The Society for Psychotherapy Research (U.K.)

Go to for up to date information about SPR(UK)

This is somewhat modified from a piece I wrote for the Universities Psychotherapy Association newsletter in 1994, mounted probably as one of the first files at this site in June 1995 and modified a bit 14.iv.96, membership address updated 21.iii.97. See also NETWORK, the S.P.R.(U.K.) newsletter {5kb}

S.P.R. may never have been more necessary than now in 1995: U.K.C.P. notes the government requirement that the psychotherapy profession, and its training bodies, show a stronger theoretical basis in the future; at the same time anyone providing psychotherapy within the N.H.S. will be aware of the pressure to show "research" or "evidence" not only of individual efficacy and of general effectiveness, but even to show cost-benefit efficiency. It seems ominously possible that many services will cease to exist if these challenges are not addressed in the next few years. A polarisation between empiricist approaches to a "theoretical basis" and the qualitative and constructivist approaches seems likely to weaken both, perhaps with fatal effect, at least on clinical services.

S.P.R. was founded in the U.S.A. in 1969. It began as a largely North American organisation, but held international meetings in London in 1975, Oxford in 1979, and Sheffield in 1983. A U.K. group was formed at the Sheffield meeting, holding its first independent meeting the following year. There are also groups in continental Europe, with Germany and the Scandinavian countries particularly well-represented, and in Latin America. Full international meetings take place annually, and additional meetings are held by regional groups. The U.K. group meets twice a year. The majority of S.P.R. members are primarily interested in psychodynamic/interpersonal, experiential and integrative approaches to therapy. However, the organisation welcomes contributions concerning all orientations and modalities of therapy. Membership is multidisciplinary and the culture collaborative. The spring U.K. meeting generally involves a lot of very hard work on tensions between methods and between theoretical schools of therapy in a very informal and friendly atmosphere. Most members, especially here in Britain, are clinicians first and researchers second, making S.P.R. a supportive organisation for practitioners wanting to find their way into active research.

Some of the strongest influences have come from researchers looking for common factors and generic models of the psychotherapy process. Members of S.P.R. have been, and are currently, involved in all forms of research into psychotherapy. S.P.R. associated projects range from the classical comparative designs such as the multi-centre N.I.M.H. Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program or the more focussed (smaller) Sheffield projects through to individual case studies. The trend now is away from a dichotomy of psychotherapy research into "process" and "outcome" toward integrative studies with dual or multiple perspectives on diverse parameters of change from the small scale of "process" up to the scale traditionally designated "outcome". There is a strong interest in the use of qualitative, discourse and ideographic methods though work in these paradigms has yet to dominate a conference.

The U.K. conferences are held shortly before Easter every year that we're not hosting the International meeting and continues to be held at the hotel at Ravenscar on the cliffs between Scarborough and Whitby. The venue is beautiful and the small hotel and relatively limited numbers lend themselves to a very constructive meeting ideal for someone looking for potential research collaborators or seeking a place to try out new material. We also usually hold a one day autumn meeting which will be held at an as yet undetermined date and location, probably St. George's here in sunny Tooting, in the autumn. After that there's the full '96 meeting, the '96 autumn meeting.... so there's no limit to the opportunity to meet with others and present work.

Annual membership of S.P.R. has just increased from its long time low of £25 to a sum which I've forgotten (but which can be checked with the treasurer -- see below). That gets you a free subscription to the quarterly journal Psychotherapy Research, a list of all other members, regular U.K. and international newsletters (get in touch with me if you want to submit something to the U.K. one) and preferential rates on all conferences. Above all strengthening the breadth and diversity of the membership will some evidence that the psychotherapy community in this country is committed to strengthening its theoretical basis.

Membership enquiries to:

Debbie Kirby-Mayers
1 Ansley Grove,
Heaton Moor,
Stockport, SK4 3LF
Tel./fax.: 0161-432 4507

The full text of NETWORK {5kb} the newsletter of S.P.R.(U.K.) which gives more of flavour of the organisation is mounted at this site.