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Couple therapy the most effective psychological treatment for depression and anxiety, latest NHS statistics show.  

Published in Press Releases on February 27th 2018

Further evidence provided of the link between improving relationships with couple therapy as a way to enhance the nation’s mental health.

Figures released today (27 February 2018) by NHS Digital show that people who are fortunate enough to gain access to mental health services that offer the Couple Therapy for Depression treatment, when needing help with their anxiety or depression, are more likely to recover from symptoms of depression and anxiety. This type of couple therapy is delivered via the NHS by therapists trained at Tavistock Relationships.

The recently released statistics are a key metric for the IAPT offer, as they measure the ‘rate of recovery’ of patients, from both anxiety and depression.

An evidence-based couple-based treatment, Couple Therapy for Depression is unique in the NHS in that it is designed around the couple. Both partners attend the therapy session with an accredited IAPT counsellor or therapist. The treatment helps by addressing the causal or maintaining factors in the relationship that are contributing to the diagnosis of depression or anxiety where the relationship is seen as an important resource for recovery.

The latest statistics show that 56.1% of people who receive Couple Therapy for Depression recover from their depression and anxiety, making it the most successful modality. Couple Therapy for Depression’s performance looks significantly impressive when compared to the overall national average within IAPT services of 49.3% recovery.

With mental health so high on the national agenda these most recent recovery rates for Couple Therapy for Depression underline the need for commissioners, who are charged with meeting IAPT’s recovery targets, to speed up the expansion of trained staff and availability of this modality.

The figures released by NHS Digital show that despite its effectiveness, the availability of Couple Therapy for Depression continues to flat-line, with over 178,769 sessions of Cognative Behavioural Therapy being delivered in the year 2016-17, as opposed to a mere 1,842 sessions of Couple Therapy for Depression (and 4,840 of interpersonal therapy, 1,219 of brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, 79,000 of counselling). More encouragingly, however, contracts were recently awarded by Health Education England to organisations to train 59 Relate practitioners in this treatment, alongside those already working within IAPT services, and it is hoped that commissioners and clinical commissioning groups will see the benefits that adding, or increasing the availability of, Couple Therapy for Depression to their local IAPT service, can make to patient recovery.

Andrew Balfour, Chief Executive of Tavistock Relationships, commented: “The fact that Couple Therapy for Depression has yet again achieved the highest recovery rates in the NHS, in the field of psychological treatments, shows the extent to which people’s relationships are intertwined with their mental health difficulties and long-term health conditions. People who are experiencing relationship distress in the context of mental health or long-term illness should be able to access this very effective talking therapy through their local NHS service. It is staggering, and disappointing, that 9 years on from the creation of the IAPT programme, only around half of all services provide what has been proven yet again to be the most effective therapy recommended by NICE.

“While we welcome the decision by Health Education England recently to inject extra funding into the training of therapists in Couple Therapy for Depression, we hope that these results today will translate into much greater availability of this ground-breaking therapy in future.”


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