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AdEPT: Understanding and Preventing the Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies

Many people with mental health difficulties are helped by psychological therapies (“talking treatments”), but there is some evidence from research studies and individual clients that people can occasionally feel worse after therapy. We do not know how often this is because of the treatment as people could have become more distressed anyway, for example, after stressful life events. The AdEPT study is aimed at understanding and preventing these adverse effects (feeling worse) following psychological therapy.

There are several strands to the project:

  • Reviewing the existing evidence about the nature and extent of the problem of adverse effects within psychological therapy - Literature Review WP1
  • Analysing existing datasets to determine what kind of people in what type of therapy, with what kind of therapists are most likely to experience adverse effects within psychological therapies- Analysis of Routine Data WP2Meta-analysis of Previous Trials WP3
  • Undertaking in-depth interviews with clients and therapists where therapy has gone wrong to explore the process of failing or harmful therapy and generate understanding of what may have prevented the problems - Questionnaires and Interviews WP4

All of this work will lead to the main objective of the project: to develop and test practical support tools for clients, therapists and service managers to reduce adverse effect and prevent harm within psychological therapy - Support Tools WP5


This research is being funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB). It is due to last for three years from January 2011 to December 2013.

Project Team

The Project team is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, including people who have used psychological therapy services, therapists and academic researchers. We believe this to be important to ensure that differing perspectives are represented throughout the study.

More information

If you would like more information about the study or to discuss anything further, please contact The Research Team in the first instance:

Mental Health Group, Health Services Research
School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)
University of Sheffield
Regent Court, 30 Regent Street
Sheffield S1 4DA