From Neoliberalism to the Cognitive-Behavioural Tsunami in Great Britain

Is There Still Time for France to Avoid the British Disaster?
By Thomas Rabeyron

This paper offers a critical analysis of the evolution of psychotherapeutic care in Great Britain based on the reflections of Farhad Dalal (2019) in a book entitled CBT: The Cognitive Behavioural Tsunami. After highlighting the ideological affinities between neo-liberalism and cognitive-behavioural therapies (CBT), we describe how the latter have constructed a myth of their origins based on the idea – contradicted by empirical research – of their supposedly-greater efficacy in relation to other approaches. Such an ideological discourse fits more broadly into the current context of Psy Wars and the development of biological psychiatry that led to the DSM. The emergence of neo-liberalism and its societal impact leading to the homo economicus as well as the resulting management methods are then presented. These different contextual elements help to understand the birth of the IAPT in Great Britain, a large program intended to improve psychotherapeutic care based on the liberalization of this sector. The IAPT is based on the recommendations of NICE, which has promoted the almost exclusive use of CBTs. After presenting how a patient is monitored through IAPT, we highlight the drifts and failures of such a system. We then propose a synthesis of the several forms of scientific corruption associated with CBTs, using two recent studies as examples. These corruptions render the discrepancy between the empirical results of research in this field and the lack of effectiveness of CBTs in the management of patients more comprehensible. All of these elements appear to be essential in order not to reproduce in France the same errors as Great Britain made in the field of psychotherapies.


  • psychotherapies
  • psychoanalysis
  • CBT
  • evaluation of psychotherapies
  • IAPT
  • NICE
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