In March it was the 10th Anniversary of the New Savoy Partnership Psychological Therapies Conference and an opportunity to reflect on the last 10 years.  As someone who’s worked in and with the Step 2 workforce throughout that time it’s certainly interesting to look back at just how much the PWP role has developed, although I was a little sad to note that, according to the delegate list anyway, not one working PWP was in attendance – they were probably all back at the day job working hard to get their contacts in for the last quarter of 2016/2017!

The highlight of the conference for me was the first main presenter of day one – Professor Bruce Wampold – who shared some compelling evidence about just what it is that makes a difference in therapy, and the importance of the therapist themselves.  It certainly seemed to strike a chord with the audience, regardless of their specific modality.

It also raised some broader themes though, including about the importance of all therapists continuing to practice their skills (because practice makes perfect!), and by implication, therefore, the importance of access to CPD, something that has been frequently raised as an issue recently both in terms of cuts to CPD budgets, and services having capacity to release staff to attend CPD events, particularly in the high pressured target culture of IAPT services.

It also clearly highlights the importance of the emotional wellbeing of the therapist themselves to ensure they are able to offer such a highly skilled and valuable approach.  This is a theme that has been increasingly raised over the last few years and it was good to see it on the agenda again this year, even if the survey results show no real improvement in the situation.  There was some debate about the appropriateness of this topic on the agenda, almost a suggestion of this being a bit self-indulgent, but, if it can’t be discussed in that forum, then where can it be?

 I was pleased to hear continued reference to the ‘only us’ campaign, highlighting the importance of not separating ourselves from the problems and experiences the people we work with might struggle with, and as there is an increasing focus in the health agenda in relation to the importance of self-care for both the physical and mental health of the nation to enable the NHS to prioritise the greatest need, shouldn’t that consideration also be given to the workforce as well so we are able to continue delivering therapeutic help according to the evidence base so we can keep making a difference for the next ten years as well?

Liz Kell
Senior Lecturer in Psychological Interventions
School of Community Health and Midwifery
University of Central Lancashire