Its been ages since I wrote about the Linden Method, and in many ways I am pleased with what has happened to their advertising pitch. Sure, much of what was wrong about the advertising is still there. The oddest twist of all was the way in which referral to Trading Standards for non-compliance with the ASA ruling has been turned into an endorsement rather than what it really is; according to the ASA “The ASA can and will refer cases to Trading Standards when a marketer is unwilling or unable to follow our rules and our self-regulatory sanctions have not brought them into line.”

Anyway, other things have happened. Most of the Logos which should not have been used have been removed and thats very good, well done. Oddly given the ASA ruling and the involvement of Trading Standards most of the inappropriate claims remain. However, having had some contact with Trading Standards in Worcester and nationally I am afraid to say that I am not too surprised by this.

And now there is what looks like a relaunch! Congratulations to his web design team for a really slick new look. First thing you notice is that the headline contains a startling new claim. Linden has “helped over 22 million people to truly understand their mental health and to use simple, scientific, common sense methods to regain control and stability in every aspect of their lives… to recover: and it’s so simple.”

This is indeed an extraordinary claim, and as I have noted elsewhere, someone very sensible said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. I first applied that to the Linden method about ten years ago. As yet, no such evidence has been provided.

So, does the new look website improve on the problems I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog? Has Martin Jensen, the person who was “independently” (!) evaluating the Linden Method, finally finished his MSc and published his work, or done new work? No, I’m afraid not.

 

What you will find in the website is extraordinary in other ways; its what looks like an attack on Mental Health Services and self help websites. You will find this on the page titled “Bad Advice and the things that will make you worse”. If it was he who wrote this, the self styled “World’s leading Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks and Stress Recovery Expert” may have misunderstood the most basic of basics: high quality research into the effectiveness of treatment.

The website says:  “Psychology talks of ‘evidence based treatments’, of which, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is just one; but what is the evidence for its and other therapies’ curative effectiveness?”

Very strangely, it then asserts that research in this area has “found (or not looked for) no evidence of failure” which he attributes to the field “asking only one question” viz: ‘After receiving treatment X, how many people came back for more?'”

It then goes on to say that all treatments other than their own are “based on this type of statistic”; that is, “if you don’t come to the sessions it means you are cured”.

In the words used in that website: “What utter nonsense.”! Here I am applying that judgement to the claims made by the website itself.

The website says that their approach is so respected because they “don’t provide manipulated statistics”. I have, in a previous blog post pointed out that there may be problems with what was described as an “independently conducted trial“, not least because of, ahem, what looks like manipulation of both measures and statistics. I always found it amusing that we were invited to believe this stuff because they used the computer programme, SPSS.

Please read these  previous posts and draw your own conclusions.

Then, much more importantly, look at the extensive actual evidence base for treatment of anxiety. This is extensive; for example, that for panic  You will see that this is all about treatment effectiveness. You will also see, if you look more closely, that “people not coming back” is described as a problem, not an outcome, and a range of ways have been developed to deal with this. You can find details if you look at the analysis called “intention to treat”, which is the norm in these studies, and was a quality indicator for the NICE guidelines. Helpfully, NICE provides both the full evidence base, which is long and technical, shorter versions for practitioners as guidelines for decision making, and accessible service user/suffer versions to help with shared decision making, which in my view is what is required. We have called this elsewhere “evidence based patient choice”, and I regard that as the gold standard.

The next bit of this Linden website is the strangest; there have however been previous hints of this. It seems to be suggested that Mental Health Services don’t help people to keep the services “in business”; in the words of this website, to keep the mental health businesses “sustainable” by not getting people better. What is said specifically is:

“Sustainable = don’t cure everyone/anyone. This works well for healthcare providers though because incompetence=low results and as long as they can get patients to trust their word… they can, pretty much, perpetuate the business model ad infinitum.”

Now I know what the NHS values are, and am passionately committed to them. The statement above makes you wonder about the values of Linden Method/Tree and Charles Griffiths and his team. I personally find the claims that Mental Health Services operate a business model of not getting people better to be offensive to the many committed mental health professionals who do their utmost to help service users to recovery and cure. That is what we do.

Finally, this website goes on to “quote” what is says is another website which is described as disgusting.

It says: “Today I read something on one ‘official’ website that provides servcies for OCD – I won’t say which one because they don’t respond well to people correcting them…It stated… ‘OCD causes anxiety. Often, OCD causes the patient to feel anxious.'”.

I’d be happy to deal with the critique which follows,  but when you put that quote into Google either as a whole or as two separate sentences, the only website that comes up is Linden Tree “Bad Advice”. It would be odd, wouldn’t it, if they were attacking their own website? Anyway, if anyone can identify the website concerned, I might try to unpack the critique offered, but as it stands I’m left with a conclusion previous conclusion.

My new, up to date conclusion? It seems that, although the web format has changed, the Leopard has not in fact changed its shorts.

 

 

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