The film was made in order to share some of the research findings from a feasibility research study funded by a UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award which explored the experience of clients and therapists during a series of counselling sessions for people living with dementia. Findings highlighted that counselling interventions are seldom offered to people living with dementia individually, although, where they do participate in therapy, their high compliance levels are encouraging. When offered, an undue focus can be placed on the preservation of cognitive abilities that may be counterproductive to emotional health. Additionally, specially trained therapists and tailored programmes (Shoesmith et al., 2020) are crucial elements for effectiveness.

The content of the film is based on what people living with dementia, carers and counsellors told us during interviews to discover their views on counselling and what they perceived as important for setting up and running an accessible counselling service. Participants spoke of the extreme emotional challenges that accompany a diagnosis of dementia, stressing therapeutic support as a key Human Right. They spoke of the need for local, flexible counselling accessible across the dementia timeline.

The promotional film, ‘Counselling people living with dementia – an unmet need’ is based on these findings and emergent data from our current research seeks to: 1) Raise awareness of the mental health needs of those with dementia 2) Clearly demonstrate the beneficial impacts of therapeutic counselling for people living with dementia; 3) Adopt a destigmatising and inclusive approach to educate and inform a wide audience about the value of counselling in this context 4) Positively influence potential funders to support the final phase of our tripartite research programme.

This film is now freely available through the BACP website or the ECRED website (Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia, University of Edinburgh)

New film highlights value of counselling people with dementia (bacp.co.uk)

To share feedback or for further information please contact Heather Wilkinson on h.wilkinson@ed.ac.uk

References

SHOESMITH, E., GRIFFITHS, A. W., SASS, C. & CHARURA, D. 2020. Effectiveness of counselling and psychotherapeutic interventions for people with dementia and their families: a systematic review. Ageing and Society, 1-28.