This was the inaugural Limbus Critical Psychotherapy Conference, title 'Challenging the Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapies: The Overselling of CBT's Evidence Base'. Official site here. There were six talks, with lots of large group plenary discussion time, good spaces for small group reflection around our tables - and a bar with decent beer in the evening!
Farhad Dalal opened the proceedings with a short impassioned plea for the values of being authentic and human.
The first session was Jonathan Shedler: What is the Evidence for Evidence-Based Therapies?
- "the master narrative"
- "Evidence Based Therapy has become a brand and its apparel is all marketing, with a vast chasm between the buzz and the research "
- "the inverted pyramid of shame"
The next session was Goran Ahlin: Waiting for the tide to turn: Aspects of the rise and expected fall of CBT in Sweden.
- "New Public Management" (a rather chilling concept which ran through much of the weekend)
- Sweden was saved from the worst excesses of the post-1979 economic system
- "Fascistic state of mind" (from the discussion)
- 'Intolerance of any uncertainty" (ditto)
After lunch was Patrick Pietroni: Improving Access to Psychological Therapies: Where we were, where we are, and where we are going.
- "A different kind of space"
- "healthy human relationship systems"
- "social determinants of health"
- "Every MBA in DH should do an MBWA: management by walking about"
- "La-la land"
- "Weasel words"
- "Happiness rubbish"
- 'Thrive' as a 'completely irritating' book
Next was Del Loewenthal: NICE Work if You Can Get It; Evidence and research cultural politically influences practices.
- "post exisitentialist"
- "relational psychoanalysis"
- "How dreadful it would be if psychotherapy became an agent of social control" (in discussion)
- "3rd wave CBT" (about acceptance rather than control)
- Mischievously incudes words like 'Compassion-based'; 'Mindfulness-based'; 'Attachment-based' and 'Resilience-based'.
- Parallels with Ben Goldacre and Bad Pharma
- "reduction" of risk of relapse does not equal prevention
- "CBT did iatrogenic harm" to those who had <3 depressive="" episodes="" li="" previous=""> 3>
- "MCBT (mindfulness-based CBT) is a perversion of an Eastern philosophical tradition."
So, together with conversations setting up a SW event for the NHS campaign - and lunch with one of the key players in Transition Town Totnes - and scheming other cunning plans: a very stimulating and exciting weekend. I hope the 'Totnes / Limbus / Dartington Conference' becomes a regular fixture on the psychotherapy calendar.