental Health Review Journal 23(4); 240-245) McFadyen, What we stand for, together. Really? DCP-S Newsletter N0 22, Summer 2020, the paper was printed but not circulated because of the covid19 pandemic. It is available free to members from the BPS Shop: IAPT Forum on ClinPsy.org.uk, discussion topic Escaping IAPT, 2016, https://www.clinpsy.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=19625
Given the early warnings by Marzillier and Hall in their opinion piece on IAPT (The Psychologist, May 2009,v22 (396-399) we have been seriously remiss in failing to monitor the implementation of IAPT, which has resulted in the current broken state of Clinical Psychology, as a discipline, as a profession, and as a service.
Users of the IAPT service have given their evaluation of the service by voting with their feet. Unfortunately many staff have also dropped out to the point where the aim of increased access to effective psychological services is no longer deliverable within the NHS.
We are at a crossroad. Either we reclaim our discipline and profession in the interest of the public, our healthcare colleagues, and our members, or abandon all to a failing service.