Counsellors' experiences of ethical conflicts working in IAPT

Gillian Proctor, Sue McKelvie, Maeta Brown, Shlomo Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This qualitative study of 15 relational counsellors explores the experiences and ethical quandaries of counsellors working within an IAPT service. The data was analysed using the Voice Relational Method [Brown, L. M. & Gilligan, C. (1993). Meeting at the crossroads: Women's psychology and girls' development. Feminism & Psychology, 3(1), 11--35]. Three main themes were identified: client experience, counsellor experience and relationships. Findings indicate that the therapeutic relationship with clients is crucial, but there is often a disparity between working as a relational counsellor and the expectations and demands of working within IAPT; a pressure on doing and achieving goals rather than a focus on the therapy relationship. Supportive managers were essential to enable counsellors to balance IAPT expectations with ethical and therapeutic relationships with clients. This research also questions the ethical basis of the IAPT system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-413
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Guidance and Counselling
Issue number3
Early online date17 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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